Jolly Harbour Antigua, and over to Nevis

Tue 6 May 2008 13:14
17.09N 62.38W
Charlestown, Nevis
Had a great sail with the spinnaker up round from Falmouth Harbour to Jolly Harbour(17.04N 62.38W) on Antigua. Well up and down then gybe the beast ... To explain ... We had lunch and a swim in a bay on the way round ... Then out and inside Cades reef ... tried to be clever with the spinnaker sailing down the narrows by the lee ... next thing there was a lovely hour glass spinnaker .. wrapped ever so firmly round the forestay about half way up ... bottom half filling nicely ... and so was the top half ... but with the reef couldn`t alter course to get it unwrapped ... I bet the boats motoring around us had a good laugh! Anyway no sooner past the reef and get the sail unwrapped and it's time to gybe. Well we were lucky ... as we approached Jolly Harbour the wind dropped and Syd was able to yank it all back again from the foredeck ...  Being an assymetric you can`t (gybe it that is)  ... So pull the snuffer down , undo the sheet then reattach to a sheet on the other side ... Now that works fine but until you gybe back again the spinnaker halyard has to go outside and around the forestay ... no problem ... till you want to get it down!!!  Well we were lucky ... as we approached Jolly Harbour the wind dropped and Syd was able to yank it all back again from the foredeck.
Anchored in shallow outer edge of Jolly Harbour inlet, watched pelicans fishing.  Dinghy'd all the way in to Jolly Harbour marina to check out where customs were, look for a few things in the chandlery(too expensive), do some laundry, get cheap gin and see how it had changed since Syd was there in 2002(ish)  A new supermarket had been built and had all sorts of things that we hadn't seen in ages, like Patak's Rogan Josh and a decent selection of breakfast cereals, and we decided a water tank top-up would be good, so we motored into the marina late afternoon, filled 2 trolleys at the supermarket and wheeled them right down to the boat.  Then we went for a meal at the swiss restuarant with the barbeque which Syd remembered from before; Annabel thought it was fine, but everything was much too salty for Syd !  We wandered into a bar on the way back to the boat and somehow stayed talking to a couple of blokes from Oxford until closing time...which of course led to a massive hangover in the morning, made worse by multiple mozzie bites - Annabel decided there were too many for cream and scratching, and took anti-histamine tablets which helped psychologically at least !  But we were very good and managed to fill up with water, pay and leave by midday.  We found a large, modern customs dock on the way out, so clearing was very easily done.  Then back to the same anchorage on the edge of the inlet to tidy up half-dry washing and finish stowing the shopping.
Sun 27 April sailed, again with spinnaker, light winds, a dead run ... so soon got a bit bored doing a stately 5 knots .... I know: let's have a go at fishing ... bad decision .. I reckon fishes have some sense and don't eat in the heat of the day ... so as we start rounding the south end of Nevis.. all the line has to be rolled back in ... then a gybe then woopeee eee ... close reaching on full sail with spinnaker up the west coast and we are suddenly doing 6, 7 knots with the occasional 8 and flat sea going like a train.... but then we have to go close hauled to get to Charlstown ... spinnaker down .... Ahh but now the halyard is all the way round the forestay .. no chance at this speed so drop off down wind (we want to go the other way !!!!!) get it down in the wind shadow of the main.. then back to the beat with Syd down the foredeck locker stuffing the spinnaker back into the locker ... head just about above the bow wave level!!! over to  where there were lots of lovely new mooring buoys some way away from the main town, Charlestown(17.09N 62.38W), but no real anchoring space, so tied up happily, listened to the Sunday night beach parties and dinghy'd all the way into town for customs the next morning. Had a wee chat with a 70+aged chap on his self-made boat, who'd been cruising round the Caribbean for 11 years and been living on a boat for 60 years !  We had been hoping to get the bikes out to explore Nevis, but the dock in town was much too rolly and the swell on the beach too heavy, so we tried motoring round to Oalie Bay on the northern end of the island, as we'd read that there was a keen mountain biker and watersports centre(+jetty?) there, but all the mooring buoys were taken, so we went back a bay, which wasn't so nice, moored and dinghy'd round to Oalie with walking shoes the next day.
Tue 29 April we did one of our longer-than-expected walks, because the map wasn't as clear as we would have liked and we couldn't find the path.  We started off walking along the road actually hoping to get a bus down to the other end of the island where there is a large botanical garden.  Annabel has been hoping to visit one since arriving in the Caribbean, to learn what all the local plants and trees are, but as yet no luck...and not that day either: having been used to helpful little busses(and often private cars too) tooting at and picking up passengers anywhere along their route we just walked down the road in the direction we wanted, turning to look hopefully at all passing minibusses, but nobody stopped or even tooted.  We soon got to the airport, where we thought at least some would stop, but the lady at the info desk, said no, they don't really go round the island and we would have to got back into Charleston and out again.  But she did give us what looked like a much better map than we had with us, so we decided on a local walk instead.  By that time it was lunchtime and suprisingly Syd rejected the small local supermarket cafe(I thought he was missing Morrisons) in front of the airport in favour of 'something more romantic'(I'm sure the yorkshire man meant scenic....) at the beach bar the other side of the runway.  So we had a lovely little lunch literally on the beach, looking across the sea to St Kitts.  We decided to try following part of a bike track marked on the map and walked off back along the road a bit, off through the scrubby fields on the track that looked most likely, up the hill, through a nice hotel/condo's grounds, more up the the hill, down a dead end to a rubbish dump, back again, on up the hill to a road which looked like it went up to some aerials at the top, but we thought the path down would be off this road, so off we set uphill again.  There were a few ribbons leading into the bush, which might have been a path, but maybe not, so we ignored them, tried another route, which also ended in a dead-end rubbish tip, back to the road and trudged all the way up to the top of the hill and couldn't find a way down from there, so back down again, after 'admiring the view'.  Annabel thought she'd read somewhere that paths were sometimes marked with ribbons, so we decided that was better than walking down the road from the village and hacked through the bush, following the ribbons and some white cotton thread.  We were rewarded by seeing some monkeys prancing away from us, and an easy-to follow, but only roughly hacked path through the scrub, so scratched legs.  It eventually came out on the road down from the village, which we followed down onto the main road round the island.  We walked past a garden centre(first seen in Caribbean) and the bay where Gaviota was (still safely) moored, and another mile or so on to the dinghy at Oalie beach.