Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Islands that Brush the Clouds

Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace in Nevis. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace in Nevis. SUBMITTED PHOTOS


Frances Diebler


Along with St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis, Redonda, and Montserrat are known as the “Islands that Brush the Clouds.” Nevis and St. Kitts are one country. We checked into customs at Charlestown. That was how it was when we were there. Charlestown then was the only town of entry in Nevis. Nevis is a rather unusually shaped island. It is rounded in shape and has been likened to a sombrero with a peak in the center which rises 3,000 feet skyward toward the clouds. Hence the descriptive name of this island group.

Nevis was named by Columbus as were most of the islands. He called it, “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves” which means, “Our lady of the Snows”.

Early settlers came from St. Kitts in 1628. The first town named “Jamestown” after King James, was built close to Fort Ashby, which sank into the sea after an earthquake and tidal wave hit the island.

The battles between the two islands hampered development of both islands. In 1783 the British finally took over and began cultivating and

Grendel anchored off Islands that Touch the Sky.

Grendel anchored off Islands that Touch the Sky.

building many sugar cane mills and plantations. The British began to flourish. There are still crumbling remains of the old mills and plantations on the islands. Fortunately, some of these remains have been converted into hotels for tourists to relive the good old days.

There is a two mile wide channel between St. Kitts and Nevis with some rather dangerous shoals in the waters between the islands. They lay in the East and North East section of the passage. On a clear day at midday, stay about a mile off St. Kitts and you should have no problem. Again, I remind you that my information may not be current.

Many Americans may remember from their history lessons, some information about two of our most noted ancestors associated with Nevis, Alexander Hamilton, who was born on Nevis, November 20, 1755, and Admiral Horatio Nelson, who was stationed at Antigua’s English harbor. Nelson married Fanny Nesbit, a widow, whose family resided in Nevis. America had a close history with Nevis early on.

I really should have advised you sooner to

Captain Horatio Nelson’s home in Nevis.

Captain Horatio Nelson’s home in Nevis.

brush up on Early American History since there is a lot of history related to America, as well as England, in these islands. There are a number of books devoted to cruising areas that are not guides per se, but rather histories of the islands which are fascinating. Do a little research, buy some relevant books before you travel to the islands, read and plan your visit to each island in order to get a full sense of the history of these beautiful, historically interesting places.

Yes, there are some book stores and material on the larger, more populated islands, but the smaller, less traveled ones, may not have what you want or need. That goes for nautical charts, as well. There is a rather bumpy ride offshore between the islands and it is well to be fully aware of the current underwater threats to safe boating before venturing into the channel between St. Kitts and Nevis.

Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron.

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