Ann and I were in Culebra, PR, within spitting distance of the beautiful cruising grounds of the US and British Virgin Islands, close to the shopping in St. Martins, the beaches of Anguilla and St. Barts, the stomping grounds of the rich and famous, and we decided to skip it all and head to Waladi for “Sailing Week.” Waladi is the sailing capital of the Caribbean and has been a part time home to Eric Clapton, Whoopi Goldberg, Ken Follet, Robin Leach of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous fame and, most importantly, Fred Olsen, inventor of the ball propellant manufacturing process.
Christopher Columbus named the island “Antigua” in 1493 in honor of his favourite figure, the Virgin Mary. He took the name from a famous Spanish cathedral “La Virgen de la Antigua” which means “Virgin of the Old Cathedral.”
The natives have recently decided that they don’t like that name or Chris Columbus, or the English, so they now call it what they thought was the original name, Wadadli (which means “who’s your dadli” in the native tongue). But, in fact the true original name was Waladli. I just call it “The Island” when I’m onshore to keep from getting beat up.
We decided to arrive in Antigua in late February so we could enjoy race week in Antigua at the end of March. Unfortunately, as it turns out, race week isn’t until the end of April, so we will be here for about 2-1/2 months, only a month longer than I thought. Oops! Never make cruising plans after happy hour, or at least check them the next morning. Anyway, I checked my calendar and it turns out I’m free in April anyway, so we’re good. The upside is, it’s a beautiful place and there are multiple islands to explore from here so… come visit! We’ll be here!!
The weather for the trip here was forecast to be 2′-3′ wind driven seas and a 6′ northerly swell with an 11 second period. I’m not sure what happened, but the higher than expected 4′ wind driven seas must have decided to occasionally merge with the 6′ swells because it was a fairly rough ride. Since it was just Ann and I, we decided on 3 hour shifts for the 200 NM, 30 hour trip.
We left Culebra and Sylken Sea and hopped over to St. Thomas for a one day provisioning trip and a celebratory birthday drink with John and Paulette from Seamantha and then left St. Thomas early Tuesday on a direct course for Antigua. We quickly changed our minds and set a course for the lee of Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and around the south of Nevis to protect us from the larger than expected waves for at least a few hours.
We didn’t do much eating or sleeping for the first 12 hours of the trip as we couldn’t really open the refrigerator without everything tumbling out. Plus, we just weren’t in the mood for anything other than pretzels and ginger ale. After 12 hours we finally got our sea legs under us and figured out how to hold half the refrigerator open with our right side derriere, the other half with our left knee, hold everything in place with our left hand and forehead and grab food really quickly with our right hand. I’m thinking of patenting the technique as soon as I get to an island with cheap lawyers.
We anchored in the beautiful harbor of Falmouth and I walked over to Lord Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour, checked in with Customs, then to the Eseaclear office, then back to Customs, on to Immigration, back to Customs again and then on to the Port Authority and I believe I am now legal to be here, but not sure about Ann since I got flustered and forgot to mention her initially. It turns out that these two harbours are national parks and there are about 12 different fees you must pay to stay here, but, they take Mastercard so we we’re good!
We are now peacefully anchored in Falmouth Harbour. We anchored a little close to the next boat by accident and I was thinking about moving when another boat anchored between us, another in front of us on top of our anchor, another dropped an anchor just behind our swim platform and two more anchored on the other side. Apparently I wasn’t familiar with anchoring protocol here. Luckily the French catamaran 15′ in front of us bath nude every evening. Unluckily it’s three old French guys who apparently like carbohydrates and cheese, lots of cheese. We’re thinking about getting a mooring ball so we can be even closer to our neighbors.
Did I mention there were a lot of super yachts here? To give you an idea of how big they are, the guy at the dock near us was running his helicopter the first night we were here and nearly blew out our grill. Later that evening as we were strolling back from our celebratory arrival drink, the people in front of us heard us talking about the phenomena of all the anchor lights being red (except for us and the French guys) and explained that the super-yachts are so big here and that their masts are so tall that they are required to run red lights at night to keep airplanes from hitting them… yet another good reason not to own one.
So, we are here safely, have found several good watering holes, a pizza place, marine store and grocery, and we have plenty of room and plenty of time for visitors so make your reservations early, it’s starting to book up!
Arriving Antigua Waters at Sunrise
360 View of the Anchorage From the Ann Louise