We were both pleasantly surprised at how lovely English Harbour was and were very excited about exploring it further with Joe. We’d imagined it to be spoilt and touristy, and, although it is quite touristy, it doesn’t feel spoilt, and even though there are yachts moored here that clearly cost millions, we didn’t feel like poor unworthies.
Magic Badger had 2 full days of intense cleaning, scrubbing and polishing in honour of Joe’s arrival and so she was looking better than she had since we bought her when he landed, looking pale but ready for adventure.
After a relaxing day spent snorkelling, eating and drinking, we sailed around to Falmouth to fill up with fuel and water, had a delicious restaurant meal of marlin carpaccio followed by dolphin steaks (no, don’t worry, it’s not the dolphin you’re thinking of) and, the next morning, sailed around to Deep Bay on the west coast, seeing on the way an enormous Moby Dick shaped whale leap out of the water and crash back into the sea leaving a huge splash. We’d sailed to Deep Bay mainly because there lies the wreck of The Andes, a 3 masted ship that had been sailing from Trinidad with a cargo of pitch in 1905 when it had set fire and sunk, leaving a reputedly good snorkelling spot. After a lovely walk ashore exploring Fort Barrington and admiring hundreds of hummingbirds feeding from the blossom in the trees, we returned for drinks and a meal and snorkelled the wreck the next morning. We tied the painter to the bit of the mast that was still visible, donned our snorkel masks and plunged in. And were instantly disapointed because we could hardly see anything, for some reason the water was really cloudy and swimming along the old wreck felt spooky when bits of it loomed unexpectedly close out of the gloom. Something brushed my leg and I felt pannicky and started to imagine grey shark shapes looming instead. Even the boys felt a bit scared I think and we swam (quickly) back to the dingy.
We then headed back down to Jolly Harbour for marine charts of Barbuda and Antigua, and then salied back up to Five Islands Harbour, an idyllic spot, where we had a bbq on our own private beach and lots more rum was drunk. The next morning we set sail for Barbuda and after some rain and wind, the sun came out and a huge whale surfaced right next to our boat, it was wonderful.
Anchoring fairly late in the afternoon on the mid west coast, we had just enough time to walk along the beatiful long white and pink sand beach, one which Doyle in his sailing guide describes as being the best in the Caribbean, stopping briefly to look at the menu of the only hotel on the beach (the only building actually) and being stunned to discover that a green salad on the lunch menu was $50 (US), (about £35)… Not surprisingly, it was totally empty, although it had a helicopter landing pad outside so presumably it’s visitors didn’t bat an eyelid at paying such ourageously expensive prices.
An article in last months Caribbean Compass had given us the idea to hire bikes to explore the mainly flat isalnd, and so we did, having a fantastic day, marred only by Joe being chased by a rabid dog. We cycled to The Highlands where the ruins of Codrington Estate lay, and, leaving our bikes, hiked through country similar to the Australian outback, to the huge Derby Sinkhole. It looked like something out of the Lost World, we’d been walking through scrubby scorched looking desert, then all of a sudden, this huge hole in the ground about 100 yards in diameter and 100 feet deep which had palm trees growing out of it appeared. We scrambled down and it was lovely and cool and shady and there were hundreds of hermit crabs scuttling around. After hiking back to our bikes, we cycled to a gorgeous bay where cliffs joined the beach and there were caves to explore after a much needed swim.
Later, whilst sipping G & T’s on deck, admiring the sunset and discussing what we fancied for dinner, a young couple rowed over from the next anchored yacht. We watched them get closer and then realised they were coming to see us. As they pulled up to the back, the young man drew the tail end of an impressive silver fish from a bucket and said “Would you like a fish?” Wow! Yes indeed we would, you chose the RIGHT boat. And all he wanted in return was a lemon. However, we insisted that they stay and have some G & T’s and chatted for a couple of hours. They were a lovely couple, much younger than us and had both crossed the Atlantic on numerous occasions, one being singlehanded. Respect! Anyway, the fish was gorgeous, we were so happy because we’d been dying to catch one (as we always are, and it’s only happened once…) and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.
The following morning we sailed to Cocoa Point and had an excellent snorkel on the reef, heading back to Antigua the next day, arriving at Dickenson Bay by lunch time. We’d chosen the spot because it was a shorter sail and we thought that it might be lively and fun, only to discover that it had about as much soul as a dead parrot. Anyway, we made the most of it and got some provisions from the amazingly stocked Epicurean supermarket. After dinner, we went ashore and had to walk past the Sandals resort beach where a scene straight out of the Whicker Man greeted us. We were all a bit tipsy after beer and wine and couldn’t work out quite what was going on at first, but realised that the 10 or 12 elaborate paper and twig ‘tee pees’, each with burning club and awkward looking couple, placed at just the right distance from each other so as to be able to have a private conversation if they spoke really quietly, must be newly weds having their own ‘private’ special moment. God, it was awful. We had to try really hard not to laugh as we wound our way through them.
We were happy to return to heavenly Five Island Bay the following morning where we enjoyed more snorkelling and another fire and bbq on, again, our own private beach. A giddy, rum fuelled night led to sore heads the next morning, where an arduous sail, beating to wind, led us back to English Harbour. We had a fantastic night out in English Harbour and Joe left the following day. We are now waiting to sail up to St.Martin via St.Kitts for the next leg of our adventure.