We've been to Anguilla and back......!

Chelone's travels.....
John and Susie Blair.
Fri 6 Dec 2013 16:18
N18:12.07  W63:05.66

So, just over two weeks have passed since I last wrote anything here....two
weeks of very little to write about! Absolutely nothing exciting at all (not
in Sint Maarten that is).
Mostly, Ross and myself have been busy cleaning Chelone's teak and applying
sealer and varnish, I want her looking her best for Susie and the busier I
am the quicker the time goes until we're together again.

Life in the lagoon did have a nearly exciting moment I suppose....like when we
came across a tin of peach slices for just six dollars! ah. but you didn't
see the size of the tin....safe to say, it was 'catering size'. We ate
peaches for desert for a week, yum yum yum!
Before we make the move back to Antigua and as the wind is in the southeast
we thought we'd give nearby Anguilla (British) a look at so after topping up
Chelone's water tank at the marina we departed the lagoon through the
10.30am bridge and had a cracking sail just under fifteen miles to Road Bay.

As with Anegada, people had said Anguilla is beautiful but we took that with
a pinch of salt....we'd be the judge of that and weren't expectant of
anything special. As we rounded Saint Martins last headland we had a clear
view of Anguilla and set a broad reach course to her western point and Ross
put the fishing line out.
With no fish caught we dropped the anchor in Road Bay amongst the fishing
boats and I went ashore to clear in with Customs and Immigration. 'Welcome
to Anguilla' said the Customs girl with a smile! Blimey, that's a first, and
the first of many as it turns out because it was her people that made
Anguilla a really refreshing lovely place. I went back for Ross and we took
a wander around the village in the late afternoon light, we both felt a good
vibe about the place. We came across a shack on the edge of a large disused
salt pond which turned out was a restaurant bar and once inside the dominant
feature was a huge pre war Lister diesel engine beside the bar!
It was very similar to the Lister air-start beast in the 'Rose Steel', a
small tug I used to run out of Milford Dock years back. Chatting to the
owner of the bar (The Pumphouse) he told us that the engine was originally
imported to Barbados to power the runway lights before his father bought it
to drive a huge mill used to grind salt harvested off the pond here right
next to the bar, the mill was still present and the engine, though showing
it's age was still in running order. Looking around the bar we spotted a
large coffin and a small cannon.....I asked where the cannon came from
and was told that after a machine had done some work on the roadside
up the street he saw part of it protruding out of a pile of earth and
liberated it.
Back aboard Chelone we perused a map of the island and decided that the
following day we'd take a look at 'The Valley', the islands principal town
although how we'd get there we knew not.

In the morning we walked across the lovely beach to visit Customs again and
came across a Rasta fabricating a roof out of steel water tubing.With
sunglasses instead of a welding screen he was welding with what on closer
inspection turned out to be a battery charger! no way of controlling power
output, just a large scabby looking old transformer in an even scabbier
rusty metal box 'Ya a Welda? 'he asked....I can weld I said, 'Jah mon' he
said with a smile and did that Caribbean handshake thing with outstretched
fist. He asked if I'd help him with the roof but I had to disappoint him and
explained that we were on a mission to see the Valley,'maybe later chief' I
said and we continued on our way.

Turned out we had a lift with another friendly local fella who gave us
directions before dropping us off in the middle of town. It was more modern
than I'd expected with further works in progress all around. What can I say,
for it's size the Valley was quiet, it had modern shops and conveniences,
a Bank, Post Office, large hardware store....even a prison!

We wandered about, Ross bought some postcards and we bought bread rolls
served by a bearded woman. We sheltered from a brief and sudden heavy
downpour under a large Tamarind tree before making our way back to the
main road and back to our harbour at Road Bay. We hadn't got far when I
could hear a truck approaching from behind though it was slowing down
dropping gear after gear. I looked up as it passed and the driver shouted
'U ganna Road Bay?' Oh yes! we climbed up into the cab of the beaten up
old Mac and the driver started shifting through the gears from crawler to
the eighteenth cog as he cheerily asked where we were from etc. Swigging on
a bottle of beer he enthusiastically honked the horn at.....everything and
anyone! someone waved from a house in response and other trucks honked
back too. 'I'm ganna back a yard na an ganna home' he said as he dropped
us on a corner and pointed across the way saying that there's a great view
over the bay and a hidden shortcut through the scrub under the cliff that
leads down to the edge of the beach below.

Pictures taken, we found the track and made our way down and as it was
such rough terrain I was surprised to hear a vehicle approaching.

It was only the truck driver! now in a beaten up 4x4 he again reeled off
more local information before dropping us off near the dinghy dock.

We made and consumed tuna rolls then returned to the beach where Ross did
internet stuff and I spent a few hours welding a roof!

That night we enjoyed a rum in the Pumphouse entertained by a local three
piece band. A friendly lad at the bar engaged me in conversation, turned out
he's the manager/instructor at the Anguilla Youth Sailing School just
opposite and teaches the local school kids how to sail. A fellow sailor, he
was very interested in our exploits with Chelone and was amazed to hear
that we'd sailed here from Wales.

I further impressed him when I showed him the pictures on the camera still
in my pocket from earlier, big fish caught, undewater shots, low flying
airliners.....and OMG!!!! That's BILLY!!! uh? you know him? he's seen the
picture of the truck driver!! he was jumping up and down laughing, local
legend Billy was his bestest friend on the island and he followed up with
some amusing Billy stories.

That brings us to yesterday, after brekkie we upped anchor and set sail back
down the coast and once again to the sunny shores of Saint Martin
(French side).We had success with the rod this time and caught a
'Small Tunny' not dissimilar to a Mackerel which had 'eat me' written all
over it...... small, but it was very tasty indeed!
Next up and something more substantial had Ross winding
the reel again.....we were excited and said 'so long as it's not a Barracuda',
and what was it? Barracuda! Damn, I disgorged the hook with pliars....a
very tricky operation due to the proximity of it's mouth full of razor daggers.
It was returned to the sea alive.

We've anchored off 'Long Bay' in water that's the clearest Ross and myself
have ever seen! We'll enter the lagoon in the morning, I'm looking forward
to meeting up with friends Susie and myself had great times with last season
and there's a Boat Jumble at Time Out Boat Yard on Saturday morning after
which we'll set off again to St.Barth.

After St.Barth we'll visit Statia, St.Kitts, Nevis then back across to
English Harbour Antigua hopefully on the 15th as Ross fancies the party
night at Shirley Heights.

Should be plenty to write about by then! Now where did we get those peaches

See you soon,

JB & R.