Port Antonio, Jamaica
Saturday 11th February 2012
Distance run: 365 nmiles
We were up early on Tuesday ready to go round to the fuel dock to fill up before returning to the slip to check out. No, we could not check out and then fuel up – that’s against the rules! Steve first had to go to the office to pay for 50 litres of fuel, even though we knew we needed more. But this would provide us with a piece of paper that would authorise the guy at the fuel dock to fill us up – even though we knew we would need more. No, we didn’t understand it either, but having just spent 6 weeks in Cuba, we didn’t bother to try.
So, he was at the office by 0715, paid for the 50 litres, but was then told to go and wait at the boat because the important piece of paper needed to be signed by the marina manager. They would bring it to us.
By 0830 it had not arrived so Steve went to the office where it was waiting for us. Fuelling up was no problem, then we went back to the slip and awaited the officials. We spent our last few $CUC on some supplies as they are worthless outside of Cuba, and by 1130 we were finally cleared to leave the country. The marina manager seemed to think we would be disappointed to learn that we would miss Roman Abramovitch arriving with his megayacht Luna the following day, though we’re not sure why. It would have been interesting to see it, but not enough to delay leaving!
Actually, we could have done with some of his horse-power as there was no wind for most of that day or the next, and we turned into a motorboat for much of the time. Mind you, given a straight choice between motoring on a calm sea and beating into 25 knots of headwind, I know which I would go for! The lack of wind was really the deciding factor that led to us making a stop in Jamaica, as we were reluctant to continue for another 400 nmiles in light winds with only a couple of hundred litres of diesel left.
So as we left Cabo Cruz at the southern tip of Cuba behind us we changed course to starboard and made for Port Antonio at the north-east end of Jamaica. As usual we would be arriving in the dark, and so with the weather and seas calm, we just turned the engine off and drifted for a couple of hours until daylight.
The sun came up to reveal some rather horrid-looking squall clouds which, fortunately, we had just missed by moving when we did. We entered Port Antonio harbour around 0800 and by 0900 we were safely tied alongside in the Errol Flynn Marina (!)
Squally skies but beautiful cloud formations. Approaching the coast of Jamaica as the skies lighten.
The Blue Mountains in the background as we approach Port Antonio.
Checking in was an absolute doddle compared to Cuba. We were visited by someone from each of Health, Immigration and Customs, and all were so polite and friendly and there was nothing to pay, either official or unofficial. Steve was particularly taken with the lady from Customs who was charming and explained that she had two engagement rings because her husband had made the mistake of not buying the matching wedding ring at the same time as buying the first one, so he had to buy a whole set when he went back for a wedding ring!
Having cleared in, lowered the ‘Q’ flag and hoisted a hastily bought Jamaican courtesy flag, we then slipped the lines once more to go to the fuel dock and fill up. We didn’t want a repeat of the Cuba saga, which delayed us by four hours, when we leave here. Back in the slip we tidied the boat just a bit, picked up the free wifi and did a bit of catching up with admin and then went for a swim in the marina pool.
Later we went for a walk around the town which is bustling and colourful. There is a huge market with fresh fruit & veg, meat and fish, and a supermarket which, whilst not on a par with even a small Tesco, seems to have everything we might need. Such a change to see shops with food and goods readily available.
We went back to the market today and bought some fruit & veg and pork chops, and a loaf and a chunk of bread pudding (very much like we make at home, but I’m sure I detected a hint of rum...) at the bakers. We stopped for lunch at a small cafe and Steve enjoyed curried goat and I had fried chicken with a delicious sauce. Then another visit to the pool to cool down. We like it here!
Having looked at the weather it seems that we are likely to be here until midweek as there is a norther coming through on Monday and we need to wait for it to pass. As it turns out we are happy with that, as we had already said what a shame not to stay at least a few days now we are here!
Steve relaxing by the marina swimming pool;
the Bar is in the background. The dock where ‘Scott-Free’ is berthed, from the swimming pool.