Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Barbuda wow!!!!

Barbuda a high place in our "Top places"

Barbuda trip 
17 33 N 61 46 W
Although we went to Antigua first Barbuda as far as customs and clearance is concerned its easier to check in in Antigua which allows stays in Barbuda. So we left Jolly Harbour back North and had a great sail around 37 miles to Cocoa point which had been recommended in the right conditions. Cocoa point is on the west coast so in the lee for protection from the Atlantic. 

The sand on the beach has a pink hue and is probably the finest and softest we have ever seen, when its dry a little way from the water it just blows off your feet a little like talcum powder. The bay is about 7 miles long and the whole island is surrounded by reefs which has claimed to have over 300 wrecks. There were just a few fellow cruising yachts so it was great. There are no bars or anything on the beach except for a private resort which had security men and gardeners I don't remember seeing any guests but there were "toys" on the beach.

We spoke to a couple from one of the yachts who told us if we call on VHF and ask for John taxi we could organise a trip inland and to see the Frigate birds, we have seen lots in a few places but never close up. The taxi collected us at the closest road to the beach and took us to the ferry dock which had more "trippers" from Antigua, we then went to Codrington  the main settlement, its a very small place, the driver pointing out things along the way but didn't stop so I couldn't take photographs. Barbuda exports sand to the rest of the Caribbean we saw the sand piled up like pyramids which had been filtered through mesh. All over the island deer and donkeys run wild, a few decided to cross or stop in front of the taxi when ever they felt like it. Most of the houses have fences to keep out the donkeys and horses that roam around, he told us the horses were all owned but they do roam around. Horse racing is a sunday pastime and we passed the race course but the driver didn't stop. 

The express ferry

The taxi took us to the North coastline and we met up with another taxi, "John taxi " gave us a talk about Barbuda and the place he took us to close to caves and huge rocks which had tumbled down. 

He described how the Codrington family that owned the island imported slaves and from the place we were taken to they lit fires to show slave ships to guide them in, "the way in" was into the reef so they sank, the slaves that survived were then used by the Codringtons. 

The reef surrounds Barbuda and so many ships fell foul here

Barbuda was used for growing livestock and hunting by the family.

Emancipation came and the islanders survived, the island is owned through a cooperative way. Only Barbudans  can own and build a house, outsiders can only rent here. The only way another non islander can own here is to marry a local.

We reached the dock where the boats left to reach the bird sanctuary, it seemed to take forever to cross 4 miles even in the fast skiff, its not allowed to get the boats really close to the nests which are surrounded by mangroves. The male Frigate bird has a bright red pouch which it proudly displays to attract the females so they can mate, once the chicks are born and they no longer mate the red pouch is no longer shown until the next season.

We only managed to see a few in the distance. The water is very shallow and the boat guy stood holding the boats steady, there are strange upside down jellyfish I asked him to show us one, they don't sting. 

We were then taken to another "pink sand beach" where we had lunch, Don had lobster, I was too slow in asking for one, next time ok.

I found a free model

Oh soooooooo sooooofffffffffft

So it was back in the taxi then back to the boat, we enjoyed the tour. 

As the weather was changing, the forecast not looking promising and the water was rolling us about so the decision was made to leave back to Antigua, Jolly Harbour.

Don and Glenys
Agua Therapy

second visit to Jolly

The first time we went into Jolly we met a smashing British couple  Stuart and Julia who have a classic yacht named Desiderata a 66ft ketch which they charter and enter the races. They had bought her and totally refitted her "Desi" for short was 40 years old and a 70 year old design a Malaba designed by John Alden fro pure speed. Take a look at more details at 

The second time we went into Jolly Stuart and Julia invited onboard for sundowners and shown around, they have to have 12 to race but manage alone for non racing, no fancy electric bits on her. Stuart and Julia are "foodies"and from what you can see on the website above their menu is pretty extensive. Another evening Stuart and Julia came aboard our "plastic" yacht for nibbles and sundowners, Stuart has lots of  sailing tales and experience to share. 

When we went into shore we saw Nychea and met up with Tony and Gill for drinks at the bar, they were so busy cleaning and preparing to be lifted.

Tony and Gill told us their plans to be hauled out in Jolly Harbour while they return home, so Antigua is one of the hurricane safe places, we always hope.
As Gill was emptying their freezer she invited us aboard for dinner doing us proud with a lovely meal, we had a lovely evening with them. All being well we will meet them on our way back next season when they return for xmas.

Don and Glenys
Agua Therapy

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Antigua part one

The trip from St Barths was an overnighter a 96 nm trip, as I mentioned in the previous blog not intentional we managed to find ourselves in "the pack" of the last days race, at it was pretty exciting and Don did more 90 degree turns than we have ever done to get out of the way.

Most of the way yet again we sailed pretty hard on the wind the direction of the wind again easterly with some south easterly and as we are pretty determined we did sail and not motor until we were outside the markers for Jolly Harbour.

The water colour is stunning around the coastline of Antigua reminding us of the Bahamas. On entering Jolly Harbour the colour changes somewhat to a murky green, its not allowed to anchor here so you have to pick up a mooring ball, luckily we found one quite close to the marina so it was a 5 minute dinghy ride to the marina dinghy dock.

17 04 N 61 53 W
Don took a ride in to checkin with customs and immigration. We had breakfast in the sports bar and used the pc's to check the mail, surprisingly the marina transmitted the WiFi enough to be picked up some of the time on the ball although the best time was in the early hours.

The beach just outside Jolly harbour
Fun boat moored outside thank goodness

I like hats
View from one of the the bars
Wow were the guys excited about the cricket
Well Jolly Harbour isn't so exciting, but does have a large supermarket, clean and lots of fresh produce. 
Jolly Harbour entrance has housing complexes mainly 2 bedroom water front properties with their own docks a very useful addition and being a hurricane hole is quite attractive. 

St John is the capital of Antigua so on the buss we hopped and found ourselves in a very busy place, as I needed a test for my eyes the little map helped us find the "eye doctor" so test done and about an hour later we walked back into town.

The museum is not bad but as in most of the Caribbean history is mostly based on slaves and how they regained freedom, one of the boasts is a statue of the cricketer Viv Richards and his bat and ball he used to get his world record, he was born in Antigua.

Old baby papoose

Viv with his bat and ball behind him

This is a Warri board is used in a game here apparently still a very popular game now its used with stones or seeds 
As it was quite late we missed most of the indoor market but didn't fancy taking things on a long bus ride back anyway. While walking through the town we passed by the cruise dock and the custom cruise shop area all very very expensive the food in the restaurants are way over priced its no wonder folks stay on board to eat I doubt any locals eat there.

7 00 N 61 50 W
We spent 2 days in Jolly then went to an anchorage a couple of hours away Carlisle bay where we stayed for 2 nights the last one being quite rolly, somehow even way out from land we found the "internet" amazing. The beach is private, palm fringed with a resort, they take guests around on wake-boards mainly kids screaming when they manage to throw them off and water-skiers some accomplished others not so. Yet again we were constantly surrounded by turtles, we did snorkel close to the shore which was ok mainly small fish but colourful. It was a pretty quiet place hardly any other yachts but we enjoy those.

17 01 N 61 46 W
So off we sailed around the coast not far to Falmouth, a squall provided us with a fresh water wash down.
When we entered Falmouth we weaved through the yachts at anchor and on mooring balls and noticed Desi on a ball, it was quite calm but very busy with yachts ready for the next big event the Antigua classic, some of the most impressive classics or should I say copy classics.

When we returned from a trip ashore there was another yacht anchoring not too far away, the lady was waving at us, it was only later when we heard someone knock on the hull and shout us that it was Tony and Gill from Nychea, we had met up in Trellis bay in the BVI's.

A few beer with Tony and Gill from Nychea
Ashore a half hour walk takes you to English Harbour which is also Nelsons Dockyard, we found an approved ICOM dealer and after several attempts managed to find the "right man" Unfortunately the "right man" at 100$ an hour we decided to return out "iffy ICOM SSB to the UK later this year. 
English Harbour also has a marina which was quite busy with the Oyster regatta, lots of Oyster yachts all busy with crew preparing for the race, hmm more on that in a while. 

Outside the museum in Falmouth

Officers quaters

Why they have a UK phone box I have no idea

Nelsons Dockyard houses lots of old stone buildings one of which is a museum, free entrance which is always good.  The marina is surrounded by a few cafĂ©'s bars and restaurants. One day when we went in the place was pretty full of tourists on excursions from the cruise ships which had arrived in St John, when you listen to the conversations you can always hear we don't have enough time to see this or that with just a few short hours it must be frustrating to spend all that money to have such a short visit.

Someone rowed this alone across the Atlantic 

Little guy cooling off
The night before we left I was below and heard some shouting, Don watched as a classic yacht came close by us under full sail drop the anchor then the sails, all with some very fit young men on board, I watched them doing push ups on the decks. They had anchored right in the middle of Nychea and us Tony and Gill saw the whole thing too and thought they were too close to us both,
when we lifted the anchor the captain of the classic yacht looked a little worried when we edged quite close, it was his problem not ours as we were there first, I wish I had taken a photo to get the look on his face.

So off again and into the blue another short sail to Carlisle bay anchorage, can you believe it the Oyster race was in progress and we listened to the countdown for the race to start and again for the handicapped start for the bigger yachts.
One poor skipper must have been fuming when the spinnaker managed to get tangled up, it looked like a figure of eight, it was quite sometime before they rectified to problem. A helicopter hovered all around the yachts and we followed quite slowly behind but wish we had used the parasailor, it would have been great fun to doing the same.

After spending a rolly night at anchor in Carlise bay we set off for Jolly Harbour again there was a blow coming through so we tucked ourselves up on a ball where it would be nice and calm.

Ok part 2 to follow eventually its difficult doing this when we have to be ashore so the next few blogs will be late sorry

Don and Glenys

Agua Therapy