It has been a superb week in Barbuda. Relaxing, interesting and productive with Freddie's maths and english!
After Low Bay, Codrington and the Frigate Colony we moved down the west coast to Cocoa Point. None of the anchorages around the island guarantee comfort as they are all susceptible to swell from various quarters. We were lucky this time as the north-easterly and easterly winds prevailed and the anchorage was largely free of any 'roll'. Without any jetties, or docks, this also made beaching the tender fairly straightforward.
Towards the point the two luxury, and exclusive, low rise developments of Cocoa Bay (Princess Diana's favourite bolt-hole apparently) and the K Club, are in tatters. The empty beach in between them is staked out with the ominous implication that further speculative commercial activity is on its way. Contrary to this Roddy's Beach Bar and cottages a couple of miles up the beach is a small low impact affair. A local family concern under post hurricane reconstruction. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the type of enterprise which will shape the future character of the south east corner of this island. Rumours abound, but it appears two US consortiums, one led by a French Californian and the other involving an ageing Holywood actor and other investor friends have pulled off a Caribbean Land Grab which is the envy of developers around the region. It's said that the Antiguan Legislature has approved the plans on 100+ year leases to construct mixed residential plots along 3 miles to the East of Cocoa Point. On Barbudan Time this process could take 3 to 10 years, or never happen at all, but the beach is staked out ready and we saw helicopters arrive and leave from the beach carrying potential buyers, mainly from the North America it is said. It's a beautiful spot and the attraction is clear, in spite of the pan tropical pheomenon of dead or dying coral and the declining numbers and diversity of marine life making up the bommies and shallow reefs. This above anywhere in Antigua & Barbuda should be the prime candidate for a Protected Marine Park. Such a concept, rather than outsourced development, could help rather than hinder Barbuda's, and Barbudan's, long term autonomy and identity. Formalised Marine Protection seems to be an idea lost on all of the nearby islands, except Dominica and those administered more closely by France. Antigua itself pays lip service with a couple but they are still vulnerable to creeping development nearby. The words 'egg', 'goose' and 'golden' come to mind and it's not too late.
All this said, the deeper waters are still rich enough for us to catch our supper on the way up from Antigua and we will try again on the return leg. In the anchorage we were also blessed to have plenty of fish, including 4 large Ramoras, take up residency under the hull. The whalelike shape of Moana's underside was clearly the attraction. We'll dive under again when we are back in Jolly Harbour to find out whether they have managed to hang on over the next 35 nautical miles at 7 knots.