Carlisle Bay A beautiful palm-lined anchorage. The shore is lined with coral but the centre has a clear bottom and is calm if the wind is not out of the east. It is a lovely lunch spot but if a swell gets up it can make an uncomfortable overnight anchorage.
Curtain Bluff Another palm-lined beach with an elegant hotel on shore. If the wind is south of east this will be a swell affected anchorage and the weedy bottom means that holding is poor. Reservations are required for dining in the Curtain Bluff Hotel and gentlemen should wear a jacket and tie.
Cades Reef When sailing the southern coast of Antigua, the water is calmer inside Cades and Middle Reef. For a clear run inside the reefs line up Goat Head Channel with Johnson’s Point and Old Road Bluff. The sand bank between Goat Head Channel and Cades Reef was partly eroded by Hurricane Luis making it more difficult to see, so it is important to be sailing under a high sun and watching the colour of the water. Keep clear of light coloured patches of water. If approaching Antigua from the SW at night, do not confuse the lights of Curtain Bluff for the leading lights at English Harbour.
Picarts (Darkwood Beach) & Ffryes Bay Two lovely beaches make this a good spot for an afternoon lunch. Ten feet can be carried close to shore, but there is a tendency to shoal. There is a rocky patch marked on the charts but not visible on the surface. It is about 1,600 yards off shore from Picarts due west of the sugar mill. It covers an area of approximately 350 square feet and should be given a wide berth.
Morris Bay & Jolly Beach A great place to stop when craving an active social life. Morris Bay offers a secure anchorage for large yachts but as is typical on the west coast, shoaling prevents yachts lying close to shore. A direct line between Reed and Ffryes Points has five feet of water. A calm anchorage can still be found beyond this line and a quiet anchorage can be had between Pearns and Reeds point at the entrance marker to Jolly Harbour Marina. Dinghy into Jolly Harbour Resort and spend a day wandering amongst the large variety of shops or enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes. For a lively night life there are a number of restaurants and bars. Villas and apartments are available to rent in Jolly Harbour.
Five Islands Bay It can be spotted by five rocky islets off the southern part of the bay, a secluded anchorage with five beaches. Maiden Island has a nice anchorage. At the head of the bay is a secluded beach but with only six feet of water. The eastern part of the bay is shoal with plenty of mosquitoes. There are two anchorages at the entrance which are favoured by larger yachts however, a ground swell can occasionally make this an uncomfortable spot.
Deep Bay Just west of St. John’s Harbour, Deep Bay offers one of the most secure anchorages on the west coast. Certain weather conditions can generate a swell. There is eight feet of water almost to the beach. Several hotel complexes have been built on this once secluded anchorage. Visitors can take advantage of their facilities including restaurants. When entering Deep Bay, notice the wreck due south of Shipstern Point. It is a great snorkelling spot. In years gone by one could always see a lobster or two.
Dickenson Bay The beach is dotted with hotels and restaurants, a casino and discos. During the day water sports businesses rent sunfish, windsurfers, and jet skis. Water skiing is also available. Horseback riding and tennis courts are available. Approach from outside Sister’s Rock if you draw more than seven feet. The bay is open and in certain weather conditions the sea can become a bit uneven. Although it is shallow close to shore, the bottom shelves gently and a controlled approach under Weatherill’s Point is perfectly safe.
North Coast Between Dickinson Bay and Parham Harbour it is flat water sailing and easier than it looks on the charts. Follow the coast at about a third of a mile from shore. To enter Parham Harbour head for the middle of the channel between Prickly Pear and Beggar’s Point, favouring Prickly Pear. Once past the island, head straight for the red buoy marking the north end of Maiden Island. If approaching from the north or northwest vessels should take care to stay clear of Salt Tail and Diamond Banks. A yacht should stay at least 4 miles offshore. Never attempt to enter Parham Harbour from the eastern side of the island except through Horse Shoe Channel. Anchorages between Parham and Dickenson Bay are non-existent.
Shell Beach Marina Shell Beach and Shell Beach Marina can be found on the northern edge of North Sound just before Barnacle Point and almost directly at the end of Antigua’s international airport runway. Arrangements can be made for transfers direct from the airports to yachts anchoring off Shell Beach. The marina is only capable of handling small vessels.
Parham Harbour & North Sound Parham Harbour, located on the north coast, has a channel leading into the harbour, The channel on each side was marked by two red balls just off Maiden Island. The channel is easy to spot but do not attempt to enter or leave except under daylight conditions. Parham Harbour is a well-protected anchorage. There is a small hurricane hole in the mangroves on the southeast side with a dredged entrance of six feet. The jetty end to the east of Myers Cove has five feet of water. Parham has small shops for staples. It is worth a stroll through the town to view the church architecture. A bus runs between Parham and the St. John’s East Bus Station from the morning until late afternoon. It could take a week to explore the largely uninhabited islands in Parham and North Sound. Midway through the channel is Maiden Island, a shell collector’s dream. A pleasant anchorage can be had under the arm of the island but stay clear of the channel.
North Sound Marina No expense was spared when developing the marine facility at Crabbs Marina now known as North Sound Marine Services. Originally built as a private boat yard the vast area of concrete with tie downs for hurricane storage ashore and the large enclosed shed offers one of the hurricane storage facilities in the Caribbean. North Sound Marine Services has a 150 ton travel hoist, the largest in Antigua, which can lift yachts with a beam of up to 30 foot. In addition to lift out and storage there are a variety of small businesses servicing yachts and a chandlery is planned. Some berthing is also available.
Jumby Bay Just to the north is Long Island with its exclusive resort. The hotel facilities are for guests only but the restaurant is open to the public. The island’s only anchorages are at Jumby Bay which offers a sandy bottom, shoaling towards the shore, Up to 100 feet from shore there is room for a boat drawing eight feet. Across North Sound is a group of uninhabited islands, each differing in rock formation, plant and animal life. The reefs surrounding the islands makes approaching them in a boat impossible, however, their proximity to each other makes exploring in a dinghy possible. Great Bird Island offers two anchorages to use as a base.
Turtle Watch It is around these island that the Environmental Awareness group organises its Turtle Watch. February marks the start of the nesting season for Leatherback sea turtles. From February – July female leatherbacks arrive on the beaches under the cover of darkness to lay their nests in the sand. About 8 weeks later, the hatchlings will emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea. It is estimated that less than 1 in 1000 of these leatherback turtles will survive to adulthood! The public is encouraged to assist by reporting sightings of nesting turtles, fresh turtle tracks, or nest hatchings on beaches around the island. Leatherbacks are the largest of all sea turtle species; however the public is advised that “riding”, flipping, or sitting on the animals must be avoided as it can cause spinal injuries and internal bleeding.
Windy Cove The entrance to Windy Cove from North Sound has three of its many reefs marked by red posts. These may drift in bad weather so be certain to keep a good look out. A boat drawing no more than six feet can manoeuvre in this entrance. There is more room off the leeside of the island and larger boats can drop back into the sound.
Great Bird Island Great Bird’s nooks and crannies offer surprises for the adventurous. It’s worth a hike up 150 feet on a rocky path for the panoramic view of the coast of Antigua to Indian Town Point. To the west is most of Parham Harbour and North Sound. Notice all the reefs! The reef surrounding Galley Island offers excellent snorkelling. Take a dinghy ride 400 yards to the southwest to visit Hell’s Gate, an eerie island of decaying rock. Tie up your dinghy in the small cove and underwater to the right is a passage through the island, a very competent swimmer can swim the 25 feet, then it’s a hands and knees climb through a rocky hole to the top of the island.
Guiana Island To the south is Guiana Island of 600 acres. Grape Bay is a short dinghy ride from North Sound. Approach the bay from the south to avoid the rim of coral dotted with black sea urchins that edge the shore. The shore, lined with palm trees, is a superb picnic spot. The beach, as are all beaches in Antigua, is public land to the high water mark. It is a lovely spot. Little Bird Island Channel is a tricky exit to the open sea. Attempt it only in calm weather, under a high sun and with a dependable engine. It has 20 feet of water but is only 60 feet wide in some areas. Keep a person Guiana Island (cont.) on the bow to watch for the reef. When leaving Great Bird Island’s west end head for the southeast of Long Island’s Cistern Point. When Little Bird Island is abeam turn towards the channel, keeping Little Bird to port and North and South Whelk to starboard. The channel can be spotted stretching northeast. Proceed with caution and never use this as an entrance into the Harbour
Mercer’s Creek (Belfast Bay) and Guiana Bay are completely sheltered bays but entry is potentially dangerous and inadvisable without the aid of a local pilot. At times when trades are blowing, the eastern coast of Antigua from Nonsuch Bay to Bird Islet Channel is difficult if not impossible to approach. The seas can be immense as they reach the rocky coast, somewhere to stay clear from in a small boat.
Green Island is a favourite spot to “get away from it all.” Don’t be surprised if you find others seeking the solitude of Green Island which is owned by the Mill Reef Club whose private property borders your anchorage on all sides. The mainland is off limits to non-members but the Club have made the north and northwest side of the island available for yachtsmen’s use and of course, the beaches as with everywhere in Antigua, are open to the public. West of Green Island is Hughes Bay where you will find a dinghy dock to facilitate access to Harmony Hall. This is a delightful art gallery/craft shop and restaurant complex serving some of the best Italian/Caribbean cuisine in Antigua.
Indian Creek One mile east of English Harbour, Indian Creek is a small harbour surrounded by land on three sides which offers an excellent hurricane hole if you are one of the first to arrive. At the entrance watch for Sunken Rock, spotted by breaking water, standing in six feet of water less than 100 yards off Indian Point, a favourite dive spot. Stay in the middle of the channel. There are two fathoms of water in the inner Harbour, always anchor to give plenty of swing in the occasional fluke winds. At night the lights from the St. James’s Club can confuse some into thinking they are approaching the entrance to English Harbour. Do not be fooled as there is a dangerous reef near the entrance and more than one boat has come to grief by making this mistake.