Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An uneventful week

Last Sunday we were watching Valentine's Regatta from our boat in Jolly Harbour, the boats were starting and finishing right to the west of the anchorage. It was a pretty sight, all the boats on a bright sunny afternoon.

On Monday we did some shopping, and on Tuesday we moved to Falmouth Harbour. After some snorkeling at Bishop's reef we sailed to Nonsuch bay on Wednesday. We did the laundry on Thursday, we htoroughly cleaned the boat on Friday, and did a few little boat projects every day.

There was still enough time for lazying, book reading and my favorite activity besides snorkeling - bird watching. I was happy to see that all three ospreys were still there, I even think to have seen the fourth one. They were flying over the Bird island, scanning the sea for fish (I actually didn't see any of them dive for the fish) and a female came hovering very low above our boat for couple of moments, so that I could see it was a female, since it wore a "neckless" - females have darker colored feathers around the neck. Now that I recognize their cry I rarely miss one, I even saw some in Jolly Harbour at the beginning of the week, and one had a fish in his claws.

But what I was looking at in the photo was a pair of American Oystercatchers ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Oystercatcher ), that landed on Bird island while making a lot of noise. I've been seeing Oystercatchers in Antigua and Guadeloupe before, but they are very shy and I was not able to take any photos. But they are still fun to watch.

 The biggest project we had was maintenance of two winches on Saturday. First was the Harken 53. We've done it before, so we were not overly nervous.

First the compete thing came apart, until only the base was left ...

... and several hundreds of parts.

The parts got a thorough wash in the oil ...

... and were then greased with special winch grease.

We did peeked into the manual occasionally to get the parts assembled in the  right way, and it all came together well.

And in the end there was a final test.

Then we did it all again on a smaller Harken 40.

We sailed back to Jolly Harbour on Sunday, after watching the RORC Caribbean 600 Regatta boats pass by to the east, we were very impressed with the Phaedo catamaran that sailed by with 21 knots of speed! 

We caught a Barracuda on the way. We were happy, since our new lure caught it and captain hates to invest in fishing gear that doesn't do it's job.

 We changed our plans and stopped in Fryers bay for the night, it is only two bays south from Jolly, but the water is nicer there for bathing. Today we moved to "our" marker at the entrance to Jolly Harbour and we are picking some of our friends later in the afternoon. And then the new adventure begins.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Treasures of Barbuda

On Monday morning we did some shopping and went snorkeling at Bishop's reef. It was very nice, it is almost as good as in Deshaies or at Pigeon's island. Early afternoon we sailed to Nonsuch bay. We passed the pretty cliffs of Antigua's south coast ....

... and already in the Nonsuch bay we broke the spell and caught a fish. We ate it that evening.

Next morning we sailed to Barbuda. Ride was a bit bumpy and salty, but we were quite fast. On the way we caught a small Little tunny and threw it back. Next moment we had another one, and as we were about to throw it back, we realized it's tail was bitten off. It could not survived without a tail, so we decided to keep it. And in the next moment another fish grabbed the hook, and it was Barracuda.

 We concluded that Barracuda was after the Little tunnies and ended on our hook. Later on, when captain cleaned the Barracuda, he found the Little tunny's tail in Barracudas stomach.

We anchored in Coco bay already at 2 in the afternoon.

 I went snorkeling half an hour later. Last time we were here I spotted some interesting things under the water and I wanted to take some photos. These little delicate beauties are called Tunicates (in Slovene tunikate) and they are one of the prettiest things I ever saw in the sea. Without my new great books on sea life in Caribbean (Paul Humann's and Ned DeLoach's trilogy Reef Fish, Reef Coral and Reef Creature Identification) I don't think I would recognize them or even see them.

I'm pretty proud of these photos, I think this is the best my camera and I can do.

The individual Tunicates are half to one inch in size, this whole formation, that was attached to Gorgonian, was of the size of a grapefruit. It was pretty difficult to spot them four meters below the surface, as they are almost translucent. If you look closely, there are some Tunicates also attached to the ground in the lower left corner of the photo.

The blue ones are called Bluebell Tunicates and are a bit smaller than white ones.

Next morning I took some more photos.

This is a sponge growing on a Gorgonian, and around it are White stingers (a kind of Hydroids).

In the afternoon we rowed to the beach to collect some coconuts for a pancake party in the evening. Pancakes were delicious, we had them with shredded coconut and ginger and sugar, or with coconut, banana and Nutela, or ....

On Thursday morning we sailed west and around the Palmetto point to Low bay. We anchored close to Lighthouse hotel on Barbuda's west coast.

Alenka, Grega and captain dinghied into Codrington to take the tour of eastern part of Barbuda. My stomach got upset for some unknown reason (too many pancakes the night before maybe?), so I stayed on the boat.

There are caves on the eastern coast of Barbuda, where Arawaks (the first people in Caribbean) once lived.

And there are Tropicbirds nesting in the cliffs.

Alenka, Grega and captain managed to get back to Heron just before the short rain shower, that looked very dramatic, but was over in minutes. It was a rare event, we had almost no rain for couple of weeks, not even in the night to wash the boat.

On Friday morning we swam to the beach and took a stroll along the water's edge. Beach is truly pink of all the broken shells.

This is Heron photographed from the water on our swim back to boat.

 At noon we sailed back to Antigua. The ride was nice and fast, with just right amount of wind and small waves, for average sailing speed of 7,6 knots. We were all enjoying it.

Near Antigua we caught this pretty Cero.

We anchored in Deep bay before five in the afternoon and there was time enough to go swimming and for Alenka and Grega to hike up to the fortress. 

They saw a Green throated Carib on the way.

 We had a nice evening with fish curry and wine. On Saturday, after a short swim, it was time to sail to Jolly Harbour. Alenka and Grega were returning home on an evening flight. We all enjoyed the glorious summer day till the last minutes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sail fast, live fast

You might have heard of a slogan "Sail fast, live slow", it is often written on tee-shirts that you can buy in many places here in Caribbean. Well, it was a bit different for us these last couple of days.

Alenka and Grega arrived on Sunday, late in the evening. We did some provisioning in Jolly Harbour on Monday morning and moved to Fryers bay in the afternoon. In the morning we sailed to Montserrat. It was a nice and fast ride, we were already there at one in the afternoon. Alenka and Grega took a taxi tour of the island in the afternoon. We planned on leaving for Guadeloupe the next morning. But not as early as we then actually did. One of the sailboats, that arrived late in the evening, anchored in the channel in front of the jetty in Little Bay. At 5 in the morning a barge came and wanted to tie to the jetty, but couldn't get around the sailboat. So they started honking their horn and shining their lights at the sailboat in the channel, until the crew woke up and moved the boat. Needless to say, everybody in the anchorage was up by then. After all the commotion was over we decided not to go back to bed, so we sailed off shortly before seven. 

We passed Montserrat on the northern side and got some nice views of the volcano.

 Sailing was fast and a bit bumpy. We arrived at Pigeon Island before two in the afternoon. Alenka, Grega and myself went snorkeling, while captain stayed on the boat, slowly drifting near the island. Snorkeling was really great.

After the snorkeling we decided to continue to Le Saintes, it was only three in the afternoon. We reached Le Saintes at seven, already in the dark, and anchored behind Paine de sucre. Next day we did some shopping and snorkeling.

On Friday we sailed back North to Deshaies, with a stop at Pigeon island again. This time we had more time, so we anchored the boat near the "mainland". We were greeted by many turtles, swimming among the boats in the anchorage. So we decided to go snorkeling right there. It was great again.

We saw a Hawksbill turtle...

... and a lot of Green turtles. You could tell they know they are protected and don't need to be worried about anything.

 After arriving in Deshaies we dinghied to the shore and had a nice dinner in La Kaaz restaurant.

Next morning Alenka, Grega and myself went to Botanical garden. We all enjoyed it very much. Captain stayed on the boat, flowers are not really his thing.

 The dark spot left from the yellow flower is a hummingbird (the Antillean crested hummingbird), it is not the best shot, but this is all my camera is capable of.

 Beside all the beautiful flowers, trees and parrots, we saw all three kinds of hummingbirds that live in Lesser Antilles and Grega managed to get some nice photos of them. This is the Purple throated Carib....

... this is the Green throated Carib ...

 ... and this Antillean crested hummingbird.

 From the Botanical gardens there is a view of Deshaies anchorage.

In the afternoon Alenka, Graga and captain went up the Deshaies river. It was already late, so they didn't go all the way to the waterfall. I had enough walking for one day and went snorkeling instead.

On Sunday we sailed back to Antigua. It was a lovely ride, the sea was calm and wind not to strong. We pulled up all the sails we had - main, flock and storm jib. We managed to overtake six sailboats that started from Deshaies before us. It made captain really happy. What didn't make him happy was that we didn't catch any fish - again. Last fish we caught was mahi mahi shortly before new year.

We arrived in Falmouth Harbour at around three in the afternoon. While captain went to English Harbour to do the clearing in, Alenka and Grega went to Shirley heights. In the evening we all met for a dinner. Our favorite restaurant, Trappas, was closed, so we ate at Cape Horn, the food was really good and we had a very nice evening.