Good sail up from Guadeloupe to Antigua, dodging some squalls early on, but making good time and anchoring in the midst of SO MANY BOATS in Falmouth, a big change from being the only boat in Ilet a Fajou. Of course, the first thing we noticed were all the tremendous sailing yachts at the marinas and at anchor. The Maltese Falcon, at 300 feet, is incredible to see (especially from kayak level on the water.) There are so many big 100+ footers that you stop noticing them after a while. Walking the docks at one marina we learned that a real beauty of a boat (though small by Antigua standards at 70+ feet) belonged to Senator Kerry -- who we eventually saw piloting his boat down the channel passing us at anchor.
A walk over to English Harbor and the anchorage crowding is even more intense. Some of the boats had fenders out -- wonder if that was a precaution against possible bumper boats. English Harbor, as well as having a marina and anchoring space, is also an historic site, Nelson's Dockyard, with restored British buildings from the Admiral Lord Nelson era. This was the headquarters of the British fleet in the Caribbean. We walked up to Fort Berkeley at the mouth of the harbor and enjoyed the view of another of the large traditional sailing yachts going out to sea. And, John, our nature photographer, got a few great shots of the bananaquits which flutter everywhere around here.
We took some time to explore the island by bus -- one of our favorite ways of getting around. Often people on the bus want to talk with you, and it is a great way to find out which music is currently popular with the bus drivers. The bus to St. Johns was easy to get (the #17) and we walked through town, finding a terrific bookstore -- an unusual find in these Caribbean islands. Another day we took the bus to Jolly Harbor (#17 to St. Johns; changing to #20 to Jolly Harbor) where we walked the docks and bought a diver zinc for the hull at the Budget Marine store (the chandleries in Falmouth didn't have any...) And we shopped at the incredible supermarket there (why is food shopping suddenly such a sport?)
The weather forecasts for the second half of February were horrible -- high seas and strong winds generated by cold fronts coming off the coast of the US. We decided to use the time that we wouldn't be out sailing to haul Anhinga, fix a few things on board, and repaint the bottom. Hugh Bailey's Boatyard at the north end of Falmouth Harbor offered competitive rates and convenience. And the crew of the Anhinga would have shore leave for a few days too!
Falmouth Harbor, Antigua: 17d00.853'N 61d46.554'W