Thursday, February 6, 2014

Montego Bay (or Mobay to the locals)

posted by Sara.  Written February 3, 2014.

We had a great run in the 20 knot winds from Discovery Bay to Montego Bay although once again the waves were bigger than we like.  As we came into the harbour, we sailed right under the end of the airport runway.  The planes were close! 

I suspect if one of these guys clipped the top of your mast, it would be disaster for everyone involved!
All the cruising guides recommend staying at the Montego Bay Yacht Club (MBYC) so that is where we headed.  The yacht club apparently had a bar, restaurant, swimming pool, games room, WiFi and lovely washrooms but we still had second thoughts as it was a stern tie dock.  A stern tie would mean a lot of stress for us and loads of entertainment for any bystanders.  Once we arrived, we realized that anchoring wasn’t going to be comfortable as the MBYC isn’t sheltered at all.  It is located on the western shore of Montego Bay and the bay is wide enough for the 15-20 knot prevailing easterlies to blow full force straight onto the dock.  We dropped an anchor in the high wind but it was the least sheltered place we have ever anchored.  Scot and I both felt very uncomfortable with it.  I went ashore to check things out while Scot waited on the boat to make sure our anchor didn’t drag.  It turned out that the MBYC did have a transient slip available so we decided to try it.

The Montego Bay Yacht Club
The stern tying event was as chaotic as predicted with us dropping our anchor about 80 feet off the dock, tying off to a mooring ball and then backing into the slip.  Actually, it wasn’t really a slip, just a piece of the corner of the dock.  It took a few tries as our boat has a lot of windage and we got our bows blown off to port and then to the starboard a few times.  Finally we were  secured on our corner of the dock.  Ironic that we still pay by the foot, given that only a couple feet of our boat actually had any dock space.  Luckily, we ended up docked next to our friends Ja because we needed to tie a line from our bow to theirs to keep the wind from pushing our bows off again.  Scot was in a bit of pain from all the exertion as he had fallen from his paddle board onto the reef in Discovery Bay and stepped on some sea urchins.  Both his heels were still riddled with sea urchin quills.

We paid for a 39 foot boat, and got 4 feet of dockspace.  But it was easy to get on and off, and we stayed put for the whole time we were there.

Jon and Giovanni, our friends on Ja, who we have been sharing anchorages and marinas with since Peurto de Vita in Cuba, were docked right next to us.

We spent the next few days enjoying the amenities at the yacht club, getting our boat topped up with diesel, water and provisions, catching up on our e-mail and doing a bit of site seeing.  The pool here is very nice so the kids enjoyed that (as well as the WiFi.)

The restaurant at the Montego Bay Yacht Club.
The bar at the Yacht Club, where we watched the Superbowl.
The yacht club's weekly racing fleet.
Day two:

Due to a local strike there was no diesel available at the yacht club.   We had ironically let our diesel tanks get quite low as we were trying to use up our older fuel and replace it with ‘fresh’.  Scot and I were just on our way to call a taxi the following morning to take us and our jerry cans to a local gas station when we met another Canadian on the dock.   He had hired a car for the day and kindly offered it to us to take to the gas station while they finished their breakfast and got themselves organized for their day.  Great!  We also dropped our laundry at the dock office as they send it out for laundry service – it comes back late in the afternoon all clean and nicely folded! 

After we topped up our fuel tanks from our jerry cans, we called for a taxi.  Lee took us to the Mega Mart about 10 minutes drive from the marina.  It is a smaller version of a Costco & we spent a couple of hours getting provisions for the boat (and eating Haagen Daz ice cream!)   At the Mega Mart, we bought some rotisserie chicken (jerk flavor – it was delicious).  That night, we watched the Super Bowl in the bar at the yacht club .  We were the only ones rooting for Seattle.  Most of the Americans and Canadians here are from the east coast, Ontario and Quebec so Denver seemed to be the favourite.  We still couldn’t believe the score though! Turns out we picked the right team.

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The Mega Mart in Montego Bay is the biggest grocery store we have seen since Florida.
The kids managed to get into the bar and try their hand at pool.  Note the Rasta Man in the background.

Day Three:

Today we spent the morning changing the oil in our diesels once again.  Much easier the second time ‘round. And customs and immigration came to check us out of the country as we are leaving in the morning.  We might end up in a few more Jamaican bays before heading over to the Cayman Islands but we have to officially check out at Montego Bay.   In the afternoon, we called Lee again.  He took us on a ‘2 hour tour’ of Montego Bay and the surrounding area.  We got to drive through the downtown, the touristy hotel district, past Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville,  through a high end neighborhood, down to historic Falmouth and then up into the hills.  It was a great way to get a feel for the area. In the hills, Lee kept jumping out of the car to pick us fresh fruit off the trees.  We hadn’t heard of any of them – Apu, Ackee, Tambarin, Jack fruit, ?

An old farm house in the hills around Montego Bay.
The boys enjoying our taxi tour.
Katie holding the Jamaican apples that Lee picked right from the tree for us.

The restaurant at the MBYC had a taco dinner special on so we splurged and ate onshore. As Katie’s birthday is in a few days she got to indulge in her favourite drink, a virgin Pina Colada.

Birthday drink!  Cheers!


  1. It's great to see you guys back online again! You're photos are great and make me miss sailing and swimming. BTW Scot, you're missing another -30C week here in Red Deer!

    1. Hey Ed. Glad to know you are keeping up with the blog. Also happy to know I am missing -30! I heard things got interesting in the ICU just after I left in late December. Hope it has settled down now. Hi to everyone there.