Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Jolly Harbour and Rendezvous Bay

Mondango leaving Antigua.  A mere 170 feet.
We left English Harbour in light winds, sailing west passed the Pillars of Hercules - column-like rock formations on the cliff face - with the wind behind us.

The white sands of Rendezvous Bay glistened in the sunshine and Montserrat and Redonda were clearly visible on the horizon; it was a good day for heading through the Goat's Head Passage, a narrow channel between the shore and a reef off the island's south west coast, instead of taking the detour in deeper water around Cades Reef.

Shallow water sailing
It was Limbo's first taste of reef sailing; polarised sunglasses made the colours of the water more obvious as we kept clear of the aqua-marine shallows, disconcertingly close to port, and stayed in the deeper coloured (and, umm, deeper depthed..) blue of the channel.  The wind was dead aft at this point, without much sea-room to sail at a more comfortable angle with less risk of gybing, but we were soon through the passage and round the southwest corner of the island, very close to the coast, where we headed up more comfortably into the wind.

Gliding towards Jolly Harbour
The water here is incredible.  It changes from the deeper blue of the ocean to a chalky, vivid almost jelly-like light blue; hard to describe except with a photo.  We had a fantastic time sailing close hauled up the coast, through this beautiful water, sheltered by the land, watching a squall hit the sea on the horizon.  It was a shame to arrive at Jolly Harbour; we took the sails down at the last possible moment and headed in to anchor outside the harbour, where it is all very shallow.

Tropical squall.
It was always fascinating to see who was already moored at any new harbour.  Here, it was Bella - a Hallberg Rassey 352, crewed by Ulrike and Matthias from Germany.  We hadn't seen them since Madeira; cue a wonderful impromptu evening on board (my birthday!) catching up with our stories and plans.  The next morning, slightly hungover, we were more than pleased to see Matthias heading towards us in the dinghy with a delivery of bread and fresh croissants...

Jolly Harbour itself, entered through a narrow cut into what used to be swamp (rather like Rodney Bay marina in Saint Lucia), is a rather overdeveloped marina surrounded by identikit waterfront properties, many with their own dock.  Built in 1992, it felt slightly run down and in need of investment.  But it had an unusually good supermarket (complete with some Waitrose Essentials products - we've no idea how they ended up there!), and the anchorage itself was pleasant and sheltered, if sometimes rolly, off a reasonable beach; and, of course,  surrounded by that blue...  There were pelicans too.

Under our excellent awning - made to our specification by Island Canvas, IoW.
Our plans still weren't clear. I checked on laying-up prices in the marina, but half-heartedly.  Bella was soon sailing back - why weren't we?  We felt lethargic and under the weather, and far from primed for action.  We had another evening with Ulrika and Matthias, at the marina bar for happy hour, joined by the crew of a steel live-aboard called Tranquilo.  We practised our German.

The long dinghy ride back to Limbo was starlit, but the atmosphere was rather spoilt by another sighting of our large resident cockroach.  I caught him (or her) crawling over a sandal in the cabin and managed to flick it overboard.  We hoped this wasn't one of many (we never saw another, fortunately - once acquired, they are hard to get rid of!).

We continued up the coast in the morning, with our shortest ever trip, to Hermitage Bay - just over half a mile round the point, but even less than that as the crow (or pelican) flies.  The trip had its interest though, as we passed through the Five Islands channel, using an island off the headland as a transit and passing close to a prominent rock (seen in the third photo above).  It was a quiet anchorage with just a couple of other boats (including Jambalaya, a lovely Caribbean-built charter schooner), and right off an upmarket beach hotel. The advantage of this was unsecured wifi; I picked up an email from a broker explaining that they weren't interested in selling boats worth less than US 40,000 or so.  It was not encouraging.

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