RCC Pilotage Foundation updates on English Harbour

George.Curtis2 (Past OCC Member)
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Antigua – English Harbour
Not much to add other than that the Nelsons Dockyard Marina staff are excellent but the Wifi is a bit questionable.

Antigua – Falmouth Harbour
Good protection in pigeon bay and easy to land on the beach pier.

Positions are taken from GPS using WGS84 datum and plotted on CM93 electronic charts published in 2010. These are also referred to WGS84 datum.
Depths given are below chart datum i.e. charted depth.
One of the best known harbours in the cruising world with all facilities and a historic atmosphere.
The approach is easy, but a yacht will be in the full force of the trade winds until well inside Charlotte Point. If coming from the east it is easy to be swept past the harbour. There are now buoys marking the channel in, but these are for super-yachts and do not need to be adhered to by most cruisers.
The clearance procedure is now easy using a computer system. Fees are reasonable. The harbour is a national park, and makes modest charges. In total, a month at anchor cost us about £125 including clearances in and out etc.
It is possible to go stern to in the dockyard, but if you are less than about 55ft you will be dwarfed. At 100ft or so you will be in good company and if you are 200ft you will not be alone. Most ‘normal’ cruisers anchor. There are plenty of spots, but for most people Freemans Bay is a good choice. In the southern part of that bay the wind is gusty and variable from all directions. Yachts sheer around all over the place and pyjama parties are regular.
We anchored in the N part of the bay (17°00´·31N 61°45´·68W) in about 5m and did not move at all for a month, despite occasional heavy katabatic gusts from Shirley Heights. There is a good dinghy dock inside the superyacht jetty. Water can be had by can, or if berthed stern to.
Some cruisers prefer Falmouth Harbour, where there several marinas and plenty of room to anchor, but it is not so sheltered.
Almost anything you might get, or get done, in the Solent can be arranged in English Harbour. Major items will probably have to be imported, but dealers will organise this for you. Importing items into Antigua yourself is a tedious and time consuming process.
There are good haul out facilities and all trades. There are plenty of chandlers. The best is probably Wayfarer on the E side of the harbour, where you can also go alongside for fuel and water. Beware of Budget Marine chandlers, who seem to make up the prices/delivery charges/duty as they go along and are not straightforward about it.
Hire cars in Antigua are available, but the roads, and the vehicles – few of which would get a UK MOT – are a challenge. There are however good buses and from English Harbour to the main town of St John’s is an enjoyable and cheap journey.
There are adequate supermarkets in English Harbour and Falmouth, but for a big shop it is probably best to go to town, or to Jolly Harbour where there are much larger shops. Some Waitrose products can be had!
A ‘must do’ is the Sunday evening steel band party at Shirley heights, where you can watch the sun go down over this magnificent historic harbour. It is a fun, and reasonably priced, party with a good barbecue. The walk up to the heights is pleasant, but as the rum punches are strong, it is probably best to get a taxi back after dark.

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