Off to Barbuda

Dick and Irene Craig
Wed 15 Feb 2012 22:12

The morning after Roger and Mal left us, we sailed to Deep Bay, with the wind blowing in excess of twenty knots, and that is where we stayed for two nights.

A couple of the buttons which manipulate the port winch have perished so on arrival, repairing those was Dick’s first job. He sent an email to Harken to order replacements, following that up next day by a phone call. They are so on the ball, the order had already been processed and the items sent to a chap who is coming here later this month.

As we sat in the cockpit drinking sun downers, while at anchor in Deep Bay, what looked like a fair ground, covered in bright, multi colored lights, passed a gap between the hill and the trees behind the beach; a cruise liner was leaving St Johns, to make passage to its next port of call.

The last time we were in this bay a Rastafarian, with his dog on a lead, walked back and forth, in the sea, alongside the beach, for at least an hour. He was back again while we were at anchor and one wonders why he exercises the dog in this manner.

The sea nearer the beach was a little clearer and we saw long, slim fish swimming just below the surface of the water; they were about eight inches long, at least an inch in diameter, with a colorful tail of orange, yellow and green.

On Monday, we set sail for Barbuda, some 25/30 miles from Antigua, eating home-made pizza for lunch, en-route.

The island is only 125feet at its highest point with a population of around 1500 people who purportedly live as subsistence farmers and fishermen. According to a couple of books I read, the local inhabitants are averse to change, refusing to have a desalination plant built, as well as physically getting rid of temporary buildings which had been brought in as a prelude to the construction of a big hotel.

Having difficulty finding reasonable access through the coral reefs to one of the bays, we retraced our steps a little and anchored off Cocoa Point and the long, curved, sandy beach, in excess of 16miles in length.

As we maneuvered our way around the coral, the port engine decided to stop functioning, the fan belt had broken. Poor Dick had to struggle next morning to replace it.

During the afternoon we sailed between the beach and the reef, to Low Bay. The passage was awful, with big rollers, two metre swells, coming from the reef towards the beach, breaking over the port beam. At times the depth of the water reduced to as little as 2.5metres; not very pleasant in such sea conditions.

We anchored just beyond the hotel, built on an ever decreasing spit between the ocean and the inland lagoon; the swell was such that we decided to retrace our steps and minutes before sunset, anchored between Palmetta and Boat Dock.

The anchorage was most uncomfortable. Although the swell was considerably less than at Low Bay, it was still sufficient to cause an almost sleepless night. Next morning, we moved the boat closer to Boat Dock so that we would have a lesser distance to travel to land in the rib.

The pontoon was most rickety but despite that, a ferry arrives from Antigua on a daily basis. We tied up at the end of the pontoon and waited for our taxi to take us overland to the lagoon, just the other side of the hotel at Low Bay, near to where we had hoped to anchor on the previous night. Had we done so, it would have not been possible to land the rib safely on the beach.

            Horses, deer and donkeys apparently roam wild, though I understand that each horse does have an owner and although we saw donkeys “a la New Forest”, the only horses we spotted were within enclosures.

When we reached the lagoon, George, our guide was waiting for us. The three of us clambered aboard his boat and off we went. We were shown the huge red buoy which had been salvaged from near the hotel at Low Bay, having escaped from its original mooring in Canada. The water in the lagoon looked no more than about one foot deep but apparently it averages five feet, being two miles wide and seven miles long. There were quite a lot of mangroves growing from various ridges and at times it looked as if we were racing through the water with a ridge, just below the water, either side.

About 20 thousand birds make up the frigate bird colony, where the males during the mating season, sport huge, red pouches below their throat.

Because a frigate bird is unable to take off again, should it become submerged, it cannot dive for food so it harasses other birds who have managed to catch a fish, stealing the catch as it is dropped.

We were amazed to see so many airborne birds as well as an unimaginable number in the mangroves. The red pouches resembled exotic fruit growing. This visit is a definite must for anybody traveling in these parts. The ferry from Antigua takes just an hour and a half, a plane flight only fifteen minutes.

We ate local, delicious, freshly grilled lobster for lunch at a most unpretentious restaurant serving quite a lot of take away food to locals. With all the trimmings, the cost was only $50EC per person. $4EC =£1.

Back at Boat Harbour we manhandled the rib, which had partially gone aground, into the water. Then, arriving back on Tucanon, we lifted the anchor and moved the boat just short of Spanish Point, a much calmer anchorage, a passage which took just over an hour.