A New Year

January 5, 2012 Posted by Deb

We spent New Year’s Eve on Compass Rose whose captain hails from Perry, Iowa. Tom and Gail are sailing with their two daughters and a dog and Tom is the former Iowan. The rest of the family is solid California from Sausalito. Four or five fireworks displays triggered at midnight and their dog went into major fear mode.

We cleared out of St. Martin behind two megayachts, each with a stack of passports of around 50 for passengers and it looked like about 20 or more for crew. The captains took over every horizontal space in immigration with piles of paper and had cell phone conversations going while dealing with customs. A few of the beautiful people came along as well for, I believe, tight plane connections and it looked like it had been a long time since they had actually waited in a line. Seemed like a high pressure job for the captain. The Dutch immigration folks love making these folks wait and the story is that Paul Allen will never come to St. Martin again because of an immigration experience.

We got our weather and took off for St. Kitts, about 50 miles away. It was a great sailing day with the Christmas winds moderated and the swells down to 8 feet. Only problem was that the wind went way south on us and we couldn’t make St. Kitts.

I expected a shift that never came and we ended up in Statia (Sint Eustatius). Customs and Immigration ate about a third of our time on the island but we did a quick hike and ate at a nice looking place with terrible food. It was Chicken Day and all that was left was some mushy stewed stuff; the rotis on the menu were finished.

From Deb: On our little hike, we climbed a cliff to an historic cobblestone village from the 1700’s. I stopped in a little shop to get some water and found Grandpa Cookies. Whenever I visited my grandpa, he would pull out his little baggie (from a recycled bread wrap) full of cookies he made, one at a time, holding a waffle iron on a stick over his gas stove. The cookies in Statia are called Krokante wafels met vanillesmak (crispy waffles with vanilla). Grandpa, who always claimed to be French, with VanderEcken being his last name, made beautiful Dutch cookies. hmmmm.

Statia isn’t really geared up for tourists. They had to call immigration and roust them out to open their office and the restaurant that we had recommended to us just decided to close that day. We also had to wing it for a dinghy dock. We got a kick out of the port security guard. There was a 40 foot gate across the road that was wide open and he kept running out and insisting that we walk through a little security gate on the wrong side of the road. He waved his hands and said “This is for trucks and cars” and pointed at his little gate. Looks like Statia has a couple of dive shops that seemed busy. We grabbed a mooring ball, Deb dove it to check it out, and left the next morning for St. Kitts.

We hoped for a better wind angle on the fifth, all forecasts were for east but got out there and found winds at 140 to 185. We were supposed to be hard on the wind on a port tack and we were motorsailing on a starboard tack. We could either spend the day sailing off into the Caribbean and tacking back or stick with the diesels. Seventeen years ago I would have sailed, today we motored.

St. Kitts has possibly the most pleasant immigration, customs, and marina staff we have ever encountered. The worst remains Key West, FL. in 1996 and that record will never fall. We put Neytiri in the marina because the area is not good for anchoring or dinking. We got rough docking instructions from the Zante Marine port captain and were to get details as we came in. When we came in, he informed us that we would be Med tying to a single wood piling on port. Deb lassoed the piling as we backed in and between the wind and some tank driving with the diesels we got hooked on three corners only. Then it was off to more highly recommended bad food but I have a feeling we’ll get lucky with the food later on. The expectations for this island are a hike to the 4,000 foot volcano, diving, and a train ride. That’s right, the only working train in the Caribbean.

3 Responses to A New Year

  1. Beth says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun for you and Chuck. I’m glad you’ve had some visitors so far, and that all is well. happy new year.

  2. eric the boat builder says:

    Sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun, wish we were
    there. So far no snow here. Haven’t been crosscountry skiing once yet
    never had a winter like this before. We have got lots of wood for the wood
    burner and the house is warm, but getting tired of not skiing. Hope to see
    you sometime in the islands.

  3. Barbara Eldridge says:

    Sounds beautiful! How is the boat handling? It’s 70 degrees here today and I can almost imagine what it’s like in St. Kitts! This is the winter that wasn’t so far. How are you set for mid February? Any idea where you’ll be? Mid March? I’m looking to play hooky from school!

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