Wednesday, 26 February 2014

7/2014 Part 2 Antigua

Hi from Clare,                                                   Tuesday 25th February 2014 
When last I wrote we were anchored in Five Islands Bay on the west side of Antigua and taking advantage of a strong Wifi connection complements of a nearby resort. Our British friends Tony and Jill on "Nychea" came to the same bay and so we enjoyed another evening trying unsuccessfully to beat Tony at Mexican Train. He's a very strategic player and more so very tinny, a hard combination to beat; we can only live in hope.

The following morning we motored three miles into Jolly Harbour to do some provisioning. The well stocked Epicurean supermarket was our last chance to stock up with English products. From now on it will be Caribbean corner stores and vegetables that I have never seen before and have no idea how to cook.

We caught the bus into St John's which is the capital of the island. The bus seats about 30 people and that includes three across the bench seat with the driver; very reminiscent of bus travel in Turkey. We were the only white people on the bus and although English is the spoken language it is hard to understand the locals, especially when they speak quickly. The noticeable difference in Antigua as compared to the French island of St Barth and the French/Dutch island of St Marteen is that the shops, resorts, restaurants and everything else are run and serviced by native Antiguans. They are very friendly and unlike other islands we have visited the native people speak to the tourists first.

The trip into St John's was interesting as we drove down some of the back streets picking up passengers. When someone wanted to get off they would say "Bus Stop" and miraculously amongst the traffic noise, the whirring of engine and everyone talking at once, the driver would hear the request. The trip gave us a good opportunity to see the local housing and living conditions. The houses are OK, but as we have seen on a lot of islands, they are not well maintained. The shutters are falling off the windows, the house paint is peeling, the fences are broken and the gardens are non- existent. I can't understand this as the people are well groomed, well dressed and smell nicely of perfume and aftershave; who can figure it?

There was a seven thousand passenger cruise ship in town which had departed from Fort Lauderdale Miami four days earlier. We went down to the duty free shopping area but it was full of Americans. We heard one such American asking a shop keeper "What country is this?". Not a good start for someone on day four of a forty nine day cruise to South America and back. So we left the Americans to the duty free shopping and walked up to the Antigua Recreation Ground where in 2004 Brian Lara scored 400 runs not out in one innings against England. There is also a Sir Vivian Richards Stadium but we didn't get to see that one. Instead we hot footed it down to the Digicel and bought a internet sim card for one month. Unfortunately we could only get 2and1/2G so we won't have Skype on the boat.

Our friends on "Nychea" have gone home to Gurnsey for three weeks and unfortunately by the time they get back we will have moved on and will probably not see them again this season. We had a final dinner at La Porta Restaurant with them and another English couple Sue and Ian on "Hoyden". Ian is eighty two and is the oldest cruising person we have met. He is in remarkable condition but he no longer wants to do long passages; I can certainly understand this.

So we left Jolly Harbour and sailed to Deep Bay further along the west coast of Antigua. It is well protected from the Atlantic swell and strong wind we are experiencing. It has a very nice sandy beach and the water temperature is 25 degrees. Friday night our Aussie friend Bronwyn Adamson spent the night with us on Eye Candy. You may recall that Bronwyn did the Atlantic Crossing with us in 2012 and was a greatly appreciated member of the ABC Team. She is Chief Engineer on a 60 metre motor yacht which has called into Antigua for a few days before heading to St Martin. It was wonderful to have her on board again; she fits in so well we would like to keep her here forever.

 Bronwyn and Long Island houses
Our next overnight stop was on the north side of Antigua. After reporting seeing dilapidated houses, the housing on this side of the island is first class; large private homes, gorgeous resorts and very modern multi story apartments. We spent the night anchored off Long Island which is a private island about half a mile off the north coast. As you can see by the photo it is a beautiful location. The homes we could see from the boat had a pool as well as beach frontage.

Yesterday we sailed thirty miles to the Island of Barbuda which is said to have the best beaches in the Caribbean. We are anchored off an eleven mile sandy beach and as you can see by the photos it is very beautiful.

 Beach at Barbuda

We intend staying here for a few days to enjoy. Having said that it is now 3pm and we have been busy all day doing chores. So good bye, it's time to go to the beach.

Love Candy xx

At 10:41 PM22/02/2014 (utc) our position was 17°07.54'N 061°53.23'W

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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

6/2014 Antigua

Hi from Clare,                                           Monday 17th February 2014

Last Monday night we sailed 120 miles into a 15-20 knot wind and arrived at Antigua around lunchtime the following day. With a bit of luck this should be our last windward trip to the east for the moment. From now on we will mostly do day hops traveling south down the island chain to Trinidad.

Some of the OCC gang and views inside Nelson's Dockyard

So far in Antigua we have spent most of our time anchored in Falmouth Harbour or English Harbour in very calm conditions. We have been in company of a dozen OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) members and have enjoyed a very social time. We went out for dinner four consecutive nights, firstly to "Hot Hot Hot" an outdoor restaurant by the waterside in English Harbour and twice to Trapas which is indoor and very popular. In other words you have to shout to be heard. In between these nights eight of us had a progressive dinner on the boats. On each occasion the food was lovely and we had a great time but by the end of it my poor stomach was begging for mercy and a small plain meal.

To offset the eating Andrew and I went exploring each day. We went to Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour which was established in the mid 1700 and is still a working dockyard today. We went for a two hour hike along the cliff face overlooking both Falmouth and English Harbour which gave us a terrific aerial view of the bays. English Harbour is a natural hurricane hole and its dockyard was used extensively in the late 1700 during the Napoleonic Wars for ship repairs and provisioning.
Entrance to English Harbour and on the right track this time.
Our climb up to Shirley's Heights and views from the top

A couple of days later after we had recovered from our first hike and eaten a few more dinners we decided on a steep climb for an hour to Shirley Heights Military Compound (150m above sea level) see photo. We made it but not without a few stops along the way. Our reward was a spectacular view and a clear conscience.

Yesterday we sailed downwind along the south coast and we are now anchored in Five Islands Bay on the western and leeward side of Antigua. It is not only peaceful here but we have a good WiFi connection from the nearby resort. We even managed a few Skype calls which were a real treat.

We will stay around Antigua for a few weeks. There is much to see here and we have only just scratched the surface.

Love Candy xx

At 7:13 PM11/02/2014 (utc) our position was 17°55.52'N 062°52.16'W

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

5/2014 St Barts

Hi from Clare, Friday 7th February 2014

When last I wrote we were on the island of St Maarten anchored in Simpson Lagoon. Andrew had successfully installed the new digital Radar and the amount of detail we can now see is amazing. We even tracked Tony and Jill (Nychea) approaching Eye Candy in their dinghy; pretty impressive.

Lagoonies Bar & another squall

The weather although lovely and sunny has been very unpredictable and we spent a lot of time in St Maarten ducking between rain squalls. Jill and I had a girl's day out and enjoyed shopping in the French Boutiques. Most shops had sales on but the French being the French don't call them 'sales' they call them 'promotions'. They would explain "everything on these racks is on promotion, 50 % off the marked price. So now we own French promotion dressers - ooolala. Jill did the driving and on the way to shopping she explained that she didn't drive the dinghy very fast. However on the way back we were chased by a black cloud. It's funny how things change when faced with getting wet. Jill opened the throttle and we speed across the lagoon coming in for a crash landing at the back of Eye Candy and we scrambled aboard with our shopping bags just as the rain squall hit, accompanied by a 27.7knot wind. Late that afternoon we joined our cruising friends at Lagoonies bar for drinks and dinner. Andrew and I left our boat in perfect sunshine and only just made the short distance to the bar before the next rain squall hit; see photo.

On our last night in St Maarten we went to the yacht club for farewell drinks and in time to watch the bridge opening for yachts entering the lagoon. About half an hour later there was a private bridge opening, at the cost of $1000, for a very large and expensive yacht to come through. I asked "why not come through with everybody else, why would they pay $1000 for a private opening" the consensus was, because they can.


Gustavia Port and Township, St Barts

On Sunday we sailed sixteen miles into the wind to the French island of Saint-Barth. In the Caribbean this island is unique in that it doesn't have slavery in its history; it was settled by the French and Swedes. The island's capital Gustavia is situated in a large port and is a modern tourist town with duty free shops and waterfront restaurants. However Gustavia still has many examples of Swedish architecture dating back to the early 1800s. The town has grown up around these earlier buildings and it is lovely to see the old and new sitting comfortably together; if only I was artistic and could paint. We walked all around town and then up to the ruins of Fort Carl (named for Duke Carl, the brother of Swedish King Gustaf 111). We had a great view of the township of Gustavia, the port and the surrounding waterways.

The New and the old & the walk to Flamands

Upon our arrival to Saint-Barth we took a mooring ball in Anse de Colombier which is a well protected bay on the North West corner of Saint-Barth and away from the water traffic of Gustavia. We are with Tony and Jill on Nychea and a few boats we know from the Salty Dawg Rally or the Ocean Cruising Club. On our first day here Andrew and Tony took the dinghy around to Gustavia to check in. Tony needed some petrol for his outboard but they discovered, believe it or not, that the only fuel was at the airport. As this is quite some distance they decided to hitch hike. A local chap picked them up and much to their surprise he was drinking a can of beer and smoking a joint while driving the car. However, being a nice chap, he offered Andrew a puff.  He then waited and gave them a lift back to Gustavia via the scenic route. 
We had dinner on Nychea earlier in the week and we reciprocated on Eye Candy a few nights later. Yesterday Andrew and I went for a walk along the cliff face to the village a few kilometres away at Flamands beach. Today the four of us climbed to the lookout above Anse de Colombier. On both occasions the view was truly beautiful and the exercise didn't do us any harm. Each day we swim and snorkel or walk along the beach. Last night we played Dominoes with Tony and Jill and tonight we had drinks on Nychea and met fellow OCC members Mervin and Penny on Tamarind.

Tony, Jill and Clare at the lookout & our anchorage at Anse de Colombier

We have enjoyed Saint-Barth and as you can see by the photo Anse de Colombier is a lovely spot. We anticipate leaving here on Monday for Antigua.
Love Candy xx

At 12:50 PM7/02/2014 (utc) our position was 17°55.52'N 062°52.16'W

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