Category Archives: St. Christopher (a.k.a. St. Kitt)

HURRICANE MARIA (SEPTEMBER 2017)

Hurricane season has arrived in full force. As cruisers, we spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring weather systems. The latest shows Hurricane Maria intensified into a catastrophic Category 5 storm Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph), as it surged toward islands in the eastern Caribbean.

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Projected track for Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017

Hurricane warnings have been posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia (where Pilots’ Discretion is currently located), Martinique and Anguilla. Many of these islands are still recovering from direct hits from hurricane Irma. (See http://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/cat-5-hurricane-maria-threatens-storm-battered-caribbean/ar-AAs6sKy?ocid=spartandhp.) We are continuing to keep all those affected in our thoughts and prayers. We will post additional updates after this storm passes.

MOVIE TRAILER by Ronan(10) and Ryan (11)

Ronan (10) and Ryan (11) made a “movie trailer” for our Caribbean cruising adventures. We added it to our “VIDEOS” page at: https://pilotsdiscretion.com/videos/. We are also sharing it here, below. I think we found our new videographers! They had a lot of fun making it. We hope you enjoy watching it! Click on the below image to play.

We have also created a dedicated YouTube channel  where we have compiled the videos from our blog, and uploaded additional videos from our journey.  To view the videos click on the link below (or copy and paste into browser):

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC94z5hCIrRiEvY8MTJegTbA.

Shirley Heights, Antigua

ST. KITTS & NEVIS, and ANTIGUA (by Theresa)

ST. KITTS & NEVIS

Quill volcano, Statia

Quill volcano, Statia

After departing St. Bart, we cruised past the Quill volcano on St. Eustatius and on to Majors Bay in St. Kitts. As the only boat in the harbor, we dropped our anchor in 10 feet of crystal clear water and enjoyed the view of Nuestra Señora del las Nieves (Our Lady of Snow), in Nevis, while enjoying our evening sun downers on our bow. Majors Bay is located just west of the narrows between St. Kitts & Nevis, and is a good place to stage before heading to Antigua. Another sunrise departure and we were on our way!

ANTIGUA

The day we cruised to Antigua was perhaps one of the calmest days in the Caribbean Sea that we have encountered to date with zero to one (0-1) foot seas. The clouds reflecting in the mirror-like water, as the Pilot’s Discretion cruised along slicing the sea like a hot knife through warm butter, was yet another one of those surreal moments that will remain forever etched in our minds.

NELSON’S DOCKYARD

After the calm day at sea, we cruised into English Harbor and tied up at the historic Nelson’s Dockyard Marina. The marina is  situated in the heart of a restored 18th century naval base and is named after Admiral Horatio Nelson who gained notoriety in the battle of Trafalgar. While the old naval vessels are long gone, replaced with private yachts, one cannot help but sense the immense history of this working maritime monument while strolling around the grounds.

The old Officer's Quarters now houses the marina office & other yacht service providers

The old Officer’s Quarters now houses the marina office & other yacht service providers

Ryan & Ronan pushing the replica capstans (used to careen British naval vessels), Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua

Ryan & Ronan pushing the replica capstans (used to careen British naval vessels), Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua

FORT BERKELEY

The historical Fort Berkeley is just a short stroll from the restored naval base and is well worth the hike.

Patton taking in the view from his jet pack perch at Fort Berkely, Antigua

Patton taking in the view from his jet pack perch at Fort Berkely, Antigua

CLASSIC YACHT REGATTA

We had the good fortune to have arrived at Nelson’s Dockyard just in time for the 2016 Classic Yacht Regatta. At the conclusion of the regatta, the classic yacht parade sailed right past our boat giving us front row seat viewing to the spectacular vessels from a different era.

Classic Yacht Parade, Antigua

Classic Yacht Parade, Antigua

ANTIGUA SAIL WEEK

The Classic Yacht Regatta was followed by Antigua Sail Week with week long festivities that rivalled the Classic Yacht Regatta.

SHIRLEY HEIGHTS

We had been told that no trip to Antigua would be complete without a journey to Shirley Heights. Cruisers and locals gather there every Sunday night to enjoy the the spectacular sunset views, complete with BBQ, and steel drum reggae and calypso. The night that we were there was no exception. Mother nature painted the sky in vibrant colors as we watched the sun set over the horizon with the Pilot’s Discretion in the harbor below.

Shirley Heights, Antigua

Shirley Heights, Sunday night BBQ, with steel band reggae & calypso, Antigua

Shirley Heights, Antigua

Shirley Heights, Antigua

Our next adventures will have us continuing to cruise south, including stops in Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia. We will continue to post as both internet and time allow. In the meantime, wishing a very happy Mother’s Day to the most wonderful and inspirational woman I know, my Mom! We are looking forward to seeing you very soon.

 

Pet Import Requirements in the Caribbean

Patton driving the dinghy

Patton driving the dinghy

We have been receiving a lot of inquiries through our site recently about the customs and immigration issues associated with bringing our Cocker Spaniel “Patton” along with us as we have cruised throughout the Caribbean. As such, we have updated Patton’s page to include a compilation of helpful contact details and information for various island nations that we have visited in the Caribbean over the last year and a half (2014 – 2016). For those interested in cruising the Caribbean with their four legged friends check out Patton’s page under the “About Us – Patton – Customs and Immigration” on the header above or visit:  https://pilotsdiscretion.com/about/patton/customs-and-immigration-issues-specific-to-bringing-patton-along/ or send us a reply message below.

Montserrat, active volcano

St. Kitts, Montserrat and Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Our first leg south of Statia took us along the west coast of St.Kitts, providing us with spectacular views of yet another island created by massive, now dormant volcanoes. We elected to spend the night anchored in Majors Bay on the southwest tip of St. Kitts. We had the entire bay to ourselves where we enjoyed spectacular views across the Narrows (the passage that separates St. Kitts from her southern neighbor, Nevis).

 

At first light we were underway for what would be one of our longer passages in the past several months (85 nautical miles). We ran southeast, passing just to the west of Montserrat. Montserrat is an island with a still active volcano that has devastated this small island nation. From the late 1990’s until present day the volcano on Montserrat has repeatedly errupted, completely destroying the capital city of Plymouth.

 

Montserrat active volcano, Plymouth rooftops on the bottom left

Montserrat ACTIVE volcano, Plymouth rooftops on the bottom left

As a result, the island population has been reduced by over 50% as the people have found it increasingly difficult to live quite literally in the shadow of an active volcano. The day that we passed offshore, the volcano was in an active state which resulted in a marine exclusion zone being established. The net result for us was we had to remain at least 2 miles offshore as we passed by. That said, our view was still unbelievable. We could see the rooftops of the now abandoned town of Plymouth sticking up out of the lava and ash flows that buried the entire town. The volcano was spewing ash and smoke and when we went outside to take a few photos, we came back in covered in ash. It was a first hand look at the awesome and sometimes devastating power of mother nature.

Montserrat active volcano ash & lava flow

Montserrat ACTIVE  volcano ash & lava flow

As we put Montserrat astern we still had about 40 miles of open ocean to run to get to our next stop, Deshaies, Guadeloupe. The seas were a managable 4-5 ft as we continued on our journey down island. Since we are approaching the beginning of hurricane season, the routes that we are choosing are heavily travelled by fellow cruisers, all making their way towards Grenada. On this day, we passed no fewer than 10 sailboats heading the same way as us. Once in a while we will see a fellow power boater, usually a trawler but the vast majority of boats this far south are sailboats.

Ronan hoisting the courtesy flag, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Ronan hoisting the courtesy flag, Deshaies, Guadeloupe

After a long day (about 10 hrs underway) we arrived in Deshaies, Guadeloupe. What a quaint, pleasant surprise we have found this French fishing village to be. It has one of the most sheltered harbors that we have stayed in to date. The town itself has a very French small town feel to it. It is difficult to find anyone who speaks English and unfortunately, it seems that the two years of French that Theresa took in college have completely abandoned her so we have had to revert to sign language and the amused patience of the locals as we try to communicate our needs to them. There are many restaurants and open air markets lining the main street.

Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Deshaies, Guadeloupe

The harbor is full of cruising boats from many different countries (This morning, I counted 42 boats, mostly flying the French flag, a couple from Great Britain and Spain. We are the only American boat in the harbor). We have enjoyed Deshaies so much that we have elected to spend an extra day here before continuing our journey south. When we depart here we will make a short trip to the southern tip of Guadeloupe where we will refuel, then head south for our next island country, Martinique.