Antigua - Anguilla

Mon 15 Feb 2010 15:13
Hi All, apologies for the delay. This and the next blog was written 2 weeks ago and I thought that it had posted, but it seems that we had some 'technical issues'....i.e. the blog was too split in two it should work now.. 
So, the last time we updated you was when we had left Montserrat. We headed over to Antigua so that we could easily fly over to Barbados where we had to have an interview to get a US visa...the Americans with their obsessive boarder control require you to have an interview if you are arriving on a private boat...bonkers really, when they let bombers fly in by plane!


As we came into phone reception, we called up a likely looking marina to reserve a berth, clearly giving our boats length (47ft), and they confirmed that this would not be a problem. As we arrived at said marina, it seemed that we had got the wrong place....each boat there was a minimum of 100ft long, with most being at least 150ft. When we called them up on the VHF to confirm whether we had got the right one, they confirmed that yes we had! So, we ended up nestled up between a whole marina full of 100-250ft long superyachts....and Trippy (see the red arrow on the photo below!). The amazing thing was that most of their tenders were the same length as our boat! Well, we thought that there must be a 'normal' people’s marina around, but on having a wander around, unless you are at least 100ft long, you are very much the odd one out! The major issue came when trying to get ashore - all of the pontoons were 6 ft above our deck, which meant some pretty impressive gymnastics to get ashore…. I am not renowned for my gymnastic prowess (ohhh, don't be so modest I hear many of you say to yourselves...isn't that right?!) and having to 'catch' Jennifer when returning to the boat was all very well, but I had a strong suspicion that if it had to be done with any rum punch inside me, that I could get into a lot of trouble when the inevitable dunking ensued!!  The following day we decided to move around to a marina in the next door bay (English Harbour); not to fit in (the average yacht size was still well in excess of 100ft), but because the height of the jetty was 6ft shorter.


On the way over to the marina, we came out at the same time as a yacht called Mirabella V.....for all of the sailing geeks out there, you will be very impressed by this bit of tittle tattle (for the rest of you, I would move on!)...but it is truly amazing, with the tallest ever mast built at just under 300ft, it is seriously impressive from a distance.....and then as you get closer, you get an idea of scale when you see a person on you can see below!



We received a very quick introduction to the superyacht world when a member of the sailing club that I am a member of, and a super yacht skipper himself saw the burgee and came over to introduce himself and very kindly asked to a barbecue the following night.


The barbecue was thoroughly entertaining. It would seem that once you have an introduction into superyacht crew fraternity, they are all amazingly friendly. When they asked us what boat we were on, and we told them where we were moored up last night, a couple of people said, oh yes, I know, the little blue hulled one (which was actually moored just down from us)....errrr not exactly. The blue hulled one was a 63ft shipman...we were only 47ft.....and if a 63ft boat was little, I dread to think what they thought about our little toy! It is a very different world that they live in, and was fascinating to hear their tales...particularly the one about the skipper who managed to ground Mirabella on a reef!






Having booked flights to Barbados, we headed over there, staying a night in a particularly dodgy looking hotel. Getting up the next morning I actually had to put on a pair of shoes. Now, this was quite a shock. The last time I put on a pair of shoes was back in Las Palmas in November to go to an ARC owners party (at which there was entertainingly a large amount of disgruntlement by some of the owners about being forced to wear shoes and trousers!). The time before that, was when I went to pick Charlie up in Portugal in October...I have a sneaky suspicion that we in for a rather large shock when we get back to the UK!


So, we arrived at the US embassy, fully spruced up and on our very best 'butter couldn't melt in our mouths' behaviour (I suspect that Jennifer got away with murder when she was younger...she's very good at it). The interview consisted of "so you are a yacht crew wanting a visa", "Yes" we replied in our most polite english accents....and well, that was it. Less than 30 seconds. It was so quick that we had to go back to ask what sort of visa we were getting. The one, latent issue was that they will not give you a visa on the spot, you either have to leave your passport with them and they promise to get you a visa within 7 days, or given that we did not fancy hanging around in Barbados for a week, we would have to send our passports back to the embassy when we got to a suitable place where we were prepared to wait for the 10 days that it would take them to turn the visa around. We were back at the airport by midday, and our flights were not booked till 7pm, and so with a bit more of the Jennifer butter could not melt in mouth charm, we managed to get on the earlier flight.


The following night, we went out to dinner with Andy (the chap from the sailing club), and his parents (also from the same sailing club), had a fantastic meal and then made tracks west the following day.  We were very happy to move on from Antigua - there are certainly lots of dark undertones there, with several people that we spoke to having been mugged, last year there was a skipper murdered in English Harbour, and even whilst we were there a girl off a cruise ship was murdered on the beach in the next door bay to where we were moored.


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