We wished we could stay longer on Barbuda, but smelling baby diapers and the need to arrange the flight to Sweden meant that we needed to be back to civilization and the internet. We choose to sail to English Harbor to get close to a grocery store with the hope that there would be fewer customers in the store than in Jolly Harbor, ie less risk of being infected by corona. English Harbor dates back to the mid-18th century when England built a naval base here and today the harbor is probably best known for Nelson’s Dockyard which is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Here it is quite crowded at the anchorage and we have to try a few different anchors before we find one where the anchor gets stuck and we are not too close to other boats. When the anchorage is poor, I usually dive and check how the anchor is stuck. This time it sits behind a small stone that seems to weigh only a few kg. The slightest puff of wind on the boat will move the anchor. What to do? I examine the bottom around the anchor and find a fastening eye that is drilled into the bottom. It must have been a holding for a buoy once in a while. I can attach a rope to the fastening yey and moor the boat in the rope. We will only be here for a few days and the rope will not be worn against the loop which is smooth and fine.
We throw away the baby diapers, buy food and take some refreshing baths every now and then. The anchorage is protected from the wind, which makes it warm on the boat, and then it is nice to be able to take a cooling bath in the 29-degree water. Sofia and Johan try to book their canceled flight to Europe, but there is always some degree of uncertainty in the information given. Finally, they are booked on a flight from Sint-Maarten in mid-May and new tickets are sent in an e-mail. We also need to get the mast repaired and now we have a date that FKG Rigging at Sint-Maarten can plan for. They need to get approval from the authorities to do the job on our boat.
A major obstacle remains, we do not have permission to come to Sint-Maarten. Previously, I have sent an e-mail to different government addresses at Sint-Maarten without getting any reply. This time I contact the Swedish Embassy in The Hague and ask if they can help me in any way. I immediately get a response with information about who we should contact and what information they need. A new e-mail is written and sent to the authorities at Sint-Maarten. Now we just have to wait and see if we get an answer.
Since a few months back, a few drops of oil come out of the high-pressure pump to the watermaker every time we make water. I guess it is the gasket around the drive shaft of the pump that is leaking. To find out what kind of gasket it is, I was told that I had to disassemble the pump and motor. To do that, I have to remove the motor and pump from the mounting in the engine compartment. Of course, I lose a nut when I am removing the pump. When everything is taken out of the engine compartment, we should just disassemble the pump and motor. It turns out to be the most difficult of all, they sit together as if they were welded and I need to use a crowbar to break them apart. Unfortunately, the gasket cannot be delivered to Antigua before we have to sail to Sint-Maarten, so it will be delivered to Sint-Maarten instead.
I really need to find the nut I dropped in the engine compartment and we spent several hours looking for it. The nut is and remains gone. Fortunately, I manage to get a new nut at Watermaker Service in Falmouth Harbor. They have a whole box of 1000’s nuts and there I was welcome to search for a nut 🙂
Now it is time to sail around to the eastern side of Antigua, the one that is open to the wind and waves of the Atlantic. The nearest continent is Africa, 4000 km away, and it is always more or less swell rolling onto this coast.
The day we leave English Harbour, it blows 15-20 knots from the east, so we need to tack out from the coast and it took us just over 3 hours to sail there. The tack from land means that we get out into deep water and there we take the opportunity to try to get a Mahi-Mahi, unfortunately, no luck. As planned, we arrived just before 12, when the curfew begins and we must be anchored before then.
There are quite a few boats in the lagoon, but we find a free buoy a bit off the beach on Green Island, near the sailboat Corinne from Västerås. It is a 45-foot Spray that has been cruising for several years. The boat was uninhabited while we were there, so we couldn’t greet our old boat neighbors from the dock in Kraftverkshamnen in Västerås.
Inside Nonsuch Bay are several large sailing and motorboats, by large I mean those that are over 30 m long. The largest is the 86 m long two-masted sailboat Aquijo.
The buoy we moored at, was far from the reef so after the first night we moved to an anchorage closer to the reef. Here we anchored at 4 m depth, and we were able to swim out to the reef and snorkel. We had no boats between us and the horizon, the only thing that separated us from the Atlantic Ocean, was a 100 m wide reef. We heard the breaking of the swells like a faint noise, day and night, really a fantastic feeling. Here we had some nice days with sun, swimming and snorkelling.
There is a nice beach on Green Island, where we planned to go with the kids. We had read that it was forbidden to stay on beaches, but we thought it might only apply to larger beaches. To be sure, I contacted the Coast Guard to see if we might be allowed to land on an empty beach out at Nonsuch Bay. No was the clear answer, all beaches are forbidden area! Later on, when the wind increased and the beach became full of kite surfers who were preparing their equipment there. Then you can’t be there with small children, they can get in the way for the kite dragons. Those ropes can be stretched like wires and if you are unlucky you can hurt yourself on them.
After a few days we get answers from Sint Maarten, we have been authorized to get there! So nice, now it feels like they will be able to fly home and that we will get the mast repaired. Thanks to the Swedish Embassy in The Hague and thanks Silveira Jacobs, Prime Minister at Sint-Maarten!
It’s tough for Sixten not to be ashore now and then to run around a little and because of that we stay less than a week. We adults take the opportunity to snorkel on the reef. We see stingrays embedded in the sand, Spotted Eagle Rays, Porcupines and several other reef fish and amazing coral plants, including the Coral brain as I call them, do not know what they are really called.
Since English Harbour had poor anchoring and was full of boats, we sail to Falmouth Harbor where there is better anchoring and it is almost as close to the grocery store. We found a nice spot in Freemans Bay, near the outer reef at the inlet where we anchor at 3-4 m depth.
One morning we wake up in a violently rolling boat. The swell breaks in meter-high breaks 50 m behind the stern of Sally and 1.5 m high swell pulls forward under the boat. I worry that we do not have enough water under the keel for this waves. We choose to change the anchorage to a calmer place in the bay until the waves are smaller. The next day we can move back to Freemans Bay. From here it is close to the jetty at the beach, and the water is clear.
We use the possibility that it has been allowed to exercise before 12 o’clock and we make several longer hikes around Falmouth Harbor and English Harbor. Although it is very hot to hike in the hilly surroundings, it is good to raise the pulse. We can only walk two at a time, the other two take care of the children in the meantime.
A few days when the weather was calm, we took the dinghy to the outside of the reef behind the boat to snorkel. Here the water is really clear with 10-20 m visibility, it is a fantastic feeling, feels like hovering over the bottom that can be seen far down there.
The time when our guests will return to Sweden is approaching and their flight from Sint-Maarten still seems to start at the appointed time. At the same time, we read that all flights from Sint-Maarten and other Caribbean islands are canceled. Finally, their flight is also canceled and they are asked to re-book on the web. Unfortunately, it is not possible to re-book their trip because they have a baby seat and then you have to call KLM customer service. There is a telephone queue with several hours of waiting and calling to EU countries from Antigua costs 22 SEK / min, so they try to re-book via email instead, without success. So finally they have to call customer service and 1500 SEK later they have reservations on an evacuation flight from Sint-Maarten on the 6th of May. Now it finally feels like it’s going to happen. All of a sudden we only have a few days to prepare for the sailing to Sint-Maarten and the quarantine time when we can’t get ashore at all. We are in a hurry to shop for food, find an agent on Sint-Maarten and get ready for the longest sailing (100 nautical miles) since Sofia and Johan moved to Sally. It will be night sailing so we arrive during the daytime.
The next post is about our 3 weeks at Sint-Maarten and where will we be heading after Sint-Maarten, crossing the Atlantic Ocean back to Europe or down to Trinidad?