Thursday, February 23, 2012

Farewell Antigua

Yacht Racing in Antigua
The last couple of days in Antigua ended with an anchorage in Falmouth Harbour, next to our friends on Equinox. It feels great to come across friends in different part of the Caribbean. We originally met Ron and Karyn in Turks and Caicos. Then, after six months we saw them in St. Croix, and now our paths have crossed again in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. It’s also so exciting to hear friends calling you on the radio out of the blue. Our last night in Antigua, we heard Unicorn calling us, whom we met in Conception Island in the Bahamas almost a year ago. HÃ¥kan and Anna Karin, aboard Unicorn, sailed in from Dominica, going north-bound and we are going south-bound to Guadeloupe. We were going to be in the same place for less than 12 hours, so we had to get together. There was a full house aboard Earthling the last night in Antigua.
Full House Aboard Earthling

Our overall experience in Antigua was great except for one occurrence! A negative experience that is worth sharing with other cruisers who might visit Antigua. Our port of entry in Antigua was Jolly Harbour and the custom officers were very helpful and nice, which I wrote about in “Welcoming Antigua”. It cost $30EC ($11US) to check in and according to the official at Jolly Harbour, there would not be any other fees to checkout! Since we had to sail south to Guadeloupe, it was most convenient to check out from English Harbour by Nelson’s Dock. Our friends on Zero to Cruising told us that they had to pay $70EC ($26US) to checkout, which sounded like a lot. I remember reading and hearing horror stories about the immigration at English Harbour. But we didn’t have a choice and I was hoping for the best. At the counter in front of the Port Authority, I asked the lady who was checking us out, if there was going to be any charge to check out, she replied: “yes, but a very minimum charge, so I can get paid at the end of the week, you will be surprised”. Indeed, I was surprised when I had to pay a total of $117EC($43US) to check out! I know that it would not cost that much at Jolly Harbour. At English and Falmouth, they charge boaters for anchoring, garbage and some other fees even if you come here to just check in or out. I would not do any immigration process at English Harbour next time I visit Antigua!

Antigua is the center for many yacht races and sailing mega yachts in the Caribbean. You see many beautiful, sleek, and fast racing yachts here. There are races taking place here quite often. Right before we left, there was a race that went from Antigua, around Guadeloupe, to and around Saba back to Antigua, a total of 600 miles. The Antigua race week is at the end of April and sail boats come from all over the world during that time. We could crew on a friend’s race boat if we chose to come back to Antigua during that time.
View from Shirley Heights
One of the highlights in Falmouth and English Harbour is to go up to Shirley Heights. You get one of the best views over the harbours at sunset. On Sundays, there is a steel drum band playing, there are food stands and hundreds of yachters and tourists  watching the sunset. We enjoyed this with our friends on Equinox and Zero to Cruising. 
Right now we are anchored in Anse Deshaies (pronounced Day-ay), Guadeloupe. Once again back to good wine, baguettes, and cheese, we are in France!!                   

Love from Deshaies

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