Sunday, March 6, 2016

More of Barbuda

For a change of scenery we headed down to Cocoa Bay where we hoped we might find a bit more snorkelling and a more settled anchorage.

Well, the snorkelling didn't really deliver (we've heard it's better at Spanish Point but didn't make it over there) so we headed ashore to see if there was anything to see on the southern end of the island.  The scenery ashore doesn't really deliver either and if you had dropped me down on the middle of the sand road I would have been hard put to decide if I was on Anegada or Barbuda.  Salt ponds, scrubby, thorny bush - the only difference is donkeys.  There are numerous donkeys on Barbuda and on Anegada you see more goats and free range cattle.

At the south end of Barbuda we walked around the little resort airstrip and over to Gravenor Bay - about 2 miles each way.

The grass airstrip - fenced against donkeys.  We saw one small plane land at night for an almost empty resort - really??

Jackie, George and Henry stride off along the sand road - not much to see here.

Massive salt ponds in the distance, but no pink glow of flamingos.

Not much seems to last in this area - we saw numerous ruins of various ages.

A family of three very skittish donkeys.

More salt ponds, the sun beating down and a potential shortcut home across the end of the salt pond.

Reminiscent of finding a cow skeleton on Anegada on the salt flats, this donkey's skeleton was bleached white on the parched sand.

Having exhausted just about all we felt we could see down at Cocoa Point, we headed back up to Low Bay for time ashore at Codrington.  The anchorage at Cocoa Point was definitely calmer than up the west coast with an east swell running, but we wanted to do more touring and wouldn't be on the boat much anyways.

Since we were planning on leaving on the last day of our cruising permit for Antigua & Barbuda, and the conditions were perfect for a sail to Sint Maarten, our first order of business was to check out of the country.  This didn't mean we were leaving immediately though, we still had an afternoon for exploring.

The checkout process on Barbuda is not computerized, so we did our sashay too and fro between the various officials to complete our paperwork in triplicate.

1st stop:  The Harbour Authority (at the tourism office) where we paid $2usd, and also picked up information about Barbuda.

2nd stop:  Customs - where Henry and George lazed on the veranda as they awaited their turn.

Very civilized, but no rush.

3rd and final stop:  Immigration, where there was a convenient little waiting spot for Jan outside.
Final stop, but not part of the official proceedings - lunch at Byron's Cafe by the dock.  This was a hot-spot of activity with school kids and locals.

With all the official paperwork completed, we were free to spend the afternoon as we wished, so we lined up a taxi tour to go and see the old Codrington Estate and the caves on the north-west shore.

George Jeffrey is a well-known guide whom we engaged to join us on the taxi and along with another group of cruisers we set off across the island.  Once again, the scenery is not stunning, until you get to the 125' highlands, but the way of life is laid-back and very communal, and people are exceedingly friendly.

Track and field practice at the local middle school.  The kids have taken off their shoes and are running barefoot.

Our field day - across the lagoon to Codrington and over to the east shore.

George explains the lay of the land to our group at the Codrington Estate remains.

It was a bit of a squally day at deserted Two-Feet Bay on the east coast.

The main attraction - the caves in the limestone cliffs.

Interesting formations within the limestone.

We climbed up through a hole at the top of the cave and emerged on the highlands above the beach.

A panoramic view with not a soul in sight.

Back down the ladder through the hole at the top of the cave.
Our day wrapped up with our return to Codrington and we felt that although we hadn't seen the sinkhole we would leave that to another day.  We had seen just about all that Barbuda has to offer, but the main attraction is the peace and quiet, and the absolutely stunning beaches.

Three a.m. saw us lifting the anchor for our 80-mile trek to Sint Maarten.  It dawned a cold blustery day and I didn't take off my fouly jacket until just before we arrived and the sun put in a short appearance.  The sail downwind was uneventful and we arrived just in time for the five o'clock opening of the Simpson Bay Bridge into the lagoon.

A bowl of hot stew on a cold, rainy day.

Anchor down in the lagoon and we were greeted by a rainbow over the SXM airport.
Fun times await in Sint Maarten - on last count there are about 20 boats here that we know and we are just in time for the Heineken Regatta!