Who would have believed?
The Return of Irene III - 2018
Wed 20 Dec 2017 03:24
At around 4.30pm, an hour before sunset, we glimpsed our first view of
Antigua. It's not a mountainous place - it's highest hill is around 420
meters above sea level. Regardless of its stature, we were very excited to
see it looming onto the horizon 27 nautical miles ahead.
Skipper Louis reached into his private stash of Moet Chandon (again) and as
the sun waned, we sat on the foredeck sipping a tincture of chilled
champagne, a quiet sense of satisfaction and personal achievement permeating
the warm evening air.
And then, who would believe it, as if on cue, the Antiguan Tourist's Board
pod of senior dolphins appeared - to strut their stuff and lead us into
shore. I describe them as senior dolphins, because these were definitely
bigger, older looking and their dance moves were even more impressive than
any of the previous pods that had come to play with Irene III. What a
privilege to have them with us as the sun was setting on our voyage.
Night falls quickly in these parts and by 6.30pm it was dark and we still
had 15 miles to go. Soon all we could see was a faint glimmer of house
lights - a sparkly haze that etched the contours of the island onto the
The winds were low so we edged along slowly. By 8.30pm, we were outside
English Harbour in the pitch black of night. The mainsail was furled and
with the motor humming gently, we got ourselves lined up with the transit
line on Dow Hill Fort. The local English Harbour radio station (think
Killiney Hill FM) was playing on our stereo. Who would have believed that at
the very moment of our arrival, the song being played was: The Boys are Back
in Town by Thin Lizzy! At least for skipper Louis and his First Mate, Johnny
Frey, never a truer word was spoken.
We nosed our way between the channel bouys into Freeman's Bay and soon found
ourselves amongst twenty other yachts, all laying at anchor off Galleon
Beach. After a quick recce and with the aid of a strong flash light, we
picked our spot and dropped anchor. Christmas LED lights twinkled on a
hillside house above the bay and the throb of chirping tree frogs filled the
The bay was flat calm, which proved a somewhat eerie experience after 16
days on the roiling ocean. It was 10.30pm when we sat down together for our
last supper - this time in the cockpit. To mark this special occasion, a
table cloth, place mats and normal wine glasses (with stems) were deployed.
For the first time in a fortnight we didn't need to clasp our bowls and
glasses tightly in one hand, while at the same time locking our knees and
feet into position and then manoeuvre a fly-by-wire spoon into our mouths
John HH's 50th boil-in-a-bag (and delicious it as too) birthday cake was
served for desert with the mandatory splash of Palme de Miel. We suspect
that this Canary Islands' liqour originally came from the wedding feast of
Cana, because despite our very best efforts, the bottle we procured at a
friendly restaurant in La Gomera, just keeps on giving.
The birthday boy then he decided to have a celebratory swim before we all
headed for our bunks. Actually it was so balmy and calm that Johnny Frey and
Sean slept soundly on deck all night. At five am, there was a loud grating
sound and it was hard to discern whether the noise was coming from the
symphony of snorers or whether our anchor was dragging. Thankfully it turned
out to be the former.