Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

Ocean Gem
Geoff & Eileen Mander
Fri 17 May 2013 13:10

Position: 17:01.050N 61:46.455W

Date: Friday17th May 2013


We left Jolly Harbour on Saturday 11th May to go and take a look at some of the other bays around Antigua.  We left the harbour very slowly, as the confusion with buoyage in the entrance channel still prevailed, and made our way slowly southwards through the inshore channel leaving Irish Bank and Ffryes shoal to the west of us.  It was all a bit tense as the water is very shallow and there are coral heads to catch the unwary.  At the SW corner of the island we stayed inside the offshore reefs by turning east into Goat Channel leaving Cades Reef to seaward.  This was the first pilotage that I had undertaken for many months that required any degree of effort, and after getting my way through it all I needed a break and a cup of tea, so we dropped anchor in Carlisle Bay just offshore from a swanky resort.


Here is a view from our tea stop (looking away from the swanky resort!).






There seemed to be a large number of jelly fish around the boat, and remembering my encounters with them in Martinique a few weeks ago we decided not to venture into the water for a swim, even though it all looked delightful.  (However one advantage in being covered all over in purple spots is that people make way for you on buses).


Late afternoon we upped anchor and hard on the wind with one tack needed we had a good sail into Falmouth Harbour where we dropped anchor again.  Falmouth harbour is right next door to English harbour, which is where Nelson was based for a few years in the 18th century.  The dockyards there have been restored into a quite delightful museum and working harbour where a number of major regattas and other sailing events are held each year.


A number of large luxury boats can be found in the vicinity, some absolutely beautiful and others less so, usually pimped up to display the wealth of their owners. For the big sailing yachts, red lights on top of the masts and additional highlighting on the spreaders seem to be de-rigour; for the motor cruisers all sorts of ghastly adornments are on display including extremely bright twinkly lights around the water line.  It’s a bit like having your boat vajazzled. Of course those on board cannot see the lights, but everyone else within a couple of miles of them can enjoy having their night vision ruined by one casual glance in their direction.


Here is one of the more stunningly beautiful examples, the ‘J’ class Endeavor leaving harbour.





We took a trip ashore to look around Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour.  The remaining 18th century buildings are delightfully proportioned Georgian structures made of what looks like London brick; set amongst tropical vegetation it is all very pleasing to behold, and quite unlike anything we had seen so far in the other islands we had visited.






Is all that remains of the original boathouse are the pillars, now capped with mortar to reduce water damage.  The effect is rather like some ancient Anatolian remains.






Here is a beautiful frangipani growing in the grounds:







To seaward of the harbour is a small peninsular with a fort at it’s end (one gun battery), overlooking the entrance to the harbour. The guide books state that some pre-Columbian remains have been found along this route. I took a walk along and photographed some of the views.  Here is looking eastwards towards the harbour entrance with Shirley Heights in the distance and the small fort at the end.






This is view from half way along the peninsula looking back westwards showing the cliffs to the south of the harbour.





Below is a closer look at one gun battery showing a gunpowder magazine in the foreground and a small guardhouse to provide shelter for the soldiers manning the station.






This shows the effect of tropical wind and rain on 18th century masonry.






A closer look at the guardhouse.






And finally a view back westwards showing the upper reaches of the harbour.






We have been at anchor in Falmouth Harbour now for nearly a week, growing a lot of weed around the hull. This is probably as long as we have been at anchor in the same spot in several years of sailing, so we must be chilled.