North Antigua

Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 24 Feb 2012 14:24

Following a peaceful night, we raised the anchor and departed the shores of Barbuda about 10am, reaching Parham, North Antigua around 15.30. The passage had been uneventful, almost a beam reach. Once we had passed beyond the reef, we raised the mainsail and genoa, sailing in light wind for about three hours. As the wind decreased, we brought in the foresail and switched on an engine, motor-sailing until we approached the reef off Antigua before dropping the mainsail.

Once inside the reef, we followed the channel for the most part, until we had to leave and make a dog leg to avoid the very shallow water, just short of our destination. We dropped the anchor in 2.5metres, made some tea and consumed the remainder of the cake which Roger and Mal had bought for us all, on the day of the evening that they flew back to the UK.

We tried to access WiFi but there was nothing available which was mildly irritating as we haven’t been able to go on-line since leaving Jolly Harbour last Saturday morning.

There seem to be quite a few attractive anchorages on the north side of the island and lots of small islands to visit.

We have visited this part of Antigua, to check out anchorages and facilities because Tucanon is due to be lifted out for a survey on the 28th of this month. We need to be near the yard the night of the 27th to ensure we don’t have to get up before we go to bed. From what we could observe as we made our way to our anchorage, this appears to be an idyllic cruising ground; the bonus is that because of the shoals, as well as the reef and the coral, it is not over populated by other boats.

Such a peaceful night and when I got up in the morning, the water was like a mill pond; first time we have seen it flat since we arrived back in Grenada.

I defrosted the fridge in the cockpit before we went ashore to explore Parham; such an un-spoilt village, with a lot of large deciduous trees. The Japanese have built a fish plant here and it was at that dock that we initially tied up the rib. Interestingly, the Japanese have also paid for a building to house a fish plant near to the inland lagoon in Barbuda, close to where we met George for the trip to the frigate bird sanctuary.

We walked into the small village and found a couple of small shops; one described itself as a “Superette”. The availability of fresh fruit and vegetables was a bit like being in the pacific, almost non existent.

The local people were all very friendly and happy to stop and chat. A small group of young men were sitting on the benches of the roofed, open market. There was no produce on sale.

The guy who owns some quad bikes which are available for rent, let us tie our rib up to his new pontoon so Dick moved the dinghy from outside the fish plant before we visited the huge Anglican Church, then went to King Burger for lunch. The proprietor, something of an entrepreneur reckoned that the house next to his “restaurant” was built prior to 1964. The burgers were excellent and only cost $7EC each, less than £2!

After lunch we walked to a house that is available for rent for only $100EC per night. It is in the process of being completely refurbished for Mr King Burger who is planning to move in himself mid March.

Returning to the boat, still only one of two in this anchorage, I managed to defrost the fridge in the galley before jumping into the water and cooling off. Wonderful!

Next morning, we made way to the nearby boat yard but the office was unattended so it wasn’t possible to check that the boat had been booked in for a lift out on the 28th of this month. Dick did manage to get on-line to send and receive the many emails waiting.

Mia’s paternal Granny has arrived and staying ashore. Caroline and the baby have been spending a lot of time with her.

We moved on to Great Bird Island where the water is so blue and transparent. Lots of coral as well.

I have moved all of our provisions to the lockers in the salon so that the under floor storage will be easily accessible, as will the bilges, when the surveyor looks at the boat on the 28th. I have not moved the ropes from under the floor in the port hull and will have to do this on the evening prior to the sea trial, or while we are out of the water and the surveyor is checking out the boat.

On Monday, we circumnavigated the Great Bird Island in the rib, avoiding shoals on at least two sides and being tossed about by 2metre waves on the eastern side (Atlantic side). Dropping an anchor near to a reef, we all three slipped into the water and spent half an hour snorkelling. There were a lot of small fish (sardine size) of various hues but the coral was just amazing with great fan-like, pumpkin-like and brain-like coral, to mention just a few of the multitude of types growing there.

After lunch we moved the boat to the anchorage between Redhead and Rabbit islands. The former was inundated with pelicans, including many young birds.

The RORC race started at 11am and we saw a number of the participants sailing past before we re-anchored. However, about 15.30 we heard part of a broadcast over the VHF stating that one of the racing boats had gone aground, on the north of the island.

Tuesday night was a bit wild with very strong wind. Bearing in mind that we are anchored in an area inundated with reefs, Dick didn’t get much sleep, checking that all was well.

Wednesday morning, tuned in to monitor three channels over the VHF but we didn’t pick up any weather forecasts. This was strange because we usually get the coastguard on channel 16 and English harbour on channel 68, at 9am. Dick called the coastguard for an update.

Thursday morning we went again to the boatyard and managed to confirm the lift out for 13.30 on the 28th. We also managed to send and receive emails while there. We have had problems finding WiFi in this part of the island.

We anchored again near Parham but unlike the first time we were here, it took about four attempts to ensure that the anchor was well dug in. With a forecast of strong winds coming, we didn’t want to take any chances.

After lunch we went ashore and found a new shop. As we were making our way to the small store, we passed a van from whence fruit and vegetables were being sold. This was a huge bonus as I had already accepted that we would have to use some of the tinned food on board to achieve our five a day.

Friday morning, Dick had to stuff some rags into the end of the boom to stop the swallows building a nest there.