Thursday, February 28, 2013

Small and beautiful Nevis

With a couple of very windy days forecasted we decided we did not want to get stuck on Antigua and we needed to get going to Nevis.  We still had a breezy sail with between 25-30 knots but as this was from behind it was not too much of a challenge and the sun was shining as the seas slowly increased. The best part of the day was the volume of sea birds that came over to say hello, we have now established these were brown bobbies and masked bobbies – they are very large and inquisitive plus the large frigate birds which were now familiar with seeing – shame it is difficult to get a good photo with the boat sailing and the bird flying!

Yep Frigate bird in distance - they are impressive, really!
We passed Redonda, an uninhabited island off Antigua.

The sail to Nevis was around 40 miles and as were not able to see the island until we were 20 miles off the excitement grew and then she emerged from the clouds.

Looks a bit cloudy over there!
Volcano on Nevis looks quite impressive
Nevis is only 36sq miles and is dominated by a large dormant volcano and there is one main road which runs around the base.  Nevis and St Kitts are classed as a single nation in the British Commonwealth and the main language spoken is English which makes it such an easy island to visit.  The main anchorage on Nevis is along a beautiful sandy beach with the volcano towering over you, which looked much nice in the morning sunshine than the cloudy evening when we arrived!

Charlestown is the capital which was actually quite lively with the locals, especially first thing in the morning and over lunch when many seem to congregate.

Everytime you step ashore you are asked if you would like a taxi tour but we like to be independent so we hired a quad bike to whizz around the island for the day.  We first headed north and had a great view of St Kitts across the narrows.

St Kitts across the Narrows
Then onto the Nisbit plantation  - Fanny Nisbet was married to Horatio Nelson in 1787.  The plantation is now a hotel, there is the main wooden plantation house which is now the restaurant and then the grounds are full of individual bungalows, it is all very posh but they didn’t seem too worried about us having a nose around. 

The bar in the plantation house

The grounds
It all backs onto a lovely Atlantic facing windy beach.

Mark enjoying the windy beach
Next stop was the Golden Rock Plantation Inn, the buildings here were made from lava stone back in the 1800’s but now it is a funky hotel, again will small bungalows dotted around it tropical gardens.

Old lava stone building
From here we were able to walk out into the rain forest in search of the Green Velvet monkeys that inhabit the forest, unfortunately they were not to be found even after walking for hours but we  did enjoy the walk and these is a pretty good view point.

Cool view

Spot the monkey - shame he is ours and not the Green Velvet monkey

Amanda in the undergrowth

Mark being artistic!
By the time we returned to the hotel it was filling up with people having lunch – we were jealous but we did stop for a quick drink surrounded by the giant lizards.

Giant lizard sunning himself
Some of the funky decor in the bar of the Golden Rock
Next was our lunch stop at Windward beach, it was a bumpy ride down to the beach on the quad and it was windy! But just a quick stop to devour our picnic and back on the road.

Big rolling Atlantic wave

Hold on tight Mark is it going to be scary!

Next stop was the Hermitage which is another old plantation house and at over 260 years old is said to be the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean.  The manager of this location was so kind, she showed us round and explained the history and made us feel very welcome.  The individual wooden lodges where the guest were looked beautiful and would make a fantastic place to stay.

The interior of the main house

The outside of the old Plantation house
There was also a lovely little gift shop where Glynes and Robyn made you feel more than welcome and just wanted to here about what we were doing – very nice.

Next stop was yes another plantation house, Montpellier, this hosted the Nelson wedding and has supposedly been visited by the rich and famous including Princess Diana.

Beautiful gardens of Montpellier plantation house

Another love place to stay/visit
Short stop as had enough of the sun by this time and headed to the Lime beach bar to finish the day, mmmm rum punch and a beer or two!

The remainder of our time was spent relaxing on the boat with the occasional swim, ahhh lovely.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Antigua, Jolly Harbour

Onward from Falmouth was a gentle sail along the south coast and north on the westcoat of Antigua, the navigation was quite tricky as we had to navigate in behind a reef and then sail for miles within the reef and the mainland. The photo below just looks like the sea but where you see the wave breaking in the distance it is the reef.

Within the reef is does mean that the sea is lovely and flat and with 20 knots of wind this is a lovely see in seas which are the most stunning shades of blue and green, with 5 islands in the distance and jolly beach to our right – jolly beach is reputed to be one of the best beaches on Antigua.

Coming into anchor at Jolly beach

Jolly beach

Five islands outside Jolly harbour - look at that sea!
We spent a couple of days at anchor relaxing; we celebrated Amanda’s birthday by doing nothing! 

Magnum at anchor outside Jolly harbour

We then headed into the marina for a couple of days as we needed to do a few jobs on the boat and it as going to be useful to have electric and we would have needed to get water anyway.  As always in the marina we rushed around like made to get things done whilst the wildlife relaxed around us.

Igret just sat next to us
We were lucky enough to spend most of our second day on Jolly beach and yes people are right that it is beautiful the only slight issue for us was the sandy waters were so unclear you could not see your hand in front of your face so no snorkelling just a bit of the swim but seen most of the visitors are from the all inclusive resorts that line the shore they are only worried about whether they can still see there all inclusive cocktail whilst having a chat in the sea J

Jolly harbour was a friendly marina although is getting very run down, there was a large building which was once a casino and is no longer, not all of the retail outlets are occupied and it looks a bit tired but they were doing work to improve and with a new Atlantic rally ending there in a few years time I am sure they are going to be grateful of the huge revenue potential that will bring.

Leaving Jolly harbour

Falmouth Harbour

Before saying goodbye to this part of Antigua we had to sail into Falmouth harbour although we had walked from English to Falmouth we had not seen the harbour from the sea or been able to admire some of the boats that were moored there.

Falmouth harbour is where the English made landfall in the 1600’s and now it is a sea of masts.

Sailing into Falmouth harbour

One of the most impressive boats in the harbour is the Maltese Falcon which is a 289ft super yacht which has unique sails/mast design, the boat originally cost between $150 and $300 million although was sold in 2009 for £60,000.  It can now be chartered for around 400,000 euros a week!  The boat was of particular interest to Mark as Insensys the company he was working for prior to us leaving the UK, actually designed the sail system and the fibre optic monitoring system which monitors the rig.

Mark posing by the Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon
We also saw Leopard which is a super yacht from the Solent which we had seen in Tenerife  just before it raced across Atlantic and then since arriving at Les Saintes.

Leopard in Antigua
There is also the ridiculously large powerboat Ace, this would not seem that large and extravagant as we did see a lot of superyachts in the Med but what made this one special was it’s support vessel which was called Garcon and carried all of Aces toys – helicopter, speedboats, etc!

Garcon - with helicopter and speedboat on deck


Sunday, February 17, 2013

English Harbour, Antiqua

So with Dan and then Abbie safely on their way home, there was a mad wash and tidy before we could relax again.  It wasn't all hard work as Amanda had to get her hair done and so we treated the new hair to a night out, this was also an early birthday dinner for Amanda.  Paparazzi in the harbour had good food, really nice staff and was a reasonable price – can’t be bad.  We were also very impressed by lobster that the young guy who runs the water taxi had caught and sold onto a very jolly Canadian who was having it cooked for his dinner.

Wow what a lobster - 6lb 6ounces 

The next day we finally managed a walk from the bay we were anchored in to  Shirley Heights – part of the historic British fortifications that surround the harbour and also famous for it’s Sunday night steel bands which we had enjoyed from the boat.  Great walk along the coast, dramatic rocky coastline and dotted with rock gardens and cactus.

Cool rock formations

Mark in the cactus

Friggate bird - we kept seeing these, they are huge and very famous in this area 
Looking back towards English and Falmouth harbour

Mark getting blown away on the edge of the world!

Fab views of both English and Falmouth harbour from the top.

English harbour with Magnum at anchor

Us looking hot & sweaty after walk!

Willoughby bay

Shirley heights - Admirals house

We also had a fantastic dolphin encounter in English harbour, a family of 3 bottlenose dolphin where swimming in the harbour whilst we were in the dingy so we were very close to them and they were not bothered at all, other dingies where whizzing around oblivious to the dolphins but we had to stop and try to get them on video - can't publish at moment but will in future.