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Date: 01 Apr 2011 00:33:00
Title: Ospreys and reefs

Tenpound Bay, Antigua, Thursday night

We're still anchored and moored in our lovely bay. I think it's the best anchorage we've found in the Caribbean so, as they say, we saved the best 'til last.

Andrea had me up and out of bed early as she was keen to get out and do some Janeway filming before the hordes descended on the island. We wanted to go around to the next beach which is used as a picnic spot by boats from the resorts in Nonsuch Bay. We had our breakfast while discussing the tactics and decided that we needed Alden to drop us ashore so I had to get him out of bed as well. As we got ready, we saw an Osprey fly past us with something in its claws and land in a nearby tree. I went and got my proper camera and fired off a load of shots while he sat in the tree eating his fish and then flew around the anchorage. One of the pictures came out well. We then put all Andrea's stuff in the dry bag, got into the tender and headed around the point to the next bay where we all got out knee-deep in the sea and waded ashore. Alden headed back home to listen out for us on the VHF.

The beach was beautiful - no wonder they take people there - with a couple of palm-trees in the middle and a picnic bench beneath them. We set the camera up at one end and Andrea got changed into her costume. We did a fair few takes as we wanted to make sure we had usable pictures. By the time we'd finished, Cind came back with news of another good filming spot further out on a rocky point so we walked over there along the rocks. I'm not sure that these really are rocks in this area. They look exactly like the coral that's still underwater. The stuff on the beach could be fossilised or it could just be left behind as the sea levels sank. Either way, it's full of shells and coral fragments so it's interesting and extremely sharp.

From the point, we had a great view of Saxon Blue moored up amid the reefs. The waves were crashing beneath us on the seaward reef and we had a clear view of the wrecked yacht. We did more filming, some of it with our boat in and some with a small fishing boat which arrived. The fisherman was snorkelling so I assume he was after the same lobsters as Alden. After a few different shots from there, Cind had again found another location, this time on the top of the low hill above us. We walked up there through the scrub and cacti and got some shots of Janeway among the desert-island plants. We wanted to shoot out to sea but it was too windy and the spray was threatening to swamp the camera so we left that, raised Alden on the VHF and headed back to the beach.

Andrea and I got a lift back home in the tender while Cind swam back via the reef. As we got onboard, I realised that we'd interrupted Alden having one of his major breakfasts with eggs, mushrooms and noodles but he soon got stuck back into it. It was actually almost lunchtime so we had our sandwiches and salad just after Alden had gone off armed with his underwater camera and his lobster snare. After we'd finished our lunch, the girls wanted to swim to the nearest beach, walk to the picnic beach and then swim back via the reef. I didn't fancy the walk so I swam around to the picnic beach to meet them. On the way, I almost had a head-on collision with a group of a dozen other snorkellers coming the other way.

As I got around the point, I could see that they had all come from an Adventure Antigua catamaran which was moored just off the sand. There were people everywhere. Hey, ho. I swam on until I could just sit in the surf and waited for the girls to arrive. They didn't so I went back out and did some more snorkelling. The reef at this point is spectacular with a sharp drop-off so there are loads of different fish. I saw a fair size stingray which I dived down and swam with a couple of times. A bit later, I saw some odd-looking fish which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a pair of squid. As I swam down for a closer look, they turned so they could keep their beady eyes on me. They were changing colour all the time - probably in an attempt to scare me off. They really are amazing creatures so I was glad to get a close look at them.

After all that excitement, I swam back to the beach to see if I could see the girls amidst the crowds. They were still nowhere to be seen so I assumed that they'd seen the catamaran and decided to go back to our secluded little bay. I set off to swim back around the reef to Saxon Blue and was pretty tired by the time I got back. Alden was onboard and pointed to the girls, sitting on the beach. They'd tried to walk around but there wasn't a path and they'd got scratched trying to make it before giving up and coming back to sun themselves in peace. As they sat on the sand, they'd been chatting to a very friendly family who'd arrived in a motorboat from the resort where we had dinner the night before last. They were from the UK and loved Saxon Blue. They were impressed that we'd parked her in such a tight spot and even more so when Andrea told them the route we'd taken to get here from home.

Andrea and I got back onto the boat from there while Cind went off exploring to see how close she could get to the wrecked yacht. Alden joined her in the tender after a while and they had a good little adventure while we ate snacks. Then it was time for some reading and chatting while doing a few chores and, before you know it, Sundowner time. As the sun set, the Osprey came back so I spent a while watching him fishing through the binoculars. I suppose he migrates down to the Caribbean each winter before heading back up into North America for the summer. That's what they do in Europe, anyway.

As I'm writing this, Alden is transforming more of our King Fish into dinner which smells fantastic so, hopefully, I'll be eating that before too long. So that's it for us exploring the wilder anchorages of Antigua. We're off back to Nelson's Dockyard tomorrow. It's been a great couple of weeks doing our circuit of Antigua and Barbuda and it's one of our favourite places in the Caribbean. There's plenty to see with wild places and towns for contrast. The anchorages have been safe and spectacular with enough of them that we can move every time we feel like it. We liked Antigua as soon as we arrived and like it even more now.

Harvey

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