This island is going to be another one of our favourites!
The combination of beautiful harbours, excellent marine facilities, outdoor activities and history makes for a wonderful stay. Not to mention the first class hotels and restaurants along the coastline, many of which allow non-residents to buy day passes and book a table for that perfect sunset dinner on the beach. If you want to become an ‘economic citizen’ you just need to spend 400,000 US$ on a property, then either give a donation of 250,000 US$ to charity or their development fund, or invest 1.5 million US$ in a business here. We’ll pass on that then!
This week also saw the RORC Caribbean 600, a challenging yacht race taking a 600 mile route around many nearby islands and ending with a hard beat back to Antigua. Due to the different conditions along the way, the sails need to be changed often, hence its reputation for being a tough race.
Nelson’s Dockyard is as delightful as we recalled, so we spent a morning wandering around the site and trying to imagine what it must have been like in Nelson’s time. Only the skipper is allowed off the boat to clear in, so it was the first chance Rob had had to go ashore. We picked up some patties and bread from the old bakery, stood and gawped at the huge yachts and got cash out of the ATM for an ice cream! We have been trying to lose some of our Grenadian socialising weight and have been really good since February 3rd, so it was time to live a little ☺
There is a museum, several restaurants and bars, even a hotel in the dockyard. On display is ‘Womble’ a boat rowed across the Atlantic several times. Rather them than me. The last single oarsman used to row for 11 hours a day in total, with breaks for meals, then trusted to the Gods whilst he slept overnight.
On the way back to Falmouth, which is literally a 5 minute walk, we stopped in an Apple dealer and Internet shop called Caribit and found that WiFi is free there! They have a desk with 3 computer stations, so we updated the blog and checked emails for an hour before returning to the shops at Falmouth Marina and Antigua Yacht Club. The dinghy docks are low and easy to use, there are some fancy clothes shops, a bookshop, more restaurants and a small supermarket. Everything is duty free, so the prices were good.
There is so much space to anchor in Falmouth Harbour and it is very calm inside. English Harbour looked much busier, so we would recommend Falmouth, as it is a short walk along to the dockyard. A lady was sat on the roadside selling coconut water, so I topped up my supplies. Coconut water tastes sweet and is very hydrating but doesn’t contain much fructose, so it is a really healthy drink. Also, I now use coconut and olive oil as a cleanser since a beautician at the St Lucia spa suggested this was much better for the hot climate. It only takes a few drops and you smooth it into dry skin, let the skin absorb as much as it needs, then remove the excess with a hot cloth. You don’t need toner or moisturiser afterwards and the skin doesn’t get shiny in the heat. A bottle costs about 10 GBP and lasts at least a year.
Back to the sailing! We then moved on to Indian Creek, just a 4 mile trip east. A rock with breaking waves is situated not far from the entrance but as the waves were crashing all over the place you couldn’t see it. Coming from the southwest is a safer option for avoiding the rock though. With the south-east wind there was a lot of swell crashing onto the cliffs near the narrow entrance, making it look a bit scary but we motored inside safely and found it protected, peaceful and empty. Eric Clapton has a mansion on the eastern headland and it blends well with the surrounding countryside, unlike some of the houses around the Caribbean bays. Whilst we were enjoying the view, a French boat motored in quite quickly and proceeded to the end of the creek, into an area of shallow water. We mentioned that they must either know the area or be a very shallow draft boat when suddenly they stopped dead and were aground! Fortunately the bottom is mud and no damage was done but once they had backed up and moved into deeper water, they motored by again and left. We were anchored with only a metre of water under us but further in, after a section of fencing on the eastern hillside, it shallows to 0.7 metres and we need at least 2.1.
Next morning was a 15 minute motor around the headland into Mamora Bay. We wanted to check out the dive centre for Kym’s visit next week and see how rolly the bay was in the south-easterly wind. Again the entrance, with the cliffs and reefs, was very rough and looked intimidating. None of the buoys shown on the charts and guides were in place, so you have to rely on your plotter, have the sun overhead or behind you to eyeball in and keep checking the depth. At one stage we had 0.7 metres beneath us but the chart did show that patch, so it was accurate.
Inside it was shallow throughout but the circular bay is calm and has tons of room to anchor in sandy mud. The beach is home to the St James’s Club, a lovely hotel complex with a lot of watersports and a few restaurants and beach bars. There is also a small marina but we found it expensive with water being twice the price of other marinas. We took the dinghy into their dock and walked around the complex, not being challenged at all. Guess we looked like guests, just a bit more tanned! Visitors are welcome to use the restaurants and you can buy a day pass to use all the watersports if you want to try a paddleboard or hobie cat.
We spent a couple of nights there, swam to the beach and had a BBQ on the boat. A couple of catamarans came in for a lunch stop but we were on our own again for the evenings. In neither Indian Creek nor Mamora did we feel uneasy about security and it was lovely to have the bays to ourselves, especially Indian Creek. It is a site of historic interest, with ancient Indian artefacts and paintings.
The welsh flag was hoisted for St David’s Day on Saturday but on Sunday we left to head east, thankfully downwind and pass Falmouth and on towards the south-western tip of Antigua. For the first time in weeks (or is it months?) the wind has dropped below 15 knots, so it was a lot calmer over the reef when we left Mamora. There are a couple of bays just before the Cades and Middle Reefs and we decided to stop overnight in picturesque Carlisle Bay. There are nasty yacht munchers (rocks) on the western side, so be careful once you are close to the beach and anchoring in the bay. It was empty again (our 4th night alone ☺) without much roll when the wind died and we had another peaceful night. A lovely low-level hotel lines the beach and if you get dressed up they welcome yachties for dinner! The water is teeming with turtles and clear enough for some snorkelling. There is also free WiFi from the hotel which we picked up on the boat. Next on to Jolly Harbour and then 3 more bays to the north.