Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Enjoying Antigua and Barbuda

It happens to me every time when I get to Antigua - I start feeling calm, happy, relaxed.... Can't tell why, maybe it's the blue-green water on the south western corner of the island, where turtles are so big and many, or Jolly Harbour with it's own colours and animals, or English Harbour with it's history, or unspoiled Nonsuch bay, or the plentitude of great anchorages on all sides of the island, the people...

In Jolly Harbour we like to anchor just outside the entrance to the lagoon near the first green pillar, there are always terns or pelicans sitting on it, regardless how close the boat is. And they were there also this time.

One day several pelicans came to sit on our boat, three on solar panels and two at the bow, but captain chased them away before we could take any photos. Anyone who ever cleaned their mess knows why...

We've stayed in Jolly Harbour for a couple of days, catching up with correspondence and doing boat projects. We replaced the cockpit speaker that died, and most important - we managed to "repair" our Lovro, ie Lowrance chart-plotter. It was going crazy since some time, reseting itself after the boot more and more times, until it only did that and nothing else. Luckily we do have several backup chart-plotters, but this is the only one our radar is attached to. We feared there is some hardware problem, or salt had came into some connectors or even processor, but captain couldn't find any info about this on Internet, despite writing to Lawrance, the store where we bought the device, several forums etc. We tried to upgrade the software, did some software resets, it did bring Lovro up, but only once, afterwards it again fell into reboot loop. As the last resort we tried factory reset, and it seemed to help. Since then Lovro is working without the problems.... although we lost all data of our Atlantic crossing etc. But it confirms my theory of crappy software - obviously the programmers can't deal with buffers and logs and memory space, there were problems with this before and they still didn't solve it.

On Wednesday we sailed to Falmouth Harbour. On the way we met this funny cat, sailing with two genoas and the main. If it brings anything, it's hard to tell....

Seconds before turning into Falmouth, just when captain wanted to put away the fishing gear, this beautiful fish bit the hook. It is a Cero, not a Spanish mackerel, I learned this from my new book of Caribbean fish I brought from Slovenija. They are very similar, but Cero has the golden line between the dots on his side, while Spanish mackerel doesn't.

The line is clearly there....

We spent a nice afternoon in Falmouth in front of this gorgeous beach, among the turtles. And for dinner we had the freshest fish, with butter, garlic and lime, and boiled potatoes on the side.

Although Falmouth was still quite empty, there were more boats than the week before. Life is slowly returning...

On Thursday we sailed on to Nonsuch bay. I love the rocky southern shore of Antigua. Anyone who saw all my photos of rock and cliffs from Greece, Lanzarote etc, knows I have a soft spot for rocks. Would that make me a "rock chick"?

These are the "Pillars of Hercules" at the entrance to English Harbour.

In Nonsuch bay we picked up the buoy nearest to the Bird island, so I would have the best view of the action. I love watching the pelicans, coming "home" after hard days work, and throw themselves on the bushes for the night - ok, they might not be very elegant at that, but neither are they, when they plunge into the water to fish, in a kamikaze-bonebreaking manner. And there is a big white heron (velika bela čaplja), always returning to the island for the night, we already saw it in spring. Terns (čigre) occupied the buoys and made a lot of noise, I couldn't tell if they were quarreling or trying to mate. And occasionally a osprey, or as we call it fish eagle (ribji orel) sails above the boat. It's a paradise.

And we ate fish for lunch, this time baked in little oil and assembled into the pitta bread with sour cream, Susie's hot sauce, tomatoes and Aunt Glady's mango chutney. Delicious. (Hot sauce and chutney are from Antigua).

On Friday we sailed to Barbuda, again through Spitthead channel. It was again quite unnerving, the waves were very big and started rolling us when still in the channel between corals in 7m of water. Luckily we know the channel quite well by now, and we got through safely. The sailing was rather bumpy, with lots of waves, but a good wind.

Captain was fighting with himself wether to fish or not, since we still had the Cero for at least three meals. After a while he still put a small bait and a hook into the water.

In the meantime i was "driving".

And after some time we got a beautiful Rainbow runner on a hook. So we'll eat fish yet one more day...

We reached Barbuda shortly after three in the afternoon. And it was still all there - the sand, the clouds, the perfect colours of the sea, and many turtles - even before we finished anchoring, four came to greet us. Heron was the only boat in Coco point anchorage, and hotel was still closed. So we had all this beauty to ourselves! To me Barbuda is still the most beautiful place on earth.

It was truly a holiday, with only some small boat projects, but mostly reading, bathing, cooking and eating. And of course watching the turtles. I studied my books and the photos I ever made of turtles to learn the differences between Green turtle and Hawksbill turtle, the turtles one most likely sees in Caribbean, I wanted to be able to tell them apart while watching them from the boat. The differences are really small - Hawksbill has pointier head and sharper beak, overlapping plates and four plates on the forehead, while Green has only two and non-overlapping plates, but they are similar in colour and size. With this newly gained knowledge I sat on the boat for quite some time and realized, there was no way to tell... unless a turtle would come really close to the boat and stayed on the surface for longer   than they usually did. They are not so very shy in Barbuda, but they keep a safe distance of 30 - 40m from the boat, and they don't like to be looked at - most of them dive straight down again if they think they are being watched. So until I learn more about them.....

On Monday we headed back to Antigua, wind was forecast to turn to south for the rest of the week and that would make sailing back later very difficult.

Sailing was nicer that on Friday, with good wind and less waves. Captain again put some hooks and baits in the water and after a while we caught this pretty tuna. So there's going to be some more "fish days" in the near future....

At about three in the afternoon we turned into Deep bay and anchored the boat.

We are staying here for a day or two, it is very pretty, and we're on Internet again (and I need to do some more turtle research!). After Deep bay we plan to sail to Falmouth and visit Sunsail base in English Harbour, the toilet sea-cock in bow head started leaking, maybe they can give us some advice how to repair it. Leaks on the boat, however small, are not a good thing, and left to themselves they just grow bigger and bigger.

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