posted from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua

(remember that you can right-click on pictures and open them in a new tab to see them full size.)


If you remember from our last post, we sailed southeast from St. Kitts to Guadeloupe so we could get a wind angle to sail north to Antigua.  After a few days in Deshais, we took advantage of a nice weather forecast to sail north to Jolly Harbour on Antigua’s west coast. Three other boats that we know, Just Imagine, Never Bored, and Viking Angel all left at about the same time, but headed for Falmouth Harbour on Antigua’s south coast.

We had to motor for an hour to clear the north end of Guadeloupe, but then the wind filled in from just aft the beam. The seas were quite calm at first, built to only about four feet between the islands, and then dropped as we approached Antigua, so it was a great sail.

With the wind and waves on the beam we had an outstanding sail from Guadeloupe to Antigua

Partway between the islands we spotted fins breaking the surface. We got a quick look at five pilot whales. They swam next to the boat, but slower than we were sailing and we quickly left them behind.

We get a brief visit from some pilot whales

The approach to Antigua is easy. You keep the reef at the southwest end of the island to starboard and sail on up the island. We were in the shallows past the reef and got a hit on the lure we were dragging. We pulled the fish in and soon saw that it was a baracuda. There are two problems with baracudas – they are likely to have ciguatera poisoning from eating reef fish and they have big, ugly teeth between you and the lure you want to retrieve. It took a bit to get control of the fish and get the hook loose, but we did it.


We are getting to like the Jolly Harbour anchorage in that we can slide up to near the front of the crowd and find a shallow spot to anchor. We stayed out there for a couple days, but a swell came up that got all the boats rolling and we moved to the inner harbor and picked up a mooring for a few more days.

One day we hiked out the peninsula that separates Jolly Harbour from Five Islands Bay. The route took us through gated community that surrounds the inner part of Jolly Harbour.

Typical street scene in the village at Jolly Harbour

There’s more than one way to catch a crab


Barbuda is Antigua’s sister island to the north. We have wanted to go there, but never had the right weather at the right time. We saw a window coming up when we were in Guadeloupe and we also met some friends who had the same plan. They came around to Five Islands the day before we were to leave, so we coordinated with them over the VHF radio.

Five Islands is just to the north, so we raised anchor about a half hour before the other group was to leave with the hope that we would meet them as they started out. They all started a bit late so we motored slowly out in front of the group giving them a chance to catch up.  The wind filled in just as they were catching up to us.

We initially took a conservative course that would take us west of Codrington Shoals, but after some discussion we joined Bill and Coleen on Dolce Vita, Tom and Leslie on Farhaven, and Rob and Ellen on Miclo III on a new course between Codrington Shoals and Dodington Bank that saved us a couple miles of motoring into the wind at the end of the trip. Chuck and Barb on the trawler Tusen Takk II stayed on the more westward course.

Dolce Vita sailing to Barbuda

Tuesen Tak II cruises smoothly

The line began to run off our fishing reel as we entered the mile wide passage between the shallows. Jackie eased the main and then helped me land a two foot long rainbow runner.
By the time we had the fish on board and stowed we were the last of the armada entering the Spanish Point anchorage. We were concerned there wouldn’t be enough room for the eight boats in our fleet plus the four or five others already there, but we found a spot among the coral with no problem.

This is probably one of the bigger groups of boats to be in this anchorage at one time and was certainly the largest “organized” group we ever sailed with. In addition to the boats already mentioned there were the cats: Robin and Cheryl on Just Imagine, Chris and Sheila on Never Bored, Morris and Elizabeth on the other ketch, Viking Angel, and Sandy and Kim who were already in the anchorage on Kewayden.

The Armada anchored at Spanish Point, Barbuda


Barbuda is a low island. The highest point is about 125 ft. It is very dry and the small population is mostly clustered around Codrington. Donkeys and horses roam freely about the island. It has long, deserted beaches and beautiful aqua water. It’s a lot like what you dream about when you start cruising. The Codrington family leased the island from England starting in 1685. They used the island as a hunting preserve and kept slaves to raise cattle and root vegetables.

When emancipation came, the slaves stayed on the island and continued to live in the cooperative way that they had been. There are so few people that they use whatever land they need – no land is actually owned by anyone. And although Barbuda was forced to join Antigua when the islands became independent from England, Barbuda has kept somewhat apart. They like their way of life and have resisted almost all commercial developement, even going so far as to push a resort developer’s office trailer and equipment over the cliff into the ocean, thus stopping the project.


The weather started to pipe up and promised to remain so for five or six days, so most of us were here for the duration. The exceptions were Kewayden leaving for Antigua after a couple days, and the trawler Bodacious arriving with guests. I will talk about some of the highlights rather than go into a day by day narrative of the activities. The group is very active and have done hikes, snorkeling, and island tour, and happy hours on some of the larger boats.

Happy Hour

We snorkeled in a few different places in the anchorage and on the east coast.  We spotted a few of these crabs hiding in the sand near our boat.

Lots of little crabs were hiding in the sandy bottom near our boat


The King Helmet was wandering around the “kiddy pool”, a shallow area on the Atlantic side that was well shielded from the waves and warmed by the sun.

King Helmet

While snorkeling behind a reef on the Atlantic side I spotted the stingray (top) buried in the sand and then the other one (bottom) nearby.

I saw these two southern stingrays near the beach

There are a couple sink holes and many caves on the island. We visited some on both hikes and the tour.

Looking down into the sinkhole

At the bottom of the sinkhole

Cave we hiked to on the first day

Chris climbs up in a cave we visited on our tour

Barbuda’s coastline is a mixture of coral, rock, and beaches. The east coast gets the brunt of the Atlantic’s wind and waves, so much of it is rocky. But in between are beaches protected by coral. Unfortunately the onshore wind and waves deposit a lot of flotsam and jetsam on the beaches. Some are a virtual trash dump, but others remain clear and pristine.

Here we are on Barbuda’s Atlantic coast

Much of Barbuda’s Atlantic coast is very rugged in contrast to the beaches on the Caribbean coast

We also arranged for a trip to the Frigate Bird colony, one of the largest in the world. The trip started with a taxi ride to Codrington and then a boat ride to the colony. As you approach you see that the sky is filled with frigate birds. As you get closer you see that the mangroves are filled with roosting and nesting frigate birds.

Just a small part of the frigate bird colony

The most interesting birds were the fuzzy headed chicks and the males advertising for mates by inflating their red neck pouches.

Male frigate bird displaying his inflatable throat pouch


Frigate bird family (l to ) Mom, Chick, Dad

Frigate bird family (l to ) Mom, Chick, Dad

Typical fuzzy frigate bird chick

Typical fuzzy frigate bird chick


The plan was to be in Antigua for the Classic Regatta and when a weather window came we took it.  We had a nice sail with small  seas and the wind on the beam.  As we approached Antigua we got a hit on our fishing line and pulled in what we think is a Bonito.

We caught this Bonito on the way back to Antigua

We anchored in Jolly Harbour so we could do some reprovisioning.

This concluded our Leeward Island cruise that we reported in the last few posts.  We started in Antigua and cruised to  Nevis, St. Kitts, sailed past Montserrat on the way to Guadeloupe, and returned to Antigua.  We then sailed to Barbuda and back to Antigua.

We sailed from Antigua to Nevis to St. Kitts to Guadeloupe to Antigua to Barbuda and back to Antigua

We will stay in Antigua for the Classic Regatta and Sailing Week, and then start the trip south to Grenada.


One Response to “Barbuda”

  1. Anne DeCandia Says:

    Well, I must say, you are having a more exciting week than us. Ralph and I are in N C . We brought my sister and her husband to see Compass Pointe. I will search for your home and leave you a note. Happy and safe sailing. Catch up with you soon. Anne. : )

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