We arrived in jolly harbour on the … after a slow motor sail from Guadeloupe with about 2-3 knots of wind.
Check in here is very strict and it’s the first place that’s actually asked if we have a courtesy flag, luckily we had one already and after a while of doing paperwork and $80XCD we were free to explore the island.
The anchorage at jolly harbour was picturesque with turquoise waters but the water was actually pretty murky so we didn’t go in the sea at this point. But we did go out and have a nice lunch, explore a beach and generally walk around.
3 of our friends were due to fly in to Antigua for a weeks holiday onboard Hannah Penn with us so we set sail for the eastern side of the island to be closer to the airport for pickup.
With fairly strong winds we flew round the northern end of the island tacking every 10mins or so to stay inside the reefs. Another boat was doing just the same and we were able to catch up with them in a little unspoken tacking race before entering a shallow and narrow channel which took us into …. Bay.
After a good boat tidy and clean we went to pick up Tom, Harriet and Ollie in the dinghy, somehow we managed to fit all 5 of us plus luggage, including the extra hold bag of things they’d brought for us from home in our 2 person dingy and got everyone back to the boat without getting wet!
Some spag bol, garlic bread and a catch up later we all hit the hay ready to start a fun week of sailing.
The first day was exciting and memorable, starting off by sailing off anchor in very little wind in very protected waters, then the wind went from 5knots to 20+ in a matter of seconds as we left the bay, we quickly put a reef in the main and Genoa and dropped the mizzen.. this was the expected wind for the whole week, but after turning down the east coast we levelled out on a broad reach
Out of nowhere Adam spotted a huge splash to our starboard side and to everyone’s surprise it was humpback whales! A mother and baby we think, breaching and tail slapping over and over. I don’t think we could have had a better first morning.
By lunchtime we arrived at ‘StingRay City Antigua’ which is a semi captive population of Southern Stingrays (fed for tourist attraction)
We didn’t want a tour but did want to see some rays so went for a snorkel when the tour boats left.
The same day we sailed a little further south to a protected bay on green island as we knew some big swell would be rolling in from the northeast.
We took the free mooring buoy there and I decided it was in acceptable condition if we put a back up line down to the stake itself in the seabed as the buoys chain was in a poor state and lashed together with rope!
After a windy but stable night we braved the swelly ocean to get to Falmouth Harbour on the south of the island, it was an uncomfortable sail where at one point Adam who was on the helm got thrown across the cockpit by a wave hitting us side on, he stayed mostly upright and still holding onto the wheel so no harm done.
On arrival we all had a break and then decided it was a good time and place to do a little belated birthday celebration for Tom and Adam by going out for dinner at a place called Cloggy’s
The next day we moved from the northern part of the bay to near the entrance to go snorkelling, the water was nice and clear and we got to see a spotted eagle ray and some colourful fish, even got an underwater selfie.
Sunday came around and we’d heard … lookout in English harbour puts on a bbq with music a couple nights a week, so we upped anchor again and set off on the very short journey to get to English harbour ready for a big hill climb to get to the lookout in the evening.
After anchoring in the most popular outermost anchorage and not being happy with the bay we moved further in to find an alternative and what a great one we found, we shore tied to the mangroves and had a wonderful peaceful spot.
The view over the bay from the lookout was stunning even if we were a bit late for the sunset, the bbq was tasty and the music was fun, a lonely evening spent with lovely people.
We spent some time exploring the area and Nelsons dockyard and went for breakfast at a local cafe as well as getting part of the Genoa re stitched by the sailmakers of a good speedy job done by ….
Next we snorkelled at Cade reef where we saw more rays and some fish called ‘shark suckers’.
Our goal was to circumnavigate the island in the week so next we pushed on to Jolly Harbour and then to Deep Bay where we snorkelled an interesting wreck of a British three masted sailing boat which was carrying barrels of tar to Chile when they started to overheat, the boat caught fire and sank in …. All crew survived and the wreck is in outstanding condition, you can see the bow sprit, whole hull super structure and masts with intact lookout point.
<We might insert a wreck dive video here soon, but we are currently at our daily YouTube upload limit…>
With our guests due to leave in two days we headed back to the first bay to climb up bird island for one last spectacular sunset and some scheduled ‘dicking about on a boat’ time where we SUP boarded behind the boat. Tom took this opportunity to look like he was walking the boat like a dog on a lead whereas Ollie had more of a water boarding than a paddle boarding session.
We had completed an entire Antigua lap, and that was quite satisfying, even if we forgot to turn the Garmin on to track the route sometimes….
The following day we said farewell over a last lunch and waved them off in a taxi to the airport.
Quite the week of sailing and exploring!