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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

November 24th: Green Island to Long Island

 We woke up bright and early at 5:00am, made coffee, and to our surprise discovered that other boats in the flotilla moor'd and anchor'd behind us were already moving. They must all be on the same plan we were on! Once we were done with breakfast, we moved the boat back out the way we came in and raised the sail! I was delighted to be sailing, and a long sail seemed like a good idea, even though Arturo had said the night before that middle reef had supposedly great snorkeling. There were still enough boats in the Bay that I didn't think it was worth it to try to snorkel there.

An hour later, Arturo said to me, "We're only doing 3 knots. It's 27 nautical miles. This trip will take us 9 hours!" I looked, and sure enough, we were getting at most 6-7 knots of wind, not enough to get to Antigua on sail power alone. We could drop the sails and turn on the engine, but instead we pulled out the charts and guidebook and looked for alternate destinations.

Great Bird Island jumped out at me as a potentially great snorkeling destination, and it had the advantage of putting us into the North Sound, where an anchorage at Long Island would put us at least within decent motoring distance of Barbuda, given the poor wind conditions that were predicted for the next couple of days. "Long Island is near the Antigua airport, but the island doesn't have many flights."

We pulled into the Bay of Great Bird Island at 11:00am, after sailing slowly north, and then turned on the engine. There were no other boats in the Bay when we arrived, but soon after we laid down the anchor and snugged it up, a trio of motorboats sailed up, followed by a commercial boat carrying snorkels. The day had warmed up and was hot, so after I checked the anchor I immediately swam out into the reef and saw to my delight my first glimpse of glass fish!

From the boat, Xiaoqin spotted a turtle, and soon after that everyone was in the water! There was much snorkeling to be had and it was of very good quality. Even after we were all in the boat, Niniane hadn't had enough, and opted to swim all the way to the beach. That sounded like a great idea to everyone else as well, so I helped Arturo lower the dingy, which still needed fixing anyway. Then I got out the paddleboard and paddled to the beach.

Niniane had already arrived by the time I got there, and she was eager to try paddleboarding. I gave her a few tips and she was ready to head out when the dinghy arrived. The kids immediately set about getting wet and sandy, and Xiaoqin and Arturo explored the island while I man-handled the dinghy. We hadn't figured out how to tilt the dinghy's outboard, so you could'nt leave the boat unattended --- you didn't want it to drift away, which was easy to solve with an anchor, but you also didn't want the tide/waves to push it onto the shored, which would hit the outboard propellor and rudder!

When everyone was done, we took the dinghy back to the boat. Niniane was already there, since the paddleboard was very fast, and we had lunch while Arturo watched a youtube video on how to tilt the dinghy outboard. It turned out that the ring that was supposed to control the tilt feature had been lost from our outboard, so he had to find the lever by hand. Once he had done so, however, he could tilt the outboard. The problem, though, was that the davits on the Chinook were so badly designed that someone had to use their feet to push the pontoons on the dinghy while raising or lowering it --- not paying such close attention would result in the outboard striking the body of the boat, damaging both the Chinook and the outboard. I was determined not to find out about that the hard way.
After lunch, we motor'd through the sound to Long Island. I would have been happy to spend the night at Great Bird Island, but I figured that putting us within striking distance of Barbuda first thing in the morning was a good idea. The guidebook had also talked up Jumby Bay as being a beautiful beach on a resort.

On arrival, to my dismay I saw motorboats towing wakeboarders at speed all around the bay. We anchor'd one time, then realized that we'd anchor'd right in the way of the ferry coming from the mainland Antigua, and moved and reanchor'd the boat, reasoning that being closer to the reef would make for nice snorkeling.

Our first sight after the anchor check was a beautiful starfish, but swimming out to the reef brought no results. There were tiny bits of coral, but the reef was too rough to get to, and too shallow. We returned to the Chinook to report, and decided to swim to the beach, with Boen electing to join us.  We were much further from the beach than anticipated, having learned our lesson from Carlisle Bay about being too close to loud music at night, but Boen was game and swam strongly. Upon arrival, he reported that he had lost a tooth! It was his first baby tooth lost, and it had disappeared into Jumby Bay so he truly left a piece of himself in Antigua.

Upon arrival at the beach, security showed up and told us that we weren't allowed into the resort because of COVID restrictions. "You can stay in the water." We chose to let Boen play as much as he liked on the beach, and then swam back, finding a Manta Ray and various more Starfish on the way back to the Chinook.

The sunset was once again beautiful, marred occasionally by flights coming to and from the island (Arturo had an app that told us that the last flight was at 8:30pm, so we truly were not concerned about noise from the airport) At 9pm a private plane flew by, disturbing our peace, but overall it was still a much more restful night than Carlisle Bay had been.

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