A Wild Night in English Harbour

 Life has been very kind to us over the last few months , allowing us to spend our time in a huge variety  of   anchorages  that provide a  gorgeous tropical view in daylight , and by and large, sheltered peaceful nights. In effect we were overdue for  a bit of adventure.

From English Harbour






Bryony is due in 24 hours time and so , naturally  , the drought that has affected the Caribbean has come to an end  . She had the same effect in Australia and Brazil , and really should be studying climatology so that she  has some scientific underpinning  to profit by  this remarkable talent. The culprit was a little secondary low that formed to our NW  and sent bands of heavy rain with gusty squalls  our way. We beat our way round to English harbour to await her , arriving looking like drowned rats to find it pretty crowded with boats sheltering and waiting for the Classic boat regatta which coincides with Bryony’s stay . Nonetheless , we found a spot  and laid out a second anchor  to fine tune our position. Ironically we needn’t have bothered, as our nearest neighbour , a trimaran with no one on board , twirled round in one of the more vicious squalls , plucked up her anchor and started dragging through all the moored boats and out to sea leaving us  more room than anyone else in the anchorage!  There was lots of shouting , but no one seemed to be doing anything so I climbed aboard , let out loadsa chain and she stopped for a while.

The entrance to English harbour is narrowed by a reef on the E side  , and  in normal conditions its really quite nice if you anchor just inside this  as you get clear water , good snorkelling and the best cooling breeze in the anchorage.  Now however the vicious gusts were blowing straight on to the reef , and a large heavily sparred gaff rigged 12 metre was laying so close that  her counter was almost over the breaking waves.  I rowed over to see what was up and it seemed that they had no engine , had deployed both their anchors , and didn’t dare try to kedge clear in case the remaining anchor dragged.  Out came our 3rd anchor , the monster , and  in the dusk we kedged her clear , reset one of her other anchors and left her  lying securely to all  three.

Back on the boat , with  the rain beating like a military tattoo on the awning , we dried out as best we could and treated ourselves to a hot rum toddy ( normally the sun downer is taken with as much ice as you can get hold of!) , and turned in  feeling quite smug because of our good position and two anchors. We were less smug at 0400 when another trimaran  (  a singlehander  ) banged into us  and proceeded to motor around us dragging his useless anchor round the sea bed  as if he was trying to  pull our  hooks out as well!  The rain was torrential , but surprisingly warm  as I climbed aboard the tri, persuaded him that as his line was now wrapped around my keel he should buoy it and slip it  , helped him re anchor ( upwind of someone else!) , retrieved his first anchor , set that for him as well   and   rowed back to drip dry in Festina .

The wind was forecast to  do a cyclonic veer through 270 degrees so  the next day we decided to take a marina berth where we could leave the boat without further risk of assault by multihull , and meet  Bryony  with peace of mind.  It is however like no other marina we will ever visit as we are lying stern to a !17th century  Naval  dockyard complete with the original  buildings ,  with old  anchors and capstans laid out midst  lawns and palm trees. Our lines  are tied to 300 year old cannon sunk into the ground as bollards. Some of our neighbours  are beautiful American schooners and ketches ,  the crews of which are busily polishing and varnishing  and putting the last touches  before the judging  for the Concours D’Elegance  tomorrow. Next to them is a 200 ft 3 master  with a huge superstructure  , and even worse is a similar sized motor yacht that looks like a block of flats and is reputed to belong to Eric Clapton. I guess he always did have debatable taste!

From English Harbour

Even next to the “normal “ boats we look tiny , but we are used to that. It looks like the weather will settle   down soon , so after some more rubbernecking at the gorgeous classic yachts  we hope to take Bryony on another circuit of Antigua’s wild places .


  1. Hi Philip, I was just wondering what ground tackle you carry. My own Manson supreme seems very good but I have been let down by my secondary 25lb CQR in sand in 50 knot gusts and flat sea with all my scope out. I am intrigued to know what the “monster” is. Say hello to Bryony from us.

  2. Hi John

    The Monster is a 35Kg CQR – but I reckon thast your manson or one of the other new Kiwi types with a roll over bar would be better . We tend to use multiple anchors if it blows hard , plus a weight we lower down the ropes – all of whiich are recoverable manually seperatly – but nonetheless we can deploy a very significant combined wt of anchor and chain.


Leave a Reply