When finishing the last things we wanted to fix, organize, or do in St.Martin before setting sail to a new destination, we came to realize that we had spent 6 weeks on this small island already. We take it as a good sign that we completely lost track of time and enjoyed ourselves with new friendships and hobbies, like getting certified in scuba diving and learning how to kite surf. Before it was hard to understand how some travellers we met got „stuck“ in one place, but we now do understand how quickly that can happen.
Once we received our negative Covid-19 test results, we lifted anchor, filled up on fresh water and checked out of customs. We prepared to be quarantined for up to 14 days in Antigua upon arrival. ’Why still sail to Antigua?’, you might ask. Given its rich nautical history and usually hosting various famous sailing regattas Antigua has always been on our list. Due to current travel restrictions we decided to sail to fewer islands than initially planned but will spend more time in one place to explore. Antigua and Barbuda are known for many remote anchorages, hiking trails and diving spots, which sounded perfect to us.
We expected light winds during the passage coming directly from the direction we had to travel. It was time for Porky to proof herself in upwind sailing. We ended the first day at sea with spotting huge humpback whales breaching far away in front of the setting sun. Although it was too far for our camera to pick up these huge animals looked majestic. During the 239 nautical mile sail taking us 48 hours, we tacked 8 times to make our way down to Antigua. During the day we sat in the cockpit and listened to audiobooks telling us stories of the golden age of pirates while eating one snack after another. It was the first passage with just the three of us since we sailed to the Canaries back in December, meaning we returned to the 2-hours-on, 4-hours-off watch schedule, which works great for us due to short night watches.
Arrived in Antigua, we were greeted by a small official boat asking us to follow them to the historical Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour where we were checked by a health official before clearing in with customs and immigration. The whole process went smoothly and to our joy, we did not have to quarantine after all. We moved the boat to the nearby anchorage in English Harbour before we went ashore to walk around English town seeing mostly closed and empty stores, restaurants and bars. This was quite a big contrast to the unrestricted life in St.Martin. It is only left to our imagination how crowded and lively this place is in normal times.
Fortunately we decided to pick up some beers on the way back to the boat because once we climbed up Porky’s stern, our neighbours shouted over that some cruisers are having a sundowner at the beach before the curfew starts at 1800. A bit tired from the passage but too curious about getting to know the people anchored around us, we jumped back into the dinghy and joined the others.
We love hearing other people’s stories and that night we again met very interesting sailors ranging from long-term vagabonds to newly self-taught cruisers. It still strikes us how many different people, in various constellations and age groups choose this same lifestyle and therefore all share a similar mentality making it easy to connect with each other. We enjoy every bit of making new friends along the way and hope to see some of them again on our journey.
Within the next weeks the objective is to get our scuba gear, explore local snorkel and dive spots around the island, follow some of the hiking trails and move Porky to beautiful anchorages in Antigua and Barbuda.