Friday, March 31, 2017

Antigua Again 22nd to 31st March 2017

We upped anchor in Barbuda early on 22nd and had a fantastic sail on the wind back to Antigua - it was officially a 'romp' in open ocean with fairly big seas but Askari loved it at 7.5 to 8 knots all the way and by 11am we were nicely in the lee of Antigua. The wind was blowing 20+ knots so we decided to defer our planned visit to the north coast and pulled into Deep Bay for a night. Deep Bay is on the west coast and is famous for a ship wreck in the centre of the bay - we thought it might be good for a dive.
Serenity leaving Deep Bay
As we arrived in the bay and anchored we spotted John & Ellie on Serenity - drinkies were of course planned on Askari and we learned it was John's birthday. Not enough time to make cake, so chips and cheese spelled out his age after an unimpressive snorkel on the wreck of the Andes. The next morning Serenity headed to Barbuda and we carried on to the North of Antigua - destination Jumby Bay where we had spent a few pleasant days with ReVisionII.

Jumbo Bay Pano
To access 'North Sound' the north of Antigua protected by reefs you travel along Boon Channel and if you are brave with good light the charted information said we could sneak through a shallow area inside Prickly Pear Island. We had been this way with our old boat which only required 1.8m - Askari needs 2.2m so this was going to be a bit more challenging. It wasn't the perfect day but with help from the sonar charts on the IPAD and good polarised sunglasses we could see the reef - although it was quite an anxious few minutes until we were back in deep water. We pulled into the anchorage at Jumby Bay - what a perfect spot and just as we remembered it. Unfortunately the resort doesn't really like the yachts and loves to drive the resort launches and donut boats right close by; they tolerate you going ashore to the beautiful beach but to be quite honest it all looked a bit boring. We spent the night did some paddle boarding and then decided to explore further into the north sound.

Hells Gate

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 The next day had great light so we were able to navigate closely into a great anchorage between Rabbit, Redhead and Lobster Islands. We had one other yacht the first night and a super yacht behind Redhead island then two days just on our own. Then we heard our friends Maggie and Al on Sweetdreams on the VHF so they came and joined us for 3 nights. It was so relaxing and perfect conditions - we explored Bird Island did some amazing snorkeling, flew (and crashed the drone - whoops), went paddle boarding everyday and spied on the making of a new Disney Peter Pan movie out near Hells Gate rocks. This was just what we needed - fantastic.

All ours - drone shot!

Our new playground

Snorkeling fun


Bird Island

Bird Island - all ours

Our new home

Chilling in North Sound
Paddle Boarding 
As much as we could have stayed in this spot for many more days, the provisions were running low - we shared out the last of our fresh provisions with Maggie and Al and they did the same even though they had steak from the US and sushi grade tuna and we only had snags n chicken...... We surely must owe them dinner when we get to meet up again in their home port in Maine.

Sunset calm 
View from Bird Island

View from Bird Island

Bird Island Queen

Bird Island

Then we had to head back to civilisation so on 30th March we upped anchor and pootled back to Jolly Harbour. We only spent one night, did a big stock up, caught up with the gorgeous Paul and Babs on Lyra Magna then cleared out and headed towards St Barths.......

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

19th March 2017 - Antigua to Barbuda

Sunday morning we got up early and planned to head around to the North of Antigua. We upped anchor and Andrew carefully navigated out of the very narrow and poorly charted ‘Spithead Channel’ – we had great light for identifying the reef on either side but it was still pretty scary. Safely through and we set the sails for our waypoint on the north east coast, the sea was not as big as we had expected and the 20 knots at 120 degrees was just perfect sailing for Askari. So we changed our minds and kept sailing directly to Barbuda 30 miles north of us. We had such a great sail and by 3pm we were off the south west point of Barbuda. It was amazing; the island is so low you can only see it at about 5 miles off; we spent most of the way there reading up on the anchorages and consulting a document of anchorage changes as a result of new rules and regs that was soooo confusing. We settled on the anchorage on the west coast, even though this was most exposed to swell but was closest to the point you can get a water taxi across the lagoon, to the one town and the frigate bird sanctuary.
Spithead Channel - note reef very close

Arriving in Barbuda
The bay was stunning, an eleven mile long beach with just one small hotel building and one shack, the water was crystal clear and there was only 4 other boats at anchor. We have long wanted to visit Barbuda so we were super excited and straight away called on the radio to Garden of Eden – George Jeffery to book a tour of the frigate bird sanctuary for the next morning.

11 mile beach Barbuda
Andrew with Askari & Askooby in the background

Barbuda is part of Antigua & Barbuda but the Barbudans are hugely independent and very different to Antiguans; they oppose outside influence and are very proud of the natural state of their island and their heritage. There is only about 2,000 people living on the island which is about half the size of Antigua, donkey’s and horses roam free and land on the island is jointly owned communally (so land cannot be sold to outsiders for development). The frigate bird colony is bigger than anything in the Galapagos and the tour allows you to get right up close to the birds. We went on the tour with other yachties Ute, Lionel and Elsie and had the chance to spend some time in Codrington afterwards, where Andrew ended up in a huge cricket debate with a bunch of locals guys. George our guide was just brilliant – what a great day. On the way back we were joined by Dan and Lori from BeBe, who invited everyone to their boat for sundowners that night.

Baby Pelicans
Male Frigate looking for a mate
Fighting Frigates

chatting chicks

Tour group

We got back to Askari and went off for a fabulous snorkel on West Tucson Rock – way out of the bay but the fish life was great and we got to see another Spotted Eagle Ray. As we headed back to Askari both Supertramp and Aqualuna arrived too – a quick drink before sundowners and more business for George next day! 

Goats alongside the airport

Horses rule the streets in Codrington

House in Codrington

Dock n bar Codrington
 Tuesday was a lovely calm day – perfect for a big paddle board along the stunning beach; that was until a swell caught me and dumped me in complete with my Dior sunglasses. I spent ages trying to find them before getting Andrew to help, we spent about an hour diving along the area of the beach until success he found them! Hurrah – no sunnies for paddlin anymore!! On the way back from the Frigate tour Fi had bought some fish on the dock, so a fish dinner was planned on Supertramp after sundowners with Aqualuna too who had managed to secure a huge lobster – oh so much fun!

11 Mile Beach Barbuda

Fi and her fish

Next morning the Lunatics and the Tramps left for St Bart’s and we decided we had unfinished business in Antigua so sailed south.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

17th to 19th March 2017 Non Such Bay, Antigua

We spent two lovely nights at anchor in Falmouth Harbour, we hadn’t been into Falmouth Harbour before so decided we should check it out. When we walked over to English Harbour and Nelsons Dockyard later in the day we were pleased with our choice, after we saw that a huge chunk of the anchorage in English Harbour is now a superyacht dock – wow we didn’t expect that. We were really pleased to see how well maintained Nelsons Dockyard was; there had been a lot of work since we were last there and it was such a treat to walk around this gorgeous historical place. We also had a surprise when we found Aqualuna on the dock – Gabbie invited for a quick drink before they went off for lunch and we did the same back in Falmouth at the Antigua Yacht Club.

Nelsons Dockyard 
Boat porn?

New Superyacht Dock - would Nelson approve??

English Hrbour

The next day we explored the bay in the dinghy and checked out the Cat Club area for lunch, before heading back over to English Harbour for a lovely walk over the Middle Ground back to Pigeon Beach with stunning views of both harbours and the Atlantic Ocean, with just goats for company. The yachts in Falmouth were just huge, at night the lights make the shore look like a power plant, so many high masts covered in lights.

Falmouth Harbour

English Harbour

Lights at night in Falmouth

Beer time at Skulduggery

Then Friday morning the lightish winds gave us the chance to hop further around the coast to Non Such Bay – one of our favourite anchorages last time we were in Antigua. The short trip around the coast was still pretty bouncy directly into the wind and Atlantic swell but we soon tucked in the pass to the calm waters of this stunning huge bay. We anchored right out by the reef, between Bird Island and Green Island, with clear air but soon found we were right on the kite surf path!

Stunning Non Such 

Supertramp were there to meet us, so a plan for a BBQ that night was quickly hatched after a snorkelling trip. The reef is one of the best we have seen in the Caribbean, we saw lots of fish but the highlight for me was definitely swimming with a huge Spotted Eagle Ray. Fi spotted it and grabbed me and we got to swim with it for a good few minutes – very cool indeed.

Andrew in Non Such Bay

We shared a few drinks on Askari before lighting the BBQ, then within minutes a huge squall came over with over 30 knots of winds and a huge amount of rain….. Instruments on, watching both Askari and Supertramp hunkered under sprayhood – I know Steve and Fi didn’t fancy the idea of getting in their dinghy!! All was good after a few minutes the squall past and we were amazed to find our BBQ still alight ready for a feast! There may have been a few sore heads the next day but we managed a gentle snorkel and a beach visit. Supertramp was due to leave but didn’t manage it – oops!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Today for the first time since the incident in Mustique we have sailed to a place we wanted to go for fun and it feels really good to be back on our adventures again. It’s actually kind of like we have pressed the reset button for me, I feel a renewed sense of excitement about the next period of our travel.
Askari going back in the water

We stayed in Rodney Bay, St Lucia, until we had a fair forecast to head north to Antigua on 4th March. While we were there we planned what needed to be done when we got to Antigua and reached out to Oyster and our Insurance Broker for support. I also went up the mast for the first time to check the rig over after we had used a halyard to lean the boat over – nothing to report and I just did a bit of polishing and replaced some tapes on the rigging terminals – the view was pretty cool though.
It's a long way down
Rodney Bay from 20 metres up
Me at the tope

We also had some great fun evenings with friends – Friedl and Kathi made a dock BBQ for us one night and made homemade pasta for us another; I cooked roast lamb in return as we had to eat the contents of the freezer before hauling out as the freezer is water cooled. I went to a couple of yoga classes by the pool and I dragged Andrew on the bus to Castries to check out the market – where we ate lunch at Sylvia’s; Andrew’s Mum is Sylvia and she was delighted to learn this and invited us into her Kitchen.  We also met the East Coast US experts – Maggie and Al on Sweet Dreams and Angela on John on Galadriel; we shared a few sundowners with these guys plus a fabulous steak dinner while they plied us with information all about their favourite places – so exciting!

Dock Party

Homemade Pasta - Austrian Style

Steak night

Lamb dinner

We left the marina early on Saturday morning and filled up with fuel before starting our journey north. We had decided to go directly to Antigua, the wind was forecast to be around 20 knots but nicely out of the east, which is what we mostly got, however as you pass either end of each island it was much stronger and north east or south east – however Askari sailed brilliantly and made about 8-9 knots nearly the whole way.

By 4pm we were at the top of Martinique, and by sundown we were off Dominica. I managed to stay up until we got into the channel between Dominica and Guadaloupe before I napped for a while. Then the wind dropped and we were sailing at about 3 knots, so Andrew slept while we drifted along the coat. It was all very quiet apart from a couple of ships that appeared to be drifting south. It got light just before 6am and we were off Deshailes in the North of Guadaloupe, where we joined a procession of boats sailing to Antigua. The wind came in fairly strongly and we had a fantastic sail, dodging a few squalls and overtaking the one boat in front of us. Not bad for a yacht with an incomplete rudder (we also found out later that Oyster 56 Magic was trying to catch us without any luck!! Super fast Askari!!)

We arrived just before mid-day in Jolly Harbour, Antigua. We immediately spotted Supertramp – Fi and Steve did big star jumps to welcome us! We cleared into Antigua at the Customs dock and then went into the marina at Jolly, helped in by William who had helped us in with ReVision II 12 years ago – we remembered him. John and Ellie from Serenity also came to help with our lines; it was like being home.
Star jumps on Supertramp

Andrew with Steve and Fi

Budget Marine

Monday morning we went straight to the boat yard to plan our lift out for Thursday, spent a fortune at Budget Marine on paint, epoxy, etc to fix the rudder. We met Jesse, who we contracted to prepair and paint the bottom while Andrew worked on the rudder. We snuck in a day of diving - so it wasn't all hard work..... 

Jolly Harbour - Aqualuna arriving

Boys n beers at The Nest

Cartwheels after lunch - Steve??

The wind was pretty wild over the next few days and even when we were due to lift out at lunchtime on Thursday it was blowing in excess of 25knots, however with Steve and Fi’s help we got Askari out of the complicated berth, the Andrew expertly reversed her into the lift bay. This being our first lift out, we were quite anxious as the guys positioned the slings, however the chaps were excellent and we need not have worried. Lindsay is an excellent Boat Yard manager and his team are first rate. We inspected the rudder and keel and were pleasantly surprised – this was not anywhere near as bad as we thought having seen it under water. So we went for lunch while they pressure washed her and chocked her off in the yard.
Fi coming aboard with help from Nick on Magic

And she's out

Andrew cleaned up the rudder ready for survey on Friday afternoon then set about filling the void with epoxy and a fibreglass bandage over the next couple of days. Once he’d done and Jesse and painted and polished Askari she looks as good as new – actually better!! All done on Sunday afternoon Fi on Supertramp cooked up an amazing Sunday lunch – just what we needed.

My boatbuilder in action

Sunday Lunch on Supertramp - Super

Monday afternoon – splash – she’s back in the water and we went out for a short ‘seatrial’ (boat builder’s joke) and then anchored off in the gorgeous Jolly Harbour for a swim and a sundowner – yay! Tuesday a big re-provision, as we cannot use our fridge or freezer on the hard we had to start from scratch – luckily there’s a great supermarket in Jolly Harbour which has lots of great stuff including bacon and sausages for the first time since we left Europe – Andrew is happy. We had one more quiet night at anchor in Jolly Harbour before motoring the 10 miles down to Falmouth Harbour this morning…..