11 mile beach, Barbuda

17:37.74N 61:51.115W
 
Sunday 27th March 2011
 
Distance run: 35 nmiles
 
By 0715 on Friday we were motoring out of Five Island Harbour and very soon had the full main and genoa up and were sailing nicely towards Barbuda, a small island 30 miles to the north of Antigua.  It is a very low lying island, being a coral reef that was pushed up out of the ocean -  but not very far!  Its highest point measures 125 feet.  It isn't visible until about five miles away, and then it looks like a clump of trees sticking out of the sea!
 
James & Steve decided to do some fishing on the way across, and the line had only been out for 10 minutes before there was a bite.  James started to pull it in as we slowed the boat down, and at one point it looked as if it might pull the fishing rod bracket off the back of the boat!  He continued to pull it in slowly,but about halfway it suddenly became much easier to pull in, and when he landed it we could see why - only the poor thing's head remained on the line!  Something had taken a liking to it and bitten it clean off just behind its head.
 
                   
James putting the line out prior to catching...                                 ...a fish head!
 
Twice more the line signalled it had a bite, but on both occasions whatever it was got away before we could pull it in.  It seems the fish head was the best we were going to do that day, and we reeled the line in ready for our approach into the shallow water that extends 7 miles off the south coast of Barbuda.
 
We felt our way in and along the shore line of 11 mile beach, with the depth showing 1.2 metres below the keel at one point and we held our breath until it slowly started to get deeper again.  The  charts are not to be relied upon 100% as the bottom shifts and coral grows, so a keen eye is needed at all times until deeper water is reached.  We found a beautiful spot well away from the other two boats anchored off the beach and soon had the anchor down.  This is the most beautiful place we have anchored on our trip so far.  There are literally miles of unspoilt beach.  After lunch we took the rib ashore and went for a walk along the beach and found a jetty where we can get a water taxi across the lagoon to the only town the next day.  We swam and chilled out on the beach, and kept pinching ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming.  The only beach bar on the entire stretch of beach had closed up for the day, so we went back to the boat for sundowners.
 
11 mile beach, Barbuda
 
Yesterday we went ashore for 10 a.m. to catch the water taxi across to Codrington and to make enquiries about visiting the frigate bird colony.  First we visited the town, which is a small,sleepy village,where we bought fresh bread at the 'supermarket'.  The school sign reads, " A sound education...makes an intelligent nation".  If only it were that easy.....
 
               
The school sign in Codrington,Barbuda                                                            Codrington - complete with communication masts.
 
We then set off across the lagoon in the water taxi to visit the frigate bird colony.  Huge numbers of birds nest in the clumps of mangrove trees that grow out of the lagoon. They are clearly used to seeing people and don't bat an eyelid when you get close.  Mind you, by the time you do, the adults have taken to the skies leaving the young to fend for themselves.  (Sounds familiar,kids!)
 
               
The water taxis are big, open, fibreglass lined wooden boats with high bows.        Frigate birds in the clumps of mangroves... 
 
                
 ...not in the least bit interested in us!                                                                Two males show off their red throats. The white birds are the young.
 
We returned to the beach for a drink before lunch of spiny lobster eaten at the Out Bar, then back to the boat for a siesta followed by James's first game of Mexican Train, which he very nearly won!
 
Today we are spending a quiet day just enjoying the surroundings before heading back to Antigua tomorrow.