Friday, May 29, 2015

From Montserrat to Antigua

We wrapped up our last day on Montserrat which was a holiday Monday, with a visit to the local cricket pitch.  The boys played on under the hot sun while we thoroughly enjoyed the fried chicken and johnny cakes the ladies cooked up at the food stall.  I still don't completely understand the game, but just like any other sporting event, liming (socializing) in the stands is half the fun!

It was as hot and dry, and far away as this looks - making it difficult to follow the action.

Half-time break and just like at a hockey game, they repair the pitch.  Is this a cricket "zambonie"?
 Back at the beach shacks by the harbour we checked out the facilities ...

Loved the creative beach showers.

The wind had died right on cue, just as we wanted to make our way almost directly east about 20 miles to Jolly Harbour on Antigua.  The seas calmed down nicely from the prancing white horses of the weekend and of course we had the lack of wind to thank for this, which meant once again we motored the entire way.  Not complaining though as this could have been a bash.

Jolly Harbour is a deep, protected series of bays and as you wind your way in there are many rental properties with their own docks, little restaurants, a large boat yard and repair facility, and finally the marina at the top of the bay.  Now that the winter sailing season has wrapped up, the place is a bit like a ghost town, but one can imagine the hustle and bustle - especially during regattas.  It's kinda nice being on the quiet side.  We have come here to see a little of the island, but also with a booking for Mowzer to stay at the marina for the two weeks of our trip back to Canada.

The reefs and beaches surrounding Antigua are tantalizingly close but for now will have to remain unexplored; something for us definitely to return to.  In the meantime, we took a day to explore landside using the local bus system, which is incredibly well organized I might add with labelled route numbers and a depot in St. John's.

The main town of St. John's, to quote a friend, is "rather unremarkable".  Cruise ship docks, local markets, people rushing around or lounging in store fronts with a general shabbiness make it similar to most other towns of the Caribbean.

We hopped from one bus to another at the depot to make our way to the south side of the island and a visit to historic Nelson's Dockyard, a working Georgian facility at the top of yet another lovely deep bay.  We wandered around and through the historic buildings, enjoyed a lunch from the bakery housed in the old kitchen building and watched the comings and goings of the boats in the harbour.

Originally built in the 1700s as the main naval base for the British navy in the Caribbean, and actually commanded by Nelson in the 1780s, the buildings have been beautifully restored and many of them serve a purpose today similar to that for which they were built.  There is a small hotel in the old Pitch and Tar Store and Engineer's Office building and Sunsail operates a charter fleet from the docks that were built deep enough to accommodate the brigs and frigates of the time.

The pillars that supported a sail loft surrounded by beautiful gardens.

More of the famous pillars - the sail loft building was frequently destroyed by hurricanes so they capped the pillars and gave up on that idea.

More beautiful gardens with an English feel.

The Admiral's Inn lies in a charming location near the pillars.

The saw pit shed is now the oldest building on the site and today houses the sailmaker.

The officers' quarters, as seen from the Admiral's House, today a well laid-out museum.

Large boats were careened at the dock walls for cleaning and repair.  Ropes run around these capstans pulled the boats onto their sides to expose their wooden bottoms that were susceptible to damage and rot.

Berkely Fort protects the entrance to the harbour.  Even here the Sargasso weed has found it's way in on the current.
We wrapped up our day with the bus ride back to St. John's where it finally started to rain - more than we've seen in months and so desperately needed on these dry islands.  With no umbrella there was nothing left to do but duck inside an ice-cream shop for a little treat.

And yes, I did ask Henry to get two spoons for sharing ;-)

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