11 Mar 2011

[Captains Blog] Antigua

Having been so enthusiastic about the whales breeching a few days ago, we were sailing up the west coast of Guadeloupe when I spotted another whale, this time VERY close by. I noticed the spout from its blowhole, but even though I should have yelled "Thar she blows!" all I could do was shout "Whale!" Anyway, it was a large humpback this time, about 50 feet long, swimming in its normal arching way, cresting out of the water and then arching its way over to bring its majestic tail flukes vertical to show us the white colouring on the underside. It passed within 30 metres of the boat in a parallel track but in the opposite direction. Sheer magic.

On our way up to Antigua, we passed by the island of Montserrat (actually closer than we would have preferred, but the wind and current took us further across the channel to the west than we wanted) where the enormous volcano sat smoking and smouldering ominously. In fact, the only cloud formation over the whole island was compliments of the steam venting from more than one point on the crater. The sheer size of the lava flow that spewed out of the top and ran down the sides to the sea is immense, and the area of land it smothered before running out of solid ground was huge. So many superlatives, but seeing is understanding. Another image for the geographical memory.

Even though we have visited (and passed through as an air transportation hub) Antigua before, I have to say that as we approached the southern coastline of the island yesterday, neither of us ever dreamt that we would ever sail there under our own steam. The last time we were on the island, we had never met Nicola and Mike, and certainly never expected to have the opportunity that we have had to explore and experience the true Caribbean. Funny old life isn't it?

Here in Antigua, we are in the middle of Falmouth Harbour where we are nestled quietly at anchor. For the first time in ages, we have attached the outboard to the dinghy as we have some serious distances to travel to clear customs, buy food, visit boatyards et cetera. We have chosen instead where possible and practical to row ourselves around, saving energy and the planet as it were, and adding to our fitness levels as we ply the oars to drive us from point to point. Oh, and by the way, we aren't perfect - we also scrounge lifts from friends with serious dinghies and outboards too!