Nevis is a small, almost conical island with the 3,232 foot Nevis Peak, a long-dormant volcano, at its center. Nevis and St. Kitts are one country and are separated by a 2-mile wide channel known as The Narrows. The name of the island is derived from the Spanish, Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (Our Lady of the Snows). (Columbus originally named it St. Martin, but this caused some confusion. Therefore, it was renamed as above.) The white clouds which usually cover Nevis Peak looked to them like snow.
Just after 7 am on Wednesday, we weighed anchor in White House Bay, St. Kitts, for the 1 1/4-hour journey of about 6 1/2 miles to the moorings off Pinneys Beach, just north of Nevis’ biggest town, Charlestown. The island placed moorings in the anchorages in the hopes that it would restore the sea grass in the area. Since Cindy’s knee surgery we’ve been doing something a little different on Beatitude. Cindy has taken the helm while I go up front to retrieve the anchor when leaving an anchorage. This has worked quite well. Upon our arrival in Nevis, for the first time, Cindy manned (womanned?) the helm while I went forward to pick up the mooring. The process went off without a hitch. Although we tried this because of Cindy’s still limited mobility after surgery, it may become a more regular practice.
At first, we had planned to go in to town on our first day. Instead, we decided against it and took another day to relax on board. We read and painted and ate and enjoyed music and played games and watched a movie (Amazing Grace, which we’ve seen a few times, but it felt much more alive after visiting the sugar plantations in the West Indies and having just come from an island John Newton was harbored in with his slave ship). We also spent some time on the bow soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the brisk breeze. I was truly taken aback by the awesomeness of being anchored at the base of Nevis Peak. The cloud-cloaked pinnacle was stunning!
Today, we took Dalí for the one-mile ride into Charlestown, the major town on Nevis. First on our agenda, was to clear out of the country for tomorrow morning’s departure. We had to wait for about half an hour to wait for the customs guy to come back from his morning trip to the bakery. Clearing out of St. Kitts and Nevis was painless once he returned. Afterwards, we rented a car for the day. We’ve found it’s pretty much impossible to get a good feel for the island if you just hang around the port of entrance. So, to see Nevis, we hopped in our Suzuki rental car which had a sticker on the window that says “Made in Japan” accompanied by a warning that only the owner should remove the sticker.
It was then a short ride down the waterfront to reach the Alexander Hamilton House and History of Nevis Museum. Alexander Hamilton was one of America’s founding fathers. Unlike the others, however, he was born out of wedlock in the West Indies (on Nevis). He overcame all of this to become the chief staff aide to General George Washington, the father of the U.S. Coast Guard, the first Secretary of the Treasury and the founder of the Federalist Party. Unfortunately, he met his untimely death courtesy of Aaron Burr in a famous duel. Anyway, we visited his birthplace which contained very little except for some panels with information about his life.
From there we continued on around the island in a clockwise direction. One of the coolest stops was at the Cottle Church, an Anglican Church built on Nevis by the lawyer, Thomas Cottle, from 1822-24. Although he owned slaves, he disliked the practice and encouraged their more humane treatment. In fact, the church was built so he and his family could worship together with their slaves. It was the first church in the Caribbean in which blacks and whites could worship together.
For lunch, we stopped at the Hermitage, an old plantation which sits on the southern slopes of Mt. Nevis, now converted to an inn. The Great House is held by some to the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean dating to at least 1670, but construction is believed to have started earlier, in 1640. It was at the Great House that we sat outside to enjoy a fine lunch. The grounds were beautiful!
Finally, we completed our loop around Nevis by returning to Charlestown from the south. Before returning our car, we stopped at the Horatio Nelson museum. Vice Admiral Nelson, one of the most heroic figures in Britain’s military history, is remembered on Nevis because it was from Nevis that he chose his wife, Fanny Lisbet, a young Nevisian widow from a plantation family. Once again, the museum was not much to speak of, but it was nice to read a little about his history and ties to the island. Nelson, who joined the British Navy at the age of 12, was in the Caribbean to enforce England’s Navigation Acts, primarily stopping illegal trade between the English controlled islands in the Caribbean and the recently-independent United States of America. He earned quite a reputation doing his job in these waters. Eventually, he famously met his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. Given his high rank in the navy, he was not buried at sea as were many others. Instead, his body was preserved in a cask of Brandy (which acted as a preservative) until his body could be brought back to England.
Our time in St. Kitts and Nevis is far too short, but tomorrow we must continue our journey. We have several more islands to visit before we make it south of the hurricane belt before the start of hurricane season, which is just about three weeks away.