News and Photos from Antigua

The Talulah's Web Diary
Ali Pery / Shane Warriker
Mon 12 Apr 2010 21:36

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 generator (again!).


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 Harbour) Antigua.  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.