Sunday, May 5, 2013

English Harbor - Antigua: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The forecast was for 5 to 10 from the South. We got 0 to 3 from the Northeast. Most of what we saw was because we had to motor the entire distance from Guadeloupe to Antigua. One of the annoying things about Bas du Fort marina in Guadeloupe is that it is 20 nm around the bottom of the island and up into the center of the butterfly. The canal that takes you north has been closed for a year, so you just have to suck up the extra time and distance.

We arrived at English Harbor in the early afternoon. We selected Nelson's Dockyard from the marina listings in our (free) Superyacht Services Guide. On the way in the cockpit chart plotter decided it did not want to display the detailed map of the harbor so there was a bit of up and down. Once in we did find channel buoys. My little hand held radio has also decided to give up the ghost so it was up and down from the radio to the helm.

The Good:
Nelson's Dockyard is a historical park. It is where 1st Viscount Admiral Lord Nelson commanded early in his career. It is beautiful. Many of the buildings are still here and there are lots of interpretive signs. We hope to do more exploring today. It also does have a contingent of services - I will try to get the refrigerator fixed before we leave. Last night there was a retreat (in the military sense) of the Antigua Police and band. It was fun.

The Bad:
1) For a marina "highly rated" in the  Superyacht Services Guide the actual dock facilities are terrible. The setup is Med mooring with no (or only a few) anchor buoys. So one has to back in, drop anchor, and then continue to back into the dock. This was a first time evolution for me. Andy was trying to help but the language differences were a problem. Since there were no buoys we had to go stern to instead of bow in. This is a real problem. The monitor wind vane sticks out on the stern. We have no boarding plank. Eventually, with the help of the boat next to us and the assistant dock master we did get settled in. Our neighbors suggested we share the anchor buoy they were using and we immediately agreed with thanks. They were quite nice as part of the settling in process was for them to relocate the stern of their boat. I think I will purchase a couple of big ball fenders on Monday. It will make me feel much more comfortable.
2) I was hoping to buy parts for the broken (new) head in the bow. There is a Budget Marine on the island but it is a 40 minute drive. I need a Budget Marine so I can beg them to replace the toilet as defective.

The Ugly:
1) Checking in was quite easy - at least for people and Reboot. The entire process took about 15 minutes and cost 26 USD. But for the first time since Mexico we had to check XO in. This required a visit from the Government vet. We sat for over an hour waiting for him to drive over and check XO's papers. The cost was 50 USD. Like Mexico he never actually saw XO - just checked the health certificate and rabies certificate.
2) Last week was Antigua race week. I think it might have been better that we missed it - I don't know what the marina availability would have been like. Having experienced Key West race week I know that if you are not a racer it really doesn't matter - everything is just a lot more crowded. Yesterday (our arrival date) were the  "dock days" festival at Nelson's. There were lots of food booths and local crafts. Not so bad. But why does every festival require a stage with 8 gagillion gigawatts of sound system to blare mediocre music and stupid DJ's long into the night? After 22 hours on the water, waiting for the vet, and so forth a little peace and quiet would have been nice. Fortunately the music stopped at 9 PM - I guess the crowd of 10 year old girls needed to go home for curfew.

Fair winds and following seas.

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