3-7 July 2015... Bogue Lagoon, Jamaica

We stopped waiting for weather, since we knew it would all be the same, and headed west and downwind again for Montego Bay.  Our plan was to anchor off the Yacht Club, pay to use the facilities, and clear out of Jamaica here.  We turned off the ocean into Montego Bay and got slammed with 31 knot winds -- the water was pretty churned up too.  But we went down to the harbor and immediately saw that there was nowhere in shallow water to anchor (lots of derelict boats clogging up the harbor), and where there was space, it was very deep and we would pretty much be swinging into the cruise ship turning basin.  And it was rough!  So, we turned Anhinga back, went around Freeport island, made our way through the coral reef and boogied into Bogue Lagoon.  Aaahhh!!!

Bogue Lagoon is a mangrove-lined bay.  Even when the wind is howling, the water here is smooth.  We found a nice spot to anchor just near the northeast corner in front of the Houseboat Grill.  Lots of birds -- frigates by the dozen, egrets, pelicans -- and fish jumping all around us.  We were warned about the bugs, but given the drought, there were not very many.  The folks at the Houseboat Grill were very nice to us and let us tie our dinghy up to their dock.  We did go there for dinner and it was great to see Anhinga, in front of the hills on the outskirts of Montego Bay.  

We walked into town, visited Sam Sharpe Square and read about the slave rebellion he led.  Slavery was abolished in Jamaica early in the 19th century.  We also walked up the 'Hip Strip' where the hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and beaches are.  The biggest place was Margaritaville -- bowing to the gods of tourism, we stopped in for lunch and watched people slide into the water from a great big tube slide and bounce on giant floating trampolines.  What will they think of next?

We did clear out of the country at the Yacht Club, and left at first light for the 800-mile journey back to the US.

Bogue Lagoon:  18d27.292'N  77d56.138'W

29 June - 3 July 2015... Discovery Bay, Jamaica

Next stop -- Discovery Bay.  We had heard this was a pretty bay, good place to stop.  Well, not so much.  First off, with the winds we were having, there was very little protection in this bay.  So, we bounced and rolled.  Secondly, this is the port for bauxite loading.  The dust was everywhere -- coating the boat.  Who knows how much aluminum we could have smelted out of the powder insinuating itself into every nook and cranny of Anhinga or that we inhaled during our stay.  (James Bond fans may recognize the bauxite dome as it appeared in the movie, Dr. No.)  And thirdly, there is absolutely nothing worth going ashore for here -- we looked hard -- we really did.  So, should we ever cruise the north coast of Jamaica again -- we would give this place a miss.

Discovery Bay:  18d27.845'N  77d24.113'W

23-29 June 2015... Oracabessa, Jamaica

We left Port Antonio and realized how protected the harbor was when we got outside.  Maybe 10-12 kts inside, 20 gusting 25 outside.  (We soon found out that those conditions were to be constant while we were in Jamaica.)  Made our way downwind to Oracabessa, a day hop.  Very calm in this tiny tiny fishermen's harbor.  If there had been even one more boat in there, we might not have found space.  But, we did.  

To start our exploration, we got the kayak down (it seemed silly to use the dinghy in such a small place) and went to shore at what we found out was the Goldeneye Resort.  There, Munroe became our newest acquaintance -- everyday she let us put our kayak on their dock and use the construction road and gate.  So we made our way either to town, or to catch a route taxi further afield -- we visited Port Maria (which has a terrific little library) and St. Ann (which has a fabulous market) via taxi.  Our biggest exploration though was our VERY long walk to Firefly, Sir Noel Coward's house.

Firefly was about a four mile walk from Oracabessa around the peninsula on flat land, then a two mile hike up the hill.  We successfully reached Firefly, but had to stop and rehydrate with Ting -- our other favorite drink in Jamaica.  Noel Coward's house was wonderful.  He had it built to take full advantage of the view, and to accommodate his lifestyle.  It was really quite modest for such a successful person -- just a few rooms including his painting studio, a small room with a piano, a bedroom, and the best room -- the room with the view.  There were photos everywhere of all the celebrities who had visited -- including the Queen Mum.  The grounds were large, and he is buried on site.  Hands down, this was the best place we visited in Jamaica.  Maybe someday when we move back on land, and we are quite famous, we too will have a place like this...  

Oracabessa:  18d24.447'N  76d56.887'W

3-23 June 2015... Port Antonio, Jamaica

Left Conception Island for Long Island, staging for Jamaica from Clarence Town.  The harbor was incredibly choppy -- didn't remember it being so uncomfortable.  We took refuge on land at the Rowdy Boys till the time was right to leave.  Out the harbor into even a bigger chop -- a bad hour as we got the boat settled and the winds died a bit -- then a comfortable sail overnight to Great Inagua.  Anchored in beautifully calm crystal clear water, we rested up for a couple of days.  
With the right weather we took off through the Windward Passage to Port Antonio.  The last 12 hours (through the night of course) was a screamer of a sail -- with only one sail up we still couldn't slow the boat down.  We had a massive soaking as a huge wave found its way over and through the dodger.  We hung on as Anhinga got us to the inlet.  Inside, we found the marina, but no one was there yet, so we anchored to wait.  A couple of hours later, the marine police came by and told us we could go alongside to wait to clear into the country.  So, we picked up the anchor and found out we couldn't move the boat.  The police pushed us onto the dock and we found a fishpot line around our prop.  John dove on it, removed the line, and we were ok.  But, we did attract lots of attention from everyone in the marina.  (Sometimes you watch the show, sometimes you are the show... we were front and center that morning.) 

Once settled in, we took care of immediate needs -- 2 months worth of laundry, an empty fridge, a hankering for jerk chicken.  The marina provided the laundry facilities and a terrific restaurant overlooking the harbor.  In town we found fresh vegetables at the market.  We found CCs bakery and discovered the world of holey bullahs -- a new favorite food.  And of course John became a devotee of Red Stripe beer.  

We walked all the streets of Port Antonio, a small town with nice views from the hilltops.  Hiking up to Bonnie View, a closed hotel, we looked out to both bays.  This port was a great initial stop, but the town, like many we visited in Jamaica, seemed sad and dilapidated.  And there isn't any nice way to say it, but it was incredibly dirty.  The amount of trash strewn everywhere, both organic and plastic, made Anhinga's need to pass a sanitation inspection somewhat ironic.

We walked around the east bay to the Folly House, now in ruins and home to a family of goats.  On that side of town we also found Folly Oval, where we watched the last cricket match of the season.

What was special about Jamaica was the beauty of the mountains and the vegetation.  Where the rain fell, it was lush and green -- welcoming after the months in the Bahamas where the landscapes are low, dry, and rocky.  We soon learned that there was a drought; farms were dry, rivers low, waterfalls barely trickling.  We decided to rent a car and go up into the Blue Mountains to see more.  After a couple of hours of difficult roads, we stopped at the Holywell Park (about 4500 ft up) and took a walk on their trail.  From there we had some magnificent views, cool air, pretty trees and flowers, and saw lots of hummingbirds in the fuschias. 

We took a break from Jamaica, flying out of Kingston to Miami, and on to Delray to visit Renee and Irv.  While there, we saw a family of Egyptian Geese (which are actually ducks) first waddling across the road from the clubhouse, then taking up residence in the lake next to the tennis courts.  

And of course we went to the club for dinner one night -- here we are...

Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas:  23d06.154'N  74d57.104'W
Man of War Bay, Great Inagua, Bahamas:  21d05.235'N  73d51.897'W
Port Antonio, Jamaica:  18d10.988'N  76d27.411'W