Published: May 24th 2012May 24th 2012
Sunset from Barbuda
One of many sunset shots taken while anchored at Cocoa Point, Barbuda
So, where have we been since our last blog entry? We left Jolly Harbour, Antigua on Sunday, May 13th
(Mother’s Day) at 7:30AM and put our anchor down at Cocoa Point, Barbuda at 1:45PM – what a lovely sail it was! Yes, I know you may not believe it, but not all sails are lovely depending on the direction of the wind, the direction and size of the waves or the number of squalls you might encounter. Luckily this trip was a great one – we did see one squall coming so prepared for it, but luckily we only got some extra wind and a few rain drops as we skirted the edge of the squall.
Barbuda is a very flat island with its highest point 125 feet above sea level, therefore difficult to see until you are 5-6 nautical miles from it. This island has several reefs around and without significant land features it’s difficult to determine your position by eye. Therefore you have to depend on the chart plotter and GPS. We also planned our arrival so we would be able to see the reefs from the deck, with the sun high in the sky it easier to
These fishermen were spearfishing the day before, today they are trying their luck with a net.
see the depths of water. The problem with that is in most cases you can only spot those 100 yards off which means moving at very slow speeds picking your way through the coral heads. Once we got our bearings we headed to Cocoa Point, we had heard that it was a great place to anchor. Upon reaching it all you could think of was those post card photos of the deserted white sand beaches with palm trees swaying. As we approach the anchorage we saw quite a few large turtles coming up for air, a very good sign! The Cocoa Point Resort is located here, but it is closed up tight, off-season. . If interested you should check them out at www.cocopoint.com
. The least expensive is $1,200 US per night for a double and the most expensive is $1,900 US. Just think, we were getting their same view for free! We weren’t completely alone, there was another boat anchored nearby, but we kept our distance and gave each other space. That is what everyone comes out here for, isn’t it?! The next day we went to shore to do some exploring and while there found a few coconuts
Postcard or Reality?
Just one small portion of the beach in front of Cocoa Point Resort which is closed this time of year.
on the ground. Good friends of ours, Madeline & Skip, had told us they picked up several coconuts and Madeline had given Janice several ideas of what to do with them, so we had to try our hand. Bob really got into it as he didn’t take our machete to shore so he had to improvise. With persistence, Bob found a sharp stick that he was able to use as a tool to help crack open the outer fibrous shell in order to expose the inner coconut. We stopped with 3 coconuts figuring we needed to experiment with these before getting more. On the way back to the boat we did swing by to visit the people on the other boat anchored here – a nice couple that sailed to the Caribbean from England figuring on staying for a year, and 10 years later they are still here. We talked for quite a bit of time and they gave us several ideas of places to visit while in Europe. They pulled up anchor the next morning so we had the anchorage to ourselves, but only for a short time as we were soon surrounded by 4 charter boats!! Now, that
Tsamaya at anchor
Yes, that is Tsamaya anchored out at this idyllic location – isn’t this one of those post card photos you typically see – it really does exist!
doesn’t sound like a lot especially when we have been in very crowded anchorage, but this was supposed to be the chance to be at a semi-deserted island by ourselves (there are only 2000 people living here & all week we have only see 3 people on shore). Well, guess the word has gotten out that Barbuda is definitely worth the trip over from Antigua. One thing we did notice was that there was no attempt by any of the boats to visit each other (i.e. – no sundowner get together) and everyone seemed to respect each other’s “space”. It was as if everyone was here for the same reason, to enjoy the quiet beauty of this incredible island Surprisingly even with the 5 boats here at the same time, the beach is long enough that we all were able to have our own part of the beach to ourselves. One good thing about charters is they never stay very long, a lot to see and only one week to do it.
The color of the water is that beautiful turquoise that we had first seen in the Bahamas, the beaches are as white as can be (with a
Sailor was attentive
When the fish are swarming the terns came in as well – both sounds got Sailor’s attention!
little pink tint) and the wind has been blowing constantly so our power level has been up to 100% most of the time even with charging computers, and running the freezer and refrigerator.
So, what have we been doing with ourselves for the week? We have been trying to work off that “horrid” list of things to do. We have taken time to relax, read for pleasure, snorkel, walk the beach, and yes, harvest coconuts! At last count we now have 10 coconuts on board. Some of the time therefore has been taken up with cracking the coconut, peeling them, grating the coconut to dry and making coconut milk. Then of course the next step is to make some dishes with this new found wealth –we have had fish curry, mango coconut coffeecake, coconut sprinkled in our cereal, carrot coconut muffins and even some on our pancakes. Bread making is also part of the routine here as you can’t run out to the store to buy any. There is a town on the west side of the island, but decided to not even to go that far afield from this great spot in paradise.
At night we have
Bob using a stick he found on the beach to pry open the outer shell to reveal the inner coconut. It was definitely harder than it looks to do.
been hearing and seeing quite a few needle fish around the boat. Sailor has heard them too so in the evenings she has been very attentive to the noises around her home. The sounds of the numerous sea birds have also caught her attention in this anchorage. Luckily she is still only in the watching stage. Bob tells me that I shouldn’t worry as Sailor just sits out back and is watching “Sailor TV” when she keeps a very close eye on both the birds and fish.
The last few days we have been seeing fishing boats on the reef close by. The first day they were spearfishing but today they came back with a 40 yard net and used that quite a few times. We hate to see the net fishing as they catch everything in its path. It was obvious when snorkeling on this reef that there are not many large fish left here, but fortunately there are still quite a few small ones. The hurricanes definitely cause damage to the coral, but the condition of the fan coral is one of the best we have seen which is a pleasant surprise. We continued to spot many
The beach appears to go on forever and this isn’t even the longest one here.
large yellowish shelled turtles, but they are camera shy. While walking the beach we did see a couple of trails indicating the females use this beach for laying eggs. Fortunately we recognized the tracks from our experience turtle watching in Trinidad.
We had planned to leave Barbuda on Saturday, May 18th
, but checking the weather it appeared that it might be a little better on Sunday or Monday. It was an easy decision to stay an extra few days in this idyllic area, far away from the hectic lifestyle of the “big cities”. As a matter of fact, while here we have gotten away from the pressure of “lists” so much that we realized that one of the main things Bob wanted to get done while here was to clean the barnacles from the bottom of the boat - he never got to it, so an extra couple of days will give time for this in a very peaceful setting. If you have to do a nasty job like this, you might as well have a nice place to do it in!
Today is now Sunday and we have had another couple of days to enjoy this small
That isn’t a leaf in the center of the photo – it is a gorgeous butterfly that has orange wings when opened – unfortunately couldn’t catch that in a photo. What great camouflage.
corner of the world. We spent time Saturday with the sewing machine out and made new insect screens for our hatches. It has been on our list for quite some time. With both of us working on them that didn’t take very long and they turned out well if I do say so myself (yes Bob can sew and does a great job). Sunday we took a 4 hour hike on shore to the windward side of the island. Much of the landscape reminded us of Botswana, everything from the “roads” to the vegetation, until you got to the shore. The windward side is wild and rugged surrounded by reefs and pounding surf. The contrast of the two beaches – windward and leeward is quite striking. The sand on the leeward side is very fine, empty except for your footprints with gentle waves along the shore. In contrast the windward has crashing waves, more cliffs, coarser sand and lots of debris brought in from the sea.
The island has numerous donkeys and horses roaming free. On the walk today we saw many donkeys that are quite shy, but yet inquisitive enough to watch us walk past. The only natural
Freshly Grated Coconut
Just a small amount of the grated coconut we made from only one of the 10 that we have collected.
resource that Barbuda exports is sand. After removing the sand from pockets throughout the island, rainwater filters through the coral which the island is made of and collects in these pockets. These create excellent waterholes for the many donkeys and horses that roam freely on the island Much of the area is lined with fences even though we did not see much in the way of buildings. We understand that the fences have been put in place to keep the animals out of roadways and away from homes. Land on Barbuda is not owned by individuals, it is held communally. This has been key for the Barbadan's to keep control over their own island. So far they have been doing quite a good job of keeping out 21st
century development with its McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. They have even been successful in controlling those that have wanted to build hotels on the coast. Barbuda and Antigua are part of the same country but they are worlds apart, not just by miles of sea, but in its outlook toward development. The islands are dramatically different in both topography and history. While Antigua was initially settled for the growing of sugarcane
Production LIne Set Up?
Now, Bob has quite the set up. He started off with the machete we brought to shore, but found that these cement blocks and a piece of metal seemed to be made for the job of removing the outer shell from the coconut.
and the production of rum. Barbuda which is approximately the same size was unsuitable for growing sugarcane due to its arid climate. The Codrington family did lease the island (cost 1 fat sheep per year) but solely for the purpose of raising cattle and setting it up as a hunting lodge. As a result the slaves that were brought to the island were not treated nearly as harshly and were given a significant amount of independence when the family was not on the island. This has resulted in a fierce independence of the people of this island and their communal outlook for its development. The island is governed by a council and over 80% of the people who live on the island work for the Council. There is little development on this island and the people like it that way.
In looking at the calendar it is now getting closer to the end of May so figure we need to move on. We have spent some time today changing Tsamaya from a home to a sailing vessel again. Everything has been stowed and we will leave at 4AM (yes, you read that right!) so we can arrive in St.
Resulting from mining
A fresh water area that we heard was created by the numerous holes that were dug when selling sand from the island. The numerous horses and donkeys on the island are known to use them for water.
Bart’s at a reasonable time during daylight. The plan is to stay in St. Bart’s for a few days before moving on to St. Martin to finish up a few things and then wait for our weather window to depart for the Azores.
We have mentioned many times this week how much we have enjoyed the extra time in order to come to Barbuda. Thanks again go out to Skip & Madeline for talking it up so much and reminding us that it is good to stop and enjoy the scenery and get away from those lists once in a while. We know we have only scratched the surface of this island, there is a large frigate bird rookery here, caves to explore and the village of Codrington to investigate – it is on our list for the next time we pass through this area.
Quick update – we did sail to St. Bart’s as planned. It was not the nicest we have ever had due to high following seas and very mixed high with short duration waves. A few things decided to break on the way (luckily everything was small items) and Bob fell and hit his
What a View
The K Club was a resort that went out of business – what a shame as these places had quite the view. Many of the buildings still have furniture in them, but as you can see the mangroves are starting to take over some of the beach area.
head – other than that we made it here by 2:45PM. Put the anchor down, checked into the country and then rested for the rest of the day (Bob trying to get rid of a very bad headache). We moved the next day into the Gustavia Harbor onto a mooring as the anchorage was quite rolly and the winds are still high. Here even if anchoring in the harbor you need to pay. For our size boat it was $11.50 US for anchoring, while it cost only $12 for the mooring. Definitely worth the 50 cents for a calm night’s sleep. Will fill you in on what we see here in the next blog. For now, want to give you some insight into what we have been doing since our last entry. Take care and as always we enjoy hearing from you.
There are more photos below