Friday, March 02, 2007

Antigua and Barbuda

5th February 2007

We have spent a couple of extra days in English Harbour doing boat repairs and organising additions to our bimini to keep the sun out and also ordering a new downwind headsail that we can fly in tandem with our existing sail. This should make downwind sailing easier, safer and faster.

Today, we sailed the few miles around the coast into Falmouth Harbour where all the Super-yachts reside. The Antigua yacht club has a store right next to the dinghy jetty and we used the opportunity to load the dinghy down with fresh supplies (2 cases of beer etc etc). This was really convenient since check-out and dinghy loading can be done simultaneously.

6th February 2007

We left Falmouth early and had a gentle sail around to Jolly Harbour on the West side of the island. The water colour between the reefs was superb and the coastline is beach after beach of silvery sand.


As we left Falmouth Harbour Le Grand Bleu 2 was also leaving, this is the super yacht that has its own helicopter and 40 foot yacht on its deck. I said to Pete I’m going to get a wave from them so Pete and I waved furiously from the cockpit and two crew men waved back. We’re hoping to be invited on board for sundowners!

Le Grand Bleu II


Jolly Harbour is a man-made lagoon with chalets all along the edge, each with its own boat mooring. We moored to a buoy near the shops and had a scout around in the afternoon and found a superb supermarket. Ok, not much excitement for those in the UK but it was like a large Sainsburys and had everything we could want. Loaded-up with half a stilton and Branston Pickle, we retired to Nadezhda for cheeses and salad.

7th/8th February 2007

We woke up this morning and I had about 30 mozzie bites despite putting DEET over exposed areas. The bay just outside Jolly Harbour is called Mosquito Bay and I thing that they all originate from the lagoon.

We spent a relaxed couple of days with Chris and Barbara from “Dream or Two” and with Pete from “Chelsea Rose”. Too many drinks were had by all!

9th/10th February 2007

We had to get out of mozzie hell and so we left this morning for a small bay just a few miles from the capital of the island. Deep bay was very peaceful and for the moment, we are simply biding our time until Fliss’ daughter Holly arrives.

11th, 12th & 13th February 2007

We took Nadezhda into the capital St Johns. The previous time we went into St Johns was by bus and we noticed that one could moor boats by the quayside there. Luckily, there were no cruiseliners blocking our way and we moored up against the rather rotten looking wooden quay right in the heart of the town. The harbourmaster asked us for a gratuity but other than that, they do not charge for being there.

A couple of police who were sitting on the steps adjacent to us struck up conversation and so I took them a couple of cold beers and sat down with them. One left and so I invited the other to sit on the boat and we sank quite a few tins between us. It seems the attitude to policing is not quite the same as in the UK! The next day, our friendly policeman bought the chief of police over and my beer supplies diminished further.

Fliss made friends with the local tramp. He had been over to chat during the day and decided to bed-down on the quayside a few yards away. Fliss took him some cheese and tomato sandwiches and I offered a large rum for which he was very grateful. The next day, he brought Fliss a necklace with a dolphin on it – he must have found it in the bins but a very nice gesture.

Some days, there are as many as 3 cruise-liners in St Johns. Nadezhda is now famous as people have been video-ing and taking pictures of her. One young man asked if he could step aboard and have his picture taken. Naz has been lapping-up all the ooohs and ahhs and adoring looks and the skipper is very proud. You can spend hours re-telling the same tales to the hoards of cruise-liner passengers that pass by and express an interest. Three were in yesterday and three more today! The local business people are happy.

Fliss had a dodgy tooth seen to. “Gentle Dental” were not so gentle as they had to perform surgery for an hour and a half trying to fit all implements into her mouth as well as two pairs of hands. They sliced open her gum, peeled it back, rasped off the lower part of her tooth, applied bone graft (or substitute) and then stitched it all back again from one side of the tooth to the other - 4 stitches in all. She is recuperating well and bathing nightly with rum.


I have to say that it was the worst experience and had I realised how painful it was going to be then I would have asked for a general anaesthetic not a local. The assistant renamed as Helga Von Nichtgentle was extremely rough and when I had tears running down my face she eased up slightly on the face pulling but only for a short while. When I came out Pete asked me how it went and I burst into tears, the poor receptionist didn’t know what to do….. but in all fairness the tooth felt great and I just had a very sore face.

14th/15th February 2007

The local policeman was true to his word and arranged a mate to take us to the airport to pick Holly up. Holly arrived on time and we stopped the next morning in St Johns so she could get her hair braided.

We went shopping in the evening and, whilst returning, we were approached by two drunk youths. They were friendly enough and one left leaving us the task of shaking-off the other. Just then a car drew up and we heard “Hey Pete, Hey Fliss wanna lift?” it was our friendly policeman. He asked whether we were being harassed and even thought we said “no”, his mate had a quiet word in the drunks ear.

This afternoon we sailed just out of St Johns to Deep Bay again. We will get a forecast and then see if we are off to Barbuda tomorrow.

16th February 2007

The forecast was good so the next morning we set off for Gravener Bay, Barbuda. Holly not being a good sailor slept throughout the whole crossing (6 hours). Amazing to see as the water goes really clear and with the sun shining you can easily spot the reefs. The pilot book says that eyeball navigation is a must and we could understand why.

Reef spotting technique:

Dark water = safe to proceed
Clear water = proceed with caution
Greenish / Brown water = do not go there!
Different wave patterns = be careful as there may be Bommies (coral heads)

Always enter when the sun is shining and is behind you or above you not in front of you.

Always have someone at the front of the boat looking out for the bommies & reefs.

Anyway, the reefs were everywhere and it would be so easy to get lost in them and have problems finding your way out, we proceeded very, very slowly and managed to find our way to the anchorage.

Beautiful surroundings! Castaway beach and reefs everywhere.

Pete & Hols went straight out to explore the reefs…they said it was good snorkelling but the coral wasn’t that impressive. Holly is an excellent snorkeler and a complete water baby!

We’ll stay for the day then head around to another anchorage in Barbuda.

17th March 2007

Short hop to Low Bay on the West side of the island and we anchored off a lovely sandy beach. The plan was to anchor at the narrowest part of a spit of sand separating the sea from an inland lagoon as, according to our pilot book, you can carry your dinghy over the sand to the lagoon where you can motor over to Codrington.

It was a mission! It was a 1 mile across the lagoon and, with wind and waves, we all got a good soaking.

We arrived at a small bay and looked down in horror at the water it was green with bits and pieces of rubbish floating in it but the real icing on the cake was the small jelly fish, there were hundreds of them…. So barefooted we all carried the dinghy further up the shore. Yuk!!!

The small town (capital of Barbuda) had been described as “small cottages surrounded by little gardens clustered around the church. This scene of simplicity exudes a peaceful air and seems at times to lie outside of time”…. Umm, well it certainly lies outside of time but it wasn’t as we envisaged. It was a real shanty town! With the sight seeing done in around 5 minutes we bought some provisions and headed back to the boat and another squeamish meeting with the jelly fish.

An easy downwind journey back on the dinghy and a quiet night on Yacht Nadezhda.

18th February 2007

As Bobby is arriving tomorrow we had to head back to St Johns, Antigua. The forecast said 15 knots of wind but in real life it was blowing a good 6 with nasty choppy waves. Poor old Holly had to endure 6 hours of rolling. It was really breezy so Pete and I had to reef the main so that she would have an easier ride back to Antigua.
To give her due she only moaned once and was she was really happy when we arrived back in St Johns.

19th February 2007

Bobs arrived today so we decided to stay put in St Johns so that she could settle down after her long flight from the UK. We don’t like to stay in St Johns as there’s no breeze and with the rats running alongside the quay we have to totally close the boat up so everyone had an uncomfortable night. Tomorrow we’ll move around the corner to Deep Bay so the girls can go swimming.

20th Feb to 2nd March 2007

With both of the girls being terrible sailors we haven’t really gone very far. We’ve visited Parham and North Sound in the North East of Antigua. Stunning little islands with clear blue seas and gorgeous fine sandy beaches. The girls are water mad and as soon as the boat is safely anchored they’re off to snorkel.

Pete & I climbed to the top of Great Bird Island and the view was spectacular! It really was tropical paradise. The girls didn’t want to go ashore as they loved to spend hours snorkelling and sun bathing.

We made friends with a large Jamaican lady selling drinks and souvenirs on the beach and she invited us to her wedding. Sadly we couldn’t accept as we’ll be somewhere in the Pacific when it takes place.

Pete: I spent one and a half hour each day for three days scrubbing the bottom of Nadezhda since, all of a sudden, we are getting some serious slime growth. It is exceptionally hard work with snorkelling gear and a green pan-scourer. Eventually, I wore out all our pan scourers and had to give up on the last bit.

We then moved onto Nonsuch Bay which is just a short hop from Parham on the South Eastern corner of Antigua. Unfortunately, to get out of North Sound you have to make a detour of 8 or 9 miles in order to get out to sea past the reefs. There is actually a small channel leading to sea from where we were anchored but we had seen a French boat attempt it the day before and he eventually turned back after getting lost in the coral. The pilot book describes the channel as really only suitable for dinghies so we did not attempt it.

Once out to sea, the wind was dead against us and we motored the remaining distance to Nonsuch Bay.

The girls enjoyed swimming and relaxing on the deck with their books.

The following day, we had a good downwind sail back to English Harbour. We are staying here until the girls go back to save putting them through any more sailing. We never see them as their either in the water, shopping or in the internet café.

Pete & I have had a bit of nightmare as we have found that we have cockroaches on board. God knows where we picked them up as we have been so careful. We bought a cockroach killer kit which has a gel than you squirt around they eat it and take it back to the nest and it kills them we also have put traps down, as soon as Pete put the gel down loads came out and started eating it, here’s hoping that it works!

The new sun curtains where fitted yesterday (side and rear sun shade in the cockpit ) Franklin from A&F Sails has done a superb job! We also have the new downwind sail and a front hatch cover that keeps the rain out. As soon as the girls leave we’ll head off and try the new sail.

Franklyn - A&F Sails - with the new bimini curtains

The girls, we believe, have had a wonderful time and we’ll certainly miss them when they leave…. But it’ll be nice to be tidy again!!