After a short stop in Jolly Harbor to shop, we continue to Falmouth Bay where we will wait for our new sails and some other spare parts that will soon be delivered there. It will be a longer wait than planned as some deliveries will be delayed over a week. We are certainly used to waiting for things, but time goes by and our departure for Europe is getting closer and closer, and before that we need to fix these issues.
We get a nice sailing over shallow water along Antigua’s west coast south from Jolly Harbor. We sail in a turquoise blue sea over light sandy bottom with 3 m of water under the keel. It’s wonderful, but it’s important to keep track of where we are so we do not sail aground.
When we get around the southwestern cape, we have to sail straight against the easterly wind, so we furl our delaminated sails and use the engine the rest of the way out to Falmouth Bay. There are many boats anchored off Pigeon Beach and to avoid the swell we are looking for an anchorage at the far end of the beach at the rocky headland with the white house.
There are still many large luxury boats in the marinas of Falmouth Bay. Together with those away in Nelson’s Dockyard, around 20 large motor and sailboats are moored. The pandemic has meant that they cannot be chartered and they are mostly unused at the piers. However, everyone has a crew that takes care of the boats and keeps them in top condition. Check out the hull of the Ngoni, it is so glossy. What a job to polish that whole hull!
In Falmouth Bay, the sun goes down over land and and although there may be spectacular sunsets, it is not quite the same feeling as watching the sun go down in the sea.
During this stay in Antigua we take the opportunity to rent a car to see a little more of the island. We also did some longer hikes around Falmouth Bay and English Harbor while waiting for the deliveries of spare parts and sails to arrive.
We have been to Antigua for quite some time, but have only been to places within walking distance of Falmouth Bay and in the center of Saint John’s. To discover some new places, we rented a car together with Flying Penguin (Mirja and Håkan) and Amaran (Peter). This time it was my turn to be the driver. The first stop was Stingray City where we dropped off Håkan and Mirja who wanted to swim with stingrays.
The rest of us were not at all keen on swimming with stingrays, so we went out to Devils Bridge north of Nonsuch Bay in the meantime. It is the easternmost cape of antigua and it is as wild as it has a tragic history. According to historical records, the African slaves plunged into the sea here at Devils Point. They did so in the hope of escaping the horrors of slavery and that the currents of the sea would bring them back to Africa.
We came back to Stingray City just in time for them to return from the stingray swim. They had taken a speed boat 5 minutes out into the lagoon. There, the guides attracted the stingrays with squids while the bathing tourists could snorkel around among all the stingrays.
Since the roads are quite bad, it takes longer than you might think to drive a car in Antigua. When we are ready to leave from Stingray City, the clock has already turned thirteen and everyone is hungry for lunch. We stop at the first best restaurant that looks open. It is Seaview Restaurant shortly after we leave Stingray City. We are the only guests and can choose the best table in our opinion, the one with a view of the islands and the water around Stingray City. The view is mangific and the food is good and everyone is full.
After lunch we are ready for new adventures. After some map studies on what might be interesting to discover, we decide to take the road over the mountains (Fig Tree Drive) down to the south coast and then drive Old Road towards Jolly Harbor. Fig Tree Drive winds its way over the mountains and through the woods of southern Antigua. The as the birds fly, it is only a few kilometers, but on a narrow, winding and poorly maintained road it feels much longer. We have heard that they sell ”Black Pinapple” along this road and we find some in a small shop by the road. It turns out that they also sell special herbs and other nutrients.
Finally we come down on Old Road and all passengers have become thirsty from the arduous journey on ”Fig Tree Drive” over the mountains. Just where we come down on Old Road there is a nice beach ”Carlisle Bay Beach”. There is a resort in the beach and we think it may be possible to have a beer in their beach bar. We park the car at a rickety house but do not get far on the beach before we regret it and continue the drive. We drive on towards Jolly Harbor and when we cross the west coast and onto Valley Road we see a place on the shores of Picarts Bay that seems good for a cooling beer or drink, Jackie O’s Beach House. There are already a lot of cars in the parking lot, which is a good sign. Jackie O’s turns out to be a bar with ambitions and we get very good service in a cozy cozy environment with fantastic views of the beach and the sea. They have very good drinks according to my passengers, I myself drink coffee to continue driving. The bill was a real surprise, it was probably the most expensive cups of coffee I have drunk in my entire life, but it was good.
We continue towards Jolly Harbor and not long before they call from the back seat that they want to stay again, this time it will be a simpler beach bar, Sunset Horizon Bar on the beach in Half Hyde Bay. Here the environment is more Caribbean and the prices more manageable for us long-distance sailors. When the dry throats of my passengers are damp again, it’s time to head back to Falmouth Bay to return the car before 6pm.
Hike to Shirley Hights
To the east of English Harbor is a high mountain overlooking the southern part of Antigua and it is a suitable day hike for us. We join the crews of the Swedish sailboats Flying Penguin and Amaran. The first part of the hike goes among the houses around English Harbor with some fairly steep roads both up and down. There is a road all the way up to Shirley Hights, but there is also a marked hiking trail (Jones Valley Trail) along a riverbed in the woods up the mountain to Shirley Hights. We choose the hiking trail to avoid car traffic and get shade from the trees. The riverbed is almost completely empty of water, which facilitates the hike, in some places the climbing is made more difficult by large boulders we have to get over or around.
We pass an old burial ground for English soldiers who died during their service in the fort at Shirley Hights. The overgrown tombstones are eroded and illegible. Up on the hill there are remnants of the military base and a pool where they collected rainwater.
When coming up on Shirley Hights, one understand why British soldiers was stationed here. From here you can see the entire south coast of Antigua and the waters far off the coast. In clear weather you can see Montserrat 30 M (50 km) to the southwest.
Up on the hill there is also a large restaurant which was unfortunately closed due to the pandemic when we were there. Instead, we got to enjoy the fruit we had with us and the view that Shirley Hights offered. We take another hiking trail back, Lookout Trail. It goes above Freemans Bay with nice views of Nelson’s Dockyard and Falmouth Bay.
Hike to Turtle Bay Beach
We had heard from Peter at Amaran that there was a long and hidden staircase carved into the mountain from one of the houses above the beach at Turtle Bay Beach, which is west of Falmouth Bay. We wanted to try to find it, we get Håkan and Mirja with us, they also needed to move their legs. We take the dinghies into the Catamaran Club and from there we follow the main road west. No one looks at the map and we go too far before we realize we should have followed the road that goes closer to Falmouth Bay. Now we end up at Liberta Cemetary, about 1 km inland before we realize we are on the wrong track.
When we look at the map we see that we have to go back almost all the way to the Catamaran Club. It has been a sweaty walk so far with a lot of uphill roads. After a few hundred meters we find a possible shortcut road, which we take. In situations like this, it is good to have a map in the phone, it helped us we didn’t get lost between the plantations and the individual houses that are here. Finally we find the coastal road from Falmouth Bay out to Turtle Bay Beach.
The hidden stairs were really hidden, we did not find it. Big disappointment, Turtle Bay Beach did not escape discovery so we got there after finding a narrow alley between two houses. Turtle Bay Beach was pretty rocky here and not so bathing friendly.
On the way back to the Catamaran Club where the dinghies are, we pass a house that has a magnificent bougan villa around the garden.
Repairs before crossing the Atlantic
As you have seen in previous blogs, we’ve had some stuff that is broken and needs to be replaced with new parts. There are four things that need to be repaired before we could cross the Atlantic back to Europe in six weeks, plenty of time, it may seem, but nothing is done until it’s done.
- An overheated connection in an electrical cabinet in the engine compartment, the burned cable has transported the entire power (34 A) from the power plant and then a connection like this with several cables in the same terminal does not work. Assembly defects that Hallberg-Rassy takes responsibility for and they will send us new parts.
- Two delaminated sails. Elvström Sails has used incorrect glue and replaces with new ones within the framework of its warranty commitment.
- A small leakage in the foredeck hatch when the waves wash over it. New gasket ordered from Budget Marine in Falmouth Bay.
- The power plant has started to malfunction while on Barbuda, too low output voltage from the power plant causes it to shut down. I suspect that it is the voltage stabilizing capacitors that have lost capacity and I have ordered new ones from Mastervolt in Belgium.
The next blog is about the repairs we need to do on Sally and crew before we can sail across the Atlantic back to Europe. We also have time to visit our favorite places one last time.