Anchorages

Carlisle Bay is 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 the swell gets up it can make an uncomfortable overnight anchorage.

Curtain Bluff is 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 is poor holding.  Reservations are required for dining in the Curtain Bluff Hotel and a jacket and tie required for gentlemen.  Another palm-lined beach with an elegant hotel on shore.

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 Goats 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 can be spotted by five rocky islets off the southern part of the bay.  It is 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.  At the entrance to the bay there are 2 anchorages which are favoured by larger yachts however, a ground swell can occasionally make this an uncomfortable spot.

Deep Bay is 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 in the bay.  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 snorkeling spot.  In years gone by one could always see a lobster or two.

Dickenson Bay is a great spot for nightlife.  The beach is dotted with hotels and restaurants.  There is a casino and discos.  During the day water sports businesses rent sunfish, windsurfers, and water skis. 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.  There are numerous lovely restaurants and hotels on this part of the coast but they are best visited by car.

Parham Harbour, located on the north coast, has a channel leading into the harbour, to the old Crabbs Slipway and the Marina.  At the time of publication the channel on each side was marked by two red balls just off Maiden Island.  There are plans to place red buoys to starboard and a black to port.

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 A jetty to the east of Myers Cove has five feet of water at the end. 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 islands in Parham and North Sound.  Most are uninhabited but often visited by sailors.  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.  Just north of Maiden Island is the 350 acre Long Island.  It has been developed as an inclusive resort. Call Jumby Bay VHF 68 for lunch reservations.  The hotel facilities are for guests only.  The islands only anchorages are 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 a different adventure in rock formation, plant and animal life.  The reefs surrounding the island 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.

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 maneuver in this entrance.  There is more room off the leeside of the island. and larger boats can drop back into the sound.  Great Bird’s nooks and crannies offer surprises for the adventurous.  It’s worth a hike up 150 feet on a rocky path.  At the top is a 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! An unusual feature of the island is a hole through the middle.  The reef surrounding Galley Island offers excellent snorkeling.  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.

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 and it is a shame to see garbage washed ashore.  Please don’t ever, ever throw garbage overboard when sailing around these or any other islands in the Caribbean.  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 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 and entry is 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.  Never mind – go ahead and enjoy the new world. Green Island is owned by the Mill Reef Club whose private property borders your anchorage on all sides.

The mainland is off grounds to non-members but the Club have made the north and northwest side of the island available for yachtsmen’s use.  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 the Antigua.

In addition to the Harmony Hall Restaurant and Gallery there is now the Harmony Hall Yacht Club, established in December 2007 after sailing enthusiast Carlo Falcone, who represented Antigua at the Barcelona Olympics in the Star Class had purchased the Harmony Hall business.  Some sailing legends have become founding member including Dennis Conner, Russel Coutts, Torben Grael, Mike Toppa and Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen.  The intention is to create a centre of excellence in yacht racing in Nonsuch Bay.  To this end, eight Dragons were purchased from Petticrows in the UK, the major Dragon Class builder, and with the ninth, owned by Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen is used for fleet racing, together with team, match and triple racing.

There is plenty of room in Nonsuch Bay for anchoring and the windward reef offers protection from the sea.  There are many nooks and crannies for exploration.  Mysterious Ledcoff Cove is one of Antigua’s best hurricane holes.  The reefs leading to Fanny Cove offer excellent snorkeling.  The safest exit from Green Island is to return by way of Submarine Rock.  The northern exit through Spithead Channel should only be attempted under power and clear visibility.  There is not as much water to manoeuvre as the charts show.  Keep to the western or leeward side of the channel until there is no discoloured water to windward.  It is then safe to head for the deep water.  We strongly advise you not to enter Nonsuch Bay from the northern channel unless you have some local experience, as it is very difficult to locate the channel entrance from seaward.  Only use the channel in good light.

On the north side of Nonsucn Bay is a small, well protected anchorage called Ledeatt Cove but is is only suitable for 2 or 3 yachts at a time and of 2.3 metre draft or less.