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Exploring Antigua by Land and by Sea

During our week-long stay at Antigua the Captain urged us to take advantage of the Caribbean way of life all around us. This included the classic boats we admired and thoroughly enjoyed sailing, but it also included the splendour of the island itself. Antigua smelled of ripe fruit and smoky earthiness. It was sweet and compelling and as much as we wanted to sail, we also wanted to explore the island. We wanted to experience the quiet solitude of its many coves and beaches; we wanted to hike into its interior; we wanted to dance in the rasta shacks to true Caribbean music. We wanted it all.

Antigua also attracted more than just sailing enthusiasts – although there were plenty of those to meet. It also attracted friends and family who took advantage of our fixed schedule (not to mention ideal location) to come and visit. Brad’s, Meredith’s and Mike/Fred’s parents flew into see them for a few days; the Captain’s brother, Jon, his sister Felicia and nephew William came for the week; and Frank (who had sailed with us on World Voyage 3) came to visit his girlfriend Suzanne, now a proud crew member of ours. We also gained three new crew members, even as we lost one. Our medical officer Dr. Petrus Draat flew back to Holland after spending two months with us onboard. In his place we now have Dr. Raju Raman, originally from Edinburgh and Aase Huggler who has joined us from Denmark. And we got our Ollie back! That is right. For all the fans out there, Mr. Billy Campbell himself has returned from Hollywood to sail, once again, on our barque! He just finished up shooting AMC’s new show called “The Killing”. It has opened to excellent reviews and a lot of viewers, we are thrilled for him.

Afternoons were fairly quiet around Falmouth and English Harbour. Most of the waterfront had been up since 8am racing and now, after 4 pm, it was time for a much needed siesta. Walking along the Falmouth waterfront filled with small boutiques and restaurants and bars our crew found restful spots to catch up on their business and reconnect with friends and family online. Others wandered down the road to English Harbour where a piece of history has been beautifully preserved. Nelson’s Dockyard boasts much of the original colonial British architecture and is still very much a working dockyard, now looking after yachts instead of sailing warships of Nelson’s time. Wishing to wander further afield some crew took road trips to secluded beaches like Half Moon Bay or snorkelling havens like Long Bay to swim and sunbathe. Others spent afternoons with families in secluded villas or hotels – relaxing and reminiscing. Aase and Raju spent an afternoon hiking in the mountains. Others went to the capital of St. Johns to provision, explore and see a bit of city life once again.

In the evenings most of the crew would return from their explorations to participate in the nightly events. The Regatta is a well-sponsored series and every evening the yacht club hosted a band or two and free food was available for all that were so inclined. As the evening wore on, the dancing became more earnest. With races and work in the mornings, many of us had curfews on our boats and ships and we wanted to take advantage of the fun to be had on land, before we nestled into our bunks for a solid night’s rest.

On Saturday, April 16th we had a particularly special night at the yacht club. Mike and Katelinn, integral members of the Picton Castle‘s famous Gypsy Band and rising stars in their own right, were asked to perform on stage. They had a raucous welcome from the Picton Castle crew as they took to the stage but once they started playing they needed no extra support from us. T for Texas came across loud and clear and the crowd began to sway. When Mike and Katelinn pulled out their stirring renditions of Bob Dylan vintage tunes, they had the crowd crowing. The evening felt cool after the warmth of the day and we all danced and cheered as other ships showed off their musical and dancing talents. Sailors, as this ship has long demonstrated, do a lot more than sail. They sing, dance, play instruments, learn languages, talk politics (if a little out of date!), debate, read, sew, draw, paint… and when asked to, they can perform! It was a really fun evening and one we hope will be repeated in future ports and future regattas.

We also noticed during our stay that many people were curious about our ship. We had had a chance to explore and sail their boats and the Captain thought it would nice to have an open ship afternoon. We posted signs around the Falmouth and English Harbour, cleaned the ship from top to bottom, made popcorn and punch and turned on the reggae music. At 4 pm dinghys started pulling up to our starboard and port ladders. The crew, dressed in Picton Castle sarongs made in Bali by the Captain’s friend Wayan, happily showed our guests and fellow sailors around our home. The event lasted well into the evening and was a success and something we also hope to continue as we sail the Caribbean isles.

As the Regatta wrapped up for the week the organizers held an afternoon small boat rowing competition in English Harbour. Naturally our crew wanted to be a part of it. Sea Never Dry, crewed by Ali, Meredith, Nadja and Siri, and the longboat (renamed the Manomoy for the day), crewed by Paul, Cody, Dave, Davey, Robert, Chris and Dapper Dan, sailed off their hooks and into Falmouth Harbour. They spent the morning tacking and gibing around the harbour and making their way, leisurely, to the competition. They all described it as the perfect day. Everyone felt bright and breezy, relaxed and aware, and they were all just thrilled to be sailing in company. Surprise, surprise eh? As the sun reached its peak and blazed furiously down, they hove to, and had a swim call before clambering back over the side and continuing their sail to English Harbour. Once they arrived they realized that their boats were much bigger than the boats already registered for the row. The organizers set up a separate competition and separate course for our two boats and they raced, men against women, Picton Castle crew against Picton Castle crew. The results are debateable. Naturally the crew of Sea Never Dry believe they won because they got the award in the end and naturally the crew of Manomoy believe they won, because they out-lapped the women when they missed the correct marker and had to turn back. No hard feelings though, just healthy competition!

An awards ceremony held in a gigantic tent in English Harbour marked an end to the week’s festivities. As the awards were handed out our crew applauded for the ships we admired and those we enjoyed sailing on and for the crew we met along the way. This sailing community is a special one and it is events like this that bring us all together.

Donald provisions in St Johns
Getting ready to race
Mike and Katelinn perform onstage
Nelson s Dockyard
Sea Never Dry and Long Boat sail into English Harbour

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