May 19-20, 2020: Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour, Antigua

After a couple of quiet days in Deep Bay, we motorsailed to busy Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, along with our friends P&W on s/v Henry.  It was a bumpy ride, with winds dead on the nose and 4-6 foot seas.  We tried to anchor in the popular anchorage just in front of Pigeon Beach, but it was too crowded.  We ended up facing Pigeon Beach but on the other side of the entrance channel, where there was more coral on the bottom than we would have liked. As an aside, this isn’t live coral as in a reef; this is coral pan or coral rubble, which is dead. Neither we nor any other responsible cruiser would ever anchor in live coral.

The trip from Deep Bay to Falmouth Harbour was 4 hours for 15.1 nm.

Falmouth Harbour offers access to lots of restaurants and some touristy shops.  There is a new-looking dinghy dock to the left of the Antigua Yacht Club with trash receptacles specifically designated for the anchorage.  We ate lunch at Roti Sue’s, which had been recommended to us, and the rotis were incredible and quite inexpensive ($8 EC each, or $3 USD). 

But the best part of Falmouth Harbour is that it is a 10 minute walk away from English Harbour, home of Nelson’s Dockyard

The entrance to Nelson’s Dockyard.

Nelson’s Dockyard is named after Lord Nelson of British nautical fame and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is home to many world-famous sailing events such as Antigua Sailing Week.  English Harbour is a good hurricane hole, and the British established a naval dockyard there to service their ships.  Dating from the 1740s, the Dockyard was in use until 1889.  It eventually fell into disrepair but was restored in 1951.

This building is right on the water (which is to the left, out of this shot). That is actually a grass lawn, which we haven’t seen since we left the US. The dockyard’s defensive walls still stand and ring the buildings.

We had a great time wandering through the brick and stone buildings. 

We got pastries from a bakery that is housed in what used to be the main residence’s detached kitchen. 

This is the bakery behind what is now the Nelson’s Dockyard museum.

We also stuck our heads in A&F Sails, a well-regarded sail loft tucked in Nelson’s Dockyard. 

A&F Sails is busy loft, full of really nice employees.

A final treat was seeing The George Geary, the 22-year old homemade rowing boat recently used by 72-year old Graham Walters who rowed across the Atlantic solo for the third time.  He had arrived in Antigua three weeks earlier, and the boat was sitting how he left it, complete with half-full coffee cup, toothpaste bungeed to the hull, and a duct-taped water pump.

I couldn’t believe that we could walk right up to The George Geary and look at it. Can you imagine rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in this?