K & K – Nelson’s Dockyard

 So, where were we? I believe we had just left Saba in the middle of June. Well, we had to be in Antigua by the 20th of June, as our friends, Katie and Kristen were flying in to hang out on the boat for a week. It is about 100 miles to Antigua, so we decided to split it up into a few short days sails. Our first being about 20 miles to Statia. We left Saba in the late morning and had a nice sail to Statia. We read that Statia is quite swelly and there is only one authorized anchoring zone, so we decided to pick up a mooring ball rather than deal with anchoring, especially because it was just for one night.

According to our cruising guide, we were supposed to be on the lookout for yellow mooring balls, a few of which have a blue stripe around them. There were supposed to be about 12 moorings close to the beach, and three moorings that are designed for larger boats further out. Sounded easy enough, but as you know, nothing is as easy as it seems. We got to the mooring field around 5 pm, about 2 hours before sunset. We scanned around, and saw a bunch of floating plastic jugs which typically mark the locals moorings but didn’t really see what we would expect to from the description in the guide book. Out came the binoculars and a double check of our position on the GPS – we were in the right place and there were a FEW moorings so this must be the mooring field, and yes, there was a yellow mooring with a blue ring around it – it was pretty far out from the beach, but it must be one of large boat moorings. So, we motor over to it, grabbed the line with our gaff and noticed that it had “Marine Reserve Park” written on it. Well, the Statia marine reserve did put these mooring down, so we must be in the right place. But man, we are really far away from shore. Well, we tied up, cleaned the boat, hung out for a while, started cooking dinner and poured ourselves a rum punch as we are about to relax and watch the sun go down.

Shirley Heights – The Hamptons of Antigua
“Large black ketch on the mooring ball, this is the marine reserve, please come back” blares the VHF. They must be calling us – we are after all, the only large black ketch on a mooring ball.” We answer their call, assuming they want their $10. Instead, this is how the conversation went:

“Joana, you are anchored in a non-authorized anchoring zone.”

Marine Park, we are on a mooring ball”

“Joana there is no mooring ball out there”

“Well, we are on a yellow mooring ball with a blue stripe that says Marine Reserve”

“Joana, that is only a marker designating the marine park outer boundary. You can not tie up to it.”

Kristen’s new hat
Opps. My only non-spoken question – why do they always wait to tell you that as the sun is going down and not the 2 hours before when you can see all the other boats? I know that they saw us come in and tie up there. Ummm. I guess a good lesson learned – don’t believe everything you read in your cruising guide and if something seems hookey, it probably is!

Anyway, we made it through that night, sailed to Nevis, stayed on a proper mooring ball for a night and then sailed to Antigua, anchoring in Falmouth Harbor. The following day Katie and Kristen (from here on out, known as K & K) flew in and made their way to the boat. The next two days we hung out, K & K went diving, we walked around English Harbor, Nelson’s Dockyard, took the local bus to St Johns to find a bank and some groceries. (Important note about ATMs in Antigua – I would say 90% of them only take Visa backed ATM cards. This was a problem for me, as my ATM card is only accepted at ATMs that have the MasterCard logo. Luckily, I had a few EC (Eastern Caribbean dollars $1US = 2.7 EC) on me so I could take the bus 30 minutes to St Johns to a Scotia Bank that took my card).

I’m not sure where we got our next suggestion for some nightlife from – K & K must not have gotten much of a tan yet and their clothes too clean – because someone suggested that we go up to Shirley Heights – a great view from the top of English Harbor, an outdoor bar with a steel band, cheap food and Carib beer, he claimed. We took a local van up to the top of the hill / small mountain and asked any of the local riders if they wanted to go with us. All we got was blank stares. Should have been clue #1.

Fancy resort

There was a small gate outside the entrance, and we had to pay $20EC each to enter. Should have been clue #2.

We walk inside a big, airy, wooden bar and notice the chalkboard that said “Carib Beer – $15 EC”. Should have been clue #3.

Free appetizers

We peer out the arched doorway to the outdoor patio and there it is…a Hampton’s party transported to Antigua. A sea of pasty-white people, dressed in floral sun dresses, floppy hats, khaki pants and polo shirts. A very cool 30-piece steel band jammed out reggae tunes and a nice local gent was making hats out of coconut palm frons, which Kristen could not refuse getting. Aside from being incredibly overpriced and touristy, it was a fun thing to do – the music was great and the views of Falmouth and English Harbors unbeatable. We stayed for about an hour or so and then made our way to a more local bar where the beers were in our price range. The next day we put K & K out in the sun with the lowest SPF we could without them looking like a lobster.

Jolly Harbor
Relaxing at the bar at Jolly Harbor
We decided to sail around the island for a change of scenery.  Our first stop was Deep Bay, a nice secluded anchorage on the west side of the island.  We had water sports day (snorkeling, paddle boarding and our favorite activity, sitting in our floaties with a bottle of wine!).  That evening, we dressed in our best “resort wear” and dignied over to a very fancy all-inclusive resort.  We eased our way to the bar, ordered a few glasses of wine and helped ourselves to the complementary appetizer bar, which comprised of such goodies as fillet mignon on baguettes, fresh tuna and savory pork.  I think we helped ourselves once to often, as our last glass of wine was put in “to go” glasses!  

Swanky Wine Bar
The following day, we motored about a mile south to Jolly Harbor.  It is a fairly new marina / condominium complex with some shops and restaurants.  We anchored just outside the marina entrance.  The yacht club has a nice outdoor bar area to relax and do internet.  There is also a great coffee / ice cream shop where they gave us free banana splits!  YUM!!  

The night before K & K left, we took a taxi  to the Redcliffe Quay in the city of  St Johns and found a great wine bar that served only wines from South Africa.  I thought I was back in New York City as we feasted on cheese platters and  olives and drank fancy wines!  It was a great way to end a fantastic week with Katie and Kristen!