17 February 2016

Doings in English Harbour

Sunset from our helm
Peter and I spent a week in English Harbour - actually, Freeman's Bay anchorage, a mere dinghy ride to English Harbour of Horatio Nelson fame.
English Harbour is made up of many of the original buildings beautifully refurbished into restaurants, a couple of hotels, a bakery, some stores etc.  It services a rarified group of elite sailors and the tourists from cruise ships landing in St. John plus us cruisers.
Lovely but crowded anchorage with boats going every which way with odd currents and swirling wind.  We were okay and entertained by boats anchoring and reanchoring and reanchoring again as they came too close to others.  Cruisers are territorial about anchorage space.  When a new boat comes into a harbour and looks to be anchoring close to others, the crew on nearby boats come out and watch intently.  Unlike other situations when passing cruising boats wave and smile, when anchoring the interloping boat gets none of that until they are safely anchoring with all territories intact.
Milly sidling up to a super yacht.

Hiking views.
We snorkelled, took three amazing hikes with scenic views and explored the English Harbour historical site.  All fun and very worthwhile.
Super yachts beside landing for rowboat finish.
Beyond the usual though, English Harbour is a very happening place.  It is the chosen dock of many spectacular "super yachts" from all over the world.  These are super in every sense of the word - length of more than 100 feet, many young crew swabbing decks and polishing stainless steel so every inch is gleaming, worth millions and takes millions to sail/dock/equip.  The masts of these boats stand very tall, lit at night with floodlights at every spreader of which there are many.
The dock

We happened to be in the harbour during the "SuperYacht Regatta".  Milly only qualified in our hearts  as super so we did not take part but we did watch the yachts leave the harbour.   Wow!  Quite a parade!  One day we hiked to the headland to watch the race committee running the race and the boats/ships start.  Beautiful sight with lots of commentary from the avid sailors watching.
The yachts from afar elegantly racing.

Even more exciting than the exclusive super yachts, was the reception of another race at the English Harbour finish line.  This was a transAtlantic Race, The Atlantic Challenge, of 4-, 2-person or single rowers!  The first day we went into the harbour, they were setting up to receive the first over the finish - a team of four young men from Great Britain who crossed the big ocean from the Canary Islands in 36 days!
First place finishers in their missile rowboat, solar panels and all.

The racing rowboats were apparently scattered mid ocean by a very unusual January hurricane.
When they rowed into the harbour, the super yacht horns blared, people lining the shore cheered and clapped, flags were waved.  It was all very moving.  And the young men looked great.  I expected emaciated but they looked like they had just been to the gym.  They dined on lobster and drank copious bottles of water within the first hour of arrival.

Four days later when we were on the headlands watching the super yachts, a team of four girls arrives surrounded by boats of all sizes who had come out of harbour to greet them.  Forty days and second place by a team called "Row like a girl".  Got to love the name!  Same reception, same celebratory meal.  Reportedly the girls' boat smelled less offensive than the boys.  No surprise.

The girls from on high.  Their boat is the little green one below the white motorboat.  Second hand info says that the girls were surfing too fast in a storm.  They threw out an anchor to slow themselves down.  Unfortunately, a whale got caught in the line and started dragging them in the wrong direction.  They had to cut the line.  You go, girls!
The last night we were in harbour, the first 2-person boat came in at midnight.  Horns blared, boats greeted, people cheered and I could see two young men standing in their wee rowboat after accomplishing an amazing feat in 41 days.

Sure wouldn't want to do it but gave me the shivers to watch the exuberance of the crew when these three boats finished!
Even the emergency vehicles were characterful and...
necessary for roads like these.

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