We arrived in Antigua on the 10th December and after three
weeks at sea we could have almost bought a ‘condo’ on the
waterline, hooked our boat to the jetty and lived happily ever after in Jolly
Harbour! It took us a week to get acclimatised and sorted out by which time
most of the Rally boats had moved around to Nelson’s Dockyard in
readiness for Christmas.
Our idea was to cruise for a week prior to berthing for Christmas with
the others - but it has been very windy and bashing up the coast to find a somewhat
lonely anchorage (where Eric Clapton has his house) didn’t quite do it
for us – so we turned right around and came back to English Harbour where
we anchored for three days in the bay. This had a lot of attractions –
firstly it was free - but just as importantly we could all reach the shops,
bars and restaurants of English and Nelson’s Harbour by dingy although it
was slightly complicated when we all wanted to go in different directions!
There was a great breeze blowing which seemed to negate the mosquitoes and all
the Super Yachts were berthed alongside the dockyard which was a fabulous
sight, especially at night. However, on the 20th December we motored
around the headland to take our place ‘alongside’ with the rest of
the Rally in Nelson’s Dockyard as we had pre booked our berth.
Nelson’s Dockyard with yachts at anchor.
We were not sure of our berth until the moment we arrived as Joseph the
Harbour Master decides on the spur of the moment depending on your length,
breadth and draft – it is an exact science as the harbour has all sorts
of ancient debris including massive lengths of chain used to scupper the French
boats if they ventured in! ! It was as tricky berthing alongside as we had
been advised – Joseph yells ‘drop the anchor now’ when you
seem to be way off ‘the target’ and then you try and reverse in
slowly enough not to collide but quickly enough to combat the wind which is
pushing you completely off course. Coupled with Joseph’s orders over the
VHF you are also aware of other yachties yelling advise and even abuse if they
think you have dropped our anchor over theirs!! Our experience after a perfect
reversal was that our 60 meter of anchor chain ran out 15 feet before we
reached the dockside!! It took three more rather stressy attempts to
accomplish what looks like a very simple task to the uninitiated! BUT once in
you cant wait to watch the others’ usually failed approaches!!! The
advantage of the random system of berthing here is that all the small boats are
not necessarily put together – you are just as likely be nestled in
beside a yacht measuring 100 foot or more. We, the English, floated fake palm
trees across the harbour entrance in Nelson’s day to avoid being seen. The
architecture of the old buildings is fascinating and it is an amazing
experience to be here for Christmas.
BWR – Peter and Christine - organised a great get together on the
beach – we all brought our own barbeques, picnics and drinks in
dinghy’s and spent an idle day together which made a change. See more www.bluewaterrallies.com We are
finding it hard to relax though – there is always so much more to get
done…….. but what an amazing way of life cruising is – some
of the yachts in the bay have been anchored up for months – it beats
What’s for lunch today?
Yachts ‘Imagine’, ‘Pank’, ‘Out on the
Blue’ and ‘Louena’ have either said their goodbyes or will
depart after Christmas as they were only here for Rally Antigua – (i.e.
Gibraltar to Antigua) some other yachts have already sailed off to meet friends
and family on other islands – Bly have decided the whole experience is
too quick for them so they are opting out of the Rally - lots of change which
is understandable and to be expected. Zippy do da and Hakuna Matata have had
their anti fouling done and have now joined us – Tapestry needed some
engine repairs so were delayed at Jolly Harbour for a while – Big Blue
are still at sea on their way here - Michael and Jacqui are here in Nelson’s
Dockyard and have settled into their new life aboard Bacchus - Keith’s
leg is on the mend and he hopes to be able to sail to Panama on his boat rather
than fly. Oscar has had a hair cut and looks completely different – Paul
and I have lost so much weight he is wearing my jean shorts and Bennett has
gone down two or three sizes too!
For our part we are carrying on with our repairs, cleaning the boat
inside and out, polishing all the oxidised rust from the stainless steel guard
rails etc, scraping off the ‘goose barnacles’ (long wiggley sea
creatures which sucker on only to the back of the boat, for some reason near
the rudder, and are a devil to remove). We are hoping to get our repaired
sails returned soon but the ‘Sail Maker’s Locker’ is working
through the night to get through an extraordinary workload at this time of year…..
Our gas bottles have a Spanish valve clip on system unknown here in Antigua so we have to remove and change the valve and buy
a new regulator before we can fill up again. Fuel is very reasonable here
– we have filled our tanks for around 60p a litre and our food bill came
to around 500 pounds to stock up for the next month ahead.
I think we are planning to leave soon for Guadaloup, Dominica and
possibly Mustique for New Year ………… we have had a great
couple of days visiting my 88 year old uncle Michael on board the Hebredian
Spirit anchored coincidentally off Barbuda where we were treated like royalty
and finding the largest colony of nesting and mating Friggate birds in the
world – I will try and do a David Attenborough impersonation in my next
HAPPY CHRISTMAS 2007 TO EVERYONE READING THIS XXXXX