Barbuda is almost due north of Antigua, and since they’re the same country, we didn’t have to ask permission to move. So we had a nice, relatively smooth six-hour sail north from Jolly Harbor to Cocoa Point. The waves were small and hit us at a reasonable angle, and we had nice 12-15 knot winds the whole way, so we made good time. We were a little worried about visibility into the water on arrival, but it turned out that the approach to the anchorage was wide open and coral-free. So we zipped in and dropped anchor in twelve feet alongside the other three boats, and watched our neighbor kite-surf along the white sand beach.
Our friends arrived the next day, and we tried some snorkeling the big scary reefs along the entrance. We found a few fish, and an octopus leering at us from a hole, and some octopus eggs (we think), but mostly we found the reef dead and overgrown with algae.
Clearly things are starting to open up a little, because the next morning, a seaplane landed and taxied right between us and our friends. They dropped a load of passengers into a waiting speedboat, and then took off again. Everyone of course thought this was neat, and we got pictures from all three boats.
We went to the beach, and learned that we are far too out of shape to play ultimate frisbee. We were also informed that despite the wide stretches of perfect white sand and the glorious outdoor gym, we were not permitted more than 30 feet from the water line onto this private beach, owned by some famous actor or another. So we ended up playing catch in the water instead.
After getting back to the boat and shaking off some sand, we decided we would seek even more solitude, and sailed around the west side of the island. The first leg was downwind with the whisker pole out. We, of course, read the wind right by the anchorage instead of trusting the forecast, and rigged up the pole on the wrong side of the boat. Instead of pulling it down, we just sailed with it on the wrong side, and found that we could get sail at nearly 120 degrees to the wind on the wrong side before the sail started to luff, still making 5-6 knots. That pole is seriously amazing.
For the second leg, we turned up the coast, and sailed about 150 yards off the shore in 10-15 feet of gorgeous turquoise water, making six knots with just the genoa up. This was one of the more magical bits of sailing we’ve gotten to do.
We arrived at our anchorage, really just an arbitrary spot along the 11 mile beach, and saw dolphins right as we were dropping our anchor. Our friends in Dorothy Rose, a faster boat than we are and already anchored, immediately got into their dinghy, but the dolphins had already moved on. They did have a good time chasing, or being chased by, the local dogs. We’re pretty sure they belong to the complex by the shore, part of which is slowly falling into the water. (These are taken in maybe 200 yards apart, and the only differences are clouds and time of day. Crazy how different the water can look!)
As evening came around, the younger contingent was dispatched to gather firewood, and we had ourselves a lovely beach bonfire. And we went for a night swim, and discovered a light blue bioluminescence in the warm water, and saw several big shooting stars. None of these thing are photographable, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was about as perfect as things can get.
The next day, Captain voluntarily sat in my lap, if only briefly,
and Jazz and I tried to dinghy into Codrington, the only town on the island, through a cut in the beach courtesy of hurricane Irma. This proved to be a mistake, as the mile-long stretch of water was enough fetch for the wind to kick up some big waves, and in the splashing we managed to kill the dinghy engine several times (3), presumably by blocking the air intake. We got it started back up, and made it to what there was of the town. Lots of hurricane damage, still, but some signs of rebuilding.
The trip back to the east side of the island was rougher: a gorgeous sail down the coast again, but followed by a poundy motor into the wind. But it was very much worth the trip, as we ended up anchored in six feet of water surrounded by reefs.
The next morning, we tried to turn on our gas line, and nothing happened. The propane solenoid, one of the few systems we hadn’t yet replaced, had failed, leaving us unable to cook indoors. No worries, though: we have backups! We made tea on the grill.
The snorkeling was nice, and the anchorage was calm and pretty, so we hung out for another day before heading back to Antigua to find parts. (Some of the coral photos I include not because they’re good, but because they aren’t: there’s a lot of sad under the water, mixed in with the beautiful.) The golden seaweed was only there on day one and was super light and pretty from beneath. Jazz got a kick out of throwing it around like sea-snowballs.
Also, I think my cat might be trying to move in on my wife.
Or at least on my dinner.