After leaving our friends behind in Guadeloupe we headed for Antigua. We’d had a tip that Freemans Bay was the place to be, and since we’d been having so much fun, we hadn’t had time to do any research so we popped a waypoint in the chart plotter and set off early.
We got to the bay to find a relatively small anchorage, crammed. We scanned the guidebook only to find out the bottom could be a bit problematic. Oh well hasn’t bothered us before.
We circled like a bird of prey trying to find our perfect spot, which of course didn’t exist so we looked for the next best thing, any spot. We agreed on a place and dropped the anchor… only to drag… twice. We tried another space and hooked – hurrah – then spent ten minutes umming and arrrring about whether we were too close to a little cat.
Upped anchor, circled again looking for another spot. A nice man came on deck and told us every boat who anchored next to him dragged so to go the other side of the bay, waving his finger in some vague direction. Thanks, like we hadn’t heard that one before!
The other spots looked too shallow, too close to the rocks, you know the score.
So now we’d lost all hope and all confidence. I did what I could and read the book again to find there were two anchorages the other side of the marina so Simon headed in past the super yachts. Yep these anchorages were tiny too and full so we swung around and headed out.
Of course by now we were hot, grumpy and barely on speaking terms.
Next thing we know some bright spark is motoring right up behind us so we start giving it dirty looks too, that is until we hear ‘You took your time!’. We were delighted to see the boat behind was Annecam with Cam at the helm. That cheered us up!
Anyway we agreed to meet up back in Freemans Bay. Looked like we’d be trying that anchorage again then.
So we’re mooching around and a Aussie guy comes rowing out to ‘help’, oh and to see if we had a spare flag. With his ‘help’ we anchored back on top of the little cat again.
Once he gave us some space we anchored again slightly to the left and made do. We definitely snagged, hard but who knows if we’ll ever get out. It seems that there’s all kind of junk at the bottom of the anchorage including hurricane chains and ‘200-year-old artifacts’, and one in two people have to pay a diver to come out and release them.
Anyway the following hours were spent ‘licking our wounds’ and watching as others tried to anchor. Some took the spots we’d rejected, or out in the channel, while others dragged, and dragged, and dragged. So that made us feel better 😉
Later Cam took pity on our lack of an outboard and came by on the dingy to take us out for dinner. We caught a flying fish in the dinghy and so we ate that. Only joking but we did have some yummy locally caught Mahi Mahi and way too much rum punch. We had a great time with him and his favourite crew member, Sarah, who was still onboard from the crossing. Unfortunately we missed Anne.
The next day Simon fixed the outboard! Yep he chipped out the old rusty bit of metal, filed a nail down to size, put the whole thing back together and bingo! It worked! I’m secretly very impressed.
So we headed in to clear customs. Then we went by the bakery and had some lovely savoury pastries before wandering around the museum. It seems to me that they have way too many artifacts in the bottom of the anchorage and could do with one or two more in the museum. Just saying.
In the late afternoon we climbed Shirley Heights. The treck is a bit challenging but the view is sublime.
There’s also a bar at the top which we’ve heard is heaving on a Sunday night but on a Thursday night is deserted. We had a few well-deserved beers before heading back down. If we thought coming up was hard it was nothing compared to going back down after a couple of beers. Got to watch out for those roots!
Anyway we made it back to the beach for sunset. The bar was closed, tried the Italian restaurant which was deserted too and then settled for pasta a la Helene onboard Interlude.
So we were all keen to know if we were permanently snagged in English harbour. Nope the anchor just popped up a treat so we headed out to Jolly harbour feeling pretty jolly!
It didn’t take us long to get there and I can see why it’s called Jolly. What’s not to be Jolly about with views like this?
It’s a great marina with a chandlery and supermarket nearby which even stocks fruit squashes and a few Waitrose products. Score! So that took up the rest of the day.
That evening we were just on the way out when, like often happens, I said ‘Oh there’s a boat coming in let’s see if we can help’. That boat was Annecam and so we didn’t make it any further. More rum punch!
The next day we headed out to the beach and Castaways for a full English to recover. It’s a lovely place.
It was a bit cloudy and rainy on and off so we used the rest of the day for boat projects and planning. We headed out to a place that was doing ‘all you can eat pizza’. After a few hours waiting around and watching no-one eat pizza we gave up.
St Johns harbour
So we’d been trying to plan our next moves. The weather’s looking a bit dodgy in a few days time so we want to make it to St Maarten to hide from that. Our friends on Annecam decided to stay behind as travelling on Friday the 13th was a bit to scary for them.
Anyway first things first, we thought we’d get out of the marina and try one of the bays. Deep Bay has a wreck that you can snorkel so we thought we’d try that.
It was a bit rolly when we came out of the harbour, but we continued up the coast where it was still rolly. When we got to the bay it was rolly and the waves were breaking over the mast of the wreck and onto the beach. The guidebook also said that a boat had been wrecked here in a northerly swell.
Humm what was the swell doing? Well had I checked I probably would have known it was a northerly swell. Apparently I should check the surf reports as well as the weather. Yes even if I plan to snorkle. In trouble with the Capitano again.
Anyway we bypassed that one and headed North – after all we were prepared to test our luck on Friday the 13th.
The next bay was St Johns and you can anchor inside the inlet. We did a reccy and found there was no-one anchored off the two bays and no-one anchored in the town anchorage but at least there was less swell.
As we were circling around we saw that a cat had anchored off one of the bays and decided to join him – safety in numbers. It’s a very shallow, muddy bottom but our anchor set and we were glad to be settled. Eventually we were joined by a couple of other boats in what turned to be a fairly pleasant bay where we spent a pleasant evening.