Monday, April 16, 2012

Blue Again

View from the water at Coco Beach
We've been sailing in the deeper darker waters of the Caribbean since last spring and haven't seen anything like the bright blue shallow Bahamian waters we sailed in early last year. (See Bahamian Blues, January 2011) That all changed when we arrived in Barbuda over the weekend. Barbuda is just a day's sail north of Antigua and with a forecast of a few calm days before a big north swell was due to arrive we decided to head north and check it out. 

A rare smile from me on the way to Barbuda
We had 4 to 6 foot seas and 18 to 24 knots of breeze on the way and moved along at 7 or 8 knots. (I wanted to write that we had 15 to 20 foot seas.... but the truth prevailed.) I tried to load a short video of the sail but apparently I've reached the limit of the wifi signal I'm poaching and couldn't load it. I thought the conditions were.... let's say "brisk". And unnerving at times when an especially big wave (think: wave the size of a city block) came sideways at us. After all this time it's pretty clear that I am not a natural ocean sailor. Skip LOVES this kind of sailing. In fact, the captains log for this particular sail says: "GREAT SAIL to Barbuda today!!" We acknowledged our different points of view over rum drinks after we anchored in Barbuda. More on this "opposites attract" thing some other time. But, I digress...

Still in deep water, approaching Coco Beach, south coast of Barbuda
This looked pretty good as we approached! What this photo doesn't show is that the beach went on for miles in both directions. Though there were a handful of boats anchored here, we were the only American flagged vessel. Most of the others were Dutch and German and several with little kids on board. It was fun to watch the kids bouncing around the boats and sitting up front on the dinghies, legs dangling overboard as they zipped back and forth visiting each other. 

Coco Beach has one functioning and outrageously expensive resort called the Coco Beach Club. There's another defunct resort tucked into the palms on the beach called the K Club that is slowly being reclaimed by mother nature. It looks like they closed the hurricane shutters on the whole place one day and never came back. We imagined that behind the shutters all the beds are perfectly made and everything stands ready for the next guests. Very sad. In Barbuda there are confusing laws regarding property rights - all property is supposedly communal - so it's not clear how this property has been left to decline. 

A bungalow from the old K Club on Coco Beach
The John H Turner, Saralane's dinghy - on the Coco Beach shoreline
The upside for us was that the property was lined with very fruitful coconut palms that dropped coconuts everywhere without anyone to gather them. We took full advantage and gathered as many as I could coerce Skip into cracking open. They are the proverbial 'tough nut to crack' and after only four he said "Is this enough?"
I guess for now four is enough. (Photos to come of tasty things we make with coconuts.)

Skip tries to open a coconut on a table of sand. Not such a good idea.

Using the hatchet to injure himself... I mean... open the coconut against a harder surface.

Halfway there!

It was incredibly beautiful here. The beach went on for miles and miles with no one in sight. We walked and swam and walked and swam.

 I love this pseudo toy camera shot... 
Looking to our right....
...looking to our left.
We're happy to be right smack in the middle of it. (Inside info for my family: this is a TJ photo)
As spectacular as this beach was, we'd heard that the beach around the west coast of Barbuda was even more beautiful. We had another day before the north swell was due to arrive so we sailed around the corner and took a look.

On the move again.
Looks good so far....
Oh yeah... this looks good.
Wow. Can I just say? This place is unbelievable. And we've barely seen anything yet. There's so much to see here and we're already blown away by the bit we can see before we even set the anchor. 

Saralane at anchor on 11 Mile Beach, west coast of Barbuda
Different angle.. same caption: Saralane at anchor on 11 Mile Beach, west coast of Barbuda. There's no one around for MILES.

This is what gives the sand it's pink hue here. 
Will someone please photoshop in a few Coronas here?!
There is another outrageously expensive hotel over on this beach at the northern most point. The cruising guides say it's a delightful place to go for lunch. I'm sure it is... but unfortunately we don't have access to our Swiss bank account out here.

Note: All prices are in US dollars... not EC, so don't multiply by .38!
One thing we'll do when we return is some land based exploring. We met one guy on the beach named Jala who's a one man band - bar owner, tour guide. He was working on his small building about half way down the beach and lamenting the fact that business was non-existant for the time being. Seems the ferry from Antigua to Barbuda had broken down three weeks ago and until it was up and running there was no way for people to make it to Barbuda to sit in his bar or go on tours with him. That is unless you're staying at the Coco Beach Club where complimentary helicopter travel from Antigua is included in the price of your stay.

A few enterprising tour guides post hand made signs on the beach advertising their services.
This was the other photo I thought about using at the start of this blog. How perfect is this scene?
We're heading back to Antigua to avoid rocking and rolling out here during the north swell (and to see some of Antigua!) but we're definitely coming back as soon as conditions allow. 

On the way back to Antigua
Since sailing from St. Martin we've been looking off to the west seeing the faint silhouettes of islands we've passed along the way... St. Barts, Saba, Eustatia, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat. Here in Antigua we're closest to Montserrat and on the way back from Barbuda to Antigua we could clearly see Montserrat with the volcano steaming in the distance.

Not surprisingly, the more places we visit, the more places we want to visit. We'll spend some time here in Antigua and go back to Barbuda but Montserrat is high on our "to visit" list.


Eliza said...

The pictures are beautiful! Wish I could have made a trip over the winter.

Love, Lize

Madeline said...

Hi Lize - We wish you could have made a trip down this winter too! We'd love to have you back on board. The Barbuda waters look like the Bahamas doesn't it?

Mad & Dad

Sylvia said...

Unreal. Gorgeous!

Cindy Barnard said...

I am trying to find some appropriate words to say about Barbuda but all I can come up with are O. M. G. Just unbelievable.
Danny is already planning to replicate your beach photo here in FL, with us doing the hand holding AND a couple of Coronas in the sand. Only there might be one or two more people in our background. It's FL after all.

Anonymous said...

Barbudaful! You made the trip and got to experience that gorgeous water! We're sitting in the rain in Charleston where it is barely 70 degrees, so we are envious. Glad you liked our Cumberland Island blog - that's a place we can see going to again.

Hope we see you on the east coast later in the year,
Patti and John
S/V Anhinga

Miles said...

I wish I had come up with "Barbudaful". Is it considered inappropriate to curse in the comment area? M*&%er F#@!er those are some nice looking beaches!

Kim said...

Hi Maddie - gorgeous...absolutely gorgeous. I googled your location just to see where the hell you are! I have never seen such beautiful beaches. And you had them all to yourselves. Good for you.
Much love,