Last Mango In Paradise

Splat! A large lump of something yellow hit the path in front of us. Then another, and another. Flinching, I glanced up into the rain-forest canopy. Flashes of movement and an insolent chattering betrayed the culprits—monkeys, and plenty of them. Splat! Now we recognized the somethings as the remains of mangoes dropping from the canopy as the monkeys finished munching them. Messy
Author:
Publish date:

Splat! A large lump of something yellow hit the path in front of us. Then another, and another. Flinching, I glanced up into the rain-forest canopy. Flashes of movement and an insolent chattering betrayed the culprits—monkeys, and plenty of them. Splat! Now we recognized the somethings as the remains of mangoes dropping from the canopy as the monkeys finished munching them. Messy eaters, those green vervets.

Being bombarded with mangoes by monkeys wasn’t high on my list of expectations for this charter vacation, but somehow it came as no surprise. Halfway up a mountainside on St. Kitts, we were off the beaten track in more ways than one.

Most people who charter out of St. Martin restrict their cruising to that split-personality island—half of it French, half Dutch—and to the nearby islands of Anguilla and St. Barts. The all-female crew that met up on board Barnabe IV, a Beneteau 473, at the Snsail base in Oystery Pond last June had more ambitious plans. Pip, Bird, and jean live near me in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Dawn had made the long trek from London. The four-star delights of St. Martin/Saint Maarten and St. Barts were tempting, but we had a yen to go farther afield, to St. Kitts and Nevis.

mango_paradise

Sunsail guide Alcid’s eyebrows shot skyward when we told him. Few charterers venture that far away, and I suspect we were the first boatload of women who wanted to tackle the 40-mile beat to windward. He made sure we got an extra-thorough chart briefing. Provisions (beer, vodka, wine, rum, mixers, bread) were purchased and stowed, and within a few hours of arriving we were off, stopping at Ile Fourche for some much-needed snorkeling and then sailing to Anse Colombier, a beautiful anchorage on the northeastern tip of St. Barts. That night, we lay on the foredeck staring up at a glorious southern sky filled with constellations we northerners don’t often get to see. Shooting stars zoomed overhead, and we felt the weight of domestic responsibilities and decision making slowly dissipate.

There were a few moans and groans early the next morning as we secured the hatches and the chain clanked around the windlass. We were in for a long, tedious upwind sail, and my plan was to get the hard sailing over with first so that we could casually poke our way back downwind and return the boat on a high note.

The winds blow strong, mostly from the southeast. We were happy to be aboard a big Beneteau as we pointed her bow at the 3,800-foot-high peak of Mount Misery on St. Kitts. Slowly, so slowly, the merald-green slopes drew closer. Tired and salty, we finally rounded the northwestern tip of the island and motored the last 5 miles to clear in at Basseterre, the capital. The story goes that Columbus named the island either after himself or after the patron saint of travelers—St. Christopher—but who knows for sure?

Sunsail had recommended that we engage a guide named Percival to take us on a tour of the island, and we assumed he was the gentleman waving us eagerly toward an ominous-looking concrete pontoon; we declined and anchored instead, taking the dinghy ashore for the first of our bureaucratic negotiations of the week. Five wild-eyed, salt-encrusted, and unkempt women certainly caused a bit of a stir among the local taxi drivers. I left my heat-stroked crew to fend them off while I spent what seemed like hours filling out endless customs forms. The smaller the island, the more complicated the entry procedure…and we still had immigration to get through.

Basseterre is a quiet, sleepy kind of place. Its msall-town charm is enhanced by its recently opened marina, in which we found a slip that let us escape the rather rolly anchorage. We were quickly enchanted by the beauty of the town and harbor and the friendliness of the people. Its Britishness still shines through, nearly 40 years after independence. We dined that night at a great restaurant called Ballahoo, overlooking The Circus, a miniaturized version of London’s Piccadilly Circus complete with a red phone box and a statue of Eros.

Immigration, thankfully, was easier on us than customs had been, and we were soon crammed into a van with Percy the guide. St. Kitts isn’t a big island—maybe 17 miles long and 5 wide—but there is plenty to see, and every view is exceptional. We stopped to buy trinkets from a smiling woman at a roadside stall and watched a gentleman with a monkey perched on his shoulder bundle his uniformed children into a car, ready for school.

Related

7261ab1f-6891-424f-a22f-14c946c08ba8

Gear: Fusion Panel-Stereo

Plug & Play StereoIt can be a real pain to install a marine stereo inside a boat, what with the tiresome business of running cables through cramped spaces and finding somewhere sensible to locate the speakers. The audiophiles at Fusion thought about this and came up with the ...read more

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more