It is Friday morning, October 3rd, and our new group of 8 set off under good skies and 7-10 knot wind conditions. Unfortunately, these conditions were not as appreciated by some of our “crew” and a few bouts of seasickness needed to be fought-off. We left Marin, Martinique behind at 9:00am intending to sail all day to Guadeloupe, but decided to sail more “gently” and call the day short by coming into port in Dominica for the evening. We arrived too late to check into the country, but grilled shrimp and chicken on-board and enjoyed a quiet night. The next morning, we left Dominica before 8:00am and decided to head for Isle de Saintes, off the southern coast on Guadeloupe. We had missed this stop on the way south due to having to make port for mechanical repairs, and the good weather now dictated we take advantage of this stop on the way north. After setting anchor in early afternoon, we jumped off the boat, swan in the bay, and enjoyed a lunch on board before setting off to visit the local town. We took the occasion to check into the country of Guadeloupe, and shopped along the beautiful, quaint French town. Back on board, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset, good company and friends.
The next morning, we left at sun-up and headed for Montserrat. Along the way, we stopped at the port of Deshaises along the west coast of Guadeloupe for lunch. Later in the day, the sail past the southern coast of Monserrat with the sun over our left shoulders, gave a clear view of the volcanic eruptions from 2 decades ago. Giant ash and lava flows from the mountain top all the way to the sea and burying the former capital town were as clear as the smell of sulfur in the air.
We arrived at Little Bay just before dark, but were disappointed to find that our “friend” Pont was not available to open his restaurant. Instead, we negotiated with a local vendor for beers and fish and chips, which she cooked one at a time in a skillet, while we avoided the blasting music and voracious mosquitoes. All in all, the meal was quite a bargain, despite the wait, and we regretfully made our way back to the boat only to endure a very rolly night in port. Whether it was the rolling seas or just an untimely accident, that night Julie and Rocky were surprisingly awakened by the fiberglass roof of their cabin coming unfastened and falling down on them. After a bit of ruckus and a refastening of the cabin roof, the rest of the night went quietly and quickly. However, the morning brought us a wind shift out of the north, forcing us to motor all day into the wind through rough seas, on our way to Antigua. Along the way, Rick brought us a bit of excitement as he hooked up a beautiful 30” blue & green Dorado, which he cleaned on the back of the boat and delivered into our freezer.
Upon reaching English Harbour in Antigua, we initially dropped anchor in the bay, where we snagged on an old rope from the bay’s bottom. After cutting ourselves loose, we took the boat up to a docking at the wharf where we had easy access to shore, power and water. English Harbour was a wonderfully, historically restored port that served as the headquarters of the British Navy for over a century. We marveled at the many displays and buildings, and after purchasing much needed supplies, arranged for dinner at a local pub. That evening, in the quiet of the falling darkness, local fisherman came to the wharf to try their hand at catching local fare. One young, inexperienced couple were learning their way, when disaster struck, and they dropped their rod and reel over the side of the wharf. Rocky reacted quickly, and fished the gear from the water before it sank returning it to the grateful couple.
Come morning, we were awakened by the bleating of a group of wild goats that came down from the hillsides looking for low-hanging tree branches. After a breakfast from our now-favorite pub, we continued our sail north to the island of Barbuda. Along the way, fisherman Rick caught a 4’ barracuda which we cut loose in respect for the size of his teeth and our personal safety. Arriving at Barbuda, we negotiated a long, extended network of reefs to come up to the beach bar shore on the west side of the island. The island is large and low, with a huge lagoon immediately across from the sand bar where we stopped, and with the capital town of Codrington along the mainland on the other side. Since it was late, we admired the deserted pink sand beaches from the boat, anchored in a sandy area, and settled in for a dinner of our caught fish, chicken and rice.
The next morning awoke us to absolutely no wind, and so we decided to stay the day before continuing our journey. We took the morning to explore the pink beaches, check-in and gather supplies in Codrington, and talk with the locals about setting up a catered dinner onshore. After repositioning our boat closer to the middle of Barbuda’s famous 16-mile long continuous beach, we watched as a barge brought heavy digging equipment to the beach to cut a channel to the lagoon, and found our attention caught by a local lagoon fisherman frantically waving to us from onshore. After taking the dingy over to see what he wanted, we learned that he wanted to sell us live, fresh lobsters for $5 per lb. We all agreed on two 1 ½ lb. lobsters each which we parlayed into 17 lobsters for $110. Peter then negotiated with the local vendor who was cooking us a catered dinner ashore (fish, rice, potatoes, plantains, fruit, vegetables, bread and tea for $25 each) to add in and prepare the lobsters, and we settled into a local hut ashore for our huge feast. Although the food was wonderful, once dusk hit, the mosquitoes attacked in-mass, causing us to collect our huge quantities of leftovers and retreat back to our boat for nightcaps and the sunset.
Unfortunately, the next morning, (Thursday, October 9th), bought wind out of the west – directly from the direction we needed to travel, but we were now out of time, and we needed to get to St. Martins by the end of the day. We left early (5:30am) and spent the first half of the day motoring west, and tried to motor sail the rest of the way, arriving in Phillipsburg, St Martins after dark. We carefully slipped into the bay between the many dark anchored boats, and found a place to settle. Once anchored, we said our sad goodbyes, and Rocky ferried Rick, Mary Jane, Jeff and Debbie, and their gear, ashore. Not to be boring, Rocky got into a verbal confrontation with the local Marina Patrol, and after apologizing and avoiding any serious consequences, returned safety to the boat which would now continue with only the four of us. That night, we had a spectacular meal of leftover lobster stir-fry, and settled back for the final leg of our Great Caribbean Adventure.