Sting Rays

There are many things to do in the Caribbean but one of those things is swimming with sting rays. I think this was the best thing ever and if you go to Antigua you HAVE TO visit sting ray city, anyway I will tell you our experience.

First things first it was my birthday so me and my family were going to sting ray city. First we took a 40min taxi ride and then 40min later we were at sting ray city 🙂 but then to get to the sting rays we took a 5min boat ride. We docked on a floating dock, yes it was in the middle of the ocean. After we got off the boat you could see sting rays every ware it was incredible also you could go swimming with them.

When I got in I was a bit nervous but soon I was holding a sting ray in my arms.

I do not now how to describe what a sting ray feels like but it was slimy and cold. All was well until one of them bit me!! well it sucked me because sting rays do not have bladed teeth you just feel a pinch and then it let’s go. When you get “bitten” by a sting ray it will hurt but there will be no cut. Fun fact a sting ray bite is sometimes called a love bite so I got another birthday present from an animal.

Me and the Tortoises

After we got to Antigua we started going places. This is one of them. Its called Sting Ray City. It has sting rays and tortoises. You are probably wondering if there are going to be any sting rays in this post — well, my brother Archer is covering that!

The tortoises (specifically, red-footed tortoises) have red spots all over their body. Some have yellow and red spots and some have only yellow spots. One of the baby tortoises was named Easton. One of the big tortoises bit my dad on the leg! It was pretty gross, here’s a picture.

I got a stuffy and I named him Weston.

Butter (a crab I found)

At Jolly Harbour beach, i found a crab. At first I thought it was dead but when it moved i knew it was alive. He (or at least I its a he) was two inches tall and an inch wide. He was tan and yellow. His eyes stuck out of his body and he four legs and on big pincer and a smaller pincher. Oh yeah, you’re probably wondering what kind of crab it is — its a sand crab!

And here’s a drawing of butter…

Hope you liked my pics, bye!

Jolly Habour Marina, A Dock

Jolly Harbour Marina, A Dock

Saturday morning and we’re back home in Jolly Harbour. Its actually our first weekend here in a month — we visited Falmouth Harbour, Barbuda, and Deep Bay on the prior 3 weekends — since we’ve been diligent about connecting the boys to St Thomas. This past weekend, anchored in Falmouth, was our first good use of the Digicel hotspot and it worked great; the boys did school remotely from our anchorage about 200 yards off of Pigeon Beach. It was fun to be away from the marina, and we got a good chance to use the dinghy to get around, going ashore many times, for food, entertainment, and some spare parts. It felt a bit like going home, returning to Nelson’s Dockyard, though it was sad to see all the restaurants closed. The winds were a sustained 15-20 knots, so we got a good taste of windage at anchor. Some excitement when the bridle snapped, mid-afternoon, the port shackle buckling around the pressure, perhaps because the bolt worked its way loose. It was easy enough to dinghy into Budget Marine and replace the shackle, fixing it all within a few hours (glad we decided to practice anchoring in a busy harbour before heading to more remote spots)

The highlight of the week was yesterday; Archer and August got there first experience with scuba diving! Tiffany came across a local dive shop that offers kids classes, and has kid-sized gear, and we signed the boys open for an introduction class. They took to it like little dolphins! Archer in particular (in part because the gear fit him better) picked it up very quickly, and managed to learn all the basic skills in less than two hours. It was so cool we signed him up on the spot to get fully certified, which we’re going to start on Monday — he already started doing the theory portion online this morning! This will be Archer’s birthday present — he turns 11 on Wednesday (how did that happen!?!) — and he’s super excited about the whole experience. August would love to do it too, and he was awesome in the pool, very comfortable under the water, but you gotta be 10 years old.

Barbuda. Two weeks ago we went to the island of Barbuda, our first open water passage, just over 33 miles north of Antigua. It was a wonderful sail, with steady 15kts winds on the starboard beam, we were averaging 7-8 knots, never even had to tack. We got rained on by a squall at the end, which passed quickly and just added to the sense of making an adventurous passage. By the time we dropped sails and motored into the waters off Coco Point, it was sunny again. We anchored off Princess Diana Beach, among maybe 20 boats. It was a lovely spot, but we were surprised by construction on the beach, and a frequent helicopter in and outs at the nearby airstrip, put in by Robert Dinero no less, as part of a controversial development plan. It was not the remote, unspoilt experience we expected. We did have fun on the dinghy and visiting the beach, but did not make it to the mangrove or frigate birds. Still, just great to get away, successful first passage and our longest sailing to date!

Finally, can’t finish a journal entry without commenting on the state of the boat. It is a never ending process. This week’s highlight was the replacement of the solenoid that controls the master toilet water pump — a key fix! I managed to get the parts sent out from Seattle a little over a week ago, had them custom cleared by a super-yacht agent in Falmouth, picked them up by dinghy, and installed it myself. Pretty cool actually. On the downside, I now have a mystery house battery charging issue, and I had to trouble shoot a bilge pump issue, both in partnership with Wayne Bell, the electrician that’s all but lived on the boat here in Jolly Harbour. Oh, and we had some excitement on anchor in Falmouth last weekend, the day after the bridle snapped. As we are having dinner, I notice that the water pump is working non-stop, even though there is no water running, and even as I point this out, the port engine bilge pump alarm goes off. Stressful 60 seconds before I figure out that the hand rinse hose on the fan tail has split open and there is fresh water pouring into the engine compartment! Easily fixed, but it shook the family up, being dark and windy adding to the drama. Replaced the hose the next day and August did most of the repair – the boys are really eager to be hands-on…

First Anchorage in Antigua

1/16/2021

Deep Harbor, Antigua

Our first family overnight anchorage on Manaphy. It’s spectacular! A cozy little cove, teardrop shaped, landing to a sandy beach. We are 150 yards offshore, a light breeze keeping us comfortable windward. Anchored in 10 feet, sea grass floor, 40 ft of chain, rock wall to lee.

We left Jolly Harbor this morning about 10:15. Headed straight out, emptied the tanks and made water. Sailed for an hour, Tiffany and August as mates, Archer took a cat nap. The wind stiffened to 20-22 and we dropped sail and headed to anchor in Deep Bay. Eased into a great spot, a corner framed by a rock wall, just beneath an old fort (Fort Barrington, built in 1779 by Admiral Barrington) on our north and sandy beach due east.

The boys did a great job dropping anchor! We practiced in Freeman’s Bay last weekend in English Harbor, and it paid off today. It was really smooth, Archer handling the controls but August fully engaged, proud Tiffany got to watch from the comfort of the fwd cockpit!

We caught our breath and had a light lunch. Then we jumped in the water, and it was fantastic. Just cool enough, it felt great to float in the sun. The wind kept it lively, a small chop and light swell had the boys out in about 20 minutes but it was a great first dip.

Then we dropped the dinghy and had a blast each practicing at the helm. The boys did great, August was amazingly calm and cool, Archer really showed confidence and control. Tiffany was tentative at first but got the hang of it! It was a beautiful setting with the late afternoon sun weaving thru the harbor dotted with boats.  Once back at the boat we spotted sea turtles and even witnessed a beach wedding, at some quaint beach resort tucked into the distant hillside.

Now all are asleep but me. I’m in the lounge, maybe for the first time really experiencing it’s potential. Seclude beach anchorage, sky full of stars, new boat humming below. It’s incredible, this is finally it, this is the fantasy! The sound of the sea, the lapping water, the wind drying my mouth. The lights of the few houses along the hillside. The stars.

Welcome Aboard!

Antigua, Jolly Harbour. We are here! After so many months of planning, talking, worrying, replanning – we r here. It’s been both wonderful and daunting. The boat is beautiful, but it’s taken more work to shake out the kinks then I expected. But it is coming together and today was a banner day.

Today we visited the beach, and it was sweet to see the boys get their feet wet. I realized that these first few days have been dominated by the boat: generator, waste tanks, gangway, and just getting everything organized and stowed. We need to refocus tomorrow on island life – swim in the ocean, play tennis, get out of the Marina.

We would be sailing this weekend but the wind is up, 20-25 in the afternoon. Not the weather to introduce the family to the boat, which is a disappointment. We did take the boat out today, because we had to empty the poop tanks, and it was starting in the deep end. Docking the boat in the high winds (15kts at 9am) went well enough, with dock side assistance. Archer really dove into it and it’s heart warming to see his eagerness to get into sailing. Three days in we are starting to settle in. The boat is getting sorted and the weather will turn on Sunday. School starts Monday and that will be a real test!