Antigua Diary

Arrived Friday 1st of May In Galleon Bay English Harbour.

Arriving in Gallon Bay.

Arriving in Gallon Bay.

Anchored next to White Gold with Jim and Paula onboard.

Jim and Paula introducing us to Pillars and their wifi!

Jim and Paula introducing us to Pillars and their wifi!

They took us ashore and showed us the ropes and stayed out for the end of race week party.

Sat.2nd
Quiet day recovering. Dockyard Day for the locals.

Lunch at the Dock Yard Day.

Lunch at the Dock Yard Day.

Local dance troupe.

Local dance troupe.

Then, just before sunset the serious part of the day, Beating the Retreat with military band, rifles and cannons

Marching band complete with steel pans!

Marching band complete with steel pans!

in the evening there was a local band on the dock. At one point the singer was stopped and asked to give a public address for a lost child and then the stage was invaded by 50 or so kids who danced infront of the bemused singer!

Sun.3rd
Walked up river bed to Shirley Heights.

A rough riverbed climb up to Shirley Heights.

A rough riverbed climb up to Shirley Heights.

That's us that is!

That’s us that is!

Sun setting on Shirley Heights.

Sun setting on Shirley Heights.

the entertainment started at 4 with a great Steel Pan Band and BBQ,

Steel Pan Band warming up at Shirley Heights.

Steel Pan Band warming up at Shirley Heights.

followed by live music from 8. Extra entertainment was provided b a Hen and Stag party that were out for a good evening! Luckily Jim and Paula met us there and we shared their taxi back.

Mon.4th
Bank holiday. Lunch at Copper and Lumber. Recovery day.

Tues.5th
Walked into Falmouth booked car for the morning.

Weds.6th
Drove out round west of island and on to the airport to meet Nigel and Bridget. The airport is smaller than Cork, but somehow missed their plane landing! There s a brand new terminal being built and dwarfs the old 70s. After making the mistake of pulling up at the new one we realised that the car park surprisingly empty!

Bridget and Nigel arriving.

Bridget and Nigel arriving.

Dinner at The Pillars where we met Jim & Paula.

Thurs.7th
Trip in car. Lunch at OJs, a fantastic beach restaurant where we all did our bit for the environment and had lion fish all round. Lion fish are not indigenous and breed at a phenomenal rate and destroy the local feeding grounds for resident fish.
On to the beaches….puncture so the men changed the tyre.

Nigel working under Marcus's watchful eye!

Nigel working under Marcus’s watchful eye!

on to St Johns for a bit of retail therapy……a dress for Bridget, cotton for me and cap for Marcus.
On to find Putters Bar which Marcus’ old school friend, Colin owns. We were a little early, so we drove along the back of the local beach and on out out to St James fort.

View from St James' fort......spot the hawk!

View from St James’ fort……spot the hawk!

Close upon the hawk in the picture above!

Close upon the hawk in the picture above!

We took a stroll along the beach close to Putters and came across a yacht that had foundered on beach during Hurricane Gonzalo last year.

.........nothing to worry about, Bridget And Nigel!

………nothing to worry about, Bridget And Nigel!

! We wandered on past to big Sandals resort.

Wandering, taking it all in!

Wandering, taking it all in!

Bridget's sandals @ Sandals.

Bridget’s sandals @ Sandals.

Back to Putters and met Colin, ‘Ted’ and Lou.

The moment of meeting after 45 years or more!

The moment of meeting after 45 years or more!

Old friends.

Old friends.

We had arrived on Quiz night, so we stayed and competed as The Cruisin’ Crew. Amazingly we came 3rd! Needless to say we had a late night.

Fri.8th
My BD. ALL DAY.
After a big birthday breakfast, we left the dock and went out to anchor. No sooner had we arrived than Craig arrived in his dinghy from Baraonda to invite us aboard for drinks. We first met Craig and Wendy in Mindello in the Cape Verdes. CraigAfter far too many deadly punches on board their boat we set off to go out to dinner. As always on my birthday, things didn’t go to plan and we ended up staggering back to the dockyard for Fish Friday.

My birthday meal ........Fish Friday.

My birthday meal ……..Fish Friday.

Sat.9th
After a false start, where we had to call in at the dockyard again to pay our dues, we set off for our first sail with N&B up to Jolly Harbour. Nigel looked a little green at the gills so he took the helm.

The best cure for seasickness........helming,

The best cure for seasickness……..helming,

We anchored for a rather rolly nigh, before making our way further up the coast.

Sun. 10th
Shopping with N&B @ Waitrose at Jolly Harbour…….took the dinghy in and got soaked, a real introduction to the realise of this idyllic life!. Sailed to Deep Bay.

Deep Bay to the right. Much calmer than Jolly Harbour.

Deep Bay to the right. Much calmer than Jolly Harbour.

Ashore to Barrington’s fort.

Captain and First Mate.........

Captain and First Mate………

........and the rest of the motley crew!

……..and the rest of the motley crew!

Mon. 11th
Deep Bay. N&B went for a ‘Bimble’ to Galley Bay for the day. We just chilled, got some internet at the hotel and I tried out my new underwater camera that Marcus gave me for my birthday……no shots available in this post, but I’ll put some in the next one.

Tues.12th
Lazy day waiting for the wind to calm down before heading for Barbuda. We took a stroll along the beach and Nigel got into holiday mode with a hand-made shirt being sold under a tree at the back of the beach.imageHad lunch at Ares rip off restaurant. Snorkelling with B barracuda and lion fish.

Weds.13th
Round to Dickensons Bay for the night before setting sail for Barbuda. Having asked for directions in the car park, we set off for the distant Supermarket. We had just got to the main road and were thinking about hailing a taxi, when the lady from the car park stopped and offered us a lift. We all piled in…….people are so kind.
In the evening we dinghied ashore and met up with Colin & Lou again.

Thurs.14th
We set off in the morning and had a lovely sail to Barbuda.

The crew and Captain stowing the outboard engine, ready for off.

The crew and Captain stowing the outboard engine, ready for off.

The seasoned sailors enjoying the moment.

The seasoned sailors enjoying the moment.

Arrived before dark. Stayed on boat.

Fri.15th
Up early and ashore. Dragged the dinghy over spit of land about 50 metres across. We rigged a pulley on a stump and after much pulling and placing of ‘rollers’ under the boat, we got her into the water of the lagoon and made our way to the village of Codrington. Very wet trip into Codrington. We decided to hire bikes and cycle out to the cave.

Hi Ho Silver, Away!!

Hi Ho Silver, Away!!

Climbing up through the cave.

Climbing up through the cave.

image Back for street chicken and chips in the square. Re hauled dinghy with two pulley points!! Engine didn’t start in breaking waves. Paddled most of the way.

To be continued………….

 

What a difference a few miles makes!

We arrived in Portsmouth at midday and were welcomed by Ken, our boat boy from Eddison Tours. As he had driven his pirogue a mile offshore to attract our business, we did a quick check in the ‘Bible’……..Chris Doyle’s ‘Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands’……..to see if he was listed as one of the PAYS ‘good guys’, and then took him up on his offer of a mooring buoy. Once tethered, Ken gave us a very warm welcome and sold us tickets to the Sunday evening BBQ.

Island Kea on Ken's buoy with the PAYS building behind.

Island Kea on Ken’s buoy with the PAYS building behind.

The local ‘boat boys’ have organised themselves into a cooperative called Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services, PAYS and the weekly BBQ helps pay for the office staff, wifi and upkeep of the club house/shack. The PAYS moorings are known to be substantial and are checked and serviced regularly, so IK’s 20 tons were safely secured and we were contributing to the economy of this striving community.

Portsmouth was the original capital of the island, but so many of the early settlers were wiped out by Yellow Fever that thrived in the low lying wet land. They decided to move to the far less sheltered Roseau.

One of the beach front bars along the shore.

One of the beach front bars along the shore.

Portsmouth today is a small fishing town which actively encourages Yotties and tourists. After a stroll along the Main Street and the beach we took the Indian River trip, made famous by the fact that some of the swamp shots from Pirates of the Caribbean were shot here. Our boatman/guide was Jean Ettienne or ‘Special’.

Jean Etienne 'Special'

Jean Etienne ‘Special’

He proudly told us that his so-many-times grandfather had escaped slavery on Guadaloupe and fled to Dominica. It turns out that Britain abolished slavery 15 years before France, so it was worth the risk of making the passage.

The Indian River - named after the Carib and Arawak Indians who lived on its banks.

The Indian River – named after the Carib and Arawak Indians who lived on its banks.

The trip was enchanting, but unfortunately the promised ‘returning to roost’ birds did not appear.

Up the Lazy River.

Up the Lazy River.

As compensation there was a bar at the end of the navigable stretch……….they don’t miss a trick!

The Ticking Croc Tavern.

The Ticking Croc Tavern.

When we arrived on Sunday I made my very first rabbit stew and we invited some French friends, who we first met in Jacaré, on board for sundowners and a share of the stew. It turns out that on French boats to mention the word rabbit, or lapin, would get you thrown off for bringing bad luck aboard. Pascal and Mimi, said they never usually eat rabbit as they don’t have fond memories of it ………. a bit like the dreaded liver we remember from childhood! However the verdict was…….. ‘Delicious!’

On Tuesday we were invited aboard ‘Islands Coyote’ and spent a lovely evening with them. Fine food, great company and lots of silliness from the boys!

Onboard Islands Coyotte.

Onboard Islands Coyotte.

Frank Sinatra??!

Frank Sinatra??!

On Wednesday, we set sail for The Saints, or Les Saintes as the French call them. They are an archipelago of 8 islands off the south coast of Guadaloupe. They reminded us of the Scillies………the clear water, the tranquility, the lack of traffic and the friendliness of the people.

Approaching Les Saintes.

Approaching Les Saintes.

The High Street at lunchtime.

The High Street at lunchtime.

The island we anchored off was Terre de Haut. Like St Mary’s, in the Scillies, it is the hub of the islands, with ‘mainland’ ferries bringing the tourists in the morning and taking them away again in the afternoon.

The Z on the shutters is a local thing.

The Z on the shutters is a local decoration.

The 'Ginger Bread' fretwork is another.

The ‘Ginger Bread’ fretwork is another.

We did the tourist thing and hired two electrics bikes. Although they are electric, they don’t do all the work……..we had to pedal hard to get the bikes to ‘assist’ up the steep climb to the napolionic fort that overlooks the harbour and approaches to Guadaloupe.
image

Stairs to the ramparts that give 360 views of the island.

Stairs to the ramparts that give 360 views of the island.

One of the views.........

One of the views………

.......and another. Island Kea is somewhere there!

…….and another. Island Kea is somewhere there!

We spent the day touring the entire island, which is only about two miles long and one mile wide.

The view back to the ferry dock.

The view back to the ferry dock.

Being in Les Saintes is like being on holiday, but just to make you feel better, there are still all the daily chores of living to be done. This is laundry day onboard.

Clothes line on the foredeck.

Clothes line on the foredeck.

We decided that, rather than visit Guadaloupe by boat, we would take the ferry over and hire a car for the day, so that we could get a taste of the island before pushing on for Antigua. I’m glad we did it this way, as Guadaloupe seems far less enchanting than Les Saintes!

Our ferry for the day.

Our ferry for the day.

Guadaloupe is the largest island in the Leewards. It’s shaped like a butterfly and is actually two islands. The eastern half is flat and ideal for plantations whilst the western half is mountainous with arable land on the foothills. We crossed on a small ferry to Trois Rivieres.

The harbour at Trois Rivières.

The harbour at Trois Rivières.

A sleepy village with a small harbour. Hiring a car proved to be difficult, as all the hire shops were closed and contactable by phone……..we had no phone! Luckily there was a bit of a queue forming outside one of the shuttered shops, so, in true British style we joined it. Our stead for the day was a Peugeot 205.

Being on the western island, there are few roads that go over the mountains, so we got on the motorway and headed east. Like all the French islands, the roads are well maintained and poorly signposted, so after a few wrong turns and detours we got to the village we had picked out on the map.

Vieux Bourg, our chosen destination. School, bar and church.......what more could you need?

Vieux Bourg, our chosen destination. School, bar and church…….what more could you need?

Centre piece of the roundabout in Vieux Bourg.!?

Centre piece of the roundabout in Vieux Bourg.!?

Could be England......

Could be England……

Arty shot of a beach we stumbled on......

Arty shot of a beach we stumbled on……

.........same beach. Plastic is a real danger to the environment. Turtles mistake plastic bags for jelly fish!

………same beach. Plastic is a real danger to the environment. Turtles mistake plastic bags for jelly fish!

One for my Mum.

One for my Mum.

Palm leaf weaver/philosopher we chatted with and Marcus.

Palm leaf weaver/philosopher we chatted with and Marcus.

Once back on Les Saintes, we joined some new friends, Roger and Gilly, for a meal at a great little restaurant opposite the dinghy dock. The steak was the best we’ve had since Brazil!

Gully and Moi at the steak restaurant.

Gully and Moi at the steak restaurant.