Update from English Harbour ANTIGUA......

Paul Downie
Wed 23 Jan 2008 00:18
Hi Folks - Hope you all had a really good time at New Year. 2008 arrived here with a rousing welcome of reggae music and fireworks.

We moved round to Freemans Bay on the edge of English Harbour a few days ago and anchored on the south side to snorkel and dive Charlotte Reef and the Pillars of Hercules. We were warned that in the Bay the wind swirls around 'causing yachts to meet stern-to-stern in the middle of the night, so you need plenty of swinging room. This has certainly been evident to us on a number of occasions as incoming yachts anchor too closely due to lack of space (and not knowing the local conditions). The wind and closeness of neighbours has caused us to re-anchor a number of times so we are getting plenty of practice....even in the early hours!
This is supposed to be the 'dry season'! We regularly get squalls but Sunday night the wind gusted more than usual culminating in high winds, deluges of rain and finally an electric storm or two - several boats were struck by lightening and one 80' yacht was completely destroyed by fire at 6am. 1.73" of rain fell between 2pm Sunday and 8pm Monday.
However, between the squalls the sun comes out, and we have enjoyed videoing and identifying colourful Reef Fish and have at least 2 resident Turtles in the Bay, which we have seen from Barada.

We have also been able to welcome the Atlantic Rowers who left La Gomera in the Canaries just after us on 2nd December '07. The first 4-man boat arrived on Saturday morning to a welcome of foghorns and steel-band music, having taken 38 days to row the 3,000 miles......and we thought we were slow and tired!! The second and third 2-man boats arrived in early hours of this morning.

It took us 2 weeks of taking it easy locally before energy and sanity returned. Since then we have visited St Johns, the capital twice:
- first for a New Year Celebration party of Gospel and local music where we were the only white English people surrounded by locals, and we shook hands with the PM Baldwin Spencer, who sat in front of us,
- second time we were negotiating the local busses (all private minibuses) en route to Betty's Hope, once the largest Sugar Plantation on Antigua.......this was a thought-provoking experience, the way the black African slaves had to live, and we felt an aura or atmosphere of sadness or even hopelessness about the place.
St Johns is a colourful, bustling place and we enjoy the local food esp. Chicken Roti (curried chicken and veg in a pancake wrap) v.tasty from the locals eating places.

We also enjoyed 2 days of diving when the weather was more still and calm, visiting four sites with www.seawolfdivingschool.com We were lucky to see Flying Gurnards, Rays, Spiny Lobsters, a Great Barracuda, a pair of Porcupine Fish, black & white spotted Moray Eels and the local Conch shellfish, as well as many other brightly coloured tropical fish and a variety of interesting coral.
We are now venturing off to anchor sites around the Island, some of which will be more remote and hopefully less crowded. We will let you know :+)