Anguilla

Remember when people used to travel? We used to travel. I wrote most of this post a couple of months ago, and despite having infinite free time due to quarantine, am only getting it posted now. Hopefully more catch-up to come.

The Anegada Passage brought us through our last overnight for a while. As with many previous sailing trips, the wind shifted north just enough to be usable, and we beat into the wind, but we were sailing! Selections from the passage, e.g. putting up the staysail, soaking up some of that sweet offshore sun, and catching some shut-eye in shifts.

About 24 hours after leaving, after making great time in consistent winds, the speed picked up again, and in the wee hours of morning, a particularly strong gust snapped our port backstay. Actually, technically, it shattered a plastic connector, placed in the stay as an isolator to make most of the stay into an antenna, and probably well past its useful lifespan. (As far as we can tell, nobody ever installed the SSB radio that this would have supported.) Jazz was on watch and I was asleep below, but the unexpected noise had me topside almost before my eyelids opened. So we dropped all but the staysail, moved a halyard in place of the stay, and motor-sailed the last three hours into Anguilla. The staysail bought us an extra knot, and kept Villa from feeling naked against the sunrise.

We checked into the country, and spent most of the rest of the day recovering. Captain made it the whole way without causing any new problems, and received a paper towel roll as a reward for good behavior.

The next day, we figured we’d get some exercise, and went to shore to walk across the island to Rendezvous Beach. Before we left, we stopped at Roy’s for their Sunday Roast, which was delicious, and got some live music as a bonus. You can see Villa in the background – as usual in these parts, she’s the tiny-looking catamaran among all the big charter boats.

The walk was interesting, if definitely not what the roads were designed for. We saw a lot of residual hurricane damage (presumably from Irma?), including a section of road that no longer existed. (Did they ever? Also, turns out you can’t update Google Maps here yet.) We got a great view back down over Road Bay harbor — you can see Villa somewhere near the middle if you zoom in. Also, there are lots and lots of churches here, and the missionaries seem to be allowed to turn the speakers up as high as they want.

The beach itself was lovely, despite the threatening clouds. Actually, intermittent periods of rain and bright blue skies seem to be the way of things around here. And the water matched Jazz’s shoes!

Overall, though, we found that Anguilla is very much not set up for walking. But since Road Bay is the only allowed anchorage in Anguilla, at least if you don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars, we figured we’d be exploring on land one way or another. So the next day, we woke up to a rainbow in the anchorage…

.. and we rented a car to try to see as many beaches as we could. After a few phone calls, an agent arrived with this beauty. A few pieces of paperwork, and we were off, driving on the left.

Lots of cars in the Caribbean are used, from the Japanese and Korean markets. This one had an entirely Japanese user interface, which made some things a little complicated. But Jazz loved the cute greeting when it turns on.

After a quick stop for a haircut at what turned out to be a Dominican salon…

..we started visiting beaches. And there are oh so many beaches! This was before the coronavirus outbreak, but even back then we still had Mondays, so we also found a deserted restaurant or two. We started out with Barnes Bay, and the nearby Meads Bay, on the north side of the island. And then we crossed over to Shoal Bay West (south side), which looked a lot like Rendezvous from the day before (also south side). And after circling most of the island, we stopped at the other Shoal Bay, which looked like it was the hangout on days that aren’t Monday. We even had to pay for parking!

One of the stops along the way was the Anguilla Arch, where we ran into another couple who lent us their selfie stick. I’m still not sure I approve of the selfie stick in general, but we did get a nice angle that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise…

So there was a lot of beautiful nature. And then there was this billboard, which I thought nicely encapsulated the religiosity we found everywhere.

Sigh.

And on the way home, we got caught in a “traffic jam.”

Since it was a 24 hour rental, we had a few hours in the morning to hit one more beach, Savannah. We’d have stopped for a beer, but we were doing Dry January, so we stopped for a ginger beer.

We also stopped to get a copy made. The shop tried really hard. Despite having a perfectly modern-looking copy machine, the clerk took out a cellphone and snapped a photo of the page. And when that predictably looked like garbage, and they couldn’t figure out how to do an enlargement on the copier… we gave up, and just cut the page out of the book. Because, as previously mentioned, coronavirus was not yet on our radar, and we thought that this was just the first of many dates we would record on our wall.

Our last stop was a dinghy ride over to Sandy Island. There is supposed to be decent snorkeling, but it ended up being very choppy, so we didn’t take the plunge. But we had a nice walk on the tiny beach.

And then back to the harbor for a last sunset before we set off to Sint Maarten!

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