Port Antonio, a Safe Heaven in Jamaica
02 February 2008 | Jamaica
We were going to sail directly from Georgetown to Great Inagua (the southern island of the Bahamas) then to Panama but we actually did not stop at Great Inagua, the wind was just too good, in the right direction for once, so we continued to ride this beautiful north-east wind. We had a thrilling night sail across the Windward Passage, reefed at the lowest point, without the jib, still going at 7 knots and surfing at 9 knots! We could not let more sail out because some huge north swells came from behind the boat and made us surf at 14-15 knots, it is a lot of fun during the day but a little too much for us at night. We were happy of our progress and decided to stop in Jamaica. The closest port of entry coming from this direction is Port Antonio. I was of course a little apprehensive thinking of the bad reputation Jamaica has but everything seems to have proved the contrary. Indeed, our interaction with the officials (immigration, quarantine, customs was quick and although there is a lot of paperwork to fill out - get 4 copies of the crew list-) was a very nice experience, everyone was extremely courteous and nice! We did check in the Errol Flynn marina which is a little jewel in itself! The manager, Dale Westin and the dock master, George Munro made us feel so comfortable and were extremely helpful. The marina has beautiful grounds, tropical plants and flowers, huge trees (Jamaican apple trees, breadfruit trees, and ackee trees), a delicious restaurant, clean and big showers and laundry facilities, and free Wi-Fi!!! The marina is gated and the small town of Port Antonio does have a very low crime rate. I went to the open market and wandered in town, I never felt unsafe. People are nice and eager to speak about their country, I learned how to cook "Cake and salt fish" the national Jamaican dish, just by asking a question about a strange looking fruit-vegetable I had never seen before. We tried it the next night for dinner (actually this dish is mostly eaten for breakfast, but we cannot eat fish for breakfast yet!), it was delicious! David got into the local scene and bargained a good price on a beautiful wood carved mask representing a women with her eyes closed, quiet original, and Alban, the artist carved his name on the back...
We are just having a wonderful time in Port Antonio, it was just going to be a quick stop, but it will be now a destination for us, we will be back!!!!