Back in Antigua, after a rough night sail from St Barths, we land in Jolly Harbour. Last time we were in Antigua we dropped anchor in the southern anchorage of Falmouth and never moved the boat. Jolly Harbour is so much nicer than I expected. It’s big and wide open and probably only 20 feet deep for a half a mile out to sea. We anchor in 9 feet, which is awesome because you only have to put out about 50 feet of chain, so we don’t expect to have any Europeans anchoring over the top of us (Americans and Canadians like a scope of between 1:5 and 1:7, but the Europeans seem to be happy with their crappy anchors and a scope of only 1:3 so they will drop their anchor right in front of you and let out a small amount of chain so that their boat is drifting over your anchor and I have to wake up frequently to see that they are or aren’t dragging). However, even though this bay is huge and there are few other boats, we still have the odd German boat anchor less than a boat length to the starboard side of us. They aren’t going to hit us, but it does get awkward when they are peeing in the water off the back of the boat as we enjoy our breakfast in the cockpit. At one point, one of the women starts down the swim ladder and about half way down she stops, pulls her pants down, squats and swishes. I don’t know what that was about, but we’ve come to expect it. Can you imagine sitting on the deck in your backyard watching your neighbor come outside every morning to pee in his pool? Or get in just far enough to swish your butt around? I’m sure they’re great, pleasant people, but culturally we have differences in exposing/sharing our bodily functions with strangers. I’m sure Americans do many other things that baffle other nationalities.
We end up making two trips into St. Johns by bus just to get to the market for their fig bananas. I don’t know why they don’t have them at the local grocery store, but they’re so sweet and delicious that they’re worth the 30 minute ride. I buy every last one I can find and we eat them as fast as they ripen. Fig bananas are one of the things I will truly miss when we go back to land life.
One night we’re invited to dinner on John and Joann’s boat, Out of Africa, to eat the fresh tuna John had caught. Also at dinner are our friends Sabrina and Tom of Honey Ryder and Robin and Cheryl of Just Imagine. We turned on our anchor light, but when the sky turned dark we noticed it wasn’t on. Not good news. This means Stan will be climbing the mast to change the lightbulb. About 65 feet up on a moving post. Stan gets in his harness and gear and heads up. He makes good time, but I hear cussing after about 2 or 3 minutes at the top. He’s got the wrong lightbulb. So down he comes and off we go to Budget Marine. Next day, up he goes again. I think he really enjoyed his time up there. . . And now we have an LED light that uses only about 1/10th the power of the old bulb.
We happen to be in Antigua during two big sailing weeks. First it’s Classics where all the old wooden boats are paraded around and race each other. It’s a big week-long party in Falmouth so we decide to head around the island to Nonsuch Bay. Last year we would have tried to get in on the action to meet other cruisers and not feel so lonely. This year I’d like to stay away from the craziness of boats anchored on top of each other in order to get a free beer every night. So we spend a week in what feels like the most remote place on earth and while the hundreds of other cruisers are attending the social event of the month, we do not speak to another soul for an entire week.
When we get back around the island to Jolly Harbour (because we’re out of fresh fruits and vegetables and running low on everything else), our friends Sharna and Jim of Second Spray are there and we go to a double decker bus to have fish and chips. Don’t know what the place is called, but it’s worth the walk and the money. Sailing week is starting, which is more serious racing and less social, but I will still stay out of the anchorages that are packed with boats looking to attend/spectate. The next day we leave with Jim and Sharna and head to the northeast side of the island. We stay two nights at Long Island and then head over to Great Bird Island. The four of us explore Great Bird Island and meet a local who has just caught a sting ray and a bunch of small reef fish. Sad to see the little ray hanging from his hands, but a man’s gotta eat. In the bag of fish they’ve got a lot of fish that don’t look worth the effort—bonefish, parrot fish and an assortment of other small reef fish. The island is loaded with birds. At one point Sharna’s hat flies off and hits me in the back of the head. I go into defensive, karate chop mode thinking a bird is attacking. Sharna didn’t even try to not laugh.
We head back to Jolly Harbour tomorrow as we’re out of fresh stuff again and, anyway, we don’t have much time left before we have to start heading south. We have a haul out date in Grenada in late June and need to keep moving.