April 1 – 8, 2019
Wagwan – A Jamaican term short for “what’s going on?”
A typical response could be ‘nagwan’ or ‘nuttin nah gwaan’ (nothin’s going on)
After clearing into Jamaica with Customs and Immigration officials, we were free to anchor in West Bay, just off the Errol Flynn Marina.
As an anchorage, it was about as good as you could ask for. The only thing it was lacking in was infinite space. Good depth and soft mud to set the anchor well. Beautiful surroundings. Excellent protection from weather conditions (West Bay’s only open ocean exposure is completely buffered by shallows which prevent any wave from entering). The bay generally has lake-like conditions, with minimal tides or currents to deal with.
Perfect in just about every way. Except…
You got to pay to stay… twenty eight bucks a day. You provide the anchor and ground tackle.
That may be the only reason West Bay is not full of sailboats that anchor and never leave.
In all honesty, it was substantially less than any marina would cost to stay at. And it provided a dinghy dock, access to showers, and a certain degree of security.
We wanted to do some land excursions, which would take time to sort out and would cost money as well. So, we decided to limit ourselves to not more than a week in Port Antonio at anchor in West Bay.
The following day we received a visit from the Marine Police. Not necessarily a problem… but certainly a moment of, oh shit… do we have a problem?
The two officers, George and his partner, tied up alongside us, boarded Exit, politely checked our paperwork, and proceeded to kindly offer a plethora of information.
George was so helpful we eventually took him up on an offer to utilize his services as a local guide during his time off.
A trip into the Blue Mountains.
Incredibly lush and densely forested peaks that rise three thousand feet into central Jamaica before dropping back to the southern coast. Low clouds drift between the peaks creating an constantly shifting view of the surroundings. Tight winding roads criss-cross through the mountains, connecting tiny communities, family farms, colorful buildings and run down shacks.
Kingston can be seen in the distance during one of our stops. That was close enough for us.
George informed us that he was a police officer in Kingston before moving to Port Antonio. He said policing here is like a holiday compared to there; places in Kingston resemble a war zone. He even played a recording that had just been sent to him by a friend in which you can hear endless gunfire in the streets.
Quite the opposite of what we were experiencing…
Visiting the Blue Mountain Coffee farm… maybe not as popular as Starbucks, but world-class coffee.
Blue Mountain Coffee with a spot of over-proof Jamaican rum… ooo-wee…yum!
We had been warned not to rent a car due to the horrible state of Jamaica’s roads. At one point during the day I made the mistake of mentioning that the roads seemed to be in better condition than I had expected. Apparently that was enough to hex us…
Later that afternoon we were rewarded for my brazen comment with a flat tire.
After a day of stunning scenery and great company, we decided to arrange to go rafting on the Rio Grande…
These unique rafts have apparently been utilized for generations on the rivers by Jamaicans for transporting goods. However, it was actor Errol Flynn who first recruited their use as props to woo women he was romancing. Ever since, rafting the Rio Grande has become Jamaica’s version of a romantic gondola ride trough the Venice canals.
George had arranged for us a capable and friendly captain with over thirty years experience on the Rio Grande named Trevor, who was a man of extraordinary multi-tasking capability.
The day was an amazing blend of beautiful scenery and relaxation, as well as one of the first times we’ve taken a ride on the water in a craft that we didn’t have to pilot since moving aboard Exit... brilliant.
It would have been great to do some additional land explorations. However, we also had to stay mindful of expenditures, as always.
Every place we visit provides endless opportunities for activities which, inevitably and understandably, cost money to undertake.
To travel indefinitely, we find that keeping self-induced restrictions on that spending is an absolute necessity.
Nevertheless, occasionally indulging ourselves allows us to not merely visit a location, but rather, to actually experience it.