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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

November 27th: Deep Bay to Carlisle Bay

The night before, a storm swirled by and rocked the boat. Xiaoqin woke me up so I could check the boat but as far as I could tell the boat hadn't moved so I went right back to sleep until the morning.

As expected, the water around the Andes was just as murky in the morning after breakfast as it was the afternoon before. With our plans blown out of the water, we had no choice but to turn on the engine, weigh anchor, and head out of Deep Bay down South. Mario had wanted us in Five Islands Harbor for our last night for an easy return the next morning. But my guess was that he had no experience with sailors who got up at 6:00am every morning while on vacation, and I was determined to measure the time it would take to get from Jolly Habor to Carlisle Bay via motor.

As we rounded Johnson's point, I noticed that the wind had picked up to about 6 to 8 knots. Since it was still early in the day, I expected that we might be able to sail from English Harbor to Carlisle Bay. The decision to spend the night at Carlisle Bay was pure risk reduction: English Harbor to my mind had better snorkeling.  I timed 45 minutes from Jolly Harbor to Carlisle Bay, with a northward current that should assist us the next morning.

To our dismay, as we approached Falmouth Harbor, we saw another cruise ship parked outside what looked like English Harbor. This wasn't going to be fun, but Niniane noted that this was a 400 person cruise ship, and we were relieved when we saw that its lifeboats were unloading people not at English Habor, but at Falmouth Harbor.

Arriving at English Harbor we dropped anchor at the same spot we did before with confidence, snugged it up, and proceeded to drop the dinghy to visit tank bay. Niniane had noted that the bakery was closed, this being a weekend, so we weren't even tempted to try to eke out a lunch there. We bought sufficient food not only for our last night, but also for the two days ashore that Arturo and Niniane would have after we returned the Chinook. Once back on the Catamaran we got out the snorkel gear and to our relieved, discovered that the water clarity was excellent.
This time, we swam all the way out to the Pillars of Hercules, and saw flatfish. Xiaoqin also explored the inside of the Bay and discovered a wreck and a turtle!

When we were all done with the snorkeling, we weighed anchor and motor'd out of the harbor. Once I had the boat pointed towards Carlisle Harbor, however, I asked not for the main to be raised, but for the Jib. "Why just the Jib?" It's only 3 nautical miles, and even at 3 knots that's an hour, and saves having to point the boat into the wind, and the trouble of raising and lowering the main. I actually expected stronger winds as the afternoon built, but I wasn't counting on it.
To my surprise not 15 minutes had gone by when a pod of dolphins (3 of them, 2 adults and a juvenile) joined us. They would follow us all the way to Carlisle Bay. Mario would tell us later that indeed, that was the one place on Antigua where you would most likely encounter dolphins. I shot and stitched together a video.

It was a magical journey, and as expected the winds picked up and soon was driving us at 4-5 knots with only one sail up! The mainsail would have given us at most 1.5 additional knots, at the expense of having to deal with the main, and who was in a hurry when there were dolphins to watch! I had to adjust the heading of the boat because the current was pushing us towards shore, but fortunately Arturo had checked the GPS and we had caught it before we got close to shore. The sight of these magnificant sea mammals filled us with awe.

Arriving at Carlisle Bay, we turned the boat into the Bay before turning on the motor, this time knowing that we wanted to be far away from the loud music. There were other boats in the Habor, but I knew the motorboat in the spot I wanted to be in was going to leave --- it wasn't equipped for an overnight stay, so I deliberately anchored closer to it than I would have if it had been a boat equipped for a longer stay. Dropping anchor, I felt it slip and then catch, but Arturo let out more chain just to be sure. The dive check revealed that the anchor slipped because it had pushed a rock out of the way, but looked steady.
Our last snorkel of the day gave us lion fish (an invasive species for the Caribbean), and made me realize how good the boys were at snorkeling now, with Boen attempting to dive even in his wet suit.

Other parents might obsess with their kids being fast in the water, joining swimming clubs and participating in sporting events, etc., but more than anything else, my goal had always been for my children to be comfortable in the water, able to deal with exigencies and difficult situations, and enjoy experiencing the natural world as much as they could. They had clearly gotten there.

We were out of the water before sunset, and prepped a dinner and celebrated Xiaoqin's birthday with a birthday cake, with a match substituting for a candle.

But perfect as the day was, it wasn't over yet. After sundown, we saw bioluminescence around the boat, and as the stars came out, Xiaoqin saw a shooting star! It was truly as perfect a birthday as you could get.


N said...

This was truly a magical and perfect day. The dolphins swam with our boat for a long time.

The cake was very tasty.

I thought it was me who figured out the cruise ship has 400 people (using, not Arturo? :) Arturo is indeed a cruise ship expert though.

Piaw Na said...

My memory is far from perfect. I've fixed the text. :-)