Antigua, Guadeloupe, Iles des Saintes
6th January to 26th January
Anchored near some of the world’s grandest mega-yachts in English Harbour, Antigua (early January), I felt a bit out of my league. So I moved round to Falmouth Harbour. Alas! There seemed to be even more and even grander mega-yachts there, but many normal yachts too.
I’ve met some lovely folk on normal yachts. Indeed even the crew I’ve met from said mega-yachts have been delightful: mostly young, highly competent, hard-working, friendly and, of course beautiful – exceedingly beautiful. (Incidentally I gather you can charter some of these yachts from around 150,000 dollars a week – though Paul Getty’s isn’t for rent).
The picture above, which features in many tourist brochures, shows English and Falmouth Harbours. We’ve walked up to Shirley Heights a couple of times; it’s where you take the photo from and there’s a stream of cruise ship passengers who visit to take the same shot.
Before Anna arrived I was invited to a couple of gatherings of the Royal Naval Tot Club. This may sound like a joke. It isn’t. The club was apparently started by a couple of ex Royal Navy seamen when the Navy’s rum tots were stopped. Every evening its members meet. There’s a tot of rum and toast to the Queen as well as a different daily toast for other worthy causes (including the traditional “To wives and sweet hearts….may they never meet!”), plus reading from naval history from duty ‘rum bosun’. Seems to be a charming blend of traditional charitable virtue and harmless sociable fun, and though by inclination I am rather anti-establishment, I found this gathering of sailors and interest to be delightful. I am grateful to the welcoming Cornish couple who took me along. Click here for a bit more about the club.
After a week on Antigua and with Anna aboard, we sailed 45 miles south to the island of Guadeloupe . It’s a wonderful island: from a distance, just high mountains cloaked in green trees; once ashore, a well organised French department in the tropics, complete with boulangerie, Bordeaux wine and the euro…and about 300,000 French citizens. From Guadeloupe on south to Les Saintes and its delightful anchorage at Pain de Sucre. Then, a few days ago, back north to Antigua.
Highlights for us? Lots and lots:
– swimming/snorkelling anywhere, in clear and turquoise sea (at least till sea stirred up by current high winds/swell);
– coral (finger, staghorn, common brain and sea fan), fish and green turtles (Johnny has kindly brought out a book so we’ll learn more)
– birds (we knew the frigate, pelican, green heron, humming birds but, with book, will learn more)
– bus trips (St John’s and Pointe a Pitre) and walking ashore (Doyle’s guide led us on an especially taxing riverbed boulder walk – “…readers have complained this hike is difficult…”(but not us!) at Deshaies. Doyle being the favoured local sailor’s guide to these islands, is best taken diluted with a good pinch of sceptical salt, we find)
– meeting delightful and knowledgable fellow sailors
– markets, music, other nationalites, unusual food….
Now, with Anna and Johnny aboard, we swing at anchor 150 metres off a very smart beach resort which has such good wi-fi that I can quickly update the blog.