04 February 2020

Antigua Again

Perhaps because we have spent more time on this island than anywhere else in the Caribbean (4+ months over 3 trips), or maybe it is the genuine friendly nature of people, or the vibrant sailing culture, or the beautiful land and harbors... Antigua feels like home in the Caribbean.

Captain Linda Perry Riera


Once a British colony, Antigua has been independent for 40 years but maintains close ties with the UK. Many British have relocated to Antigua or have vacation homes here. Almost half of its population of 80,000 lives in the capital area of St. John on the northwest side of the island. The topography is an interesting mix of modest mountainous rain forest, low brushy hills, dramatic rocky coast, and inviting sandy beaches. Most of our time is spent in the nautical southern quadrant in English and Falmouth Harbors although we expanded our horizons this trip a bit.

Sailing high in to the easterlies for a 50nm sail from Dehaise, Guadeloupe to the eastern coast of Antigua, Nonsuch Bay back in mid January .


Old Favorites

Antigua was our first Caribbean landing on Argon back in November 2016 after a 6 day passage from Bermuda. Our newness to extended cruising and naivete regarding Caribbean sailing likely caused a steady drip of adrenaline in my body at that time and contributes to vibrant recollections. The second off shore passage to Antigua two years later was a forced extended stay due to significant rig repairs needed. Even though our attention during this 7 weeks was often centered on managing repairs, we were appreciative for being stranded at this island as Antigua was already a favorite.

Now, with quite a few nautical miles in the log book, arriving in Antigua Take 3 is familiar and comfortable. It was wonderful to tuck in to English and Falmouth Harbors for a couple of weeks, meet up with familiar faces, enjoy the deep history and tackle several boat projects.


A Happy Place = Anchored in Freeman Bay, English Harbor. Great cove for my morning swims too.



Med moored at Nelson's Dockyard for about a week among mostly more grand vessels. Construction of the dockyard began in the mid 1700's and is maintained impeccably as a cultural heritage site. It is a fascinating place to experience and explore.



Argon secured at Nelson's Dockyard just before the winds kicked up. The anchor is out to secure us med-mooring style with another long strong line to an underwater mooring chain secured by the dockyard divers. The winds were 20-30kt for several days but we held securely.


A few of the impressive sailboats docked at Nelson's.


Copper and Lumber, a hotel and restaurant at Nelson's Dockyard, was built in 1789 originally to store materials for building and repairing ships. 


Sherwin and Q: Dock Masters and all around great guys at Nelson's.


Meena from the Dockyard Bakery. My favorite is the curry vegetable pies.


Off the main strip in Falmouth, Caribbean Taste offers up great local food at good prices on a front porch.





Chillin' for an afternoon while anchored in Carlisle Bay (Jon and Nicole).

Sunset while at anchor at Five Island Bay. The serene setting was interrupted by a morning anchor dragging incident.



New Harbors and Experiences

Despite the generous amount of time in Antigua in the past, and our comfort hanging out mostly on the southern coast, there were regions yet to explore. The eastern reef-enclosed Nonsuch Bay was high on my mind to visit. When winds and surf are up, the entrance to Nonsuch can be dangerous or impossible to transit, but the conditions and our schedules were ideal for a short stay. Some land excursions and anchoring in Deep Harbor just south of St. John were interesting new areas to explore.



Enjoying coffee at sunrise as storm clouds approach anchored behind the reefs at Nonsuch Bay on the east coast.


Dramatic Devil's Bridge on the east coast.


Hike to the secluded Windward Bay Beach on the south coast.

Hike up the hill overlooking Argon anchored in Deep Bay Harbor on the west coast.



Deep Bay Harbor - One would never know that the crowded city of St. John was just a couple miles away.



The Atlantic Challenge is a yearly extreme ocean rowing event with a few dozen $100K specialized row boats. Teams of 4, 3, 2 and even solo row 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to Antigua taking 30-40+ days to complete. We were fortunate to have been docked right next to the finish line to welcome in the first couple of teams and participate in the festivities. Argon then took a seat back out at anchor to watch others from our transom arrive later in the week. Impressive athletes indeed!


The third place rowers approach the finish line in style in English Harbor, complete with flares and bagpipes.



Not your daddy's row boat.

 

More Visits from Kids

Jonny and Nicole escaped the cold upstate New York weather to join us for a week spending time on land and aboard Argon.



Jon and Nicole.


Getting ready to hang out on board for the afternoon at anchor.



Found this cool new restaurant in Falmouth specializing in gins and brisket: S*itting Monkey.

Hiking the Goat Trail transiting the southern coast from English Harbor to Falmouth.

Lots of goats on The Goat Trail.


Jon and Nicole atop the popular Shirley Heights for the steel drum band and bbq. Argon is anchored in English Harbor below.


What About Barbuda?...

Antigua is actually the country of Antigua and Barbuda. These two islands comprise the same country, however, Barbuda works hard to function independently and maintain its autonomy and unique culture. Sailing to Barbuda did not fit in to our itinerary during past trips, but thankfully it did this time. More on Barbuda on the next post!




Navigating coral heads approaching the very low, flat island of Barbuda. More to come on Barbuda with the next post.








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