Our few days in St Martin were windy, rolly, and
frustrating: surrounded by the best chandleries and boat services in the Caribbean. When not boat bound by the howling wind, we
window shopped for 3 days as all was closed for Easter! However, we made new friends
with boats anchored nearby, and fixed what we could on the boat. Including the
On Tuesday 6th we took advantage of the
North Easterlies, and got up at the crack of dawn for half a day’s sail
south east to St Barts, where we anchored amongst the superyachts and dinghied
ashore for an afternoon of people-watching. Wow: The Riviera
of the Caribbean!! Wealthy and beautiful French
people shopping with Cartier and Hermes carrier bags, scooters buzzing around
smart, chic restaurants, and the shiniest and biggest superyachts we’ve
ever seen! We managed to find an affordable bar amidst the pretty, colourful
streets, and sipped beer, (along with a few other “cruisers”), and
just watched. And watched, the people flowing past us like a river.
We finally dragged ourselves back to the boat and set
sail at 4 am the following morning for Antigua.
In 25 knots of wind, we were having a fantastic sail until seven hours later
when suddenly snap! crack! We noticed the mainsheet was rubbing furiously away
at the back of the bimini and then saw the line securing the block (pulley)
onto the boom had snapped and the aluminium casting that the topping lift was
attached to had also snapped, and our boom was out of control. We steered into
the wind and dropped the mainsail and furled in the genoa in record time, before
the entire rig came toppling down. With no backstays and no kicking strap to
otherwise control the boom, we suddenly felt very vulnerable. The following 6
hours, as the wind picked up, and the waves broke into the cockpit to dampen
our spirits further, we motored and slammed our way to Antigua, where we
anchored outside Jolly
Harbour just before it
got dark. We “checked in” with customs and immigration the
following morning, found a puncture in our dinghy (caused by a giant, dead and
bloated puffer fish in St Barts dingy dock), and motored our way south into the
wind, anchoring a few hours later in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, on Thursday 8th
April. It is so good to be here at last. The strong smell of jasmine drifting
out as we anchored was wonderful, despite the fact we are quite far from shore.
We have run into good friends from down south, made many more already, and its
nice to be amongst the long-term cruisers again, who have mostly gathered here
for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta which begins this week. We are tired
from long night sails, and moving so far and fast over the last few weeks, so
have decided to stay here for at least a week or two, sort out our rigging, and
other boat maintenance, and enjoy the regatta festivities which have already
begun. More cruiser friends are arriving over the next few days, and already
the harbour is filling up with beautiful and old classics.
Yesterday afternoon (Sunday), along with Keith and
Welly from Rapau, amongst others, we took a long and hot but stunning hike up
to the top of Shirley Heights (named after the Governor General Shirley in
Nelson’s time) where we danced our way through a Jump Up evening of steel
bands and reggae. We also strolled around Nelson’s Dockyard (English
Harbour) – completed as it stands today in around 1745 –
Britain’s main naval station in the Lesser Antilles. Nelson was stationed
here in 1784 and took over as naval commander, but was unhappy here, and kept
the port closed to trade for all but British ships. When former commander
Vernon Nicholson sailed into English Harbour in 1947, the dockyard was in
ruins, but soon restored into a beautiful monument and yachting capital of
Antigua. It is like walking around a mini English town, and there we saw the
rowing boats who have just arrived after their long (60-90 days on average) row
across the Atlantic. We got to know a few of
them whilst we were in La Gomera, the Canaries, before we set off on our
Crossing. So it was quite emotional to see them this side of the pond again.
What an amazing achievement. What sore backsides.
Shane has been asked to crew on a 70 ft racing
classic this week, so watch this space …..
Filling up with fuel (St Martin),
looks like the boat in front misjudged his approach a bit!
Keith and Welly (Rapau) on Talulah.
Nelsons dockyard (English
The restored columns from the boatyard.
Stretching his wings… spot the birdy.
Redcliffe Quay, St
John’s, (Capital of Antigua)
Lots of colours as this vendor displays their wares.
A long, hot but lovely hike up the hill to Shirley Heights.
The view from the top of Shirley Heights overlooking
English Harbour in the foreground and Falmouth Harbour in the background (where
Talulah is anchored)
Steel band warms up the crowd before the excellent
reggae band takes over at the “Jump Up”.
Yep, you guessed it, the sun goes down here too.
“Jump Up!” and down for little bald men.