'Ello Geoff gotta new motor
Date: 2nd January 2014
Position: 17:04.485N 61:53.664W (Anchored Outside Jolly Harbour, Antigua)
Well actually yes we have ‘gotta new motor’. The weather was good and we were keen to press on. But we did not have a reliable outboard engine and without one we were not going to be able to visit a lot of the places we wanted to go to. Nearby in English Harbour was a Yamaha agent who could sell us a new engine from stock. The only problem was that in order to avoid the heavy local taxes a certain amount of paper work would have to be undertaken, and that could not be completed for a few days. We decided to buy and wait so we ordered a 5hp, Yamaha 2 stroke.
We lingered for a few days in Falmouth Harbour. Several cruise liners came and went. At one time the cruise liner Queen Mary anchored just outside the entrance to the harbour. It was so large that when it swung in an East/West direction it practically blocked the harbour entrance.
On Saturday 28th December we upped anchor in Falmouth Harbour and motored the short distance around to Freeman’s Bay just outside English Harbour. There were a lot of boats there but we managed to find a place to anchor just clear of the entrance channel. Whilst there we saw Dave and Jane on their boat Greta May, who we had last seen in Isla Graciosa (a small island just north of Lanzarote in The Canaries) in September 2012. We also met up again with Peter Whatley who we had seen a couple of weeks earlier in Pointe a Pitre. Clearly the Freeman’s Bay anchorage was popular.
Late in the afternoon of Monday 30th December we received a phone call to tell us that our new engine was ready for collection. I removed the troublesome Suzuki from the back of my dinghy and rather than rowing all of the way into English Harbour Dave saved me the effort by kindly towing me using his dinghy. We finally took possession of the shiny new motor in late afternoon, just before the dealer closed for the day, so made a note to return early the next morning to cover all of the details.
Our shiny new motor (but not so new dinghy).
Tuesday morning saw Eileen and I returning to the dealership. They have a new pontoon right at the head of the harbour, deep in the mangroves and right outside their front door. As we approached the pontoon we saw a group of local men standing around nearby. Now normally people in this part of the world are very friendly, but these guys were rather hostile. As soon as we got close they started waving their arms towards us and shouting ‘go away’. I tried to explain that we were just going to the Yamaha dealer but if anything this made them shout louder. Eventually one of them stepped forward and told us very sternly that we could tie to the pontoon but only at the point furthest away from them. It was all very confusing.
After we had tied up things started to become clearer. Behind the men who were shouting at us were a couple of police in uniform, and about 50 meters behind them was a string of police incident tape holding back a small crown of locals behind all eagerly peering for a closer look. We had stumbled straight into a crime scene. After we had gone into the Yamaha dealership they told us that floating in the water, just a few feet from our dinghy, was the body of a local woman, without clothes and with her hands bound. I’m sorry to say that it was quite an attraction for some of the local people, who were resisting being moved on by the police and declaring quite openly that they were waiting to see the body.
By now the weather was no longer fair and a period of strong winds and high seas had returned. But we were sheltered in English Harbour so decided to wait for better conditions. So we saw in the New Year at anchor in English Harbour. Peter Whatley came over on New Year’s eve and we had a few drinks and shared a tasty meal that Eileen prepared. At midnight there was a spectacular fireworks display from the small fort at the entrance to the harbour. We were probably the nearest boat to the point from where the fireworks were launched so we enjoyed ringside seats.
Looking towards English Harbour from the anchorage.
The forecasts indicated that Friday 3rd would provide a small weather window to sail over to Nevis & St Kitts, but after this there would be a continued period of strong weather. We decided to take the opportunity to escape, as we had now been in Antigua far longer than any other Caribbean island. On Thursday we upped anchor and sailed around to Jolly Harbour so that we could take on water at the fuel station in the marina, buy some food in the local supermarket, check out with customs, and also shorten Friday’s journey by a few miles. We managed to complete all of these, just before they each closed, and then dropped anchor just outside Jolly Harbour ready for an early start Friday morning.