We spent a few days exploring St Kitts, basing ourselves in Port Zante Marina, these are my notes that might be of help/interest to potential sailing visitors to this most congenial island.
Approach: Coming from either N or S there’s plenty of water with no real hazards and only a light sprinkling of fish traps. The actual approach to the marina is a little tricky at the moment as there are mighty works on hand, building a second pier for giant cruise ships to moor up to. The best bet is to come in from the SW which will which leave the beach to port and opens out the marina entrance on the stbd bow.
Marina: Charlie the dock master, while friendly and helpful but not in the first class when it comes to answering emails or the phone. Probably the best bet is just to call up on Ch 68 when approaching, as the marina seems to be very sparingly visited by yachts and there’s usually likely to be a slot. The berths are in the form of strong posts (no rings) and short (about 12 feet long) finger piers attached to the marina wall. The tidal range is only about a foot. The posts are about 50 feet from the wall so yachts longer than about 45’ will need to rig springs from the middle of the boat whether coming in bow or stern first.
There is electricity (flat pin style, Charlie has an adaptor to EuroPlug) and good water for each berth. A fuel pontoon dispenses diesel and petrol. The showers and loos ashore are basic but clean. Most of the boats in the marina are either small motor vessels or giant catamarans running fishing or sailing excursions for the passengers from the cruise ships. There are also a number of commercial fishing craft and the atmosphere is lively. Generally evenings are peaceful but on holidays the music can be very loud and go on very late. Security seems pretty good but you have to aware that a lot of people are passing through and that it would be silly to leave valuable stuff lying about.
If you don’t fancy the marina you can anchor off the not terribly attractive seafront to the W in 4-5m. There’s good protection from the N and NE but it does look pretty rolly if there’s any S in the wind. There’s a dinghy dock in the marina where you can safely leave the tender when you check in.
Formalities: Customs are based in the marina office and immigration is a short walk away in the Port Zante complex. Both are pretty relaxed in their approach to office hours and more than one visit may be required.
Services: If you are planning to spend a few days and look around the island hiring a car is a good idea. Expect to pay c.US$50/d plus US$25 for a local driving licence (no test involved, just hand over the money). The island is circled by a (literal) ring road so there is no excuse for getting lost.
We found an excellent laundry at Elite Laundry Services in town. For boat bits there is a small Budget Marine chandlery on Bay Road. The are two supermarkets just outside the marina complex which are OK for basics and numerous small stalls selling fruit and veg. For a bigger restocking a better selection is available at Ram’s at the far end of Bay Road (next to the Cash & Carry), a couple of miles away. Inevitably local bread is something of a disappointment after Guadeloupe.
Observation & Activities: Port Zante was built to cater for the vast cruise ships that call in, one or two at a time, almost every day.
Each boat can have as many as 6,600 passengers aboard so when they discharge things get busy. Most of the punters are swept away to see the sights by a fleet of mini buses, put to sea in the fleet of motor boats and cats or left to wander The Mall into which they flow as they clear immigration . As you can imagine, the Mall is full of shops flogging the tackiest of tat while the food on offer would, on the whole, disgrace a motorway services station (honourable exception, ‘Sweet Cane’). All this is going on adjacent to the marina.
The key to a happy Kittitian experience is to plan to arrive at wherever you’re going bang on opening time before the cruise ship crowds arrive. It’s well worth visiting the National Museum, which is housed in a colonial building within the Port Zante complex, to get an idea of the island’s history. We particularly enjoyed visiting wonderfully preserved Brimstone Hill Fortress, zip lining at Sky Safari on the Wingfield Estate and the tough but rewarding hike up Mt Liamuiga.
St Kitts is a superlatively friendly island and really worth getting to see ‘on the ground’. The facilities for yachts are on the simple side but don’t let that put you off!
The girls will be posting more shortly…