May 17-19, 2020: Deep Bay, Antigua

After 60 days of waiting and wondering, planning and obsessing, making contingency plan after plan, we have a date to go to Grenada:  May 27-29.  Grenada’s borders are not fully open to cruising yachts, but as part of a negotiation with MAYAG (the Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada), yachts that had registered online as wanting to come to Grenada are being given the go ahead in a very proscribed way. 

We must submit health and crew declarations 48 hours before arrival and may only arrive during the window we chose.  Upon arrival, we must go to the quarantine dock at Port Louis Marina in St. George’s.  We may not get off the boat but instead wait for officials to bring us pre-clearance paperwork.  Once pre-cleared, we must anchor in the quarantine anchorage for 14 days with no shore leave.  Once the quarantine period is over, a health official will give us COVID-19 tests.  If we pass, we may then officially clear in to Grenada. 

Once we had our Grenada plans locked down, we celebrated by leaving Jolly Harbour and anchoring in Deep Bay.  It is a short distance north of Jolly Harbour, near St. John’s.  The 6nm journey took us a whopping 1 ½ hours and was a good way to break ourselves back in to sailing after sitting still for so long.

The view of Deep Bay from the hilltop.

Deep Bay is a wonderful anchorage, quiet and lovely with turquoise water.  It’s quite deep (around 8 feet) all the way to shore, and the sandy holding is good.  It is ringed with a gorgeous white sand beach, large homes clinging to the towering hills, and a resort hotel.

Job one once we got in such clear water was to dive on the boat and clean the bottom.  It had been exactly three months since we last dove on it in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, and the growth was both astounding and horrifying.  We had an entire ecosystem:  hydroids (an evil stinging aquatic animal that looks like a plant), sponges, small mussels, algae, barnacles, and even tiny crabs.  I can’t believe the boat was able to make any way at all with that amount of junk dragging through the water.  The Captain and I snorkeled and free dove to clean the bottom using scrapers and a brush.  Two and a half hours later, the bottom was clean, and every fish in Deep Bay was hovering around the floating buffet we had scraped off.

There is easy land access just by beaching the dinghy.

Feeling righteous, we had afternoon tea with our British friends P&W on s/v Henry.  We met them in Jolly Harbour when we first arrived, and we struck up a friendship initially based on shared membership in the Ocean Cruising Club.  They are full of interesting stories and observations.

The next day we beached the dinghy and hiked up the steep hill to Fort Barrington, which is a huge semi-circular gun emplacement. 

Fort Barrington is at the top of a steep hill overlooking the beach.

The fort used to protect the southern approach to St. John’s, Antigua’s capital, and the fort dates back to 1779.  There are a number of outbuildings, including the Block House and a powder magazine.  The views are breathtaking, and there is a resident herd of goats that we could smell but never saw.  Everything was constructed of hewn stone, and it was clearly built to last.

Fort Barrington looks down on both Deep Bay and the approach to St. John’s, the capital of Antigua.
The fort is primarily above ground, but there is a neat staircase into the Block House, which has several rooms.
The Block House also opens out to the hillside.

After hiking to Fort Barrington and walking along the beach looking for sea glass, we raised anchor and headed to Falmouth Harbour.