Saturday 16 March 2013


Motoring into Road Bay, masts wave rhythmically like the arm of a metronome, powered by the swell working its way around the headland, pushing long rolling waves into the anchorage. We anchor as close as we dare to the sheltered northern end but the bay is shallow and we roll drunkenly as the wind dies away leaving us at the mercy of the swell.

This indistinct wide bay with a few nondescript buildings and palm trees on the shore is the main port of Anguilla - but you would never guess. Small white plastic buoys mark the deep water channel leading to a wooden dock with a ramshackle white customs building. I take the tender to the smaller dinghy dock further around the beach where I tie up; timing my leap ashore carefully as the swell drags the tethered dinghies towards the shore until the lines snap tight and with a lurch they bounce back towards the dock, jostling for position until the next big wave. A charming girl at the immigration office signs my papers, recommends Elvis for sun-downers, The Pumphouse for dinner and calls a car hire company who will deliver shortly. This initial impression of Anguilla proves accurate, with friendly people, beautiful sandy beaches, a relaxed and informal atmosphere and not much else.

After a very broken night's sleep at anchor, which is so violent that I even consider setting up the lee cloths to keep us in our bunks, we abandon Juno to roll in the bay while we seek a more stable day ashore. Driving into the capital, known as the Valley, the island looks poor but well kept. Its main source of income now comes from the high-end hotels and apartments, attracted by its beautiful beaches and sunny climate. Low-lying and dry, this island has none of the natural resources and fertile climate of the Grenadines, but there is an air of purpose and everyone we speak to is courteous and friendly, with an old-fashioned manner that is very appealing.

Our destination is East Shore beach, which claims to be one of the best in the world, however we have been beaten again by the swell and the usually calm and tranquil waters are in turmoil, throwing huge white breakers onto the reef a hundred metres off shore with large waves crashing onto the white beaches, disturbing elderly American tourists and delighting their grandchildren. Unsurprisingly there are hotels and restaurants all the way along this mile-long beach, where sun loungers and parasols line the shore, each with their own colour scheme marking out their territory and guarded by solicitous attendants. We pick comfy beds near a fresh water pool and settle down in the shade to catch up on sleep. Lunch is crayfish tails with a goat's cheese salad which knocks us out for another couple of hours before we head home, rested and ready for another night on the rollercoaster.

The swell has eased a little but still too uncomfortable to eat on board so we use this excuse to visit the Italian restaurant on the beach, walking barefoot along the cool sand in the warm evening air and then back to Juno, where we prepare to leave at dawn for the BVI and the calm sheltered waters of Gorda Sound.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure I've seen those feet somewhere before!