Thursday, May 3, 2012

Antigua 2012

Antigua 2012

Saturday 14 April - Tuesday 1 May

After a glorious 7 hour sail, in an almost cloudless sky with the calmest of seas, we arrive at the customs dock in Jolly Harbour, Antigua at 2:30 Saturday afternoon. Wild Thing who had an earlier start and took the short cut through the river back in Guadeloupe was just finishing up with customs so the helped us tie off at the dock as we helped them cast off. Steve had filled out the EZ clear form that is supposed to be used here in Antigua but the customs guy just smiled and shrugged as he handed Steve the forms to fill out. To the customs, immigration & port authority personnel it is job security not to use the easy form to clear in, to us it is just a matter of filling out multiple forms asking the same information. Luckily here at Jolly Harbour they are all located in the same little building right at the end of the customs dock so within 30 minutes we are cleared in and heading out to the anchorage. A beautiful anchorage, surrounded by low hills and sandy beaches. After a short rest and showers we head into the marina at sunset for a drink and to find a restaurant for dinner. Since it is dark and we do not know the lay of the town we stop by 2 places right by the dock. Sunday the predicted front comes in and it starts to rain at 4 am and continues through the day, during one break we make a run to shore but get caught in a little shower. Winds have also picked up and it continues to blow for the next few days, luckily the rain stops and we just have partly cloudy skies,making for some cooler temps. Monday and Tuesday morning are spent checking out the area and of course a visit to Budget Marine and the grocery store both very conveniently located next to the marina. Internet wifi is available we have managed to get a signal on the boat, but it is painfully slow. We hear from a friend who is interested in a boat located in Jolly Harbour so Tuesday we stop by to see it. We are going in for lunch with our computers for a faster connection, but the owner of the boat is not there. After lunch with a fast internet connection we stop back by the boat. This time the owner is there, he is Italian and speaks pretty good English so we manage to tell him we want to look at the boat for a friend back in the states. He loves his boat and is happy to show us all around, his wife does not love the boat so he is selling her. The boat just got hauled out and he is in the process of getting it ready to leave but we still get a good feel of her condition and report back to Rick about her. Back to our boat and check with Wild Thing and we are ready to go check out another anchorage, up at Deep Bay. We get there by 4 Tuesday afternoon by which time it has clouded up. Wednesday started a little cloudy with a shower but cleared up so we go to shore to walk up on the headland to the remains of Fort Barrington, great views of our bay and into the the capital of St. Johns, the next bay north. Back to the boats for lunch, then out to snorkel the wreck in the middle of the bay. The water is not very clear, a lot of very fine sand stirred up in the water, too bad as it would have been really neat to see in clear water. This bay is also internet challenged but we can get a signal, but we decide to check out Five Islands Harbour for a change of scenery and to see if we can get a better internet signal. This is a huge bay with very little development, so not much to see or do. But the Hermitage Hotel is on the south side, and has a great internet connection we can pick up out at anchor, hard to beat that. Thursday morning we are under way by 8:30 after cleaning off about 50 lbs of clay/sand mixture from the anchor, makes for great holding. We take 4 hours to do the 2 hour trip as we are sailing very slow so we can make water wanting to go into Falmouth Harbour with full water tanks. As we are approaching Falmouth Harbour we see some of the boats out practicing. We are arriving just in time for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and the day before my sister comes to visit. Entering the harbour what a sight it is, full of boats anchored and at the marinas. A big difference form last time we were here back in mid June, maybe 10 boats at the marina and maybe 10 anchored out, everyone already south. Most of the shops and restaurants were also closed, not so this time. We find a place to anchor and it is right next to friends Barb & Stew on La Luna. Get the boat settled and have a quick lunch before launching the dinghy. Stop by to say hi to La Luna, a lot to catch up on so we make plans to do so later in the week. We are out looking for a spot for Wild Thing to anchor, they are about an hour behind us having left later with a stop at Jolly for fuel & water. We find them a good spot and as we are going around in the dinghy are surprised to see how many boats we know. After Wild Thing gets settled we arrange to meet on shore, as I want to go in and get info on the weeks events and to confirm my car rental reservation. This week and the following sailing race week are two major events for Antigua and they do a good job putting out magazines telling you of the weeks happenings. Walking the docks in awe of the beautiful classic yachts, they are just amazing, but I sure would not want to keep up with all the varnishing of the wood work. Oh course not too many of the owners worry about it either, as they have crew for that. Friday morning we go out on Wild Things dinghy to watch the start of the days race. Even with it being cloudy and a few sprinkles it is an awesome sight seeing these beautiful boats under sail. Back to the boats for lunch then Steve & I go get the rental car to pick up Carol, who arrives at 4. We gave ourselves plenty of time not knowing how long it would take and wanting to stop at a hardware store or any anyplace else that looked interesting along the way. As cruisers, we are in the hunter/gather class of humanity. Driving through St. John's the capital and a few other areas on the way also. We still get there early and 1st Steve goes to use the restroom with me parked out front, since I do not have an Antigua drivers license which a policeman asked about. Next since we did not think we could stay parked there we decided to make the short circle around as I went to use the restroom. As Steve is coming back around to pick me up, 2 cars stop in front of him forcing him to stop, unknown to him in a crosswalk. He pulls forward but the cars are still stopped in front of him so I walk to him to get in the car. Next thing we know a police man is waving us over. We are thinking maybe he wants to help the foreigners, and will tell us where to wait for arriving passengers. NO he wants to give us a ticket !!!! For stopping in a crosswalk that we did not even notice since the crosswalk in front of us had big yellow stripes and was raised like a speed bump, this one was just faded white lines on the road, definitely a trap for those not familiar with the airport. No warning, no have a nice visit, just we need money so here is where you get to contribute. Carol arrives and so does all her luggage so all is good. Back to Falmouth Harbour, it has been a long day of travel for her so we have dinner on board giving Carol a chance to unpack and unwind. Saturday Carol & I decide to get a little exercise and walk up to a lookout point of an old fort to watch some of the races. I had been told about this spot that a lot of people were using to watch the races from, and that there was an easy trail and a hard one. We found the hard one, passing the easy one thinking it was not the way. Enjoy the beautiful views and visit with some other people up there before heading down the easy way. Back to the boat for lunch and get the kayaks out for a trip over to Pigeon Beach. Going in early for dinner to once again walk the docks to look at these multi million dollar boats, such a unique event to see so many of these spectacular yachts in one place at the same time. Sunday I convinced Carol that it would be fun going out on the dinghy to watch the start of the races, it is a beautiful day and she is glad to be able to see this amazing sight up close and personal. Monday Jan & George join us to drive around the island hitting a few of the sights like Devils Bridge and downtown St. John's. Tuesday since there are no cruise ships in we go to do a Zip Line / obstacle course. This is Carol's first one and she does fantastic considering her fear of heights. The zip lines are the easy part, its the walking across suspended rope ladders and tight ropes that gives her a challenge since she can not look down! She makes it all the way through conquering her fear, not sure how soon she will want to do another one, but she did this one. Time to go to the beach for a nice lunch and a relaxing swim. Wednesday we sail up to Five Islands Bay, do some snorkeling and swimming staying there overnight and enjoy a nice morning Thursday relaxing, swimming and reading before heading back to Falmouth Harbour. Friday morning we take Carol to shore to get her taxi to the airport, a week sure went by quick and I was sad to say goodby. Friday afternoon Steve & George go out on a practice sail on a boat they are going to crew on for the upcoming Antigua Sailing Week. Saturday they do the around Antigua race and the boats traveler breaks. The boat has a few maintenance problems as it is left alone most of the year. The owner and his family and friends are not serious racers and are more here for the vacation. Steve & George hang in there with them for a few days being on the rail getting soaked. By Tuesday the winds start to die down so they resigned Monday when they got back in and we make plans to head south. Starting with us coming into one of the marinas here in Falmouth to fuel up and equalize the batteries again as it will be a while before we are near a marina again. We enjoyed our time in Antigua, glad to see and explore a little more of the island this time but only making a VERY small dent in seeing their 365 beaches.

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