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Old 11-01-2018, 18:52   #1
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Antigua Visit & Recommendations

Hey all, I'll be wrapping up an offshore certification with a week's stay in Antigua late jan/early feb of this year. I'll have a 28' Contessa in English Harbor and was looking at sailing around the island (partially or all the way) over a 5-7 day stint.

I wanted to check in with you awesome individuals (and families o'course) about recommended resources, anchorages, general tips (should I sail CW or CCW for instance?).

Happy for 1st hand advice or to be directed at guides and what not.

Also - if you're in the area, have an extra inflatable dinghy or portabote I could borrow? Not sure the contessa has either.

Kindly,

Seth
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Old 12-01-2018, 15:03   #2
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Re: Antigua Visit & Recommendations

First thing I'd suggest is to invest in Chris Doyle's Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands Southern Edition. He covers Antigua thoroughly.

While your charter starts in Antigua, I highly recommend sailing to Guadeloupe as well. We haven't explored all there is in this area, but so far Deshaises is our favorite place.

Sorry, no help on the dinghy.

Cheers,
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Old 12-01-2018, 15:14   #3
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Hmm, off the top of your head do you know the avg. distance/time to Guadeloupe? I think the Contessa has a cruising speed of only 5 knots and that'll depend on wind/current too.

Will pick up the guide for sure.
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Old 12-01-2018, 16:02   #4
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Re: Antigua Visit & Recommendations

According to Chris Doyle, Falmouth Hbr/English Hbr to Deshaies is 42 miles just about due south. You've got a beam reach both ways in normal conditions.

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Old 12-01-2018, 17:04   #5
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Re: Antigua Visit & Recommendations

Excellent - I ordered the book and it should be here tomorrow.
Happy for personal takes on things to do as well.
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Old 13-01-2018, 01:01   #6
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Re: Antigua Visit & Recommendations

How far you travel depends upon your willingness to spend a long time underway and little time at rest; plus the weather always play a big role. With a 5 day itinerary it might be best to choose one large area and exploare that.

One option I'd recommend is going counter clockwise up the east coast and settling in to Green Island and Nonsuch Bay. It looks wide open but is in fact protected from the Atlantic waves by a big reef and there are numerous anchoring spots and also (free) mooring balls available. Green Island is uninhabited and has no shore-side activities but it wonderfully secluded and pretty. There are numerous places in Nonsuch Bay to go ashore with some resorts and restaurants but no place to provision within walking distance.
Another option is to head clockwise and with good conditions and a shallow draft you can head inside Cades Reef and then explore the area around Jolly Harbour, Five Islands and Deep Bay. There are lots of places ashore and Jolly Harbour has a big supermarket for provisioning.

A dinghy is essential.


Deep Bay


Green Island


Sailing to Deshaies is also a possibility, it is a fast and easy sail. Anchoring in Deshaies can be difficult with mediocre holding and I usually have to anchor in 40-50 since the inside and shallower spots are often taken. It is not unusual to get backwinded there in the afternoon (which causes some excitement and collisions at anchor) but that always reverts at sunset. The winds can howl there as well. Clearance is easy and there are two car rentals available there that let really explore the island - jungle trails, waterfalls, incredible beaches. But my real recommendation is to continue down the coast and explore Les Iles des Saintes. But that means a full day from Antigua to get there and another full day to return plus the leeward side of Guadeloupe is lightly backwinded during the day and you'd need to use the engine if you want to keep up any speed.


Deshaies Dock
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Old 13-01-2018, 04:47   #7
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Re: Antigua Visit & Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sethmrtn View Post
Hey all, I'll be wrapping up an offshore certification with a week's stay in Antigua late jan/early feb of this year. I'll have a 28' Contessa in English Harbor and was looking at sailing around the island (partially or all the way) over a 5-7 day stint.

I wanted to check in with you awesome individuals (and families o'course) about recommended resources, anchorages, general tips (should I sail CW or CCW for instance?).

Happy for 1st hand advice or to be directed at guides and what not.

Also - if you're in the area, have an extra inflatable dinghy or portabote I could borrow? Not sure the contessa has either.

Kindly,

Seth

Hi Seth:

5 to 7 days is perfect to sail around the island, weather permitting. Since you are starting in English, make sure you visit the museum, it is awesome. The old fort ruins are pretty impressive. If you are anchoring in Falmouth, you can get very close to the shore at Pigeon Beach, the water depth stays at 8' almost up to the shore line, but there is a roped off area for the swimmers to guide you anyway. There is usually live entertainment at Katharine's on the Beach each Saturday afternoon, and the steady parade of boats entering and departing the harbour is impressive.

Carlisle Bay is just down the way towards Cades reef, if conditions are good there, ie no north swell, you can anchor in very close to the resort and have free wifi. Cades reef is just around the corner for some great snorkelling, and running the inside of the reef which we do with our Stevens 47 is easily done, and keep your eyes out for the sea turtles from there right around to Jolly Harbour. Great provisioning in Jolly Harbour, and the dockmaster will allow you free docking for 1 hour to get your provisioning done, one of the best grocery stores at the docks, in the Caribbean.

Five Island Bay is just around the corner if you are anchoring out, and there is free wifi in front of the Hermitage Bay resort, which has awesome holding and great beaches.

Dickenson bay is just a few miles further, and there is a floating bar/snack bar, or go in to shore after dropping your hook and enjoy one of the best menus on the island at Anne's on the water.

Continuing around the island, there is great holding and free wifi at Jumby bay, or continue on to Green Island with it's awesome snorkeling, free mooring balls and there is also a trail to walk to the top of the island to view it's blow hole and have a look to see if you can see Africa....lol. It's wide open Atlantic ocean from there around the remainder of the island.

Antigua is fun, lively....and very historic. Take your time and enjoy it, you can always return and make runs to the other islands some other time.

gunk
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Old 13-01-2018, 05:06   #8
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Re: Antigua Visit & Recommendations

We spent 4 months in Antigua last season. Antigua was %100 spared from the hurricanes so everything is in immaculate shape. Here are a couple of the highlights.

1. Green Island - Great windsurfing, kiting and diving. Cool to be anchored in flat waters looking at the Atlantic over the reef. Stunning.
2. Mamora Bay - Anchor anywhere, or pay $1.25/ft to dock and have the run of the resort. Paddleboards, Hobbie Cats, Unlimited WIFI, Showers and best of all cheap drinks (for Antigua).
3. English Harbour - Home of the world famous Nelsons Dockyard. Its amazing to walk through the oldest operating boatyard in the Caribbean. Stunning scenery everywhere including the anchorage. Great Snorkling at the Pillars of Hurcules.
4. Falmouth Harbour - More of a "cruiser hangout" great place to watch the superyatchs (or dock walk). Never know who you will see there.
5. Carlisle Bay - A quiet bay with a big resort on the beach. It has nice snorkling at the mouth of the bay. The beach has great waves for "boogie boarding" (but can make anchoring rolly). There is a small river outlet in the East-North corner of the bay that leads to a SUPER cool mangrove area for great Kayaking. (free Internet from the resort)
6. Cades Reef - Its possible to anchor between the 2 reefs in calm weather. STUNNING snorkling on a very healthy reef. Its also very cool to be anchored in what seems to be the middle of the ocean. Easy fishing!
7. Deep Bay - IF the water is clear, it has a great wreck to snorkle (however its rarely clear). However, the bay is huge with good anchoring everywhere. Its called deep bay as it carries 6ft of depth to within a few meters of the beach. There is a great hike up to the old cannon instalment with great views of the island and St. John's. (free Internet from a resort with a booster)
8. Long Island - Nice snorkling, but the island is private and they are VERY SERIOUS about it. You cannot go ashore as they will escort you off. However, this anchorage puts you in dinghy distance of Pigeon Island (with a good dinghy). Pigeon is and amazing protected park with stunning reef. Giant Queen conch in 2ft of water.
9. Great Bird Island - Ever wanted to be on an uninhabited island with an empty anchorage. Yup this is it. Its a maintained park with hiking trails and picnic tables but no one around. Very cool.

Be very careful when navigating in the north past Great Bird Island. There are GPS anomolies in some areas and visual navigation is best (many say local knowledge only). In December of last year a catamaran didn't heed this advice and was a total loss. We just decided to never go past Great Bird and instead sailed around the south to get to the east.

Enjoy and have fun. Antigua is one of our favorite islands.
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Old 13-01-2018, 05:20   #9
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Re: Antigua Visit & Recommendations

I just remembered that I made a slideshow of images from Antigua and put it up on youtube



The slides are slanted towards images around English and Falmouth harbours and of the Antigua Sailing Week (where I volunteer each year). I draw over 8 feet and singlehand so haven't made it to Barbuda yet.
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