English Harbour is the home of Nelson’s Dockyard and also the Port of Entry for Falmouth Harbour. The Customs and Immigration offices for both English and Falmouth Harbours are located in Nelson’s Dockyard.
A clear navigation channel must be maintained in English Harbour from Fort Berkeley to the inner harbour. Yachtsmen are requested not to obstruct the free passage of vessels to and from the inner harbour. All yachts at anchor in English Harbour must pay local harbour fees. Rates available from the Paymaster’s Office. Stern-to the quay there is 14 feet of water from the Paymaster’s Office to the Galley Bar. Be certain to drop anchor almost to Antigua Slipway or the mangroves. Where possible, all yachts should use the mooring buoys for additional security when going stern-to but not rely upon them solely and should not be used without an anchor.
There is a trough in the harbour and holding can be poor, especially in bad weather. Depth from the Galley Bar to the west end of the quay is 14 feet shoaling to 8 feet. Vessels, especially large power craft, are requested not to use their engines in the vicinity of the quay as the wash from propellers could damage the recently restored historic wall. Please use your anchors to pull the vessel well away from the quayside.
There are four hurricane chains in English Harbour which were laid by the British navy during the development of the Dockyard in the 18th Century. Their purpose was to give incoming vessels a fixed mooring to catch and stop the boat. There are two chains between Antigua Slipway and shore point. One runs from the Slipway west for approximately 160 yards to an anchor on the beach. The other goes from the Slipway mangroves north for 80 yards to a small clearing in the mangroves. A third, in Tank Bay, runs from the Clarence House jetty, which now houses the new Coast Guard station, to the Powder Magazine’s dock. It also has large boat mooring identifying its location. The fourth is in Freeman’s Bay, running from the large anchor on Galleon Beach to Fort Berkeley Point. Feel free to address any queries you may have regarding the chains or any other matter of concern to the Harbour Master in the Dockyard. He will be pleased to assist you with any problems or difficulties you may have. Please note, there is a 4 knot speed limit for all craft in the harbour
The approach to Antigua Yacht Club Marina, Catamaran Marina and Falmouth Harbour Marina are marked by red and green channel buoys. It needs to be remembered that Antigua uses the American system of buoyage colouring which means the red buoys are to starboard on entry and the green ones to port. The opposite way around to the U.K., Europe and most of the rest of the world.
Entering Falmouth Harbour is easier than it may appear from the charts however, be wary of Bishop Shoal which lies to the east of the entrance and is marked by a large, red buoy. Leave the buoy to starboard. The shoal is easily spotted, except in the calmest waters, as waves break over it. To enter Antigua Yacht Club Marina or Falmouth Harbour Marina, after Bishop Shoal buoy, leave the next red buoy to port and follow the buoyed channel which leads to both marinas. To enter the Catamaran Marina leave the red buoy after the Bishop Shoal buoy to starboard and line up the two orange triangles on the hillside above the Catamaran Marina. These will lead you to the dock. There are leading lights to the Catamaran marina for night entry.
There is good anchoring in Falmouth Harbour however, please do not anchor in the channels or the exclusion zone in front of Antigua Yacht Club Marina and Falmouth Harbour Marina. All yachts at anchor in Falmouth Harbour must pay local harbour fees all yachts visiting marinas within the National Park area must pay harbour fees in addition to marina berthing fees.
Falmouth Harbour is home to Antigua Yacht Club and visiting yachtsmen are welcome at the club. Any yachts entering Antigua through Falmouth Harbour must clear through Customs and Immigration at Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour. Jolly Harbour Marina is Antigua’s newest marine facility and contains all the services required by a yachtsman.
Jolly Harbour Marina and Boatyard is located on the sheltered west coast and is the first port when approaching Antigua from St. Martin and islands to the North. Lit channel markers guide you into the harbour to the 155 slip marina providing very sheltered berths on four concrete, fully serviced docks. With 24 hour security it is an ideal place to leave your yacht. Duty-free fuel is available. For convenience Customs & Immigration clearance is on site. Mike van Rensburg, the newly appointed Manager, will ensure all your needs are taken care of!
In the boatyard a new 75 ton Marine Travelift with boat hoist, sailboat extension and mast crane provides the best handling service available. The boatyard provides a concreted short term working area and long term secure storage on stands or in cradles with a covered dinghy store, mast stands and secure lockers. Budget Marine chandlery is on site and an excellent selection of trades are located within the yard.
This full service Marina and Boatyard with resort amenities include security and CCTV, large supermarket, banks, ATM’s, many restaurants and bars, golf course, car/golf-cart rental, taxis, tennis and squash courts, villa rental and hotels. Only 30 minutes away V.C Bird International Airport provides daily flights to North America, UK, Europe and private jet facilities. Why go any further!
St. John’s is the capital of Antigua. The Port Authority is located at the outer end of a peninsula on the north side of the harbour and which runs westward towards the middle of the harbour. This is usually occupied by commercial vessels but, if space is available you may stop there briefly to clear-in otherwise anchor off Heritage Quay and use the Customs & Immigration post located on the quay. This is not always manned so it may be necessary to walk to the main office on the north side of the harbour about fifteen minutes from Heritage Quay. The inner harbour (south east side), between the deep water port and St. John’s waterfront, is used by small local craft. The area provides an excellent anchorage for yachts drawing 9 feet or less with a very good holding ground of mud. Anchor in 12 feet or less as your draft permits. Make sure you are on the 12 foot shelf as a turning basin has been dredged for cruise ships. If you are in water of more than 17 feet you are in the turning area.
No fees are charged for use of the inner harbour and limited dockage space and facilities are at the marina located off Redcliffe Quay. Dinghies can also be left at Treasury Pier. Fuel and fresh water are available at Keeling Point. Groceries and other provisions are readily available and often cheaper than from other parts of the island.
Epicurean and first Choice Supermarkets are just a short taxi or ‘bus ride out of town. The map Shop on St. Mary’s Street sell all the latest cruising guides and charts. Besides the obvious advantage of being able to anchor within a cable of the commercial and business centre of the island, St. John’s Harbour offers the opportunity to sample a large variety of restaurants and bars plus mix with the local community
Parham Harbour was Antigua’s first port of entry and remains one to this day although visits by yachts have become negligible and it is mainly in use by local fishing vessels. A full time Customs & Immigration post is in operation at the port. Located on the north coast, a channel leads into the harbour. It also leads to the old Crabbs Slipway and 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 and a port of entry with Customs and
Immigration posts. 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 basic provisions. Market Street in Parham was the main street in Antigua up to 1850 at least. The name Market Street was transferred to the main street in St John’s, it is said, about 1902 when the main merchant in Parham moved to St John’s. St. Peter’s Church, a spectacular octagonal structure, often called the finest church in the West Indies, was built originally in 1711. Like most other wooden structures, it burned down but was reconstructed in the 1800s. Thomas Weekes, a British architect, then re-designed it. Parham is the oldest town on Antigua. One writer said of the area “For visitors who view the town from the height, or from the deck of a boat in the harbour, the lush natural setting makes a singular, lasting and haunting, delightful impression.”
Barbuda is known to only a few intrepid sailors who like to keep the secret to themselves. The island has almost 200 wrecks around the coast, which are enough to put off casual yachting people and is so flat that it is very difficult to see until you are dangerously close to the reefs.
Low Bay is the nearest to Codrington Village. It is possible to carry a small dinghy over the Palm Beach sand into the lagoon and make your own way to the village from there. A boat with a shallow draught can sail into the lagoon, but this is only for experts and may need the help of a guide.
Barbuda’s shopping has improved greatly in the last few years and almost anything you need in the way of everyday items can be bought in Codrington Village.
Barbuda is listed on the Antigua & Barbuda Government website as a Port of Entry but if Barbuda is to be your first post of call in the country it is worth checking with Customs and Immigration in Barbuda before arriving. They can be contacted on +1268 460 0085 and +1268 460 0354.