My brother Rich, his wife Tonia, and son Finn joined us last week in Antigua. The visit began with huge lobster dinners at a great restaurant in Nelson’s dockyard and has continued on a high note.
The requisite drama occurred right off the bat as we left our mooring at Nelson’s, the anchor wouldn’t come up, and we were drifting very close to a large, beautiful sailboat. I jumped off the bow, snorkeled down to the anchor and discovered the tip was stuck under a large chain running through the harbor (not another boat’s anchor chain). There were already divers in the water working on the boat next to us, but they asked for $140 which seemed ridiculous since it was a one minute job and they were already diving so I kept trying to swim down far enough and long enough to release it, but couldn’t do it. Finally, I got out of the water and, voila, we were free! I think the divers gave in and helped out after watching my valiant efforts.
We then headed to another anchorage in Antigua and spent the next couple of days moving around the area, snorkeling, goofing around, and doing a little paddle boarding.
Next stop, Nevis, where we checked in and had a great traditional lunch at Wilma’s, famous for feeding the queen. We left with a gift of Conkie, a strange dessert that is made with different variations throughout the Caribbean and with different occasions for serving it. It’s a Christmas treat in Barbados, a Guy Fawkes tradition on some other island, and Easter in Nevis. It’s made with cornmeal, sweet potato, pumpkin, sugar, nutmeg and some other stuff, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. It took me a moment to figure out what it reminded me of – a green tamale! Very good and unique, although I probably won’t make it at home.
We headed over to St Kitts to spend the night due to a terrible anchorage in Nevis then left early the next morning for Montserrat which turned out to be a total bust. I had fond memories of touring the volcano devastation 16 years ago and thought Finn might enjoy it, but the anchorage was awful, port authority wanted a huge surcharge for a Saturday check in, and apparently it’s now required to make a 24 hour advance reservation at the police department to do a tour. We decided not to check in, went for a swim, and continued to Guadalupe. It was an excellent decision because the sailing was fabulous and we had a taste of sailing during a full moon, while still being anchored by 8:00 p.m.
I neglected to mention that we booked it to Nevis, averaging at least 9 knots and getting up to 14. It was a great opportunity for Rich to be at the helm and we kept up the speed despite it being a tiny bit on the rough side. The sail to Montserrat and Guadalupe was still fast, but smoother, making for a lovely long day.
Yesterday we went into the main port town of Deshaies and decided to walk up to the botanical garden. Wow! It was amazing! Tropical birds, fish, a banyon tree, extensive plants, waterfalls, and an incredible restaurant. There were lorikeets, flamingos, and parrots. Tons of orchids and tropical plants from all over the world. We walked around for a couple of hours and then stopped for lunch starting with a traditional ti punch (rum, sugar and lime juice). We even had ice cream with whipped cream for dessert. Yum.
Now we’re in a quieter anchorage near Pigeon Island and will head over in the dinghy for some snorkeling after an egg hunt.