It circulates a rumor that Antigua will prohibit visiting boats from sailing to Barbuda, so we are in a hurry to get there while it is still allowed. We leave Jolly Harbor in the morning with a course towards Spanish Point on Barbuda. It blows 15-20 knots from east northeast and there is almost 1 knot current to the west. So the sailing up to Barbuda becomes another tough experience for the grandchildren.
There is a ”truth” in the cruising community, that you sail mostly downwind. I disagree, at least when it comes to sailing here in the Caribbean. Although we do not need to tack that much, we almost always sail close-hauled. So a boat with a good run in the sea and that can point well is definitely an advantage here. Sally has a good run over the waves, but she could point a little better towards the wind. It is possible to sheet in the sails more, but then I think it goes too slowly and the leeway drift increases.
On this crossing, we finally catch a fish on the hook when Johan tucks in a small tuna. Within an hour we have made some sushi that we taste for lunch. Fresher sushi than this is probably impossible to get and it tastes marvelous.
We didn’t reach Spanish Point, it was a little too much headwind for us. A little outside Cocoa Point we choose to fall and round the western headland of Barbuda and sail a bit north into Low Bay and anchor 100 m off a mile-long sandy beach. The Swedish boat Lilla Anna 3 is already here and is anchored a few hundred meters further south.
The water is crystal clear and you can see every detail on the bottom 4 m below the boat, absolutely fantastic. When we anchor there is almost no swell at all and we see dinghies on the beach. The next day we intend to launch the dinghy to go to the beach we too.
So it will not, during the night the swell increases and we wake up to long swells that thunderous breaks directly on the beach in several meters high cascades of water. The boat moves several meters back and forth when the waves pass and it pulls hard at anchor in each wave. When it pulls so hard on the boat, there is no pleasure to swim behind the boat. So after breakfast, we decide to change the anchorage and move to an anchorage west of Cocoa Point on Barbuda’s south coast.
On the way to Cocoa Point we try the fishing luck again, and this time I pull up a Barracuda. Barracudas that hunt near reefs in this part of the Caribbean may have Ciguatera, so we put it back in the ocean.
We stayed over a week at Cocoa Point, then we needed to visit civilization again to get rid of our waste. Despite perfumed garbage bags that are guaranteed to hide the smell of garbage, the scent of baby diapers goes through. We store the garbage in the aft locker and the scent spreads to the aft cabin through a small hole for cabling. This is one thing that needs to be addressed until next season so that we do not have to smell the dust in the stern.
The days at Cocoa Point coincide with a fantastic time of swimming, sun, snorkeling, super nice sandy beach where the grandchildren could swim. The beach is said to shimmer in pink and with a little goodwill you can say that it shines very faint pink. The pink color is because the coral that formed the beach is partly pink.
While we were here, a curfew was imposed on Antigua and Barbuda. Among other things, it was forbidden to be on the beach. We saw other boats take the dinghy to the beach and so did we. Everyone kept their distance while on the beach. Our place on the beach was at the tip of the cape of Cocoa Point. There it was shallow and no swell with breaking waves. Two of us could be on the beach with the grandchildren while the other two could snorkel on the reef. We could also do some long walks along the beach.
On Cocoa Point there is a resort where you live in tents. This resort was probably completely destroyed when Hurricane Irma passed here in 2017. One day a seaplane landed in the middle of all the anchored boats and it was probably not the first time the pilot landed there. The first tour fetches some guests from the resort and the next tour leaves some.
Although large parts of the reefs around Cocoa Point are destroyed, perhaps by Hurricane Irma 2017, we found some great snorkeling out at the head of Cocoa Point. We had a day with extremely clear water and then we got some nice pictures of wildlife there.
In a sandy pool in the reef, a Spotted Eagle Ray circled around us lap after lap. Finally, we left it alone with its pilot fish attached to the head. It was a magical experience to see fly it around on its elegant wings.
If we had wonderful and relaxing days, then the work on cooking the meal was characterized by a little more stress to get the food ready in time. Johan probably had to work hardest because he was responsible for almost all the cooking. Once the food was ready, we had fantastic dinners while the sun goes down. If the sun is still up when we have finished eating, the dinner ends with a sundowner. Everyone enjoyed this moment, it is still warm, we eat good food and we see the sun go down in the sea.
One night I tried to snorkel when it was getting dark. Took a flashlight with me and started swimming towards the beach. I do not come long before the light from the flashlight catches something that moves 1 meter below me. It is a magnificent Spotted Eagle Ray that swims by without taking much notice of me. I am reminded that there could be sharks here and then it becomes a bit too exciting to be in the water when dark. I interrupt the snorkeling and swim back to the boat to soothe the nerves a bit.
A little later I make another attempt to snorkel in the dark. Now we are visited by a group of meter-long powerful Tarpoons. Although they are a little hesitant at first, they move closer and closer. The heart rate goes up when they come sliding into the light of the torch. Since there are several of them, I never know where the next one will show up. They shine absolutely amazing and the eyes look like two glowing lights. If you haven’t done a night dive, try it, it’s exciting.
It’s time to leave Barbuda to throw away rubbish and get better internet so we can arrange a trip home for our guests onboard. We also need to be clear that we can fix the mast on Sint-Maarten.