Thursday, 18 December 2014

Antigua and Babuda

We left Guadeloupe in the late afternoon of the 6th of December and sailed overnight to Antigua.

Authorities have a purpose built dock to tie up to and are strict with formalities. (We haven't encountered this since leaving NZ and Australia)
We berthed alongside between a chartered super yacht and a restaurant. The customs/Immigration building is the wee building with the yellow Q! Flag flying

After clearance we anchored in a lovely spot in shallow water overlooking some resorts.

Antigua is historically famous for the beautifully restored naval dockyard at English harbour where Nelson was stationed in 1784 as a naval commander and also today for the charter boat shows and Antigua yacht races.
The 2 harbours of Falmouth and English harbour lie alongside and are protected enough to be safe in a hurricane.
We chose to anchor in the NW at Jolly harbour to avoid the anchoring fees in English and Falmouth and to bus there instead. We enjoy travelling in the local buses everywhere we go to meet the people and see the countryside. We caught the bus to St Johns (capital of Antigua) and changed buses to travel to the south. During the wait to fill the bus we had a great time people watching as the bus terminal was in the centre of the market place. A very jovial beggar came to the window and asked Cathy for some money for a soda. We didn't want to set a precedent, as tourists are always targets. He then asked the bus driver who gave him a dollar and asked him to pay him back on Monday! This caused the entire busload of locals to roar with laughter!

On arriving at Falmouth harbour it was raining so we took shelter. The scene we were looking at of rusty old LPG “swap a bottles” which would be condemned in many places in the world, with a 50 million dollar super yacht behind it amused us.

Before walking to Nelson's dockyard in English harbour we had a coffee and bumped into fellow cruising kiwis off SV “Rhombus” which was a pleasant surprise. It was the final day of the charter boat show so we took the opportunity to look over the boats as we wandered through the museum and buildings. Most of the buildings have been made into restaurants and bars.

While we ate our meat patties and blueberry turnovers from the bakery washed down with local Antiguan beer this inquisitive gecko watched us

After 5 days in Antigua we sailed on to Barbuda. Barbuda is not a popular cruising area in the Carribean as it can be a difficult upwind sail, can be difficult to navigate for the inexperienced and does not have enclosed anchorages. For this reason it is secluded and untouched by Caribbean standards.
It is a low island, the highest point only 125' above sea level surrounded by shallow “baby powder blue” water.

We anchored in Low bay to the side of the very picturesque Lighthouse resort.

As we had not checked out of Antigua and could do so here we wheeled the dinghy across the narrow natural causeway that encloses the lagoon

We were met by a local who was hoping to charge us a $40USD fee to taxi us across the lagoon to Codrington. He told us that there was a new Govt ruling to stop people taking their own dinghies across the lagoon as it was a designated National Park. He stated that we may be turned away on the other side. We took the chance and met no negativities. Infact the locals were nonplussed about our arrival.

After tying off the dinghy we set off to find the Port authority at the new Port authority building.

We were then told to go to the Tourism office

The woman wasn't there so we were sent on to the Post Office

Here we were told that she was “Off island”. After some phone calls by a very helpful woman she shyly and with embarrassment told us to go to Customs with the following directions....
Walk straight ahead then turn right at Maddison square by the Orange building, pass a church then turn right again.

The rest of the directions were lost in our heads but we enjoyed the scenery along the way

We eventually found the Customs office with help from a young woman in a superette but there was no-one there.

We decided to go to the airstrip but there was no-one there either.
The arrivals area was well ventilated and the departure lounge decorated for Xmas

By the time we got back to the Customs building the officer was arriving. After the usual paperwork he kindly drove us to Immigration. We squeezed into the front seat together and others sat in the backseat and outside. I took this photo as he pulled away.

With our passports stamped and groceries bought we headed back across the lagoon.
Our afternoon adventure was a dinghy trip down the beach past the resort to look across the lagoon to the frigate bird colony

We beached the dinghy and walked along the foreshore. The sand has a pink hue with a red tide line from tiny shells

We walked through the mangroves spotting “camera shy” hummingbirds as we ventured to the lagoon, passing lizard tracks but seeing none. This was a good spot to look across to the frigate bird colony. We wanted to take the kayak into the lagoon and paddle up to the colony but it is discouraged without taking a guided tour. So not being in our budget we had to be happy with what we saw.

When we got back to the boat we were visited by a white heron who decided that our bowsprit was a good fishing spot

We left in the evening of the 13th of December hoping that the strong Barbudan desire to keep their island free of McDonaldisation and modernisation prevails as it was lovely for us to come somewhere where nature is untouched and the island is unspoilt by the Caribbean style tourism

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Guadeloupe (Island of pretty waters)

We left Dominique on the 2nd of December for Guadeloupe. We had a great sail passing Iles de Saintes and up the western, leeward side, passing lots of Sargasso weed

It was our best sailing so far in the Caribbean. The wind is to our favour now as we continue north.
The country is separated by a navigable mangrove river (Riviere Sallee) and is shaped like a lopsided butterfly. We had planned to transit from sth to nth but unfortunately the opening bridge was not operational and we could not use the river
A region of France with a population of 330,000 Guadeloupe relies on the production of sugar cane and produces local Rum along with other agriculture and tourism.
We arrived in Deshaies, a pretty little fishing village in the afternoon

The next day we set off on foot up the Deshaies river, carefully leaping from boulder to boulder or scrambling through the tropical forest along the river bank until it became a trickle at some falls.

A swim in a cool shaded rock pool the french way (a la naturel) was a soothing respite from the tropical heat.

critters along the way

These traps were hanging off a flowering tree. 

The root systems on some of the trees were spectacular

Apart from some thorn scratches and fire ant bites we came back unhurt.

Homemade coconut icecream from a roadside vendor followed by heineken at a beach side bar rejuvenated us

Several yachts we had met on the way left the next morning for Antigua as the weather was changing to very light to no wind. We decided to stay for a few days in this lovely bay.
A walk to a battery and lookout with a packed lunch proved pretty lame. It was one of the few sites we have seen that was unkempt.

We shared our lunch with a neglected stray dog who was very shy and wary initially then enjoyed a pat and proceeded to follow us. We had to sadly and gently discourage her. She was obviously a family pet at some stage as she gave me her paw to shake and followed orders. We reported her existence to an English speaking customs representative who said he would inform “Mimi” whoever that was!

After a day of snorkelling and exploring around the town we setsail for Antigua

SV Erica

SV Erica

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We met in 1971 and it was Eric's dream to build his own yacht and sail the world. This became a joint dream but it was not until 1994 that we were able to start building. "Erica" was launched in 2001 after 7yrs building her. It then took us 5 yrs to prepare her and ourselves before leaving NZ to see the world