What a fun few weeks we’ve had here in Antigua.
Ruth and Martin, Dans parents joined us for a weeks holiday when we first arrived. It was so very lovely to see them and to share with them some time out here. It was a busy week.
The evening they arrived we marched up the footpath from where Hestur was anchored in English Harbour to Shirley Heights: the old look out over the coast and now a band venue, bar and bbq establishment.
The following day was the first day of the Classics Week racing, and we were lucky enough to have been invited on board Grayhound for the days race. Grayhound is the 3 masted lugger from Falmouth which we have got to know on this cruise, having seen them at various places on route. She was build by Freya and Marcus in 2012 along the lines of a 1700s Cornish customs and excise Lugger. It was a superb day, we shot out on the first leg, 6 miles to the fist marker, down to the next then hard windward leg. It was very exciting to be on the water with an incredible fleet of classic and vintage boats, including a newly built J-Class. To see all the action from the water was exhilarating. Grayhound was great fun to sail, I was on the fore-deck with Freya and another crew member working the foresail and jib.
On Easter sunday we decorated and rolled eggs on the deck of Hestur, we snorkelled and swam from the boat. We visited the museum at Nelsons Dockyard, a Dockyard and harbour built in the 1700s and beautifully maintained and used; as cafes, bars, sail lofts, shops, workshops, stores and the museum. We walked over the peninsula to Pigeon Beach in Falmouth Harbour. We had drinks, cocktails and delicious things to eat.
Then early in the week we set off east round the coast to circumnavigate Antigua. We spent a night at Green Island and had a very successful BBQ on board. Alas we didn’t catch fish that day so it was chicken and veg etc. It was an unfortunate thing that the weather was, in fact, at times not quite as typically Caribbean as it could have been during that week, we had some rain and some brooding skies. The next days sail round the top of the island was pretty boisterous! There was a big sea, strong wind and some rain! Defiantly not the Caribbean weather we had imagined for Ruth and Martin’s visit! They were both fantastic on board however on this, the bumpiest trip they had had on Hestur. We worked our way through the horse shoe reef channel on the north of the island and sailed on the calm, shallow, luminous waters on the west of Antigua down to deep bay, ahh, that was more like it! Lots of snorkelling at deep bay, including on a massive wreck: a 3 masted steel cargo boat which sank in 1904. It had been carrying tar from Venezuela when it caught fire in the bay. We met friends Hedwig and Pit on their boat in the bay and they very kindly had us for dinner aboard their boat “St.Helena”. The following day after more snorkelling along the rocks and edges of the turquoise bay, we made our way south back to Falmouth Harbour, completing our loop of the island.
It was a real pleasure to have this time with Ruth and Martin out here, we were so pleased that they were able to make it.
We spent the next week and a half in Falmouth Harbour on the south. After Classics week was Antigua Race week , the parties continued… It was great fun to meet up with so many friends and make more over this time. It was a very social few weeks. Lots of people we had met in the Caribbean had been making it up to Antigua for Classics so we met up with them in the various bays and bars. Lots of dinners and drinks on various boats, shacks and beach BBQs. We met lots of beautiful boats, Holly Mae a 35 foot Falmouth Quay Punt-esq boat designed and built by Joff in 2010 in cornwall and a fantastical ship built in the Gambia ( in the boat yard we visited in Barra when we we there) built by Hans and a small team in 2013. It was a catamaran of two pirogues and expansive deck, everything about it was astonishing and inspiring, and beautiful. It had a Polynesian Claw rig, big speakers and an open fire in a basin on the back ( just like in Gambia). It was being sailed by Hans, his girlfriend, another friend of theirs and her baby. We had a wild nights’ party aboard!
So now, we are getting Hestur and our selves ready for the next leg of our journey: the return traverse of the Atlantic. We will leave in the next few days from Barbuda the island 20 NM north East of Antigua (it’s part of the same county: “Antigua and Barbuda”)
So – New halliard on the fore-mast, lashings and stowing, attention to chafed rigging, patched and strengthened lea cloth ( these hold you in to the bunk when rocking around at sea), dived and snorkelled on the hull to scrape the weed growth, my how it grows! And provisioning the boat with food; passion fruits and onions, powder milk and pasta , eggs and raisins, lemons and rice , etc etc etc , making more flapjack for the crossing and topped up the fuel and water tanks yesterday.
It was on leaving the fuel berth yesterday afternoon, that we suddenly lost drive. We were close enough still to throw our lines, Dan jumped in to snorkel and see what the problem was…. We had lost the propellor! We warped the boat forward and out of the way of the busy fuel dock, waited for it to close for the day and then Dan went back to snorkel in the luckily shallow, but murky waters of the marina to retrieve it , thank goodness he got it! We sailed out of the marina and back onto anchor in the bay. The key had corroded in the key-way! Today it’s being reinstated! Dan planing to do it at anchor, so no need to haul out. We are just so lucky it happened there are not in the middle of the sea somewhere ! Yikes !