February 2012 - Guadeloupe to Antigua

1 February 2012   Deshaies, Guadeloupe
I went into town to clear out, ready to leave tomorrow and it absolutely threw it down – fortunately I managed to hide under a shop awning until it died off.  We were planning to go for a hike which follows a river upstream, but decided that the river might be a little bit too swollen for a safe walk, so we spent the day doing more admin, cruising the internet and lurking indoors as heavy rain showers with blustery wind came through.  

Glenys made dinner using pasta tortellini filled with mushroom, but unusually for her it all went wrong and the meal was dry and tasteless.  I made a negative comment about her meal and grabbed a jar of mayonnaise out of the fridge to “make it a bit better”.  She had a sense of humour failure – I think (hope) that she was more annoyed with herself than me…

2 February 2012   Deshaies to Jolly Harbour, Antigua
We were up at six o'clock and motored out of the anchorage at half past six.  Bizarrely, the wind was very light and we had to motor for an hour until the wind suddenly picked up enough to sail.  We then had a cracking sail for six hours on a reach doing six to seven knots arriving at Jolly Harbour at half past two.

On the approaches to Antigua, I finally caught another fish – a nice Dorado.  I was starting to despair because we've trolled two lines for 250 miles over the past three weeks and haven’t caught anything.

We cleared in at Jolly Harbour Marina where they insist that incoming yachts tie up alongside the customs dock.  It was a bit of a faff having to get out the fenders and mooring lines, but in the end it was a fairly painless process and, half an hour later, we were anchored in the lovely blue, but cloudy waters outside the marina.

Glenys has managed to have a text conversation with her friend Julie, who is now on a cruise ship in the Virgin Islands and will be arriving in Antigua on the 5th January.  We’ve arranged to meet them somewhere in St John’s at nine o'clock in the morning.

“Hurrah” arrived in the anchorage and invited us to join them at happy hour, which was enjoyable.  Glenys then cooked Dorado in Creamy Mushroom Sauce for dinner – I was very complementary about her meal tonight.

3 February 2012   Jolly Harbour, Antigua
We went into St Johns to suss out where we could meet Julie and Graham.  The bus that we caught was a normal small minibus and we were the only people on board.  The driver decided that he wanted to get something to eat, so he took us off the main route and made us wait for ten minutes while he sauntered off and bought his breakfast.  Typical – does this only happen to us?

Remora - Note sucker on head for attaching to sharks

St Johns is a strange place with the cruise ships dominating the town.  There are two huge docks on the sea front which can take up to four of these massive floating cities - each one can unload 3,000 tourists into the town.  We found a café on the sea front where we’ll meet Julie and there’s an anchorage just 50 metres away.  I was a bit worried about coming into the harbour because there’s a local bye law forbidding other vessels to come within 150 metres of cruise ships, so we asked at customs and they said it would be OK.

We wandered around St Johns and eventually found the Botanical Gardens which were more like a run-down park.  However, it was pleasant with hundreds of school kids running around in their brightly coloured uniforms, although I did feel sorry for the boys dressed in garish pink.  Back in town, we had a lunch in a local establishment.  Glenys had spare ribs and I had “Salt Fish with Provisions”.  This turned out to be a ladle full of salt cod in a hot tomato sauce with a range of vegetables including sweet potato, green bananas, cassava, plantains and dasheen.  I’m afraid that most of the green bananas and dasheen didn’t get eaten – too alien for my palette.

We called in at the market and caught the bus back to Jolly Harbour, where we picked up our laundry and chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.

4 February 2012   Jolly Harbour to Deep Bay, Antigua
We sailed around to Deep Bay, which is just around the corner from St Johns.  We had good wind and managed to tack right into the entrance of Deep Bay, giving up as we passed the wreck which guards the entrance to the bay.

After lunch went snorkelling on the wreck, which is a three-masted iron barque that sank in 1905 after its cargo of pitch caught fire.  It’s right in the centre of the bay and one of the masts sticks up about a foot above the water.  It’s only in 8 metres of water and would be fantastic to snorkel on, but unfortunately the visibility was only 2 metres today.

Back on the boat, I saw fish jumping so I thought that I’d try my hand at fishing.  To my amazement caught and landed a Remora – it must of weighed ten pounds, but I managed to catch it on my light spinning rod.  I let it go by lowering it down into the water in the landing net and it swam off.

Graham and Julie, Antigua

After that, I caught a nice little Jack, but nothing else – looks like fried fish sandwiches for lunch one day.

5 February 2012   Deep Bay, Antigua
We motored around to St Johns to pick up Julie and Graham.  There were four cruise ships in the town and I was very nervous about breaking any Port Authority regulations about navigation near to these massive ships.  The anchorage that we’d spotted a couple of days ago was very shallow, so I left Glenys slowly motoring around in deeper water, while I lowered the dinghy and went to pick up our guests from the dock.  

Julie said that they had to be back by five o'clock at the latest, so we decided that it would be safer to drop them off at the hotel in Deep Bay at three o'clock and they could get a taxi back from there. They didn't want to miss the boat…

We sailed out of St Johns and south along the coast heading for Cades Reef to go snorkelling.  Unfortunately the wind was light, causing us to turn back to anchor off a beach outside Jolly Harbour.  I took them to the beach for a quick swim and while Glenys made lunch.  We then had a nice sail back to Deep Bay and went for a beer or three with them at the bar before they caught a taxi.  They had a nice day.

Glenys and I walked along the beach and up to the small fort on the headland where there is a great view.  We staggered back to the boat and had a kip – remind me not to drink before six o'clock…

6 February 2012   Deep Bay to Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
We had a bit of a hangover today after continuing to drink more beer and wine after we had our afternoon nap yesterday.

We were going to spend the day chilling out in Deep Bay, but it became rolly with a large north swell which was hooking into the anchorage.  We decided to go down to Jolly Harbour, but on the way, we changed our minds again and continued on to Falmouth.  It was a nice sail to the south west corner of the island, but then we had to motor into the wind and the swell for a couple of hours to Falmouth Harbour.

It took us half an hour to find somewhere to anchor – the anchorage off Pigeon Beach looked far too rolly in the northerly swell and the first spot that we tried was poor holding.

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

We stayed on board and chilled out for the rest of the day.  Falmouth is one of the premiere places in the Caribbean to park expensive yachts and power boats.  There are loads of very impressive yachts in the marina in front of us with huge masts which they light up with spotlights all night indicating that they are “considerably richer than yow”.