We left Jumby Bay, Antigua at 0430 Wednesday morning after a failed attempt to do some filming under sail with Discovery. Shannon Best was finally onboard after squaring his nightmare visa problems and almost getting arrested on the flight from Miami for playing video games. The wind was too light at launch, Shannon broke a line; rescues on top of rescues ensued.
Nico and I had a good sail though, tacking back and forth in a spectacular bay inside Great Bird island. The sail to Barbuda was fast and uneventful. Night sails are always a pleasure for me as it provides time to just enjoy being under sail while everyone sleeps. Barbuda lies just 25 miles north of Antigua, but it’s a vast world apart in every way: geography, population, development, tourism. There being close to none of each.
Barbuda is a totally flat island of palm trees; miles and miles of white sand beaches; just 1400 residents; two hotels; and a myriad of reefs which have claimed over 200 boats in recent years. Nautical charts are unreliable, necessitating great care only in the best of light when on the go. I’ve looked at those same unreliable charts and aerial photographs of Barbuda for months and all I could see was potential kiteboarding perfection. Of all the places on our Caribbean itinerary this season, this is the spot I was most excited to explore. Discovering new locations and pioneering wild areas is what this expedition is all about and Barbuda would either fulfill or disappoint.
We hooked into a nice Sierra Mackerel (providing for wicked sashimi for lunch!) on the passage and shortly thereafter wound Discovery through a series of bommies, drying reefs and a few turtles under sail into Spanish Point. There was little doubt that Barbuda would indeed fulfill. In fact about 30 seconds after the anchor hit the sand I put in a waypoint and named it “KITING UNREAL”. And that’s before we even had the kites out.
Imagine an expanse of shallow clear water over sand and sections of reef almost as far as the eye can see. Imagine flat water, protected by a long spit of land that’s low enough to not disrupt the winds. Then imagine a left break with waves booming around the point. And finally, not another kite, or for that matter another human being to share your space with and you’ve got it. And remarkably, this spot is a far second to the one we’d find later today.
The Best crew kited most of the day. Headcams, kitecams, kiteloops and kitebloops interspersed with more remarkable food compliments of our chef at “Chez Nico”. Winds were a bit too light to get Clinton and Shannon out in the waves, but all in all our first day in Barbuda was spectacular.
With the light behind us in the morning we decided to sail downwind to another point which will remain unnamed, with the Best crew kiting right along with us. Dolphins payed a brief visit, our first in the Caribbean since the almost daily visits we had on our crossing from Italy back in December. I’m leaving the point unnamed because I don’t ever want another person to come here. Maybe that’s unfair, but I could end the expedition right here and never leave. Clinton wants to move here. I just don’t want to leave. You kite right on the leeward side of a long spit of white sand beach, palm trees swaying. Ok, it’s offshore so if you get in trouble it’s good to have a dinghy, but I can find no other faults. If flatwater, and I mean FLAT water is what you’re after, this is the place.
Every one of us got way too much sun today. And the amount of kiting we got is evident in the fact that it’s 9 p.m. as I write this and the only one remotely coherent is Nico, who actually had the easiest job today, which is not usually the case.
My only complaint is that even as the captain on this journey I think my title would be more appropriate as kite slave. When you’re making a video and have a lot on the line you’ve got to keep the operation moving. Which means instead of kiting these amazing spots we’re finding I’m running Dave and Jody up and down the mast to film and shoot, rescuing downed kiters with the dinghy, getting Alex Brown out of bed, keeping Stacey from spilling beer in the cabins, and getting Shannon smokes. I know, I know, you feel for me right?