CHANGE OF PLANS

Our friends Karl and Bekki from Florida planned their sailing trip with us months ago but due to the Boeing grounding, their flight to Antigua was cancelled the evening before departure.    

  They were able to rebook a flight a few days later but into Guadeloupe and out of Martinique.     So we headed south and arrived to meet them in Pointe a Pitre, the main town of Guadeloupe.     As we approached we were escorted by dolphins!  


Next morning Karl rented a car, we stopped at the bakery to buy wonderful French sandwiches and we took a tour to Basse Terre, the mountainous region where we hiked to a waterfall, had a picnic lunch, fed mongoose our crumbs and enjoyed the beautiful settings.    Karl is a photographer so arrived well equipped.   

  In the evening we ventured some many miles for a meal at a French restaurant that was in a  rural setting.  Thank you goggle maps for finding it for us.   It was extremely special, memorable and excellent food.  Thank you Karl and Bekki!


With favourable winds we sailed to Marie-Galante, named after one of Columbus’s boats.  The island is very unspoiled, quiet and beautiful.   Best to tour the island via car or scooter.   With very little traffic, scooters can certainly be considered.   This island is wonderful for hiking.    The island once had 600 sail driven windmills for grinding sugar cane.     Today approximately 70 windmills remain in need of repairs, plus the newer generation windmills which produce energy for the island.

We anchored off the village of Saint Louis and enjoyed walking around and talking with people.   A few speak english and we found a young man who lived in London for several years but wanted to return to his homeland.   Very friendly people here.   Unfortunately we were under a strict time frame so we had to depart sooner than we wanted.    


We told Karl and Bekki we must stop at Portsmouth, Dominica for the evening beach BBQ.     Once again, as we wrote earlier, it was so much fun.   With a few rum punches and good music, everyone dances.    We took a tour of the island and enjoyed more waterfalls.  

We  learned how much China is providing aid and help to this island from the past hurricane.   
The final passage with Karl and Bekki was to Martinique, Fort de France, where they returned back to Florida.  Although it was a short stay, we stayed very busy and had a wonderful time!

BARBUDA

This  island is 61.99 sq mi or 160.56km2.  Elevation is 125 ft or 38m.   It is located in the eastern Caribbean and is part of the commonwealth nation of Antigua.

Our 3 hour sail from Antigua brought us to the most stunning sand beaches, some with pink hues and intense turquoise waters.    The island is surrounded by many reefs and depths are quite shallow.        

Shortly after arriving I saw a boat of local fisherman and waved to them to come to the boat.   Sure enough they had been diving for Lobster so we purchased some as did our friends on Beaucastel.    We enjoyed 2 evenings of lobster feasts.  

We contacted George Jeffrey who has lived on the island for many years.    He took  the 4 of us in his Boston Whaler for a tour of the protected  sanctuary for  Frigatebirds (common name Frigate or “man o´ war” bird).    The Frigate weights approximately 2-3 pounds but have the greatest wing span in proportion to their weight.    George said that there are roughly 20,000 birds in this sanctuary of mangroves.      This colony has been featured in National Geographic.     Although I  do not consider myself a bird watcher, this experience was incredible to see and hear.

George

Barbuda took a direct hit from hurricane IRMA in 2017 and on route to see the Frigates, George showed us two containers lying in the mangroves that FLEW from the nearest hotel, not floated – FLEW.   One was a 90 foot container.    Hard to judge the distance but as the crow flies, perhaps over 1 mile or 1.6km.  

George has lived with hurricanes over the years but said IRMA was the strongest ever.  He also explained that the people living here know and accept that they are in an area where hurricanes can strike but they still love being here.    George has learned after his 70 some years that nature is always quick to repair and rebuild itself.  

We certainly saw the devastation as we walked through the main village of Codrington.  We also saw posters, a new automobile sponsored by a relief organization and a large relief tent provided by different organisations and countries, but did not see much evidence of actual help.   

There are approximately 2000 inhabitants, many who left after IRMA but according to George, some have returned so perhaps 1700 in population  now.      There are horses, donkeys , dogs and goats roaming freely throughout the village.    It is reported they have horse races on Sundays.     We found a man selling fried chicken so stopped to have some pieces.  Very Good.    We too purchased some fresh fruits and vegetables from a mother and her son at a corner stand.   Lovely people!   

 Barbuda has/had some  beachfront luxury resorts.      We saw evidence of many  beach bungalows destroyed and sitting in ruins.    One resort we anchored in front of has, at this time, tents erected on wooden floors and there were a few guests there.  The main structure for the restaurant and pool were open.       A seaplane arrived to the resort so landed and took off among all of us at anchor.   That was fun to watch.   

Arriving to the resort by seaplane

Barbuda is a very special place and special people dedicated to “the heart of the nature”.    Others would love to get their hands on beachfront property for further development.    I for one wish the people strength to preserve their island as they wish.   

ANTIGUA


After a 6.5 hour sail from Guadeloupe we arrived to Antigua where we anchored in turquoise waters outside of Jolly Harbor.

Beaucastel and Bella Luna heading for Antigua

As we arrived after immigration and customs had closed, we raised our “quarantine” flag and shared sundowners with Leif and Anna Carin on Beaucastel. The next morning we both went direct to the customs dock. Anna Carin and I had to remain on our boats until Leif and Roland had cleared customs and immigration.

Anna-Karin & Vickie waiting patiently

We then proceeded to the Jolly Harbor Marina for a couple of days for charging batteries, provisioning, and dinner at a restaurant that had live Reggae music. Fun!
The four of us commented how nice it is at Jolly Harbor Marina. Extremely friendly staff and the grounds around it are nicely landscaped with colourful flowers. It is a small marina so has a very calm, cozy atmosphere.
We took a taxi tour of part of the island and ended our tour at Shirley Heights (fort), overlooking English Harbor for the Sunday traditional BBQ, rum punch and steel band music. After some hours of eating and swaying to the music, it was time to depart and as our taxi driver returned to pick us up, he also was to take 4 other people. When they came to the taxi it was the same people we had shared a table with during dinner. When we saw each other cheers erupted from all of us. The taxi drive got a big grin, a laugh and said – “small world on Antigua”.

Ready for party at Shirly Heights



Our next stop took us a short distance from Jolly Harbor to an anchorage called Deep Bay with a beautiful beach and another fort to explore at the top of the ridge.

Bella Luna & Beaucastel anchored in Deep Bay

Shallow water but Leffe fixed that as a Navy Seal

Herring and schnaaaaaps on Beaucastel

The port of Antigua and city of St. John’s was just a short distance away, however we did not want to take our boats in and anchor so we called our same taxi driver, Trevor, and he picked us up and drove us into St. John’s where we spent several hours looking around, shopping, lunch and ending at the market for some fresh fish and vegetables/fruits.

Anna-Karin buing Ananas


One of our favorite spots is on the north coast of Antigua; Great Bird and Outer Islands. Many reefs provide protection to this area. The landscape is more arid with Cactus vs. Palm trees. The rock shapes are more dramatic and the waters provide good snorkeling with all the many reefs. Today we had a big Stingray swimming with us. Nice to see new colorful corals.

Great Bird Island beach
Great Bird Island