4-27 Hermitage Bay, Five Islands Harbour

Pos: N17deg05.24min / W061deg53.77min. We dropped Sonja off as planned; the girls in the office at NS Marina couldn't have been more helpful. After breakfast #2, we decided to sail towards Jolly Harbour. Of note, there's a burn going on somewhere around Deep Bay, and it's very noxious. Shame it is, as the bay is beautiful and a good anchorage, but it's hard to breathe with the awful smell around. We bypassed it and went down to Five Islands Harbour, anchoring in 15' in Hermitage Bay in front of the Hermitage Resort. This is just alongside Jolly Harbour nearby, but less crowded or built-up, and the resort has unlocked wifi. The weather looks like it will take a turn for the worse, so we'll be looking at it closely over the next few days to figure out when we'll check out of Antigua (there's Customs & Immigration in Jolly Harbour) and head down island.
Pic: Arriving Hermitage Bay

4-26 Great Bird Island snorkeling

Pos: N17deg08.66min / W061deg43.77min. Yesterday, we threaded our way thru a few reef areas, visible in good light, and anchored behind Great Bird Is. Folks visit here because of the clarity of the water, the good snorkeling, and the lack of any housing or buildings. It's also a lot less crowded than many of the other anchorages. We donned our snorkel gear and during our stay here took the dinghy both just north and south of Great Bird Is. to explore. The reef was mostly washed out, but the coral was making a resurgence in many areas. The fish were small but colorful and plentiful. In two days snorkeling, we spotted a 4' barracuda, several sting rays, a live conch (unbelievable), and a lobster (again, unbelievable. Of note, the conch and lobster were on the small side...). There were many different varieties of coral. The water clarity was very good, but we'd advise to be aware of the current, dependent on the state of the tide and phase of the moon. We climbed the volcanic rock trail from the beach which leads to the top of Great Bird Is. It's a very easy walk and takes about 15 minutes. Besides the great views, there are also two blow holes at the summit to look down into. Long-tailed tropic birds hang out here also. So, it's been a good week but it's gone by way too fast...Sonja leaves tomorrow, so we'll be taking her to North Sound Marina (near Crabb Point) to take a taxi (or hitch a ride) to the airport. We'll post pictures and videos when we get decent internet.
Pic: On one of the beaches at Great Bird Island; our morning excursion waiting for the sun to be overhead.

4-24 Jumby Bay, Long Island

Pos: N17deg09.37min / W061deg45.86min. The anchorage at Jolly was a bit rolly, and we were able to sail in wind of SE 15 most of the way around the NW corner of Antigua to North Sound, our destination being Long Island. The water was a bit thin in places, but no real worries. It's a lot more developed around here than we had thought, with private houses, resorts, and commercial, industrial buildings everywhere. We anchored in 9' in front of the Jumby Bay Resort, where rooms go for between $1400-$6000USD per night; dinners are, by arrangement, $175USD/pp...Hmmm. We dinghied over to a small rock formation and donned our snorkel gear. The reef was totally washed out, but there were lots of small fish, and I spotted one lobster. It's calm here, the views are (as one might expect in this stretch of neighborhood) beautiful, and we're enjoying the privacy. In the evening, we took out the iPad and fired up Night Sky; always a fun app.
Pic: Sonja having a go at the helm.

4-20 Sonja arrives!

Our friend from back home, Sonja, arrived today without drama, bringing the rain with her. As an experienced traveler, she packs light, and getting her and one carry on bag aboard was easy, as was her introduction to life aboard. The racing and activities were winding down but we did attend the "Red Hat" party at Pappas' Restaurant/Bar Sat. evening. There, locals and participants mixed in easy company, although the police presence and ambulance on standby weren't that reassuring to some of us. So, the deal was, if you bought enough rum drinks, you were given a coupon, redeemable for a Mount Gay Rum red hat with the Classic Yacht Regatta logo on it. By 2000 hours, they ran out of free rum, and shortly thereafter ran out of red hats; proving, once again, that sailors will do almost anything to get something free, especially a red hat. We're pretty sure that a bunch of sailors would be having the morning blues, excluding us, of course. Overall, a good time with good folks, music and food, and a nice way to introduce Sonja to some of the benefits and pitfalls of attending a regatta....The next morning, we departed Falmouth for Jolly Harbour. The boat directly in front of us had to move as he was, as we had previously warned him, directly over our chain; we were quite happy to get out of the crowd. Wind was SE and we were able to sail Goat Head Channel pretty much the entire way, and looked forward to a bit of provisioning at the Epicurean Supermarket as well as walking a few roads. There's not so much good hiking around, but you can just walk wherever, so getting to some good beaches and viewpoints was easy. Sonja's acclimating easily, going to bed early evening, waking up early morning, and integrating into ship board life as though it were a second skin.
Pic: Showing Sonja around Nelson's Dockyard (The Pillars)

4-15 Update and new video link

The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta has been hosted by the Antigua Yacht Club for 29 years. There's a full week of racing and activities, this year sponsored by Panerai and Mount Gay Rum Distilleries, amongst others. The latter is reflected in the shoreside activities of rum tasting, complementary drinks, a cocktail competition...you get the idea. For day one of racing, we tied our dinghy to a snorkeling buoy at the mouth of Falmouth Harbour and had a pretty good view of the single-handers. Today, we upped the ante and drove out to one of the large buoys placed for the race boats to round; a bird's eye view. The wind and current would push us north a bit, but we motored back to get the best views of the fleet. Sue was busy taking pictures and videos (a difficult proposition on a small dinghy moving around, even in a light chop), and I made sure we were well clear of everyone as they approached the buoy and tacked. All the boats were flying their full sail inventory, as apparent wind was about 8 knots. Crews lined the rails and we were about 30'-50' away from most of them. The larger boats had a bow person placed to signal the helmsman and advise timing. The attached video was one of the more exciting maneuvers we witnessed. The larger boat, named "Rebecca", is a 140' ketch designed by German Frers. Rebecca had tacked close to shore and was barreling towards the mark (and us!) when two other boats came on and had starboard rights (that is, they had the right-of-way on Rebecca). We hadn't seen the William Tripp yawl "Lazy Leg" (Hinckley B-40) and the other schooner to its starboard side until late, and I realized it was going to be a very close thing, indeed. As all three boats raced to the buoy, Rebecca had to finally give way to the smaller boats as it couldn't reach the mark before them, so finally bore off about 30 degrees, putting her a hell of a lot closer to us than I wanted to be. You'll see the action up close; check out the two other boats to the starboard side of Rebecca, and between her and the buoy; enjoy the racing! In the non-racing scheme of things, I re-insured Infini thru Anjo Insurances here in Antigua, as our yacht insurance was set to expire and our previous underwriter didn't want to cover us here in the Caribbean. We thought it odd that they were willing to insure us as we went around the world, but obviously weren't interested in the northern hemisphere, hurricane-prone Caribbean region. Oh well, no worries; there's lots of competition in the insurance world seeking our premium dollar. We've also eaten some great food; Le Cap Horn and Trappas restaurants get very high marks for delicious food and excellent service.
You Tube video link: https://youtu.be/9r2qWBjCmzg

4-10 Falmouth

We had a boisterous sail back to Falmouth Harbour, anchoring amongst a gaggle of classic yachts and those of us who have arrived to oogle those classic yachts. We've seen some old friends (Stuart & Shelia, sv Imagine) and are meeting new ones. Today, the 11th, there was an gathering of Ocean Cruising Club members having a braii on the beach, as well as a "meet and greet" at the same time next to the Antigua Yacht Club sponsored by the Coconut Telegraph SSB participants. Meanwhile, two days ago, our Frigoboat freezer compressor decided to stop cooling, so we transfered our food to David & Marian's boat (Kilkea II), and Stuart and I took a look at things; we couldn't fix it. I aslo arranged to have a local chap come by to check things out, and Philmore (268 728 9448), was able to diagnose a blocked capillary tube, put another drier in line, and get the unit up and running. We're good for ice and ice-cream! Laundry to the laundromat this morning the 12th; we used Suzette and Olive, across the street from the fuel station in a yellow house. We're now at the Skullduggery Cafe here at the docks using their wifi. I didn't mention that many of us using T-Mobile Simple Choice plan are now without data here in Antigua. Apparently, it seems that T-Mobile changed their contract on April 1, are now with Cable & Wireless instead of Digicel, and, of course, there is no C & W here! And so it goes....
Pic: It was great seeing Stuart and Shelia again, as Imagine is heading back to the states.

4-7 Entering our 10th year aboard!

Another anniversary...we left our dock 9 years ago today! We feel so blessed to have visited the places we've been and met the people we've encountered. Many miles have passed under our keel and we look forward to sharing our continued adventures with you! We've also planned a few additions to this blog, and will post these when we get reliable internet (none here in Barbuda!). As always, your feedback is welcomed (svinfini at gmail dot com) and we hope our information is of benefit to our fellow cruisers who follow this way. Cheers!
Pic: Can't get enough of the beautiful sunsets...

4-6 Barbuda

Pos: N 17deg 33.27min / W061 deg 46.15min. Our passage from Deep Bay, Antigua to Cocoa Point was in ideal conditions, SE 10-15 knots, and we made good time in the beautiful turquoise-colored waters. There are a few reefs to avoid, so careful navigation is necessary, but with good light from behind, easily seen. We anchored in 14' sand and relaxed. Before our arrival in Barbuda, I had contacted George Jeffery (788-7067), a local guide, to arrange seeing the frigate bird colony that reside in the Codrington National Park Lagoon. Prices for entry to the colony, as well as the land taxi and George's fees, are found in Chris Doyle's "Guide to the Leeward Islands." It turned out that another 4 cruisers also wanted to see the frigate bird colony, so that lowered the overall land taxi costs per person. Pick-up was 1000 from the beach. We had no trouble landing our dinghy but the 4 cruisers in the other dinghy got absolutely swamped as they got turned sideways to the rolling surf. Dinghy landing in surf - never much fun. George Jeffery met us at the dock in Codrington, and so began our tour with him. He is a raconteur, very entertaining, and quite knowledgeable about the frigate birds. This was a lovely tour in the mangrove lined lagoon; short but scenic, and well worth it. After, our taxi driver stopped at one of the roadside stands for lunch, as we had requested "local food." I had curried venison, Sue had curried chicken; 25 EC each. Btw, there are wild (and semi-tame) horses and donkeys that roam freely around the island. This morning at sunrise, I saw a family of 3 horses; mama, poppa, and a small colt, running along the beach at the water's edge - how cool is that?!

4-3 Hiking day

At anchor, we stared across at Fort Berkeley, so started our day by walking there. Back-tracking just a little bit, we took the path that leads up and over to Pidgeon Beach. This is a billy goat path, up some fairly slippery rocks and narrow areas. We reached our objective, but since I really don't enjoy billy goat hiking, I wouldn't do this hike again, albeit the scenery and views were awesome. Later in the afternoon, David, Marion and ourselves walked up from Galleon Beach to the Shirley Heights Lookout Restaurant. Not such a bad hike, vertical but not slippery, and the views from the top across English Harbour were impressive, as were the 10 EC beer prices. For dinner, we decided to forego the crowds at the Lookout and hiked back down, dinghied to the dinghy dock, and walked the main road until we got to the Le Cap Horn Pizzeria Restaurant where we had delicious appetizers (salad with scallops and bacon) and pizzas. A wonderful way to end the day.

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4-2 Meeting old friends

The morning didn't start out too promising as it was pouring rain. By about 1000 it had stopped, and we dinghied in to meet up with David and Marion of Kilkea II who had emailed and let us know they were coming to Antigua. We hadn't seen them since Trinidad and it was great catching up. We did a bit of walking over to the Budget Marine store in Falmouth, then the girls drove over to Bailey's Supermarket with a friendly local who was leaving Budget at the same time; David and I walked there. Lunch was at one of the many small local restaurants which are plentiful around here; food was not gourmet but it was 5 beers for 20 EC. By the time we walked back to our meeting point, it was mid-afternoon, so we split up and made plans to go to the Shirley Heights Lookout tomorrow for a late afternoon happy hour and dinner.
The Cheeky Marlin on Galleon Beach was closed when we checked it out.

4-1 Road trip

We took the #20 bus from English Harbour to St. John, then the #17 bus from there to Jolly Harbour Marina. We had heard from a number of our cruising friends that they had hauled and stored their boats there, and all had good things to say about the experience. We saw the countryside close-up, the way we like it, and had a chance to interact with few local people along the way. The marina complex looks first rate, and the haul-out and storage facilities appear to provide ample protection should a dreaded tropical storm or hurricane come close. Of course, with a direct hit, all bets are off. From a financial perspective, I did a spread sheet between Power Boats and Peakes in Chagauramas, Prickly Bay Marina in Grenada, Antigua Slipway here in English Harbour and Jolly Harbour Marina. It's a complex thing. Amongst other considerations, any applied VAT, access to skilled workers, monthly add-ons, electricity costs, fares to airports, air fares home and back from the various islands, insurance requirements, and many other items factor into an overall picture of costs for a haul-out and storage period. We haven't made up our minds yet but are considering our options. It was late afternoon by the time we returned to the boat, so we went for a swim and relaxed after. Lots to think about.
Pic: VC Bird Monument near the central market, downtown St. John