After catching up on our sleep from the restless night in Cockleshell Bay, we did a few boat jobs and then went ashore to have a look round Charlestown. To be met at the dinghy dock by the local nutter who informed us – or should I say shouted at us – not to lock dink onto the rail. We were going to ignore him until he pointed out the official notice. Mmmmm…. a bit uncomfortable with that…. after all dink is our “car” and we would be in trouble without a means to get to and from shore. But we did as we were told and held our breath that this was a safe place…. First stop was the Pas Bar on the waterfront – free wifi – so we could post the blog and let everyone know we were safe and well.
Charlestown is a quaint oldie worldy town with very narrow streets, some cobbled and really old wooden buildings and a large number of banks. Really friendly feel and we particularly enjoyed buying fresh fruit and vegetables at the local market. While we were out we also fixed up a taxi tour of the island for Saturday as we didn’t want to hire a car for the whole day.
So back to Morphie – stowed the shopping and had a lazy few hours on board. About 5pm we went ashore, which is difficult. The beach has a large incline into the water and we were struggling to pull dink up out of the water line…. luckily Joliffe from Chevys came by to help us. So we went in there for a drink and ended up spending the evening with the owners, Chevy and Amelia (who hails from Leeds)… We had a really chilled, entertaining and informative evening also meeting their friends Peter and Vera. Joliffe cooked us some great chicken wings as well as supplying some home-made jewellery and keeping us stocked up in beers. A very cool and multi-talented dude!
Against my better judgement we ended up going for a pontoonie (maritime for one for the road) in Sunshines next door as Richard was determined that he should have a Killer Bee…. Fine – but we still have to get off that damn beach. The waves were breaking and it looked like a really wet operation in the dark – at which point Richard is determined to get naked to keep his clothes dry! Luckily for the watching population I managed to talk him out of it – but we did get absolutely soaked through. I think the lack of a dinghy dock on this beach is what deters the boaters from coming ashore in the evening……although the puppy crew didn’t seem to mind!
Saturday up early and we head in. Sadly we have to check out of Nevis for an early Sunday departure. The weather forecast is for strong winds and 3m+ seas building from Monday afternoon into next week so we are going to have to modify our plans and leave earlier than we would like – and also miss out on Montserrat as it does not have a safe anchorage in large sea conditions. So it looks like a rough 50 mile passage to Antigua straight into winds and sea – so probably another motor job. Anyway…that’s for another day. Formalities sorted we meet up with Mr Jones who is going to drive us today.
We travelled the whole island and historically it has a lot going for it with original plantation houses dating back to the 1670s – many of which are now boutique hotels with antique furnishings – alongside sugar mills; numerous churches with ancient graveyards; and the place where Horatio Nelson married his Nevis sweetheart. We also visited the botanical gardens; natural sulphur springs at the Bath House, where I bathed my feet in very hot natural water; volcanic beaches which sparkle with silver bits; pretty townships; and stunning scenery up into the peak of the mountain. The views were gorgeous too…. I was amused by the “monkey xing” road signs everywhere – Mr Jones, however, thought that they should all be turned into cat and dog food as they are eating a lot of the crops!! We thought it best not to argue with him on this point…
After the tour we wandered back to the dinghy dock – with a sigh of relief that dink was still there -and Richard decided we should have a final sundowner ashore – so back to the beach landing again!!! This time assisted by a helpful tourist…. Couple of beers and a beautiful sunset later we are back on board (again a bit soggy) to do a proper passage plan and other preparations for our long day on Sunday.
Sunday morning we wake up to an alarm clock – and get ready to leave. By the time the sun starts coming up we are underway along the coast of Nevis getting our last glimpse of Charlestown.
At that point the engine alarm goes off!!!! Eeek….. Checking that we are in a safe position we turned the engine off knowing immediately that we had probably bust a fan belt. Yep…oh dear… I stayed up top watching for hazards and Richard managed to get a new one on in record time. That engine course we did before we left home paid dividends today. Hurrah – all fixed – and off we go again.
As we came to the bottom of Nevis the seas build and the winds started blowing hard – nothing like the forecast! The waves were pounding over our deck and we quickly had to turn our dorades around as we were getting water coming in through them down below such is the force of water across us …. This carried on for a while but it was obvious that it was caused by shallow shoals where the sea was being pushed up from great depths across the top which increased their ferocity. We just need to get out into deeper water and it should all calm down. And, guess what, it did! So after a couple of hours of pretty rough and bumpy conditions it settled down and we just plowed onwards doing our hourly checks and plots on the charts, enjoying the deep blue of the water and the occasionally show put on by the flying fish.
Then about 30 miles into the journey – more than half way – the seas and wind build again. This time joined by torrential rain…. This is starting to be really really horrible and we are getting battered – even worse than on our BVI to St Martin leg – but at least we can see what is happening as it is daylight. About a mile off the seas calmed down as we came into shallower water again… Thank you Neptune – we both needed a boost at this stage.
After a nine hour 48 mile trip we finally made it to Jolly Harbour, Antigua, at just before 4pm – wet, cold, salt encrusted and very very tired. But it was really nice to be welcomed on the radio by Glen and Pam from Blue Pearl who are anchored off. Going into the harbour we realise that we have missed customs for the day so we have picked up a mooring ball, raised the yellow quarantine flag, and will stay on board and recover until morning.