Gypsy life 2 - on the move

Phil Pascoe
Sat 2 May 2009 14:02

17:08.29N 61:43.79W
Great Bird Island.  7 April 2009
OK, sorry about the break from blogging, it’s been a busy time and I’ve been lazy, and slipping into Caribbean mode.  After a week of chilling and tidying and relaxing in Jolly Harbour, I needed to move and see some of the North of Antigua.  The first day (Sunday 5th) I went into the Marina for fuel and water – at least Jolly Harbour is very user-friendly for single-handers.  Then it was off up the coast and into Deep Bay, somewhere John Cody mentioned as an anchorage, and we had passed a couple of times already.  It was easy to find a spot to anchor, only about 4 other boats in the bay and pretty sheltered.  I went ashore to check out the Royal Antiguan Resort and to see if the wifi signal was any better than on the boat – no joy. The hotel was extremely quiet, again an example of how the recession has hit the Caribbean.  Two restaurants, one right on the beach, were completely empty apart from the staff.  The next day I moved around to St. John (the capital) – not an easy anchorage and it never feels as comfortable in a built up area compared to the remote bays.  I tied the dinghy up at the boardwalk along the touristy bit and checked out one or two things in town, including oil for my engine service.  Not successful in any way, so I moved on north to anchor off Maiden island.  Very pleasant area and scenery, just across the bay from the airport.  The first chore was to dinghy across and check out ease of access to the airport.  Unfortunately it was not that easy, it would involve a long, potentially wet, ride and then a long walk.  I returned across the bay and went to the neighbouring island (Long Island) which is a private resort, and went ashore at Jumby Bay.  It was all very quiet so I went for a walk – mmm, this is quite pleasant and up-market.  Then I was stopped and quizzed by a youngish guy in a golf buggy – he was the manager and informed me that I shouldn’t be wandering around the island as it was private – residents only.  We got chatting – the properties ranged from 3 to 40 million dollars (US) and the resort facilities were currently undergoing a refurb’.  OK, it was nice place – but not that good. 

I returned to Maiden Island and went ashore there.  I found a family ‘camping’ on the beach and the two older kids (about 7 and 9) gave me a tour of their island.  It was owned by Alan Stamford apparently, but the government had reclaimed it during his current ‘difficulties’ – I don’t really understand all this fiasco but it’s a big deal over here.  Anyway – it was a small, very interesting island with a fantastic mini-cliff made up of coral and shells (see pics) and some great marine wildlife, and a few buildings that were uninhabited, a great jetty – perfect.  I said my farewell to my new-found family Crusoe and returned to Whitemeadow for a meal and a peaceful night at anchor.

In the morning I went ashore again for another look at ‘my’ island and to say hello to the husband/father of the family – we got into politics, which is a pretty marginal subject for me at home, let alone the Caribbean – interesting times everywhere at the moment it seems.  I moved on to Great Bird Island, further east and anchored up near a few other boats.  Islands and reefs all around and the sun was shining – Antigua was growing on me.  I lunched and rowed ashore to what appeared to be an almost deserted island – until I rounded the last headland into the bay to find 3 or 4 large Day-tripper catamarans and hordes of people – Piccadilly Circus.  Oh well, it’s a small world and they’re paying more than I have.  I walked around the island and snorkeled from two of the beaches – nice, even with the tourists.  I stayed the night at anchor there.

The next day I sailed back to another area close to the airport to check it again.  I decided it would be better to return to the shelter of Jolly Harbour and reach the airport from there by bus.  The return trip was a pleasant day-sail along the north and west coasts of Antigua, and on reaching the five Islands area, on the west coast, I thought I would take a look at Hermitage Bay.  Wow – a secluded resort, only 3 boats in the Bay, good shelter and once I’d anchored I found there was a wifi connection at the boat – great, and only a stone’s throw from JH.  I went ashore, spoke to a few couples at the resort and picked up a brochure – how does $1200 a night for two, grab you – this was nutty honeymoon territory.  Enjoy.
The only downside was that it rained 3x in the night/morning, which woke me up somewhat earlier than usual, but I made the most of it by using the internet from 03.30h – sad individual.  Another trip ashore in the morning, some arty photos – maybe, and then I returned to the Jolly Harbour anchorage and settled in before the airport run tomorrow to welcome Paula back to the Caribbean for another session. 
It’s growing on me – at the right pace, this could be enjoyable.  The slightly worrying thing is, I seem to be more relaxed and find the Sea Gypsy life more enjoyable when I’m on my own!  Perhaps it’s the lack of responsibility – I don’t have to worry about trying to make it pleasurable for other people.  What do you think?  Answers, rude or otherwise, by e-mail please.
More soon.

Pics:  Me with time to read.  My Island tour guides and the coral cliff (Maiden Is.).

Great Bird Island - day trippers.  Hermitage Bay & WM at anchor.

Hermitage Bay Resort.