Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Antigua to Barbuda

This blog is sponsored by Caribbean Real Estate JHR Caribbean.
Our Barbuda camping trip started a little later than first planned and we were the last boat to leave Antigua on Saturday afternoon. My dad and his crew as well as his neighbor, Steve Mendes and his crew both left after lunch, but we didn’t set off out of Jolly Harbour until after 4 pm. On this trip I wanted to do a bit of a tour of Barbuda instead of camping all in one area as we have been doing for the past few years. My uncle Nick (Dr. Fuller) had arrived in Barbuda a few days earlier on his boat “Nicole” with Captain Derek Biel from the fishing boat “Obsession” as his crew. They were anchored up at the beautiful Spanish Point doing some fishing. Before we arrived Richard King and his wife anchored up there as well on “Kingdom”. We thought that Spanish Point would be a good starting place for our camping session so upon leaving Jolly Harbour I set the GPS chart plotter’s course for that point. As soon as we came around the point into Five Islands Harbour, I saw a huge cloud up in the North-East which wasn’t the best thing to see when you are making a crossing that late in the day. Anyway, we were going to make a go of it. I cruised up a little higher along the coast to try and get a good angle towards Spanish Point and we ended up cutting through the Boons barrier reef offshore Blue Waters Hotel. We were going meet head on with the squall in no time and the winds were already licking up the sea throwing angry spray at us as if meant to cause discomfort. Although the sea was getting very choppy, the winds hadn’t been around long enough to make it really rough. I knew with winds this strong it was sure to get rough pretty quickly so I pushed on as quickly as I could doing speeds around 25 knots on average. The rains stung when they arrived but Mykl and I already had our wind breakers on so it wasn’t as bad as I have felt many times on this trip years ago. For the entire trip across we were engulfed in squally conditions and eager to get into the peaceful protection of Spanish Point. It didn’t take that long and pretty soon we were coming down along the breakers into the channel and then behind the barrier reef which protects what the Barbudans call White Bay. As soon as we were anchored up I was ready for getting wet the proper way. I launched one of the Kayaks we had taken with us, and paddled out to the barrier reef with my mask and snorkel. IT was sunset and the fish were exceptionally excited which is usually the case during “the magic hour”. Being out there on the reef that late with all the action happening is as exciting as it is spooky. When I got back to the boat it was time for a shower and some tea. The sky had cleared up and the stars were starting to burst out into view like they can only do in the wilderness. People who don’t get far away from artificial lights never see the sky as the rest of us do on occasions like this. I always am quite awe struck to see this many stars, and find it quite relaxing which is the intended affect one looks for when out camping i guess. Dinner made on the grill seems to always taste so good, and that night it was marinated fresh chicken breast with grilled sweet peppers of various colours. We had snacked a bit too much before dinner and all we could handle was the peppers and chicken. Sleep came fast and intense that night, and I almost didn’t have time to enjoy the gentle sound of water lapping at the boat’s hull.
The next morning I was woken by the Devil!
“Devil”, pronounced “DebbeLL” is a close family friend and lifelong fisherman in Barbuda. His real name is Vernon Joseph and some other time I will have to write about this amazing man. He was taking my uncle and Derek out diving which is what he has been doing since they invented tanks. He scuba dives for fish, conch and lobster commercially by himself outside the barrier reefs in the Atlantic. Every PADI type rule is broken by him every day but there is probably not a better diver anywhere in these islands. He also is one of the fittest sixty something year olds that you will find. After saying “good morning” he and his new crew were off into and out of the channel towards the Atlantic bound for one of his secret dive spots. We had some b’fast and decided to make a move around the east coast towards a cut in the barrier that I know about.

All forecasts described nice calm weather which would mean a nice anchorage inside the reef on the windward side.

IT would be a perfect for beachcombing, fishing, snorkeling and exploring, and all looked like things would be perfect that morning. Once we arrived at the best spot for anchoring just off the beach I decided to set two anchors instead of just one.

After all, we planned on going for a long walk along the deserted beach and wanted to leave the boat safe by itself. Walks on these windward facing deserted beaches are always very enjoyable to me for a number of reasons. Obviously having a beach to oneself is great wherever you are, but the interesting things you see make for a great long walk.

In one of my blogs I wrote about all the flotsam and jetsam that we find here and although we saw loads of other stuff we didn’t manage to find any messages this time.

Garbage on the beach can be very interesting if you know or try to know how it got there.

After a good 90 minutes or so we decided to stop for some lunch which we had packed.

We sat on a huge log that had recently drifted up and it was then that we noticed a massive squall quickly approaching. Summer squalls are frequent in August and usually don’t last long. They approach quickly raising the winds up above 25 knots usually. Once the incredibly heavy rains have chased everyone off the beach the squall passes on leaving lovely sunshine and calm winds in its wake.

We decided to start walking back to the boat after seeing how massive this squall appeared to be. We were going to be in for a strong one and as the winds started to howl I began to worry about my camera….and more importantly the boat 90 minutes away.