Article and photos by Elena del Valle
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, www.leewardislandscharters.com, firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 - 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
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, 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 - 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.
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.