Antigua Wrap

posted from Wilmington, NC

ANTIGUA

We sailed into Falmouth Harbour, Antigua and found it nearly empty.  There were some local charter boats, liveaboards, stored boats, and a few cruisers, but nothing link the huge crowd that was there for the regattas.  We thought we would be all alone, but as we cruised in we spotted Wings (Fred and Ruth), some friends from Grenada who had been in Antigua since before the Classic Regatta.  A day or two later we heard our friends Jack and Bobbi (Moonrise) on the radio.  They were also anchored in Falmouth Harbour.    Although both boats moved on before we did, it was nice to have a little relaxed company.

Hanging out at Shirley Heights.  (L to R) Jackie, Ruth, Bobbi, Jack, Fred

Hanging out at Shirley Heights. (L to R) Jackie, Ruth, Bobbi, Jack, Fred

View of English Harbour from Shirley Heights

View of English Harbour from Shirley Heights

View from Shirley Heights - Falmouth Harbour is the water on the far right

View from Shirley Heights – Falmouth Harbour is the water on the far right

We spent a lot of time getting the boat ready to haul out, but we took time off once in a while.  One day we hiked the middle ground – the area between English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour.  The hills are full of goats and sheep.  Usually we see a few here and there, but that day we encountered them in larger than usual groups.

Sheep doing some people watching

Sheep doing some people watching

We walked down to an area near the shore that we had not explored before.  An large ditch had been cut through and the ground graded.  There were a few birds, but what was more interesting were the shells we found in the graded area.  One was like none we had ever seen before.  Another was more common, but it was essentially cut in half exposing the interior.

One of the cool shells we found

A cool shell we found – our friends Mark and Michelle on Reach tell us this is a murex

What's a shell look like inside?

What’s a shell look like inside?

Cashew we found during a hike

Cashew we found during a hike – the green part is the nut

Life was quiet in Falmouth Harbour.  Once in a while we saw locals doing some fishing.

Local fisherman

Local fisherman

But the really interesting thing that happened was that we got a surprise visitor.  Jackie got up one morning and when she ventured out into the cockpit she found a white pigeon sitting on the aft hatch.  It was quite docile and didn’t seem to mind Jackie walking around nearby or trying to shoo it away.

Our surprise visitor

Our surprise visitor

We finally got the pigeon to take off (he left a mess behind).  We watched as it flew in a large circle passing by many other boats.  It then came to land on one of the mizzen spreaders.  We tried making noise, snapping halyards, and various other things to try to dislodge the pigeon.  Finally it hopped off the spreader – and landed on top of the radar where we could no longer see it.  For all we know it could still be there.

Why did the pigeon pick our boat?  We have no idea.  We had not seen a pigeon like it during our travels until we visited The Saintes the week before.  Coincidence or stowaway – who knows?

ENGLISH HARBOUR

We had traveled over to Slipway Boatyard and Marina in English Harbour and made arrangements with Deon, the manager, to haul Compass Rose, but then spent some time getting ready for the big event.  Finally we motored around to English Harbour and anchored off Galleon Beach.

Jackie works on her aqua aerobics

Jackie works on her aqua aerobics off Galleon Beach

We had heard that boats tended to wander around their anchors, so once we were settled we talked to a neighboring boat.  While we were talking our boats drifted closer and closer together.  We promptly pulled up the anchor and moved to another spot.

English Harbour and Galleon Beach anchorage (right)

English Harbour and Galleon Beach anchorage (right)

The Galleon Beach anchorage is small and when the wind drops, boats tend to wander around in all directions relative to each other.  The entertainment was to watch boats come in and try to find a spot to anchor when all the boats were pointed every which way..  When the wind and/or currents were right our neighbor had a lot of space around them.  Boats would anchor and our neighbor would explain the situation and ask them to move.  They would then move the next biggest spot – right next to us.

The guy in the first boat to do this was fine at first, but as I was going to bed I noticed that our boats had drifted close together.  I gave a couple toots on our horn to get his attention and asked if he was going to do anchor watch.  He said he would and I went to bed.

That boat left the next day, but another came and anchored nearby later.  They weren’t obnoxious and they kept an eye on the boats.  We did drift to within a boat length of each other the next morning.

The cat drifts nearby

The cat drifts nearby

Close friends

Close friends

The other recurring theme was boat rescues.  Not too long after we arrived we noticed a boat coming from the direction of Falmouth Harbour that wasn’t making much progress against the wind and waves.  A boat in the anchorage raised anchor and headed out.  Then a guy got in his dinghy and headed out towards the ocean.  It turned out that the boat at sea had an engine failure and was anchored.  The guy in the dinghy lent them a hand and the other boat towed them in.  Our dinghy was still up, so we just kept an eye on the process.

The next day a boat sailed in from the east, missed the channel, and anchored between the channel marker and the fort.  The fellow who took his dinghy out the previous day again went to the rescue.  I hopped in our dinghy and joined in the fun.  We put the dinghies on either side and pulled the boat in to the fuel dock at the boatyard.  I helped them get lines ashore.  The captain looked familiar – it was Deon, the boatyard manager we talked to about hauling out our boat.

LONG HAUL

After a lot of preparation the day finally came to haul the boat.  We raised anchor and motored over to the fuel dock to top up the tanks.  We checked to make sure they were ready and motored around to the ramp.  Most places use a travel lift to pick up the boat and move it around, but Slipway uses a trailer.  The boat sits on supports on the middle of the trailer and the arms support it so it doesn’t fall over.

To haul your boat, they back the trailer into the water and then direct you to drive the boat in over the trailer.  Once there they raise the arms on the trailer and adjust them to support the boat.

The trailer operator was a guy called “Fire” – we didn’t ask where the name came from.   He guided us in helping us account for the cross wind.  Once over the trailer he raised the arms and “captured” our boat.  Then the process began.  Fire would move the trailer arms to better position Compass Rose and then check how she sat.  This often included him swimming under the boat to check the position of the arms.

Fire checks the position of the boat on the trailer

Fire adjusts the position of the boat on the trailer

When he thought everything was ready he signaled the winch operator to pull the trailer up the ramp.  As the trailer came out of the water Compass Rose would settle in place.   It took a few tries, but finally Fire got us settled.  Then the winch operator pulled the trailer out of the water and they hooked it to a yard tractor.  Finally, they moved our boat into place.  The whole process took a long time, but we were pleased that Fire wouldn’t move forward unless everything was ready.

Compass Rose on the hard ready to be tied down with hurricane straps

Compass Rose on the hard ready to be tied down with hurricane straps

We spent the next day getting Compass Rose buttoned up and the following day we hopped a plane for the USA.

Next: Adapting to life on land.

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One Response to “Antigua Wrap”

  1. M&M Says:

    Hi Eric & Jackie ~ that “cool” shell is a murex 😉 Are you staying in NC for hurricane season? Cheers, Michele & Mark s/v Reach

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