Friday, 26 April 2013



The following day, we dinghy into the Marina to find Customs and Immigration and clear in. The water is a rather unbelievable shade of turquoise and the little beaches around us are very white. This really is picture postcard Caribbean. Jolly Harbour reminds us a lot of Rodney Bay – it is also a man- made lagoon with houses right to the waters’ edge and many have moorings for all sorts of craft.
Jolly harbour Looking to the Anchorage
It always seems to be such a small world here. Looking for the dingy dock in the Marina we see 'Frogslexe' who we last saw in St. Lucia. It is rude not to say "Hi" so we stop for a coffee.

We manage to check in later in the morning, usual procedure, forms in quadruplicate, (with some really odd questions for a yacht - but not for a large cargo vessel I suppose like “How many tons of explosives do you have on board?”). We visit Customs, then Immigration, back to Customs and then finally the Port Authority. All cleared in and with our clearance papers make for the Budget Marine Chandlery to get our goods duty free.

The crew of 'Tulu' are also shopping, so after buying our new battery charger we have lunch with the 'Tulu's' at the snackette by the entrance to the boatyard.

Suitably refreshed (and thoroughly full) we tackle the marina about a fridge engineer. We have arranged for the engineer to look at the fridge on Saturday morning so we will move into the Marina.

Marina life will allow us to get our washing done, charge the batteries, try to find the intermittent fault with our deck flood light, purchase a new anchor light (the old one has a fault with the light sensor), fit the new charger and have our fridge looked at. We also need to find a solution to our sagging Bimini. The canvas seems to have stretched so it tends to flap wildly when we are sailing

Rowena goes up the mast
Our engineer finally shows late on Saturday afternoon, he was expecting a call from the marina as to what berth we were on, we have been waiting since 10.00, seems there was a communications problem. You learn to chill! Good news is the fridge is OK; bad news is that there is a bit of a voltage drop between the batteries and the fridge so with low batteries the fridge won't start. The solution is a rewire and remove a couple of 'dirty' switches from the circuit. Short term we must keep the batteries better charged - that is where the new charger comes in. Our new 40 amp, 3 stage 'smart' charger will charge the batteries much better than the old 'trickle' charger and work off the petrol generator as well as Europe and USA shore power voltages.

Unfortunately our recently purchased flexible solar panel has died due to the ingress of water, I think we will be using the generator more and relying less on the solar panels.

Saturday was laundry day and Sunday was spent fitting the new battery charger.

Marina life is such a social whirl, ‘Happy hour’ at the bar every evening, new people we meet on our pontoon, birthday celebrations, a new restaurant to try out. Amongst all of this social activity we still manage to get most of the jobs done. The Bimini is almost as good as new, although still sags a little in places, the deck flood is still intermittent, but the batteries are now better charged, the laundry is done, boat is cleaned, water and diesel tanks are full and we have a new anchor light.

We cannot leave here without a dive so we have booked a dive with Jolly Divers for Wednesday. 

It has been very windy for the last few days and many boats have come into the marina from the anchorage. The day we dive it is still windy; the dive boat plays ‘submarines’ on the way to the first dive site, Snapper Ledge. Getting off the boat is always easy, getting back on is going to be more difficult.


The dive is on Cades reef to the west of Antigua. Diving here is always lovely, like swimming in a tropical aquarium, So much marine life and lots of Coral and Sponges. The second dive is equally as good and we see a stingray. A really shallow dive at 12m, as usual we are the last two up. Paul, our dive guide, (who dives in a clean white shirt, Bermuda shorts and a green dicky bow tie) said we could stay down as long as we like. After 76 minutes it was getting a bit cold, but the swell was increasing and the people waiting on the boat would not be having a very nice time. Also, getting up a bouncing ladder with all your gear on is not easy.

Spanish Hogfish
The other dive guide took a spear gun down with him and was hunting the invasive Lion fish, so he kept peering under ledges and in holes. He shot one, but it was in its hole and he did not get it out. In Antigua all the dive centres keep a central data base with sightings and kills, to try to combat the pest.
Webb Burfish

Southern stingray
Spotted Drum
Flamingo Tongue

Some afternoons we walked across to Jolly Beach for a swim, about 10 minutes. The sand is very soft and the water warm and also turquoise, but a bit milky near the beach. There are a few cafes here and a few stalls with T-shirts and sarongs, etc., making it a very pleasant beach.

Jolly Beach
On Friday we took the bus to St. Johns, the capital, which took about ½ hour. The roads are mostly quite good so the bus travels at speed, so we presume the potholes take the driver by surprise as much as they do us. Most of the houses are quite small and many are raised off the ground. Its’ quite built up all along the route with many small snackettes, groceries and rum shops and quite a few schools.

The traffic really increases as we reach St. Johns and we stop at the bus station opposite the market. First stop is the Post office as Frogslexe needs to collect a parcel and then we wander round the touristy Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay, which used to be the slave market. There are 3 cruise liners tied up and hoards of people coming off them. The two Quays are now just shopping centres for tourists and sadly most of the goods are really just souvenirs. There are some nice little galleries and cafes, but we had lunch in town at a local café, much more Antiguan!

V C Bird 'Father' of the Antiguan Nation
At the top of the harbour there is a small river inlet with a bit of mangrove which is covered in birds. Cattle egrets, common egrets and pelicans in the trees and the water.  Frigate birds soaring and some even sitting on light poles. Laughing gulls adding to the melee and (Another new bird for me) Black-winged stilts wading. There were more waders but we could not get close enough to identify and of course, going on a day out to town I did not take binoculars. All this, right in the town centre.

 The Power of the US$
A lot has been said over the years about the power of the US$, now we have seen the healing power of the US$ with our own eyes. While waiting for Rowena to come out of a shoe shop (yes she did buy a new pair of shoes) a guy shuffles up saying “I’m sick Mon, gimme sommat for food”. We politely decline and he approaches an obviously American tourist further along the street. Our tourist gets out his wallet and peels off a couple of notes. Before you can say “Lazarus”, our ‘patient’ has rushed up the street almost at a run and disappeared around the corner, the medicine these guys crave either comes out of a bottle or in herbal form and smoked! I was thinking, maybe this is a new kind of US healthcare.

After a bit of shopping in the craft market and some nice fruit and veg in the other market it was back to Jolly Harbour. The weather is still not good for going to Falmouth or English Harbours so we decide to go by bus the next day as it is Classics Week.

While only 12 miles or so by sea, it takes us 2 buses, first to St. Johns then another bus to English Harbour. We have a look around the historic dockyard and watch the classic yachts come in from their racing. Conditions have been quite rough and 3 yachts have been dis-masted. It is heart breaking to see such damage to really beautiful yachts. We will delay our passage round until the winds and swell have calmed down a bit.

English Fish & Chips evening

We had a great night out at Shells, traditional fish, chips and mushy peas in a red double decker bus near the marina. Excellent food and and very entertaining waitress. You must go here if you come to Antigua.

1 comment:

  1. Hi R & R
    We were there 05 in "SCORPIO" - English Harbour Mangrove Mooring with Keith Duncan Phillip.Great Mon. Keep up the narrative. Vic