Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Antigua - an island with 365 beaches! Honest that's what the brochure says. So, if you like beaches, this is the place. However, we know we are true cruisers when we didn't pick the pretty anchorage in front of Pigeon Beach but moved well into the harbour where, although not so picturesque, there is a good signal for WiFi.

I must admit, it was a bit of a culture shock coming into Falmouth Harbour. When we arrived, we motored past the entrance on our way to anchor near our friends on Reverie. This harbour is home to many Super Yachts, Mega-Yachts and just generally humongous boats. I am not sure what the difference is between a super yacht and a mega-yacht. I know that a mega-yacht has to be over 100 feet in length. But it is likely a question that if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Anchored at the harbour entrance is Mirabelle V - the largest single masted sloop in the world topping out at 175 feet in length. The Maltese Falcon, the largest sailing ship in the world at about 289 feet, is also due in. The masts on these yachts are so tall that they have to have red lights mounted atop to warn low flying aircraft. The power boats are also huge. It is not uncommon for a helicopter to be berthed at the stern for those quick trips to pick up pizza. These boats are kept in immaculate condition by their full time crew and an army of locals painting, polishing, etc - just waiting for their owners or charterer's to pop over for a few nights. This luxury is in sharp contrast to the island people who are similar to the other islands and not well off. The contrast is just more striking.

After anchoring, Mike & Chris told us about a boat building contest on Friday. There were 27 entries, mostly crews from the mega-yachts. Contestants were given some materials, had to build a boat in 2 hours, then sail the boat from the beach and around the marina. It was great fun for all. We walked the dock watching the various imaginative creations taking form. Many actually made it around the course to the surprise of all. It was a fun afternoon.

Then on Sunday, we took a taxi up to Shirley Heights for a BBQ and pan music. Shirley Heights was the lookout station for Admiral Nelson's crew and has a great view of both English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour (they are separated by a long peninsula). You could see why Nelson liked both these harbours for Hurricane season. The harbours are well protected from all directions. Unfortunately Nelson hated living there due to the mosquitoes and the fact that the local land owners had taken a contract out on his life for restricting trade with the colonies. He lived a virtual prisoner in the dockyard at English Harbour.

Another day, we walked around Lord Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour. Many of the buildings are being restored to Nelson's time and there is a little museum giving some of the history. I also spent a fun day replacing the alternator belt - a typical boat job, including the squall that decided to go through just when I had the contents of both cockpit lockers strewn about the cockpit. Karen enjoyed her day unable to move from the corner I alloted her, imprisoned by the contents of the quarter berth. She was so thankful to move at the end of the day she insisted on washing AND drying the dishes after cooking dinner. Maybe I should do this kind of boat job more often?

Today we are off on the busses to see the big city of St. John. Next weekend, we plan to go to a secluded anchorage at Green Island on Nonsuch Bay with Reverie. More later.

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