January 9, 2011

We followed the marks into Fulmouth Harbour, seeing a few 8.5 foot depths on the way in. The bay is strewn with reefs, not the place you would want to enter at night. 

We dropped the hook behind Djarrka, amazed at the  massive luxury yachts surrounding us. Inside the adjacent marina, superyachts lined the docks including Mirabella V, the largest sailing sloop in the world with its 240 feet high mast. Alongside was the famous three-masted square rigged Maltese Falcon, designed to be sailed by computer single handed.


Checking required a walk over to the adjacent bay of English Harbor, where we strolled through the old Georgian Naval Base. Although there was lots of paperwork, the check-in process was efficient and painless. To anchor in English or Fulmouth Harbour, you have to pay a daily fee.

Fort Berkley

We walked out to the point where Fort Berkley overlooked English Harbor. The anchorage at English Harbor was not as flat calm as Fulmouth and much more crowded, but very pretty tucked into the mangroves.

On our dinghy trip back to our boat, we passed Eric Clapton's yacht tied in the marina. And there on the deck...Hisself!! Running on the treadmill, towel draped over his shoulders.

English Harbour

 Fort Berkley

Rocky Coastline

Remnants of Fort Berkley

Canon from the 1800s

Back at the boat we had a visit from a baby whale shark, a rare sight. Whale sharks grow to 60 feet long but this little fellow was only about 20 inches. A mother and baby dolphin also swam by the boat.

At night, the scene of the tall masts totally lit up with their red mast lights to warn aircraft was a stunning sight.


January 10

We spent the day ordering parts for the boat. A new depth sounder head from West Marine; a transducer from Blue Heron; high pressure hose from Little Wonder; and a bearing for our water maker from Volvo.


Definition of Cruising...Fixing Your Boat in Exotic Places

The following days were spent pounded the streets packing our alternator, which was toasted when sprayed with salt water when the high pressure hose split. We finally located a shop that said they would send it to St. James to be rewound.

For a change of pace we dingied over to a lovely sandy beach with Bob & Becky to have a swim and a snorkel.

Reunion with Friends

January 12

A large group of us went to supper at a little restaurant in English Harbor. We met many boats that we had been hearing on the radio or seeing in anchorages but never connected with before - Bare Feet, Aquilla and Wings, whom we hadn't seen since Thailand.

Stardust and Gone with the Wind arrived and we had a wonderful reunion. It had been 1 1/2 years since we traveled together. We had a terrific time catching up on news and enjoying each other's company. Happy hours, meals together and fun, fun, fun.

Our favorite hike was the walk over the hill behind English Harbor. The rugged trail was bordered by many varieties of cactus, clinging to the solid granite rock.

Along the trail we caught glimpses of the anchorage, including an original "zebra" boat.

We rested at a view point and were joined by Kati and Kurt, from Interlude. Also L to R: Becky, Bob, Ginny, Sarah and GB

Shirley Heights

January 23

A dinghy ride across English Harbour brought us to the beautiful sandy beach, where the trail to Shirley Heights began. It was a strenuous climb up but the sights at the summit were well worth the effort. That evening, a lively local band offered entertainment for dancing. We all had a wonderful meal, and of course, drinks.

Amazing views of the bays below, especially when the sun sank into the sea.

We walked up to the Fort to watch the start of the  mega yacht race. Although not many boats participated, the ones that did were huge and loaded with crew.

We kept ourselves busy while we waited for all our parts to arrive. One night, a group of us had a potluck party entertained with guitar playing by Kurt and Katie. Liam played a set, which rewarded him a bucket full of pennies in jest from the yachties!

Every night the anchorage awarded us with magnificent sunsets.

February 1

Conditions in the anchorage continued to be windy, blowing 30 knots, rocky nights and waves slapping against the hull constantly. Very disconcerting with the gusts causing Ascension to yank hard on the chain, with no engine to save us if we dragged out to sea or onto a reef. It seemed that the Caribbean weather is windy and rainy a lot, with a 1 or 2 day "weather window" every 2 weeks.

Our parts started to arrive slowly, each one costing more in freight than the item was worth! Gord proceeded to repair the engine, only to find they sent the wrong parts for the pump and no seal! We made the long dingy trip to shore and emailed Volvo to have parts sent again, but of course, it was the weekend so we had to wait til Monday. More days of being unable to charge batteries to keep the frig running.

Feb 6

If Antigua is a magnet, we are a piece of steel. Parts finally arrived but our bill was a fright. "Caribbean Current," arranged to consolidate our shipment of 4 parts in Florida to avoid a $77 per item charge in Antigua. They said paying the shipping twice (once to Florida, once to Antigua|) would still save us money overall. However, our parts (all small boxes that weigh nothing) got shoved into a huge container with tons of other stuff. When it arrived in Antigua, customs had to wade through the whole container (among thousands of others) before our stuff turned up. Then it went to a broker anyway. In the end, after immense paperwork and trips back and forth to the shipping agent and broker, we were presented with a $590 US bill!!!!! plus the cost of parts and shipping! Caribbean Current wouldn't go to bat for us, although they had originally arranged all the shipping.

Feb 8

Finally....our second set of replacement parts arrived and Gord was able to borrow a press at a machine shop to put the water pump together. It was wonderful to have power and water again! Luckily the wind and sun have kept the frig running and lights working for most of the time.

While waiting a month for parts, we had missed our weather window. But our visa was up so we attempted to sail to Barbuda anyway. However, the wind was too strong and the waves were too high. One wave came over the deck and almost took off the dodger. It did rip the tie down straps on the dinghy, which we could easily have lost. We were soaked and even the computer got wet due to some of the waves we took over the bow. So we headed back to Antigua and anchored down in Jolly Harbour. We could smell antifreeze so Gord investigated and found that it was spewing from the engine, all over our brand new alternator again!! There was no water or coolant left at all in the engine, which was why the overheat gauge did not come on. Gord was waiting until we could be at a dock to change the bearing in the waterpump but it looked like that job would be forced upon him in the anchorage.


We checked in and out of the Customs office at the head of the bay. Jolly Harbour is a community of condominiums separated by canals. Each house has a dock in front or a deck over the water. Surrounding the anchorage, the long beach beckoned us for a leisurely walk.

February 9

Over the hill and beyond Jolly Harbor, we discovered a fabulous soft sandy beach, blanketed with tourists on rented beach chairs.

<<<View of entrance to inner Jolly Harbor lagoon.

February 15

We managed to make the repairs on the waterpump but decided that our time window had run out for visiting Barbuda. So we set sail straight for St. Barts instead.

next >>>> St. Barts