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Birdwatching in the rain
05/06/2013, Barbuda

George picked up a juvenile bird that accidently landed in the water and launched him. Frigate birds can't take off from the water!

Dave and Jackie flew to meet us in Antigua last Thursday. When we asked where they would like to go, Jackie quickly responded, Barbuda which is a small island 24 miles north of Antigua. Why she wanted to go to Barbuda? Because on the plane flying over, Barbuda was the only island that was sunny, not to mention the turquoise water and pinkish beaches were hard to pass up.

Our downwind sail to Barbuda was uneventful. We easily navigated through the reefs and dropped anchor off the south west side of Cocoa point. We were told the anchorage was full of turtles and they weren't kidding. The snorkeling off the reef was some of the best we've seen. The beach and water breathe taking!

Personally I was thrilled to be in Barbuda. They say Barbuda is the Galapagos of the Caribbean. The frigate birds nest and the chicks are hatching during the month of May. You can visit the nesting sanctuary in the lagoon only by a guided tour. We weighed anchor and moved to Low Bay to better position ourselves for the tour. This morning was the day. We called George Jeffrey, a certified tour guide and set up to meet in some arbitrary place, where Torben said, he knew exactly where it was. (Northern Barbuda has an internal lagoon that is 11 miles long and 2 miles wide. If you want to take your own dingy to the lagoon from where we were anchored in Low Bay, you'd have to carry it several hundred yards over a sandy spit.)

On the dingy ride to this meeting place, it began to sprinkle. I look over at Torben he looked puzzled. This started a four way, spontaneous conversation on where we were to meet George. (All four of us with different opinions). One thing we did agree on was the meeting place was a quarter mile down from a shack that they called the "Out bar". The difference of opinion was exactly how far was a quarter mile to a local Barbudan. Torben won out (of course) and headed us into a part of the beach with breaking surf. We ended up walking another mile in the opposite direction of the "Out Bar". Can't tell you why but we did, and ended up on a dock on the lagoon side. We sighted George sitting in his panga a mile up the lagoon, just about where we beached the dingy on the other side. A few waves of the yellow dry bag got George's attention.

Now we're in the panga with another cruiser, their two kids and dog. We come to this huge red buoy in the middle of the lagoon. While George was explaining how this northern Canadian buoy landed on their island, it began to rain. Not just any rain, I mean pouring. My long sleeve sun shirt was no match for what came down the next 60 minutes. Jackie, ended up being the all-knowing one, she brought her rain jacket!

Dave whispers to me, "Another Torben shenanigan?" Meanwhile, George is racing us up the lagoon at 60 miles per hour in pelting rain and zero visibility, to where the old bird sanctuary used to be. Dave put a stop to that right off the bat. He kindly asked if we could skip that part and get to the birds!

We took a series of turns through the mangroves and suddenly the rain lifted. There in front of us were thousands of white dots poking out of the thick green leaves of the mangrove trees. As we got closer we could see they were baby birds sitting in nests waiting for their mothers to return with a meal of flying fish. The frigates lay only one egg. Once hatched, they stay in their nests up to four months. The juveniles have white heads where the adults if male, turn completely black. Females will have a black head but white chest.

George stopped the engine and guided us along using a long pole. He spotted a chick that had fallen out of its nest. He promptly jumped out of the panga and waded over and picked up the bird with his hands and placed it back in the safety of its nest. This caused an up roar on the part of the other birds. One juvenile took flight and landed in the water. This was a problem because frigates can't take flight from water even though at two or three pounds, they have the greatest wing area in proportion to their weight, of any bird. I thought one of the kids was going to start to cry. George, again with big gentle hands, reached down, grabbed the bird and threw it up into the air. The bird, as if embarrassed, quickly flew back to its nest. George told us a story of once seeing a frigate bird fall into the ocean. Then saw two other frigates immediately come to its recue. With one bird on each side, they lifted the frigate back into the air.

Spending the day with George in the rain with the frigates was well worth the $60 US for the four of us. That's easy for me to say now since I'm writing this from the coziness of my bunk. We are motoring back to Antigua in no wind and cloudy sky. All this activity, I think calls for a nap!

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05/07/2013 | Capt. Steve
Hey, I want to go to Barbuda too!
05/08/2013 | Ann Perez
What a wonderful post for my students! They want to go to Barbuda and "help all the other birds that land in the water"! I got numerous lessons out of this post!! In the meantime, it is nice to hear you are having a good time, living the LIFE! Hugs to everyone!
Beautiful Barbuda

Anchored off Coco Point.

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Weird weather
Torben and it's weird
05/02/2013, Jolly Harbor, Antigua

The view from our anchor spot on the West side of Antigua.

We pulled into a slip at Jolly Harbor for a night prior to the Liggetts coming to visit today. We often do that so we can provision and wash the boat in fresh water. Well, we really do not need the washing this go around as it has been raining quite a bit the last week so there is not a speck of salt on the boat anwhere!

Since Connie and Steve left we sailed over to English Harbor to check out the Antigua Race week, stayed for a single night in search of fun and then retreated to the more tranquil setting of 5 Islands Bay. We also connected with our friends from Richmond YC, Lynn and Paul, who are spending a few weeks in their timeshare in Antigua.

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05/02/2013 | Sylvia
What? No mention of that crazy waterspout? Did it get close to you or stay in the distance? Weird weather indeed!
Internet part 2
04/25/2013, Deep Bay, Antigua

Steve got so desperate that he went to the top of the rig to scout out potential internet opportunities.
When he was up there anyway he hung the cutter stay and running back's, secured the radar reflector, checked the masthead antenna connection and enjoyed the view.

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04/26/2013 | Sylvia
OMG you guys are hilarious! How fun that Sis and Steve are visiting. And what a clever way to get Steve up the mast to do some work for you. I'm going to remember that one.
04/29/2013 | ann perez guests can expect to be thrown overboard to plug thru-hulls, or be sent to the top of the mast for repairs.........maybe I will rethink the idea of being guests on your boat... maybe we can meet up at a nice bar in the Carribean someday....Hugs to all!
Internet access
04/25/2013, Deep Bay, Antigua

We are having a good time with Connie and Steve and they are actually having a very easy time adapting to boat life.
Most days we have 'office hour' in the morning - that is when everybody pulls out their portable devices to check e-mail, stock quotes, weather and the like.

We have a 'Rouge Wave' powered antenna that will pick up unsecured wifi from pretty far away. After we dial into the network it goes to a router and everyone can sign on. Sometimes, like in Deep Bay, all the newworks are secure, and there is NO INTERNET. Here is Judy, Connie and Steve trying desperately to crack the pasword to some hotel a mile away......

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Jolly Harbor
04/21/2013, Jolly Harbor, Antigua

We did a little harbor cruise early this evening at Jolly Harbor - here is the view coming back out to Tivoli.

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