We left St Vincent and the Grenadines and enjoyed three days of breezy sailing, anchoring in a bay in St Lucia and Dominica each night. Just four crew, we were very relaxed. Bacon butties, good music and a brilliant view of each island as we ventured our way further north. Back to reality!
Upon arrival we took down the main sail and gib and flaked them on the dock between us. Once lines were away and the Captain was smiling we let loose. It was a Sunday, so my first experience of Antigua was Shirley Heights. A bar set on the top of the hill that looks over Antigua's coastline. We watched the sunset listening to a live steel drum band, rum and ginger beer in hand. A solid six months of work had finally come to an end...for now.
We spent March catching up on jobs that had been put to the bottom of the pile during our time in Mustique. A timetable was established working from 7am until 4/5pm during the weekdays (we started early to get more done before the heat of the day kicked in) then sneaked off during the weekends to explore our new destination.
For the Wakeboard enthusiasts, head to the beach by Blake island that is to the left of the entrance of Falmouth Harbour or if the winds are up go to the sheltered water between Catamaran Marina and St Paul. Watch out though - there are sand banks and buoys everywhere!
If your hungry? There is always a bbq to be found. Just follow your snout and you'll stumble across one along the roadside. The locals throw together a huge feast most evenings. Grab the Antiguan takeout of fresh fish or a burger (God knows what is in it, ha!). Listen out for the live bands jamming in the local bars. Look up Sound Citizen, an awesome bunch who play every Wednesday at Skullduggary's, order an Espresso Martini! Lime is another bar with live music and an upbeat atmosphere. There are loads more bars around, but its more fun to discover them for yourself.
You will quickly get to know Jacko....and his donkey. Who, according to my Captain, has been their since he first came to Antigua (a long time ago). Jacko, if not hopping around on his one leg will be riding his donkey around Falmouth and English Harbour late into the night.
If you are planning a 'civilised evening' (good luck with sticking to that plan...it only escalates) I highly recommend Catherine's in English Harbour, where you can enjoy French cuisine and good quality wine. Whilst waiting for your food, order a cocktail from the bar, sit by the waterfront and watch the sunset. I have spent several evenings here with the race crew celebrating the end of a regatta; I have had the opportunity to enjoy a good selection from their menu. Try the Lobster Soup to start and the Smoked MahiMahi or Risotto for your main. The are too many puddings to choose from - so order a selection!
I spent time at 40 Knots, a kite surfing school in Nonsuch Bay on the east side of the island. The inlet catches the full brunt of the Atlantic swell that breaks on the reefs before entering the bay. The frequent winds and calmer waters makes it a good place to windsurf in Antigua! Go. You will not regret it.
Apparently there are 365 beaches dotted around Antigua's coastline. One for every day of the year. Who knows? The beaches are incredible. Long white expanses of sand that disappear into crystal blue waters. Hire a car and go on a road trip. East or West from Falmouth Harbour, you can't go wrong. But skip St Johns, its just a city. Watch out for the gigantic potholes in the roads...you WILL disappear into them. Also, be bold, the bigger the car the faster they drive, so get ready to hit your horn. Spend some EC on coconuts, fruit and vegetables sold by families along the roadsides. Delicious! Nothing wrong with asking them for recipe ideas, they have plenty of tips and tricks up their sleeves!
A month of making friends, fun nights out and exploring the island the time soon came for the Owner to return to his boat for a busy month of racing and cruising.