Three Island Tour

posted from Jolly Harbour, Antigua


It was time.  We motored out of English Harbour and sailed around the southwest corner of Antigua to Jolly Harbour.  This was a relatively short cruise that gave us a chance to make sure we had the boat rigged right and that all systems were working.  The trip was uneventful and only a couple small items needed attention.  We anchored in about 7 feet of water – always an interesting experience because Compass Rose draws just under five feet.

Jolly Harbour has easy access to a fancy and expensive food store where we can get items not available in the local island stores.  It also is home to the main Budget Marine store on the island, so last minute items were easy to get.  We also discovered a couple good bird watching ponds on that side of the island.  One is in easy walking distance and the other is off the bus route.  We spent parts of a few days visiting these areas.  The nearby pond was good, but the one farther away had only a couple birds – a letdown from last spring when it was teeming with birds.  We also took a bus and taxi to a salt pond on the north side of the island and saw lots of birds there.


Cruising life is full of hellos and goodbyes as boats move from harbor to harbor and island to island, but the goodbyes are usually just until your paths cross again.  Unfortunately some of the goodbyes are because someone is quitting cruising.  This time it was our friends Dave and Nancy on Vamoose.   Dave set sail solo for the US and we have been tracking him via Single Sideband Radio and reporting his progress to Nancy. We are going to miss them a lot.

Dave sails Vamoose past Nevis on his way north


After about a week in Jolly Harbour we had all our provisioning done, got the weather we were waiting for, and headed west towards Nevis and St. Kitts.  The forecast was for relatively light winds and calm seas.  There was supposed to be a swell coming in from the north, but it never amounted to much.  We started early and motored for a few hours until the wind filled in.  The wind came up from directly astern pretty much as expected.  Compass Rose doesn’t like the wind directly aft, so we pointed a bit north and aimed for the cut between the islands.  This was a longer sail than going around the south end of Nevis, but we sailed a lot faster.

After all this time we still know what to do with those big white things on the boat

We did a little  bird watching along the way.  The most interesting was the frigate bird. He was trying to scoop some small fish who were jumping out of the water to try to escape some bigger fish.  This is a tricky operation because a frigate bird cannot take off from the water.

Frigate bird trying to scoop up fish

Frigate bird trying to scoop up fish

I hope the frigate bird did better than me.


Things got interesting in another way after we got the sails up.  I was in the middle of doing something with the sails when the line began spooling off the bigger fishing pole but by the time I got to the pole, the fish was gone.

A little later the line began spooling off the smaller pole.  I ran back and grabbed the pole and cranked in some drag to stop the line.  Then I cranked in some more drag.  Then more drag.  The line kept spooling off in bursts and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I looked out behind the boat and saw a sailfish jump! I looked at the reel and the line kept running out in spurts.  Soon I could see the spool, the all that was left was one loop and the knot.  Then the line broke.  The sailfish put on quite a display jumping behind the boat as we sailed away.  It was probably for the better, because we would have a terrible time trying to land and deal with a five foot sailfish.

The line started spooling out a third time as we approached the narrows.  I got the rod, put in some drag and started reeling the fish in.  This one was much smaller and more manageable and he mostly skimmed on top of the water as I pulled him in.  Then just as I got him close to the boat I lost him.  I pulled the line and lure aboard and found that one of the hooks had broken off – probably when the first fish struck.

Lure missing hook, reel missing line


We found our way between the islands and down to Charlestown.  Our information was that all the anchorages in Nevis had been converted to mooring fields, so we grabbed a mooring, put the dinghy together and went in to town.  We just caught Customs, Immigration, and the Port Captain before they went home for the day.  We found out that the mooring we were on was private, so we moved up the coast to Pinney’s Beach and picked up an official mooring, one of the last left in mooring field. This group of moorings are in the shadow of the volcano.  We got some spectacular sunsets to the west as the nearly full moon rose over the volcano to the east.  We got one of the best green flashes we have ever seen.


Cruise ship on the horizon

Our first day on Nevis we took a tour with a taxi driver we met on the dock.  He “scratches the guitar” under the name Watusi, and is sometimes referred to as Bird Man, but his friends seem to call him Dave.  He made me look short and heavy.  He is into holistic stuff and claims that the crumbling masonry in old buildings on the island is good to rub into your skin.

Exfoliation by mortar

Exfoliation by mortar

When we got back to the boat we decided to move to a mooring closer to town.  It was a lot more convenient, but just as rolly.


The next day we took a bus to Golden Rock, an old sugar plantation now run as a restaurant and guest house.  There is a road and trail that leads up one of the mountains into the rain forest.  We thought it would be a good place to see some different birds and it would be much cooler hiking than what we usually get on the islands. Golden Rock itself is beautiful.  There are beautiful flowers, guest rooms, and a nice restaurant, not to mention birds, caterpillars, and monkeys.

Frangipani caterpillar loves the leaves of the frangipani tree and turns into a big, brown moth

Find the monkey

Find the monkey

Resting poolside at Golden Rock

Resting poolside at Golden Rock

The hike is a road that goes up the mountain to support a water pipeline.  The first part is paved and goes through a small settlement.  Then it turns to gravel, and finally just rocks.  The pipeline brings rainwater from the mountain top down to cisterns.

Goat herd we saw on the road

Pipeline brings water down the mountain from the rain forest.  A fairly typical water supply solution in the islands

Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of luck with birds that day.


The next day we took a bus to some botanical gardens.  So here is where you get a break from all the bird pictures and get to see some beautiful flowers.  Unfortunately I don’t know the name of many of them.


Blue flowers

As is usual in work areas, five bees were leaning on shovels watching one gather nectar


Interesting yellow and orange leaf

Black bird

Pink flowers

Humming bird

Yellow flowers

Humming bird

Pink flowers

Humming bird

Pink and green flowers


We tried three different moorings in Nevis, but all rolled.  We motored up the coast to check out some of the other mooring fields, but in the end we sailed over to St. Kitts.  We picked Majors Bay on the south end of St. Kitts facing Nevis.  It looked well protected.  We motored into the bay and realized that one of the terminals for the car ferry between Nevis and St. Kitts is in the bay.  We anchored and waited to see what the ferry would do.  As it turned out we were well out of his way and he created very little wake, so we stayed for a couple days to get a chance to explore the south end of the island.

Ferry under full moon in Majors Bay

Ferry under full moon in Majors Bay

Nevis mooring ball that escaped to Majors Bay, St. Kitts.  You just hope there was no boat attached when the mooring went walkabout.


We moved to Port Zante Marina in Basseterre, St. Kitts.  Basseterre is the biggest town in St. Kitts and Nevis.  The marina is next to the cruise ship port, which is  full of duty free stores and houses customs and immigration, so it is the best place to stay when you need to clear out of the country.

The cruise ships looked huge

Port Zante Marina with more working fishing boats than cruising yachts

The big city is convenient because there are grocery stores nearby and it’s an easy walk to the bus terminal.  We took advantage of the local buses to visit a couple tourist attractions and a restaurant along the coast. The first place we visited was Brimstone Hill, site of one of the oldest and most well preserved forts in the Caribbean.  It was improved over the years and became known as the Gibralter of the Caribbean.  We got off the bus and started to walk up to the fort.  A van came down from the fort, picked up some people, and then stopped for us.  It was the employee shuttle and they gave us a ride to the fort, some 800 feet above sea level.

Jackie and I at the fort with Statia (St. Eustatius) in the background

Jackie and I at the fort with Statia (St. Eustatius) in the background

Just a small part of Fort George, Brimstone Hill

The next day we took the bus to the Clay Villa, an old plantation and the only one on St. Kitts that did not use slave labor.  It is owned by a woman who is a direct descendant of a Caribe, the native tribe that inhabited St. Kitts when Columbus discovered the island.  We got there early and did some birding around the grounds before the tour.  The tour was of the old plantation house and its gardens.


Rare white winged pigeon


We spent our last day in St. Kitts birding with a local bird watcher named Percy.  He took us around to many of his favorite spots and we saw fifty different species that day.


We had a good time in St. Kitts, but the wind was coming a bit north and that would be good for our sail from St. Kitts to Deshais, Guadeloupe.  This trip would be about eighty miles and could easily take fourteen hours.  We had planned to move to Nevis and start from there, but we had trouble catching anyone in the marina office so we could pay our bill.  Also, the customs officer was having trouble printing out our clearance.  He let me leave his office and he brought it to the boat when it was done.

We left the marina at 3:45 AM and motored southeast past Nevis.  The wind finally filled in and we had a pretty good but bumpy sail to Montserrat.  We expected the seas and wind to calm down a bit behind the island, but both wrapped around the south end of the island and we had to motor directly into them.  At times we were down below three knots trying to push through the wind and waves.  The only good thing about it was that we got a great view of the lava flows from the volcano.

West lava flow

Southwest lava flow

The wind and waves came back to a more normal direction when we cleared the south end of the island.  The wind picked up and we flew to Deshais.  We arrived about 8 pm, some 16 hours after we started, and anchored in the dark.

The next day we cleared in and rested.


Deshais is a little seaside tourist town.  It has some restaurants, some souvenir shops (one hosts the customs and immigration computer), and a couple grocery stores.  Just outside of town at the top of a long steep hill there is a very nice botanical garden.  Naturally we hiked up to visit it.    There were lots of interesting trees and flowers and of course a few birds.

Banyon tree drops shoots from its limbs which take root

Flamingos sleeping

Flamingo looking for insects under a rock

Purple-throated Carib

Purple-throated Carib

Sun shining through the leaves

Red flowers

More flowers

Let’s see..put in 50 cents…food comes out the tube..WAIT!! I FORGOT THE CUP!!

Blue flower

Kapok tree

NEXT: RETURN TO ANTIGUA (Where there are no botanical gardens)


This entry was posted on March 29, 2014 at 11:38 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Three Island Tour”

  1. joandr Says:

    Loved the flowers! Thanks. I’m always amazed at the brilliant colors. That goes for the birds too.

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