Exploring Antigua’s Bays

After leaving Carlisle Bay we motored between the middle reef and the south western shore and headed north up the western side of Antigua into Jolly Harbour, where we originally planned to be for Kym’s arrival. We just wanted to check it out as we still had a few days before she arrived.

Homes Around Jolly Harbour With Docks

Sadly, we were unimpressed by Jolly Harbour. The marina and surrounding houses looked very tired and the huge, empty old casino needs redeveloping. The anchoring area just outside is very shallow and so is the depth by the moorings inside the harbour. We slowly edged in and were soon down to 0.0 under us (we have a few inches spare!) so we went to the anchorage off Reeds point instead where the depths are over 3 metres. The water is an amazing blue outside the harbour but I guess the glossy brochures promising wonderful shops and restaurants hyped it all up too much and we were disappointed with the place.

St John's Harbour

On the positive side, there is a well-stocked supermarket onsite, which has lots of Waitrose food we haven’t seen elsewhere, including filter coffee and bouquet garni, plus cans of ready made caramel for Banoffee Pie! So I crossed a few items off my ‘UK List’ and bought them here instead. The prices were pretty good, especially the coffee and bottles of decent wine costing only 3 GBP, a bargain, as we often pay double that for the same one. The dinghy dock nearby is well designed, with plenty of points to lock the dinghy to and you can wheel the trolley over from the supermarket to the dock, another plus point.

A walk to the beach didn’t inspire us either. The main beach bar was OK, nothing special despite the advertising and the dive centre was staffed by a guy playing blaring music who didn’t seem to know much about diving or the services they offered, so he didn’t exactly fill us with confidence. Galene later told us they had a good experience with that outfit, so we will take another look.

Convenient Anchorage A Short Dinghy Ride From St John's

The small marina is on 4 concrete docks and has posts you need to loop 2 lines over as you reverse onto the dock. The manoeuvring space for us looked a little tight but the staff will help if you call them on VHF 68. They offer an hour’s complimentary docking, which could be enough time to visit the supermarket. The fuel dock is easy to come alongside and also supplies water for 10 cents a US gallon. A bag of garbage can be dumped for 5 US$.

So we stayed just one night and carried on the following morning to investigate a few more bays to the north, St Johns (Antigua’s capital), Deep and Five Islands. With barely 5 knots of wind we had to motor the entire trip of 12 miles. St Johns was hosting 2 cruise ships and has a couple of anchorages far enough away from the docks to be scenic but close enough to dinghy in for a look at the city.

Deep Bay - Gorgeous!

We liked the look of Deep Bay best and were anchored in white sand beside the beach by 1000. There is a wreck smack bang in the centre of the bay as you enter with the mast stump breaking the surface, so give that a wide berth. A couple of day-tripper catamarans dropped a load of passengers on the beach but were gone by sunset. There is a small fort on the top of the northern hill, from Nelson’s time and a scramble up the hillside gives a lovely view of Montserrat, Redonda and Nevis in the distance. The hotel has a bar over the water and welcomes visitors.

Sunset Behind Beyzano & Galene

At lunch time, who should come in and anchor next to us but Richard and Rowena on ‘Galene’, a couple we met in St Lucia last year and who were also in Bonaire with us. Peter, an OCC vice-commodore, was also in the bay and joined us on the beach for a drink and snacks as we watched the sun go down. We saw the ‘green flash’ quite clearly without binoculars!

Ocean Cruising Club Gathering

Next morning we went back to Jolly Harbour to pick up water and outboard fuel and took a mooring ball in the harbour so we could fill our gas bottle, get the laundry done, provision, use the WiFi and prepare the guest suite ☺ The moorings cost 12.50 GBP a night but it is a far cheaper taxi fare to the airport from here. The one we went for didn’t have a pick up line but a passing security boat helped us tied up. The price includes a WiFi code and use of the marina showers. Our water cost less than 8 pounds for 130 gallons (US gallons) and 12 litres of outboard petrol cost just over 9 pounds. A bag of ice cost a pound and they let us dump our rubbish for free. The laundry is next to the boatyard and I found a man who takes the gas bottles into St John’s to be filled up for less than 10 pounds.

We also bumped into old friends on ‘Exbury’ and they have a house here, with the boat moored outside. A kind invitation to sundowners followed and another couple we had met, from Mount Hartman, on a boat called ‘Prism’ were also there. The longer we are out here, the more people we find we know along the way. Then friends on ‘Ocean Rainbow’ arrived and we were moored next to ‘Avanti’ who knew us from Haslar!! Tonight we are trying the fish and chips restaurant which is inside a red double decker bus, parked near the marina! Should be fun 🙂

Although being at anchor is preferable, we will remain on the mooring until Sunday just to make life easier, unless we go aground!

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