Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Nics diary part 10

Nics Diary – Part 10

Places Visited:
Antigua: Falmouth Harbour, English Harbour, Jolly Harbour, Nonsuch Bay
St. Martin: Marigot

To begin with I would like to apologise for my extreme laziness in keeping the blog updated. After our crossing, life became very slow & relaxed. The whole preparation for the crossing seemed to take for ever, and now we have chilled quite a bit. This blog updates us from arriving in Antigua on 21.12.12 until leaving Antigua on the 23.2.13. (We also visited St Martin in between).

When we arrived after our crossing, we decided that as it was xmas and we still had our crew for a wee while then we would go into Falmouth marina to relax and refresh (and of course party)!  When we approached Antigua at night, we noticed that there were a lot of white and red lights high in the sky. We assumed this was some sort of suspension bridge, but awoke to realise that we were surrounded by super yachts, which had well lit masts, so that the planes could see them. We really were the smallest boat ever in Falmouth harbour. The bow of the boat across from us in the marina was bigger than the full length of our wee yacht!! The other super yachts had steps from the pontoon leading up to them, and we had to crawl down a plank to get onto our boat. One of the big fancy boats had 2 supply boats (both at least 4 times the size of ours), and they had helicopters – what world had we just landed in?? It was a great atmosphere, especially with the build-up to xmas. Every night there were different crew having parties on the pontoon outside their super yacht. I found it great to meet them, and to see how the other half lived. I got invited onto one of them for a look around. Boy was I green with envy. Ensuite (properly tiled), master bedrooms for the guests, a galley bigger than the inside of our whole boat, hot tub on deck, jet skis, and glass coffee tables – what you can’t sail with glass coffee tables – surely they would smash!!

Me daintily crawling down the plank in the posh marina!

We got the feeling that this marina didn't really cater for wee yachts

I couldn't resist 'borrowing' a plant for a xmas tree in our fancy marina!

An example of one of the super yachts (this photo is in English Harbour)
Our wee yacht next to a super yacht - only joking it's a remote control toy one!!

We spent around a week in this marina, and attended several parties. We went to Shirley Heights; a bar with a BBQ, live music, and a great view of the whole of the island. We were invited to a BBQ on Pigeon beach, organised some crew from a super yacht. On xmas day all 4 of us went into Nelsons Dockyard for dinner, and then there was an outdoor champagne party.

Some of the 'big boys' out playing in Antigua - a common sight

We fully enjoyed Antigua, as everyone was so friendly. The locals smiled and said ‘hi’ in the street. Stevie and I enjoyed all of the parties, as there was always a quiet corner at where we could ‘relax’ and hang out with some local old guys – mon!! There were plenty of nice beaches, and in a way the place reminded me of Bermuda, with its nicely pastel coloured houses. Many of which were converted to the shops in the village – all very quaint!!

Very proud of our new sun shades for the boat!

After xmas Stevie and I decided to move on to St Martin, as we really needed to get some new batteries so that we could live at anchor again, as our crew members were leaving us soon. Stevie had a bit of a crap time trying to check out.  Iona had found a new boat, so her new skipper had to be there so Stevie could sign her off and onto the other boat. James had rented an apartment, but Antigua require someone who is staying (leaving a boat) to prove their accommodation, prove a flight home (which he didn’t have as he wasn’t sure when he was leaving), and prove 100 US dollars in the bank per day to live on (who can eat and drink that much every day??).  Unfortunately for James, they would not sign him off the boat, so he had to come to St Martin with us, and purchase a return flight from there – what a joke!! 

We agreed to give a Swedish guy, Goodstuff (as he pronounced his name?? real name Gustaf), a lift to St Martin. It was great for me. I made the dinner for all 4 of us, and then I was told I did not need to do a night watch, as the 3 men would do it as I cooked. Excellent – a night off – thanks captain!!

We were in St Martin for New Year, and decided to travel by dingy to the Dutch side for the celebrations. We found a beach bar that had a bonfire and some fireworks. It was ok, but not the same as home – I really missed Scotland and all of my friends – boo hoo xx

A 'passer by' in the street in St Martin

We got our new batteries, and Stevie was very happy to get his new Tohatsu 9.8 engine that he has been wanting for months. I admit it has turned our beautiful snow white (the dingy) into a smoothly planing limousine!!

St Martin has an inland lagoon, which stretches from the French side to the Dutch side. The lagoon contains many trashed boats from a hurricane some years ago. I called it ‘the graveyard anchorage’. Some of the boats had no masts, or rigging etc, but people still lived on them. It was as if they were cruisers who had had their boat trashed in the hurricane, maybe didn’t have enough money to repair them, and decided to just live there permanently. Some of these boats had extensions built onto them of floating oil drums, with wooden huts built on top. Quite a sight!! The rest of St Martin just felt like the med. 

One of the many 'trashed' boats in the lagoon

After walking several hours, the long way around the runway at St Martin airport, we finally found the famous bar where the planes land very close overhead. It was quite scary as they were so near; it felt like you could almost touch them. There were warning signs that the close planes may cause death, but no-one cared!! Fab view!!

Enjoying an ice cream on our long walk to find the runway bar

Stevie being polite as always!

Was difficult to get a good photo of how close the planes were due to the delay on my stupid camera

After around 2 weeks in St Martin waiting for the right winds, we returned to Antigua. This time we checked in at Jolly Harbour as it is much cheaper than Falmouth or English harbour (no park fees etc). Jolly harbour is quite nice to see, as there are lots of villas with their own private boat docks all along the harbour side. Although it is called Jolly harbour, there is no atmosphere in the place, and we quickly moved onto English Harbour (next to Falmouth where we had been before).

Jolly Harbour

The anchorage in English harbour is by far the worst we have visited with regards to being overcrowded, and the current and wind pushing the boats in all sorts of unpredictable directions. We had a few sleepless nights, but really enjoyed our time here otherwise. We ended up spending nearly 5 weeks there – the longest we have ever been in one anchorage. The thing with the anchorage being so packed is that very quickly you get to know your neighbours. We had a lovely English couple, Karen and Nigel, who were next to us on a Sigma 38 yacht- Persephone. They  had participated in the racing division of the ARC and did the crossing faster than many larger boats. We climbed up to Shirley Heights with them one day, and had a few beers, as you do! We also went on a few coastal cliff walks in the area. There was a quiet beach with no houses on it, which became our regular Sunday BBQ and bonfire. There were around 7 yachts in the far side of the anchorage that remained there permanently. Many of these yachties became good friends, and we enjoyed their company at the BBQ. There was also a cruisers dinner at the local ‘hot spot’ cafĂ©, where we also had a good catch up with the other cruisers. And not to forget, the friendly turtle in the anchorage (I first thought his brown head was a poo floating by!!)

The view from Shirley Heights - Our wee boat is somewhere in the first anchorage that you can see

Us with Karen

Live music at Shirley Heights
Our Sunday BBQ - with my good friend Lilly in the brown dress

Nigel & Karen (our neighbours) at the BBQ
Our good buddies Dana & Joe
Everyones transport home from the BBQ - We loved Sundays!!
Stevies almost step sister was coming to Antigua to get married. We decided to move our boat back round to Falmouth harbour, quickly visit the supermarket there, and then go on to Nonsuch Bay (close to where the wedding was). Our ‘quick’ visit to the supermarket ended up being quite a nightmare, as when we dropped the anchor, and the boat moved backwards, the dingy rope tangled around the propeller, and cut off our engine. Oops – our silliest disaster yet!! Also, we forgot that the holding wasn’t so great in Falmouth Harbour, and to add salt to the wound, we dragged back quite a distance, and became ‘a little too close for comfort’ with another yacht. Next the chain started to slip through the windlass – making us even closer. I quickly tightened the clutch, and luckily the boat stopped moving backwards, as the anchor finally dug in. We had to apologise to the boat behind us, explained that we had stupidly got the painter wrapped around the prop, and promised we would move to a better spot when we fixed our errors!!  We both jumped into the water, and attempted to free the rope. It was wrapped around the rudder too, and after several attempts realised that we could not manage. Luckily the really nice and understanding man (Ian) on the yacht behind us had diving equipment, and quickly came to our rescue. We thanked him kindly. He and his wife (Mary) and their 2 children had just arrived from crossing the Atlantic, so we cooked them a nice dinner as a big thanks!! We rarely tow the dinghy and had only towed it as it was such a short distance, Steven had forgot to tighten up the painter(the rope that attaches the dinghy to the yacht) before reversing –ooopppsssss.
Maltese Falcon in Falmouth Harbour

The following day we set off to Nonsuch Bay, and sought out the wedding party at the Grand Pineapple Resort. Talk about tight security – we were closely followed around the resort by the security guards until we found Kimberly (the bride) and Ashley (the groom). We made arrangements for the wedding day, and agreed to see them then.  We had a day pass for the wedding, allowing us entry at 10am until 2am. Including all we could eat and drink. The day was great, although I must admit I did slightly abuse the ‘all you can drink’ aspect (as you do)!! We arranged with the wedding party (of 8) to take them out for a day sail. Unfortunately 3 of our guests turned a little green even though they had taken sea sickness tablets. 
Mr & Mrs Kimberly & Ashley

Shortly after the wedding, we made our way back to Jolly harbour, where our friends from home (Chris & Steve) were. It was, once again, great to see their friendly faces, and catch up on their stories. Unfortunately, this is probably the last time we will see them, as they are heading north, to return home by August. I will really miss you both – and thanks for all of your sailing wisdom and tips (including advise on how to live aboard with a man!!)xx

We loved our time in Antigua, with lots of friendly people whom I shall always remember. If we ever return to the Caribbean, no doubt Antigua will be first on the list. We have seen a few Islands since Antigua, but I will talk about them shortly on my next blog entry. At present we are in St Lucia, and won’t be drifting too far until Stevie finally gets his new passport!! I appear to still be gaining weight – I wonder why that could be?? Missing you all millions, lots of love Nicola xxx
The captain hard at work!


  1. missing you both luv mum

    1. loved reading it all love liz x


Thanks for your interest!

Nic n Steve.