Monday morning we headed into customs and immigration for the 9.00 am opening but the customs guy was late and there was a queue….. Anyway, when he did arrive, the first skipper went in and came out laden with forms to complete and this pattern was repeated until he got to us. We had read that Eseaclear, the online integrated system, was in use in Antigua so we had done all our documentation on line before we left Nevis. So no forms for us – he just had to print and stamp them. Then into immigration and the port authority to purchase our cruising permit and we are off before anyone else is vaguely ready to go…. Result! So we are now legal and can wander around Antigua which is our first of the mountains and mangroves islands. Quick dinghy ride round to check Jolly Harbour out – nothing much has changed from our last time here back in the early 2000s…. but we enjoyed a nice breakfast ashore.
Back on board and Richard is still feeling poorly despite eating – I think he got dehydrated on the trip over and a little sick from being down below in the heat fixing the fan belt, so medicate him accordingly! He soldiered on while we cleaned all the crusty salt from Morphie’s deck and stainless…. but had to lie down afterwards. I carried on cleaning down below and we are back in shape. Phew… one job off of the list. Glenn and Pam came over for sundowners but Richard stayed on the water so you know he’s feeling bad…
Early to bed and a bit of a lie in and Richard is feeling a bit better but still not right…. We went off ashore to sort out loads of other boat chores as we need to do our laundry, get a propane gas tank filled, get petrol for dink and some food for us…. Came back on board having sussed it all out and some bags of shopping (and yes, I finally got some Branston pickle) and I had a nice ploughmans and fed Richard chicken soup. After a few hours of lazing around Richard started to recover and felt OK by the time he had showered to get ready to go out for dinner. We had pizza Tuesday night in the local Italian with Glenn and Pam – and Richard managed to drink wine so obviously through the worst. We had a really nice evening with great food and fantastic company talking about our favourite boats and swapping some hints and tips as we are newbies in the cruising world. They have hired a car for Wednesday and very kindly invited us to join them for the day on a trip round the island. Yes please!
Wednesday we go out as a foursome for the day and drive around the island – after a few visits to some hardware stores (as Richard wants to buy a small petrol Honda generator) we end up in Falmouth Harbour where it just reeks of wealth with superyachts everywhere, including one with a helicopter on the top! Loads of racing boats too including ICAP’s Leopard….. Interesting how many of these monster sailboats are flying the Ensign. Having decided which boats we are all going to have when we win the lottery we head back to the car and spot a local food shack – so we all piled in there for lunch. Richard and Glen get adventurous and eat the goat stew whilst Pam and I were more conservative eating the chicken…. It was lovely.
Onwards to English Harbour where we visited Nelson’s Dockyard and wandered through all the stunning old renovated buildings – really interesting small museum too. This dockyard was completed in 1745 and was our main naval station with hurricane protection – Nelson arrived here in 1784 and eventually took over as naval commander. Apparently he didn’t like it much, and having read about the conditions and the impact of tropical diseases on the men, I’m not surprised really!
Moving on we went up to the hills above Falmouth and English Harbours to the interpretation centre and watched a movie about the history of the island, which was really interesting. Then onto Shirley Heights, which Richard and I remember from the Sunday night jump ups that we went to back in the day! Today it was quiet as a grave but still had fantastic views.
Back in the car and we head off to visit the Devil’s Bridge which is an unusual shaped rock which the sea blows through in certain conditions. Today was one of those days although we remembered it differently….. Back on the road and we found a nice beach bar to have a cold one in.
Heading back to Jolly Harbour and enjoyed the scenery along the way – with green hills, coral reefs, forests and domestic crops – all intermingled with wild goats, cows, hummingbirds and donkeys making an appearance. Really enjoyable day and we quaffed a final cold one back in the harbour and said goodbye to Pam who was flying home on Thursday morning to be a granny again for a short while.
Quiet night on board sorting out washing and doing some by hand…as we have found out that this is a service wash marina. So Morphie now has knickers, bras and boxers hanging from her rails – but all under the cover of darkness – as we really don’t want her to be too embarrassed! Thursday morning we went shopping again; I finally got my hair cut; dropped off and picked up the laundry; organised the purchase and delivery of the generator; and wandered the complex and found the beach.
Whilst we were there we organised a day trip to Barbuda on the ferry for Saturday. Although the strong winds have now died down north swells are forecast for Sunday so taking Morphie up there didn’t appeal, particularly as the anchorages are pretty exposed and surrounded by reef. And I was determined not to miss Barbuda out, especially as we have already had to sacrifice Montserrat to the weather….
Back on board and I cooked for us and Glenn as he is home alone – only a simple lasagne, nothing special. But Glenn also helped Richard hook up the generator for the first time, so even social events turn into boat jobs!!! We had a good evening and are looking forward to a beach day on Friday after finishing off the long list of jobs that we have still to do…..
Bye for now