Back in Jolly Harbour

14th May 2018

After Antigua Classics, we hauled our way back to Jolly Harbour where we have spent the last few weeks getting ready for our pending voyage to Bermuda.

Lady Jane is now sporting a somewhat attractive stainless steel pole on her stern, on top of which sits a SilentWind wind generator to top up the batteries on a cloudy day. The dinghy has a new and more powerful outboard so that we can get to the shops in 10 minutes rather than 40. And we have serviced everything that needed servicing, and have cleaned the boat and scrubbed the hull. The hull scrubbing, by the way, took four hours as it had taken on the appearance of a polar bear’s fur thanks to the nutrient-rich waters of Jolly Harbour.

David and Brendan fitting the new pole


It hasn’t all been work and no play of course. In-between bouts of hard graft and maintenance, we have had the chance to catch up with old friends from the Cornell Rally, and have met some new ones from the Ocean Cruising Club, and the Salty Dawg Rally with whom we will be heading north.

Anchored back at Mosquito Cove, this time behind rather than to the side of nudey bloke, we took our dinghy over to Akouavi to see Chris and Linda, who had flown over to see Chris before race week and then his eastbound crossing of the Atlantic. It was great to catch up with them and to follow up later with dinner at the Greek restaurant in the marina complex.

Antigua Race Week

Chris was racing on someone else’s boat during Antigua Race Week. And as Julian and Patricia, our Cornell Sailing buddies, also planned to be in Falmouth Harbour at that time, we took our now-high-speed dinghy to the marina dock and caught the number 20 bus to St John’s, and another from St Johns to Falmouth. Bus rather than the boat, we figured, was a better proposition than battling the headwinds and the racing fleet.

Antigua Yacht Club is the race HQ for both the Classic and Race weeks, so that’s where we headed. And when we arrived, we were thrilled to find a Fever Tree popup bar selling a selection of excellent soft drinks complete with alcoholic mixers at a bargain price (they didn’t hold back on the spirits). And they gave us each a free hat emblazoned with the Fever Tree logo in a rather fetching shade of pink.

Halfway through my somewhat feminine-looking pink gin, Julian and Patricia arrived. Now with four people in the group, this fell into the category of a party. Chris and his fellow crew also turned up, pleased as rum punch for winning their race. So, we ordered more drinks and hats and had an excellent catch up for a few hours before staggering back on the bus.

Julian and Patricia are also heading to the Chesapeake in the US, but unlike us are taking the direct route. But we are planning to do the Ocean Cruising Club rally in the Chesapeake in June, and we are looking forward to that. They are making superb progress according to the last email we received from them. 

We met Chris back at Jolly Harbour to say a final au-revoir when he came to deliver the race boat back to its mooring with Robbie. They sailed through the anchorage and into the harbour with just their mainsail – an impressive sight.

Shirley Heights

We met Jack and Marge on Ariana, another boat that is part of the Salty Dawg Rally, for drinks one night at the Crows Nest Bar. Jack has done the voyage between the Caribbean and the US several times – mostly via Bermuda – and this was good to hear. Some people we have previously spoken with have suggested that going to Bermuda on the way up is the wrong way. According to people who have done it and according to the weather routers, however, this view doesn’t hold water.

“We can get a taxi to Shirley Heights for $25 per person,” Marge announced. So, on the 6th May, we regrouped and hopped onboard ‘JR Taxi Nice and Easy’ on our way to join the party action.

Shirley Heights is an old lookout post, and signal station, used during Nelson’s time and beyond, offering expansive views of English and Falmouth harbours and therefore early warning of any marauders. Now, the only marauders are sailors and holidaymakers who come up here not just for the view, but also to enjoy the sound of the steel orchestra and drinks from the bars.

The views from here are stunning; it’s possible to see for miles. And the steel band is something else, truly excellent – we even bought a CD. Later in the evening, another group (this one with a singer, but just as good) takes over entertainment duties and takes the party through to closing. We left at 2030, but that was probably long enough to avoid entirely embarrassing ourselves especially after Maria’s maraca purchase.

Getting Ready for Bermuda

We are now parked in Antigua Yacht Club Marina, making our final preparations to leave. There’s plenty of space now that the race fleet has gone. So we have managed to grab an alongside berth to make things easy to stash items away. The dinghy is rolled up and lashed to the deck, and we have secured the outboards. The water tanks are full, and we have enough diesel to motor for 640 miles if we need to but hope we don’t.

Our fellow Salty Dawgers, a small but select bunch of folks, are here. And being a cash-conscious Northern lad, I am thrilled to have received a set of pilot books and charts from them covering the Chesapeake and New England areas. The Salty Dawg rally fee of $150 (for members of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association) is excellent value as it also includes the services of Chris Parker, a well-known weather router, who has briefed us that all is good to go on 15th May. That being the case, we should be in St Georges by the 22nd May.

Last night was our departure dinner, where we also met the newly arrived Salty Dawg crew on other boats. Today we are stocking up with fresh food and clearing out of Antigua. And tomorrow we will be casting off and heading up north.

I will attempt to keep the blog updated, but if I can’t, our tracking page will reveal where we are.