Charlestown, Nevis at sunset. The town sits beneath a beautiful, dormant volcano.
Nevis is the kind of place we always dreamed cruising would take us. It’s a humble, quirky, charismatic little island with a genuine personality and culture all its own.
As we wandered around the village of Charleston, we immediately sensed a collective feeling of pride in the community. Immaculately groomed men, women, and children going about their days, running errands and playing in the cleanest streets and landscaped squares we’ve seen (not so much as a bottle cap in sight). Smiling locals kept stopping us – at the dinghy dock, in the garden, on the street, and outside the bank – to strike up meandering, friendly, agenda-free conversation. It felt genuinely inclusive.
After spending some time in town (it took us two tries to get cleared in), we moved Nightingale Tune just down the way to Pinneys Beach, which afforded us a beautiful view of the monstrous (inactive) volcano that shades the island, along with easy access to the beach, where we exercised and played all afternoon. We capped off our stay with a memorable dinner at Sunshines Beach Bar and Grill.
Oh how we wish we could stay longer. Unfortunately, the forecast has squalls and high winds for the next few days, and we wouldn’t be comfortable weathering these conditions in Nevis. Tomorrow, we depart at 3AM to sail 12 hours to Guadeloupe, where we’ll have plenty of island exploring to do as we wait for calmer seas.
The rolling effect caused by swells wrapping around islands is a huge bummer when we’re trying to go about our lives at anchor. These swells usually oppose the direction of the wind, hitting the boat at a 90 degree angle, causing it to roll from side to side in a most uncomfortable fashion. In these conditions, everything aboard must be secured as if we are underway to prevent objects from jumping off tabletops or rolling off deck. Simple tasks like preparing a meal become difficult, and sleeping is impossible. To offset the discomfort of the swells we’ve encountered in the Caribbean, we’ll set a second anchor off the stern of the boat, which changes our angle to the swell, so it rolls us stern to bow (back to front) instead of beam to beam (side to side) – it’s so much more comfortable this way. Here, I’m untangling 125 feet of line to hand off to Brian in the dinghy, along with our 45 lb. Bruce anchor (also pictured). To set up the stern anchor, Brian drives the over to the desired spot in the dinghy and drops it there. I winch up the other end of the line on the big boat, which pulls it along the ocean floor until the anchor grabs and sets. It’s a pain in the ass, but totally necessary if we want to sleep!
No, we haven’t given up on fishing! Yes, we are still pretty bad at it. Our excitement that we caught something quickly turned to disappointment when we saw that the mahi mahi at the end of the line was much too small to keep.
Checking into Nevis is an overly-complex but friendly process. Visitors move from office to office for meetings with uniformed officials from Customs, Immigration, and the Port Authority (see the white doors over Brian’s shoulder) to do paperwork and pay fees to enter the country. We rushed to get there before the offices closed at 4PM, but when we arrived at 3, everything was locked up and deserted.
At our next stop in town, we learned that the entire island was taking a government sanctioned afternoon off so residents could attend a cricket match over in St. Kitts (the islands of Nevis and St. Kitts are parts of the same country). Happily, we were still able to get some EC (Eastern Caribbean dollars) from an ATM. This is the first island we’ve visited with EC as the official currency, and we’re enjoying the exchange rate, 2.65 EC = $1.
Nightingale Tune, out in the harbor
We were surprised to learn that Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace and childhood home is in Charlestown
There are flags from around the world on display all over Nevis. We’ve never visited an island more friendly or inviting to outsiders – and that includes the small islands in the Exhumas. Everywhere we went, people smiled, said hello, and approached us for a chat. For two jaded New Yorkers, this took some getting used to.
Fishing boats at the dock.
After successfully clearing in the next morning, we decided to go out for breakfast at the bohemian, expat owned Cafe des Arts. I really enjoyed my BLT with big, ripe tomatoes and lots of nice lettuce on homemade, toasted bread.
Brian took advantage of the surprisingly strong wi-fi signal and spent the morning updating the software for our Garmin chart plotter. It’s an annoying task because Garmin is not Mac compatible and bundles their updates for all of their products into one huge file that is totally impractical for sailors in remote places with slow internet. He’s using something called Virtual Box to download Garmin’s files from a Mac. His face does not give away his frustration with the entire process.
On a mooring at Pinney’s Beach, volcano in the distance
The sand on this volcanic island has a black, glimmering quality and feels very hot on bare feet
Sunshines Beach Bar and Grill on Pinney’s Beach is a can’t-miss spot. We loved its little shaded bungalows, fun playlist, comfortable cushions, friendly service, and ocean breezes. It’s owned and operated by a local man named Sunshine and his family. His teenaged son, who was born in Boston and came to the island when he was three, stopped by our table for a chat. They really do a nice job of making you feel at home here.
The Killer Bee is the signature drink at Sunshines. I can’t tell you what’s in it (our waiter said he’d have to kill me) but it’s the strongest rum punch I’ve ever tasted.
The food at Sunshines is simple and really, memorably good. The jerk wings (from chickens in the coop out back) were some of the best we’ve ever had. We also thoroughly enjoyed this enormous whole grilled snapper, which had been swimming in the ocean just hours prior.