Azure waters, gentle breeze made for relaxing morning sail in Nevis

Article and photos by Elena del Valle

Our view of the Nevis shore as we headed out sailing toward Saint Kitts.

Our view of the Nevis shore as we sailed toward Saint Kitts

During a recent stay in Nevis, part of Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, I went on a relaxing three-hour morning sailing activity aboard the Caona, a pretty catamaran owned and operated by Leeward Islands Charters (Fort Street, P.O. Box 586, Basseterre, Saint Kitts, +869-465-7474, fax 869-465-7070,, The weather had been mixed due to regional storms and I wondered if the outing would be cancelled. Luckily, on the day of the activity, the weather was good and there was a slight breeze.

From the sailboat we saw Mount Nevis and the shoreline.

From the sailboat we saw Mount Nevis and the shoreline – click to enlarge.

From the Montpelier Hotel and Beach, a pretty and secluded hillside hotel on the other side of the island where I was staying, I made my way to the Four Seasons Hotel in time for our 11 a.m. departure. Crossing from the parking lot to the dock I was pleased when I sighted the Caona. The sailboat, made in Saint Kitts in 1985, was 47 feet long by 22 feet wide and had a maximum capacity of 24 passengers on the Nevis Sail & Snorkel activity. A friendly man with an island accent and a clipboard welcomed me, asking right away if I was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel where the boat had docked and everyone else was staying. I assumed he wanted to know what room to charge.

A beautiful day for sailing

A beautiful day for sailing

I shared the boat with three couples, all Four Seasons guests visiting from the United States. Once we boarded the vessel, Lennox Wallace, our friendly captain, introduced himself and Elvis Richardson, his first mate; told us about the boat and its amenities, and what we would be doing.

At first we all sat in the shade next to the captain, getting to know each other and gazing curiously at the receding Nevis shore as we made our way slowly toward Saint Kitts. The sun felt warm and pleasant on my skin. Puffy white clouds peppered the cerulean Caribbean sky in a picture perfect moment. A mild breeze and the sound of splashing as we glided gently over the water completed the scene. The boat swayed with the gentle surf as we cut a line across the Caribbean waters in a westerly direction.

Lennox Wallace, our captain, stands at the helm.

Lennox Wallace, our captain, at the helm

After spraying liberal quantities of sunblock, the captain had warned us to sunblock was essential, I carefully made my way forward. I sat down on the deck, bringing one of the many towels available with me in case the surface was hot (it was cool to the touch). Soon the couples also all made their way to the same area of the boat. Elvis brought us cold drinks. The choices were rum punch, beer, soft drinks and water. We chatted amongst us, exchanging pleasantries until the rhythmic lull of the boat soothed us into a companionable silence.

We snorkeled in clean turquoise water in Shitten Bay, Saint Kitts.

We snorkeled in clean turquoise water in Shitten Bay, Saint Kitts – click to enlarge

Before long we reached Shitten Bay, a calm cove in Saint Kitts where the crew anchored with ease. Although there had been a boat when we arrived, it departed within moments, leaving us in the privacy of our temporary shelter. We sighted a turtle before we had even settled in our new spot. While Elvis sorted out snorkeling gear for each of us the captain instructed us on the snorkeling site and safety procedures. Like the boat itself the snorkeling equipment was clean and smell free. I was delighted to discover they had fins and a mask that fit me.

Our catamaran was 47 feet long and 22 feet wide and could accommodate up to 24 passengers.

Our catamaran was 47 feet long and 22 feet wide and could accommodate up to 24 passengers.

Within minutes of arriving we were all scattered in the warm water admiring the sea life below the surface.

Colorful tropical fish swam up to twenty feet below in a bed of rocks peppered with a few young coral. Slowly we each came back, climbed the ladder and dried off the salt water. After we all returned to the boat and settled down we headed back to our island. A short sail later we arrived back in Nevis, smiling. At the dock we all said our good-byes and headed back to our respective plans for the day. I sighed contentedly. The morning of pleasant sailing shared with a handful of equally pleasant people, and snorkeling in turquoise warm waters had left me with an irie feeling. That carefree sense was why I had gone to Nevis.

Paris chocolate, candy maker opened new Left Bank shop

By Elena del Valle

Photos by Gary Cox

Exterior of the left bank shop.

The exterior of the Left Bank shop

About two years ago we visited the Jacques Genin, fondeur en chocolat factory and shop in the Right Bank of Paris, France (Passionate chocolate, candy maker draw to Paris Marais shop) where we met the enthusiastic chocolate and candy maker and tasted some of his creations. Recently, we visited his new 80 square meter Left Bank corner shop (27 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France,+33 1 53 71 72 21, and carried home goodies to taste. We liked that they were made fresh at the Jacques Genin factory in Paris from all natural ingredients.

Flowers and large windows made the shop bright and cheerful.

Flowers and large windows made the shop bright and cheerful – click to enlarge

The brightly lit spacious shop was a treasure trove of candy, displayed behind elegant glass topped cases. It occupied a prominent corner in the well heeled seventh arrondissement.

Milk chocolate versions of the candies.

A box of milk chocolates – click to enlarge

Distinctive markings form elegant designs and identify the various flavors.

Distinctive markings formed designs that identified the various flavors – click to enlarge.

Fruit and vegetable flavored candies add a touch of color.

Fruit and vegetable candies added a touch of color – click to enlarge.

Once again we were delighted with the fragrant and delicate flavors in his bite size chocolates which had to be consumed within a week. A distinctive pattern or design on each chocolate was useful in identifying the filling by referring to a card the staff provided with our two boxes of nine chocolates each. Three types of chocolate were described in French on the card as well as candy like the caramels and pates de fruit flavors. There were three main categories of chocolate: dark, milk and praline. The praline was available in dark and milk chocolate flavors. Among the flavors we sampled was dark chocolate chestnut honey, dark chocolate mint and almond, dark chocolate praline, dark chocolate almond praline and milk chocolate hazelnut praline. We were unable to identify all of the flavors.

The chocolate and pate de fruit came in the distinctive square metallic boxes we recognized from our previous visits to the chocolate shops. We tasted some of the products from his new line of pates de fruits vegetable candy made from seasonal produce such as turnip, beetroot, carrot, celery, fennel, sweet pepper, and cucumber. While we appreciate their special nature they were not favorites. The next time we visit one of his shops, we’ll revert back to the fruit candy we have enjoyed in the past.

The box of chocolates and praline that we tried.

The box of chocolates and praline we tried – click to enlarge

A box of chocolates we tried.

The box of chocolates we tried – click to enlarge

Pate de fruit in vegetable flavors.

The box of the new vegetable Pate de fruit we tried

Caramels in a variety of flavors on display.

Caramels in a variety of flavors were on display in the Left Bank shop.

We also tried several caramels including the popular passion fruit as well as blackcurrant, raspberry, honey, almond, and salt butter. They were outstanding.