On Wednesday Steve goes to check out with the marina and customs shortly after 8 am, as I get the boat ready for departure. By the time he was returning the skies opened up again and it was pouring – NOT in the forecast this was all supposed to be north of us. We decided to wait a little while for the rain to pass, 5 hours later it finally does. Luckily the marina was not very full, and no one probably wanted to come out in the rain to tell us to move out since we were checked out, so we just stayed in the slip until about 2:30. By that time it was too late to go to St. Barth's so we just went back out into Marigot Bay to anchor. During the pre trip check of the engine Steve saw that the fan belt was ready to go, so while we waited for the rain to stop he changed that out with one of our spares. Anchoring out overnight will allow him to run in to town in the morning to see if he can get a new spare one. No luck finding one, so in hindsight we should have left late Wednesday to do the overnight passage to Antigua, since we had lost a day due to the rain, we decided to give St. Barth's a miss this season and just go straight to Antigua. Thursday it is another no wind day and by 10:30 we are ready to be moving and at least be creating our own wind for some air flow. By 2 we are passing the Island of St. Barth's in very clam seas, running at slow RPM’s so we don't arrive in Antigua at night. As we are passing St. Kitts & Nevis we see a huge storm approaching so we speed up trying to miss it. Almost make it, just catch the tail end of it with rain pouring down and winds up to 37.5 knots which made the seas choppy & confused. Luckily it only lasted about 20 minutes and we were out of it. The seas quieted back down and with the wind shift thought we might be able to sail, but that did not last long. So we are slowly motoring along towards Antigua with just the main, no other boats in sight. Watch a beautiful sunset as we get ready for the night watches. I like to have the sun rising when we are 5 miles off shore so I can see us approaching the Island, Steve plans it to be at the entrance of the harbour at sunrise. So we do a switch in watch rotation so he is at the helm from 3-6, which is when we came around to the south side of the island and he was able to carry the jib. Not for long as by 6 I am up to help take down the sails as we are approaching the entrance to English Harbour. I had actually been here 25 years ago staying at an inn on the beach. Remembering how neat it was looking out at the 2-3 sail boats at anchor. Well there are quiet a few more boats around today. I was not even aware of the marinas in the bay as a point of land restricted my view from the beach. We are anchored down by Nelsons Dockyard Marina by 6:30, waiting for customs to open so we can go check in. Finally someone asks to see our departure papers. Once cleared in we go in to look around the Dockyard, which is much the same as it was in 1745 when it was a British naval station. They have done a great job at restoring and converting the old buildings into modern day shops, inns, a museum and eateries. Next we take the short hike out to the ruins of Fort Berkeley that sits on the point of land jutting out into the harbour entrance. You can see why this was and is such a well protected harbour. Don't have to worry about any attacking nations these days, but it still offers great protection from Hurricanes, many boats already tied up for the season. Have a nice lunch along the waterfront enjoying a breeze, cooling down after being in the sun all morning. After lunch we walk over to Falmouth Harbour along the road. We had seen a huge mast, and were curious to confirm our thoughts that it had to be Mirabella V. Sure enough she along with several other huge sailing yachts are at the marina there. All being worked on before moving on or being secured for the hurricane season. Falmouth is another good anchorage bigger and more open so subject to a little more rolling if anchored out. Walk back to English Harbour and ask about the tents being set up along the waterfront. This weekend they will be hosting a sports fishing tournament and have 43 motor boats competing so will have food & drink vendors and music playing during the event. Back to the boat for a cooling off swim and a relaxing evening on board. Early night since neither of us slept much on the overnight passage and it was a long hot day. Saturday we are ready to take on a more challenging hike, the middle ground trail, going over to Pigeon Beach. It is only about a mile long but 1/3 is climbing straight up, 1/3 climbing down and the other (less than) 1/3 on level ground. There were some places climbing up that a slip would cause serious fall & injury. But the views along the way were spectacular and well worth the effort. Once to the other side we were very glad to see the beach bar & restaurant open, drop our stuff off and go for a swim before relaxing with a cooling drink and lunch. This was a one way hike for me so we took the road back and were surprised at how quickly we got back, but no views along the road. Once back at the Dockyard it is 3:30 and activities are supposed to start at 4 so we hang around watching as things are set up and some of the early boats start to come in with their catches. We run back to the boat to change clothes and come back in to eat. Steve always wanting to try something different or unusual went for the goat water stew and pigs tail soup, I went for the grilled shrimp. Another great day in paradise. Sunday spend the day in the shade of the cockpit reading up on our next stop of Guadeloupe. Go into shore around 5 to catch a taxi up to Shirley Heights Lookout restaurant & bar. The restaurant / bar has been around for 30 years, it is actually on the sight of an old British lookout fort. The views are impressive but it has become too much of a tourist trap since I was here 25 years ago, they even charge you just to enter the property !!! Food & drinks were reasonable and listening to the steel drum band and people watching was fun, but won't be in a hurry to go back again. Found a taxi driver to bring us back down for the same price as we paid to go up, arriving back down to the wet crowded streets of the dockyard. No rain where we were, but plenty down at the marina, did not seem to disrupt too much of the tournament activities, as a lot of people still hanging around. Back to the boat to see how much rain came in through the port holes that we had left open (hatches were closed). Wasn't to bad, and since it was fresh water it was easy enough to clean up. Monday Steve wanted to walk up the trail to Shirley Heights Lookout so we go over to the beach where it starts. Since it is a higher ridge than the one we climbed the other day I waited for him on the beach. Turns out it was a much easier climb than the other side, which makes sense since a lot more people climb up this hill. He got some great day pictures of the view overlooking the Harbour, and I had a pleasant time relaxing on the beach. Dip in the ocean then a rinse off in the pool before lunch at The Inn's restaurant on the beach. Back to the boat to work on a clogged head problem, marine toilets tend to have a higher frequency of clogs than their land based counterparts. Steve had established a rule that the person that clogs it up cleans it, but he had mercy on me this time and did the dirty deed. Establishing who is the guilty party is not as easy to prove ( LOL ). Afternoon relaxing in the cockpit listening to a good band from over at the marina. Went to see what was going on but it was a private party of a Danish group making a film. Tuesday we will check out with customs in the morning and I will go by the Post Office to mail my postcards. The PO closed early on Friday and Monday was a holiday here. Apparently selling stamps is very restricted in the Islands as ONLY the Post Office can do so. Then off to Guadeloupe !
link to pictures; https://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Antigua?authkey=Gv1sRgCNmPmLPN9aKHtwE&feat=directlink