Saturday, March 8, 2014

Nelson’s Dockyard

We left our rolly anchorage in Barbuda with a rainbow over the beach. There was little wind when we were there and that let the boat drift around the anchor. The small swells would come in from sea, hit the boat one way, then roll up the steep beach and head back out to hit the boat again. Made for an uncomfy night’s sleep. Chris got in some good beach walks and shell hunting on the 11 mile long, uninhabited beach. We tried to snorkel out at Tuson Rock reef, about 3/4 of a mile offshore. The reef was 50% dead and the fish population was not doing well. Pretty depressing.
That sent us off on a nice sail back to Antigua.
antiguaIMG_4557 This is the entrance to English Harbour, Antigua, with the fort on the left and anchored boats on the right. The fort guards the entrance to Nelson’s Dockyard. The Brits used snug English Harbour as a primary refit and maintenance port for their Caribbean fleet and a hurricane hole to protect their fleet when the storms came through. Admiral Nelson, of The Battle of Trafalgar fame, captain at the time, ran the yard for many years. His primary job was to stop the island plantation owners and merchants from trading with anyone but Britain. Not something that made him popular with the locals.
IantiguaMG_4569 The dockyard is well preserved, with lots of 17-18th century buildings surviving, as a National Park and well used. There are a number of restaurants, inns and marine business functioning within the Dockyard as well as Antigua and Barbuda Customs and Immigration.
antiguaIMG_4598 That’s me roaming among the pillars of the old boat house and sail loft.
IantiguaMG_4564 The sail loft was built on top of the pillars as a second floor. Ships would come up to the bulkhead and then hoist their sails requiring repair from the deck to the sail loft floor.
antiguaIMG_4591  The old cook house is still in use today as a bakery. Unfortunately it is a British bakery and not a French one, so no good baguettes. The apple turnover was pretty good though.
antiguaIMG_4583  The Queens canons guarding the entrance to English Harbour.
antiguaIMG_4587 The Queen’s goats guarding the entrance.
This guy tried to tell me he was some kind of Queen’s guard too, but I’m pretty sure he was BS’ing me when he went into some pitch selling insurance.
The old wood ships would be brought up to the quay and lines would run from the mast heads to these windlasses. Strong guys like me would turn them till the ship was careened on its side, allowing the ships carpenters to do maintenance on the worm ridden planks that were exposed.
I always enjoy studying the carpentry of the old vessels. We learned that the superstitious sailors of olde believed that the female form, especially the bared breasts, on the bow of the boat, would shame a storm into submission. We thought we’d give it a try next big blow we run into…
This is me in my Happy Place contemplating how to fix the autopilot.

This is Chris’ temporary autopilot sailing from Barbuda to Antigua.
On our last night in Antigua we splurged and went to a great little restaurant recommended by our friends on Tevai.  Rumbabba is a small place, run by an ex-pat French I couple – at least I think they are French. Its in a remodeled one-story wood building with open air windows and propped open hurricane shutters. This place was more than our usually US$12 dinner out splurge.  The menu is written on a small chalk board each day, French-style. Then the owner takes a picture of it with her iPad and takes it from table to table so you can read it. Good seared tuna and sauteed Dorado. The dinner and wine made for some good points with the little woman.


  1. Steve loved the pictures on this blog. I guess you know why. from SV SABEN

  2. Good stuff. We just arrived in Antigua two days ago.