Friday, January 25, 2013

Beautiful Barbuda

Before we left Nonsuch bay I went snorkeling around Bird island again. Visibility was a bit better at some places, but I still had an uneasy feeling, all alone in murky water. It was still worth it, there were some pretty things to see...

I'm not sure what this is, I guess some sort of coral, need more time to study my books. There are some Christmas worms on it, in similar color as coral.

These are Porous sea rods (I guess) with white Christmas tree hydriods  attached.

There are many healthy brain corals there, on the edges of the bigger one there are two Feather dusters.

On Sunday we sailed to Barbuda. We were quite late, so the sun was well up in the sky and the visibility was good. Which was what we needed to sail out of Nonsuch through Spithead channel towards north. The sailing was bumpy and fast, with some rain here and there. It was not the best ride we had. On top of it we didn't catch any fish. But Barbuda was beautiful as always, white endless beaches in bright afternoon sun, and I was so happy we came.

Late in the afternoon we had a visitor, a booby (strmoglavec) landed on our dinghy. He was not shy, we could come quite close, just the light was fading so the photos are not too good.

In the night the swell crept into the bay and in the morning there was a lot of sand mixed with the water. Not a good time to go snorkeling. But it was a glorious Caribbean day with bright sun and blue skies and we enjoyed it thoroughly. We swam, read books and had holiday. And guess what - in the afternoon I heard the familiar chip chip - and there were three ospreys circling above the lagoon. What a pretty sight.

On Tuesday there was less swell and I tried snorkeling, but the visibility was still very bad. In the afternoon we decided to go ashore to pick some coconuts.

This is me rowing our dinghy. It rows really well.

Captain and myself on "crowded" beach.

Coco point anchorage.

The waves have formed the beach into small hills and canyons

It is really not sand, it's broken shells and corals

Right behind the beach there is a small private air strip (behind the fence). As we were there the small airplane started landing.

Ok, it is nothing like Princess Juliana airport in Sint Maarten, but it was still fun to watch.

On Wednesday the water was clearer again, so I did some snorkeling again. There were a lot of nice things to see right below and around our boat.

In the afternoon we dinghied around the south-east corner to check on Spanish Point, it is said to be the calmest anchorage in Barbuda in a swell, but very tricky to navigate because of all the reefs and corals. There was a lot of wind that day and we were soon completely wet. From the dinghy Barbuda looks really flat.

We didn't dinghy around whole bay, as the sea was really choppy, so we didn't check the anchorages. But we stopped at one of the reefs to do some snorkeling. The reef was mostly overgrown by algae, and the prettiest thing we saw was this Hawksbill turtle.

On Thursday, after one more nice snorkeling, it was time to sail back to Antigua. I was sorry we had to go and I hope we return to Barbuda soon, maybe for a bit longer stay. We left at about noon, weather on the way was nice, wind just right for easy and quick sailing, and the waves were very small and round for this route. We were in Deep bay in less than four hours. Today we are sailing on to Jolly Harbour, we have some shopping to do. After almost two weeks of "wilderness" in Nonsuch bay and Barbuda, we are thoroughly out of fresh food. And on Sunday we are picking up some friends of ours, that are coming to sail with us for next two weeks.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ospreys of Nonsuch bay

We had very dramatic and changing weather while in Jolly Harbour. At times it was "pure Caribbean" like this ...

 ... and the next moment like this.

 Luckily, the rain showers didn't last for long, and we even got a whole day without the rain to do our laundry.

We were anchored next to "our" channel marker, the last green one before the lagoon entrance. I love watching the bird resting on it. This is the usual setting - tern on one marker and pelican on the other.

They obviously didn't mind us, although we were pretty close, so we've seen a lot of cleaning the feathers, taking naps...

On Saturday we sailed off to Nonsuch bay. On the way, close to entrance to Falmouth Harbour, we saw a photo session - this large sailboat was photographed or filmed from helicopter.

Most of the way we were motoring, the wind was almost all the time on our nose. But it wasn't too strong and the waves were moderate, so it was not too bad. This time the weather forecast got it spot on.

We were fishing on the way, we had our all three lures and hooks in the water, but we only caught three baby tunas (of the Little Tunny family) and we threw them back into the sea, while still alive of course. I believe that it's ok to take "adult" fish that have already in some way fulfilled their role in life, but we are not taking babies. Captain sometimes doesn't agree with me, but on this matter I'm very stubborn and make a lot of fuss to have it my way.

I've seen osprey in Nonsuch bay before. But it wasn't since I was observing one in Deep bay some two weeks ago, that i decided to learn a bit more about them. Thanks to Internet, of course. I learned that ospreys are the most widely spread bird of pray, they are present on all continents except on poles, and while there is a resident population in Caribbean, the Antigua's birds are migrants from North America and don't breed here.
I was very excited to see three birds flying over Nonsuch bay every day, sometimes hoover over Bird island, and I've even seen one plunging into the water to catch a fish. After couple of days I've been able to recognize their voices, they make a high sound like chip chip or longer chi-ip chi-ip, something you would expect to hear from a chicken or a sparrow, not from a big bird of pray. Of course I tried to make some photos of them, but this is all I was able to manage with my camera.

Osprey gaining height on windward side of Bird island.

The photo below was taken in Egypt in El Quesir in 2004, while we were there on scuba diving trip. Ospreys there were not very shy and a couple of them came to rest on these huge "shading umbrellas" on the hotel beach every day. If you're interested in some really good photos of ospreys, the kind I am not likely to ever make myself, check out this site:

While the weather was mostly good, we had quite a lot of wind, clouds and some rain showers. It was the perfect weather for doing the boat projects. Even though our buoy was really close to Bird island, I've only been snorkeling there twice. 

We managed to finnish attaching the rings for gennoa poles to the mast - one of our old ones got bent during the Atlantic passage as one of our gennoa poles broke.

There are still the holes of our old ring above the new one - since the new ones are bigger, on this side there was not enough space to put the new one on the same spot.

 This is not exactly new, we "mend" the broken zipper on our lazy bag with some grommets already some time ago.

We replace the cords, that were holding our bimini, with stainless tubes. The tubes were "sailing" with us all the time since we started our journey, we just never had the "time" to install them :-) We find it a great improvement, the bimini is not just more stable this way, the tubes are perfect for holding yourself while going to the front deck, before people were holding onto the cords, were leaning into spray hood etc, none of which is very stable and safe.

Because of the rain we had lately we put a piece of Sunbrela fabric over our bimini, for additional protection on the sides. We bought the fabric already in Lanzarote, Canary islands, before Atlantic passage, but only have the seems made by a French fellow cruisers in Falmouth Harbour in December 2012, so now we put some grommets on it (the metal rings at the edges that you put the tying rope through - as on the photo above) and we can finally use them.

We also replaced some of the broken snap fasteners (drukerjev) with which the spray hood is attached to the deck.

And we made the protective cover for our Lovro (Lawrance chart plotter) from a stainless steel plate, that we also bought in Lanzarote. The cover will prevent some of the water and sun hitting the back side of the device, where the cables are attached, and also people from leaning onto the cables, which - as we know from our experience, break easily.

Apart from all that, I've been doing some boat cleaning (inside of kitchen cabinets, spaces under the beds, under the sitting benches in saloon, under floorboards, etc..), a never ending story if you want to keep the dirt and mold and mildew under control.

Tomorrow we are sailing to Barbuda (check my friend Dana's beautiful post on Barbuda on ), the wether forecast is very good, so we hope to have a great couple of days there. And to catch some "grown up" fish on the way.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Christmas winds

 New years eve did not disappoint us - we had a great dinner at Trappas and party in English Harbour was nice - not as lively and good as Christmas party, but we still had a good time and enjoyed the fireworks at midnight. And we didn't get wet - there was just one more shower that evening while we were at Trappas. Most importantly, we were in good company, Marion and Harald and Anette and Kerstin partied with us.

Already in last days of 2012 we had very strong wind and here they call it Christmas winds. They are not overly precise with the name - any strong wind from November to February is called so. But strong wind usually doesn't last as long as it did this time - it only ended today. With the wind up to 35 knots we were not too keen on doing lot of sailing, so on Wednesday last week we moved from Falmouth Harbour to Carlisle bay, next to Jolly Harbour, then on Saturday to Deep bay and since Wednesday we are back in Jolly. All in all 25 miles up and down the south and west coast of Antigua.

Luckily, our friends from Rufus - Marion and Harald and Kerstin and Anette were in the same area, so we spent some very nice evenings and afternoons together. The strong wind lowered the temperature of air and sea and quite a few rain showers also didn't help with the "tropical feeling". I'm not swimming so much any more and on one evening we even took a warm shower in the bathroom - normally we shower with cold water on the swimming platform. And in the evening instead of sitting in the cockpit, sipping rum and looking at the stars we watch movies in our cabin.

We still managed to do some minor boat projects and a lot of laundry and boat cleaning.

This is Hawksbill hotel on the beach with the same name ...

... and both are named after this rock, the Hawksbill rock. Obviously it reminded the people who named it on the Hawksbill turtle, to me it looks more like a Frog king (zabji kralj) from fairy tale.

These are the hills behind Five island bay on Antigua's western coast.

 Some of the five islands.

On the western coast one always has the luxury to see the sun set into the ocean. If lucky, one might even see the elusive "green flash" - at the moment when last part of sun disappears into the sea, sometimes a bright green light appears for a brief moment. They say that if one drinks a strong sundowner (cocktail that is drunk at sundown) before, the chance of seeing the green flash rises significantly :-)

The forecast for next week is good, less wind and even less rain, so I guess we will soon get back to "Caribbean routine". We might make a tour to Nonsuch bay and Northern sound, because of northerly wind Barbuda is unfortunately not on the agenda for the next week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

To Guadeloupe and back to Antigua

While captain and myself chose to take it slow on the day after the Christmas party, Laura, Mitja and Nejc made a tour to Shriley Heights and around English Harbour.

View from Shirley Heights to the west over English and Falmouth Harbour.

View to the east to Indian creek and Mamora bay.

On Thursday we sailed to Guadeloupe. On our way we caught this beautiful Dorado or Mahi mahi, as it is called in Caribbean.

There was a lot of wind and we sailed fast, we reached Deshaies in 5 and a half hours. Guadeloupe welcomed us with rain and rainbows.

On Friday we did some snorkeling and Captain made a hike up the Deshaies river with our visitors, it was his fourth time!

Me, I'm more of a lazy kind of girl and stick to the water. And snorkeling is pretty good in Deshaies.

This is Azure vase sponge.

And this is an octopus trying to look like a rock.

On Saturday afternoon our visitors flew back home. In the evening Rufus sailed into Deshaies anchorage and we had a very nice evening with Marion and Harald and Anette and Kerstin. And decided to all sail right back to Antigua the next day.

The weather was good, wind also and sailing was great. Not as fast as on Thursday, but also not so wild. We sailed close to another with Rufus....

... and there was a good opportunity to take some photos.

We reached Falmouth Harbour in good 6 hours. In the night the rain washed our boat of all the salt of the day before. Last day of the year was very rainy, so we stayed on boat. Luckily in the evening rain stopped, just in time for a dinner at Trappas and a party in English Harbour afterwards.

Happy 2013 everyone!