English Harbour, Antigua

We left Barbuda and sailed down the east coast of Antigua, completing our not-quite-complete pass around the island. We had planned to stop at Green Island, but with our propane misbehaving we figured we should seek out a chandlery, and we continued around the south coast to English Harbour. The southbound section was a reach, but as we turned down the coast we found the wind almost directly behind us, so we rigged up the downwind pole and sailed wing on wing, surfing down the eight-foot waves. Fun!

Of course, we arrived on Saturday and found that Budget Marine was closed until Monday. And across the street, what appears to be a cultural center though we’re not sure as we never saw it open.

But we were in a relatively open town again, and civilization means that we can buy coffee. And look out over the marina at the little race boats.

Our friends arrived shortly after (having sailed the west coast again), and we celebrated pre-birthdays dinner with all-you-can-eat sushi, and birthday night at the fort’s old powder room.

Actually most of the visible parts of the harbor are old fort. Nelson’s Dockyard is a UNESCO world heritage site, and cool to look at even if all the museums are still closed. It’s also on an island, so the outside is full of goats.

We also took Captain on a hike, and he did way better than we had expected. He happily followed us along the trail with barely any cajoling to stay on the path (a couple of rocks had holes under them and that’s just more than he can resist). He would walk for a while, meow to get back in the carrier, and then when he was rested, meow to come back out again. He did get a little overheated by the end, though, and we haven’t yet found a way to get him to drink water on the go. Qualified success; more study needed.

When Budget opened on Monday, we went in and played fitting-Tetris to build the parts they had on offer into a working regulator-solenoid system. We had to choose between building a huge chain of adapters and putting the solenoid on the high-pressure side of the system. (It’s apparently more usual to put the solenoid after the regulator, I’m not entirely clear on why.) We opted for the simple system, and after a long fight to remove a factory-installed fitting, Jazz put everything together and we had propane again.

We couldn’t get Green Island out of our minds, so we thought we’d motor around the corner and sail back. But we missed the calmest weather installing the propane system. So when we left the next day and found ourselves motoring into eight-foot waves, making two knots under full engine, we decided to bail and pull into Mamora Bay. Surfing into the channel at seven knots was pretty exciting, but we made it in. It was nice to have a different view, but the water was murky and the club wasn’t interested in having us visit for dinner.

We lost a chain marker as we dropped anchor, and were unsuccessful in our rescue mission, which also led to me swimming in the murky water to retrieve the pool scoop. Facepalm. At least the moon was pretty that night.

The sail back was much nicer; it turns out downwind is way more fun than into the wind. Though passing by the rocks on the way out was just as exciting as on the way in. I don’t know why waves never seem to come out in photos.

We got back to English Harbor in the afternoon and had a nice quiet evening. In the morning, we found two big teams of fishermen, plus a boat and two divers, dragging huge nets across the whole bay. One of their lines got much closer to our boat than I would have liked – not that we really approve of this kind of fishing in the first place.

For our last hurrah, we rented a car to see some of the island and to provision. We found a local coffee roaster, of course, and they served us delicious brews and beans through an open doorway. Then we drove along Fig Tree Road (“Fig” meaning banana for some reason), got our propane tanks filled, and tasted some lovely gins. We also drove up to the gate of Betty’s Hope sugar plantation, but it was sadly closed.

The Devil’s Bridge is a rock ledge that gives this park its name, but we were much more entranced with the blowholes all along the coast, and the view of Green Island in the distance (with all the boats who made it there sitting pretty in the protection of their reef…)

There were a couple more cool things on the way back – many, many churches, and a sign for what I think Lisa described best as “Antiguan Walmart”.

… but it seemed that restaurants were mostly in the harbors, and not wanting to go all the way back to St John’s, we ended up back in English Harbour for dinner.

Jazz was our delegate to the supermarkets the next day, and had a couple nice experiences that reinforced our overall impression of everyone being really nice here. First, she forgot something when she was in line, pulled her cart off to the side, and came back to find that the other people in line had pulled the cart back into the line and pushed it along the six-foot-separation markers for her. Later, when we got back to the boats, Kraken realized that they had left a bag of veggies in the store. When they called, the store found the bag and gave them a full refund for everything in it. Super nice!

This isn’t actually groceries, this is laundry, but this is pretty much how it looked getting the groceries back to the docks.

In summary, I give you tasty Antiguan things, and Lisa’s Paleo Eggs Benedict For Dinner.