Antigua Dream

We arrived Antigua from St. Barth’s after an aggressive bashing into the wind and found Jolly Harbor to be a very large and blissfully calm anchorage. Lowering the dinghy I headed into Customs and Immigration where check-in is very efficient via their online E Sea Clear service. Yes, I could have prefilled out the information but I completed the information in the office. After all the paperwork was signed and the entrance fee was paid, we were free to enjoy the country.

The morning view from anchor, Jolly Harbor

Jolly Harbor

This is a very nice place to sail into and there are many services in this harbor. The marina and fuel dock at Jolly Harbor Marina are really fantastic with a protected approach and full marine haulout. Danny, the yard manager will even take your propane tanks to town and fill them, returning them the next day. At the head of the harbor is THE CROWS NEST, the primary cruiser hang out and wonderful happy hour spot. Across the street is the large grocery store which has anything you need. You could easily re-provision here.  We really enjoyed the calm harbor, non-rolling anchorage, and the Crows Nest. I can see coming back here for more time in the future.

Lets go to “Town”

We like boating into towns, so we decided to head up to St. Johns. the capital of Antigua. It was an easy 6 nm run and we motored right into town and dropped anchor off the cruise ship dock.  We lowered the dinghy and motored in and could not find the dinghy dock. Well, this should have been our first clue. We tied up to a random dock, climbed up and off to town we went. Typical of all cruise ship towns there were the usual duty-free items and pubs and t-shirt shops and jewelry stores and more. Luckily, there was only had one cruise ship in port that day. As we walked around we could see that it would be a ghost town after the ship pulled out. We were beginning to question how safe it would be to stay here on anchor off this town. After ice cream in freshly made waffle cones, we decided that it was not that safe and that we would be far better back at Jolly Harbor. So, back out to the mothership, up anchor, roll out a jib and sail south. This is what we are looking forward to, the discovery of all these new places and where to go. We later heard that no cruisers sail to St. Johns. Well, now we know….

Island Spirit anchored in the harbor of St. Johns, Antigua

Onward to Falmouth

Safely back in Jolly we decided it was time to move on to the hub of Antigua, Falmouth and English Harbors. This was a simple trip around the SW corner of Antigua. As most will figure out, the East trades of 25 knots come whipping around the SW corner and so it is yet another beat into the winds and seas. Lucky for us this was only a two-hour trip and soon we were entering Falmouth harbor for our first time.  Tall ships have been sailing into here since the 1600s and we can see why. The harbor entrance is to the north, the winds are from the east, and once inside, the harbor opens up to a large bay where we dropped the anchor.

English Harbor and Falmouth Harbor as seen from Shirley Heights

Why Leave here?

We fell in love with Antigua now, as we began our discovery of the harbor side and the many services found here. The dinghy dock is at the head of the harbor along with coffee shops, pubs, chandleries, groceries stores and of course, the Antigua Yacht Club. This is our kind of harbor. It reminded me of what Annapolis Maryland must have been like 50 years ago. We could tell this was really going to be a fun place.

The Antigua Yacht Club Building
The Skullduggery Pub signature drink, an Espresso Martini
The Yacht Club docks accommodate the mega yachts

Across the street is “THE DOCKYARD”

What Dockyard?  The one and only Nelson’s Dockyard where the British Fleet of the 1700 and 1800s serviced and managed their powerhouse of ships.  Lord Nelson himself was here for 4 years. Today this is a World UNESCO site preserved forever and restored for all of us to enjoy. The most photographed placed is the PILLARS where the remains of the sail loft building of the 1800s still stands. On top of these pillars once stood a massive sail loft building where they would repair the sails of tall ships. The sails were rowed in via workboats under this building, between the pillars and then lifted up into the building overhead. The tall ships would be stationed out in the harbor.  The remaining pillars are so interesting and very well preserved.

The Pillars are now capped with concrete to preserve them
A fine restaurant now has been built around the pillars
Such a beautiful photographic site

Today, Yacht Races and More

The month of April IS the month to be here as the Classic Yachts arrive for their races and then after that event, the Antigua Race Week kicks off the last week of April. Hundreds of yachts from around the world come here to participate in the race. We have been here a week already and the races start in another week and last for two more weeks, so we decided to return next season for Race Week. We will be sailing on to Guadeloupe and continuing south. We have 6 more weeks until haul out and so many more places to discover. The yachts here are massive, 100 to 150 feet seems average and 50 to 60 feet most common. Out little 35 footer feels likes a dinghy down here. But, we are proud to be here!

The masts of sailing yachts
The Oyster fleet at the Dockyard for a race…”The World’s Your Oyster!”

Boat Buddies Make it all MORE fun

While here at Antigua, we bumped into sv TEMERITY owned by Chris and Laura whom we meet years ago in the Exumas. They stored in Puerto Rico as well and were lucky to not take damages from IRMA or MARIA. Our first night here, we all headed up to SHIRLEY HEIGHTS for the Sunday Fun Day event. What a great time with good friends!

Chris and Laura of sv TEMERITY
Selfie required when with “PhotoBOY”
One of the best steel drum bands

Denmark meets the United States

For many years, we have been following Judith and Haakon on sv TOUCHE, an Island Packet 380. Haakon is from Norway and Judith is from Denmark and they have sailed all over Norway, Scotland and even north to the island of Svalbard above the Arctic Circle. A few years ago, we hosted them on our boat at the Coconut Grove Sailing Center to give a presentation to the club about sailing to Svalbard. That same year, Judith presented at the Miami and Chicago Boatshows. In Dec 2018, they crossed the Atlantic and arrived in the Caribbean at Barbados. We departed Annapolis after the Boat Show and now we both have arrived at Antigua, with TOUCHE sailing north and ISLAND SPIRIT sailing south. We actually SHARED A HARBOR together!  They are very serious sailors and we were honored to spend time with them.

Island Spirit and Touche with IPYOA Battle Flags up
Island Packet 380 TOUCHE the Iceberg hunter in Antigua
First order of business…pop bubbly on Island Spirit

We toured Nelson’s Dockyard and enjoyed meals and of course a few celebratory drinks together. We attended Shirley Heights on Thursday night for a good time, with rum punches, steel drum music and a raggae band. Now, they are sailing north to Annapolis where they will store the boat by end of May and we will sail south, storing in Grenada. We all will be at the Annapolis Boat Show together for our IPYOA Noon Lunches, so Judith and Haakon look forward to meeting many IP owners there.

Judith and Haakon at Pillars
Judith and Haakon at Shirley Heights
Selfie with rum punches at windy Shirley Heights
The overlook at sunset

Our final bottle of Bubbly

After three days of fun, we popped one more bottle of bubbly on sv TOUCHE and we shared our charts and navigation information for heading thru the Exumas and up the USA east coast. We are excited to see them in our home waters of the Chesapeake Bay this fall.

Judith has polar bears on her champagne glasses!
Fun times on sv TOUCHE
Yes, it is bubbly, NO it is not official French Champagne, we know 🙂

Onward south

We depart tomorrow, Monday for a 45 nm beam reach south to Guadeloupe and then onto Iles de Saintes. The French Islands await. Our course finally is 180 (south) on a wind of 090 (east) so this should be a real JOY. Yes, the winds are 22-27 knots gusting 30 knots, but we will sail, finally. Oui Oui 🙂

Live tracking:

Bashing to Antigua

With one last push Southeast from St. Barth’s to Antigua, we were excited to make this run.  We waited in St. Barth’s until the winds were forecasted to be north of east giving us a better angle. When the forecast is “to the north of east” not “north east”, that means that it moves from 090 to 080, a ten-degree shift, that is all. This run calculated to be a course of 130 degrees. Place the winds at 080 and that would mean that the winds would be 50 degrees off our port bow. WOW, we should be able to sail into that. Here is a chart of this with 090 winds.

A beat to Antigua

Off we go at 0200

With 13-14 hours to go, we decided to up anchor at 0200, or as sailors say “oh dark hundred”  🙂 ! Luckily, we were anchored near the edge of the channel with only two others anchored between us and the deep channel. Added to that, we had a tall ship lit up at the end of the channel. So it was an easy nighttime departure to reach deep water and to turn southeast onto our course.

A quick cell phone photo of the tall ship, Sea Clould II

Protection from St. Barth’s

As we started out, the island provided a really nice wind shadow and a very calm sea. This lasted about an hour and by 0330 we were passed the protection and into the full force of the east tradewinds. The sea state was the problem that we did not expect, it was 4 feet at  5 seconds! If you know the ocean, then you will read that a 5 second interval is a very uncomfortable sea. The forecast was for 4-5 feet, 8-9 seconds. That we can do, but this 5-second sea was tough.  Here we were again leaping off of waves, bashing the anchors into waves, our bow light illuminating underwater and then highlighting the spray, with bow waves coming over the windward port bow into the windshield and over the roof. We have seen this several times from Miami to the Caribbean Sea. Daybreak came and once again we had saltwater covering our entire boat!

Saltwater running off the roof and down the windshield, so frustrating

Do we divert or push on?

As the sun came up, we started looking at the time and distance and we were worried that we would not make Jolly Harbor by sunset. Should we divert downwind over to St. Kitts? Should we push on and enter at night? These debates were thoroughly discussed as we bashed onward.  Fortunately, we have a fantastic engine remanufactured by Alfred Holtzer which Radeen and I installed ourselves. We call this “Yannie New” for Yanmar New and he never complains. We have so much faith in this engine. So we decided to bash onward into the sea. You may wonder why we are not under full sail? The winds were 090 to 095, NOT 080, placing them 45 degrees off the port bow. Add forward speed and the apparent wind is then 30 degrees off the port bow, so yes, maybe a J-35 could have sailed this. but not an IP as they like 50 off the bow at best for upwind sailing. Add in 4-5 foot seas at a 5 second interval and the boat would be beating under sail alone at about 3 knots.  So, it was “Yannie New” to the rescue…

Yanmar 3JH2e 38 hp diesel built by Alfred Holtzer
Alfred Holtzer remanufactures the best engines, if you need a new one, see:

Great Motor Sailing Photos

Our sail set was a full 110% jib sheeted close hauled and staysail in winds of 17-20 knots. With 2500 rpms on the engine , the boat was doing over 6.5 knots. In a sea state of 4 foot waves at 5 seconds, the bow was crashing into and thru the seas,  due to the 20,000 lb boat going nearly 7 knots. At this speed,  heeled over with a better waterline, the boat CAN power through these difficult seas without rounding up. This provided for some great video on the GoPro and some GoPro photos.

Bow waves make great photos
One of my favorite shots, this will be an IPYOA calendar page for 2020

The sea NEVER looks like it really is in a photo or in video. These photos look so calm, the sea looks like a lake, and the waves look like 1 to 2 feet. I don’t know why that is, but it is true. The above photos look so calm, yet look at our bow waves. Interesting. If you know boating and if you have watched the waves pass your cockpit then this next photo should show our speed and sea state.

Our bow wave and wake as it passes the cockpit. WOW! Healed over about 25 degrees, going 6.5 knots while motor sailing

Antigua rises over our bow

What a joy it was to call our “LAND HO” and to see our destination, Antigua, rising over the bow. Yes, we still had 5+ hours to go, but it was very exciting to see our destination.  On this run, we had 3 squalls when the rains came and the winds built to 27 knots. Like Captain Ron says: ” They come up on you fast and they leave you fast!” and so they did. Our digital radar with our guard zone set alerted us well in advance to these squalls. Plus we ran our autopilot on wind vane steering so as the wind shifts the boat will maintain the same wind angle. (Most autopilots will steer to wind. Learn how to set up yours to do that; we use it anytime the sails are up.)

Antigua over our bow, look closely

Drop Anchor 1530 Jolly Harbor

We arrived Jolly Harbor, our first destination on Antigua, and threaded our way between over 60 other boats, dropping the anchor near the head of the harbor. We were thrilled to have an anchorage that was NOT rolling and was calm, our first since Culebra. We were excited to discover this new port. We rested here and will spend a few days exploring this area and St. John’s, the capital, too. Welcome to Antigua, Island Spirit, a place we have never been before. Thank you, Yannie New 🙂

Anchored in calm Jolly Harbor, Antigua
Pop the bubbly for a new Island and new Country to discover!

A few more photos….

Autopilot steers and holds the boat to a set wind angle. We set off and we watch.
The view from the helm
We count an enclosure as a top 3 item. (#1 Radar, #2 Autopilot #3 Enclosure)
Our upper windshield soaked with salt spray. This is 8-9 feet high off the water.
Selfie in my harness. We are always hooked on at sea.
We will hand wash this boat with two buckets of fresh water when we get in. It is best to do it while still wet, before the salt dries.
The sea always looks so calm in photos. This really is 4 foot seas, I know, it certainly does not look like it.
Island Spirit heeled over under full jib and staysail on her way to a new island!

St Thomas to St Barthelemy

After the delivery of our school supplies to Jost Van Dyke Primary School, we had a weather window opening which caused us to depart BVIs after only being there 6 hours! No one goes to the BVIs for 6 hours, but that is what we did. This was very frustrating because it took away time we wanted to spend with the school and Ms. Blyden. But, when calm weather windows open and when you are trying to push east into the tradewinds, you go when they open. So, it was a rush back to St. Thomas to pick up our new Google Fi phones that Jenna shipped to us. We also received the shade fabric, Coolaroo, that we will use to cover the boat in Grenada. Everything arrived on time. Thanks to our great friend at home who manages our mail. Jenna is amazing!

Gale Pacific is the maker of Coolaroo, which is a 90% UV sunblock breathable shade cloth. We cover the boot with this when stored. 6’x100′ and 12′ x 50′ will wrap the entire yacht.










New Moto X4 Google Fi phones. We wanted to try these out, and I have to say, these are fantastic phones for $150. Check out Google Fi, it’s amazing!

Off to St. Barth’s

It took about 2 hours on shore side WiFi to get our phones working and as soon as we had them connected to our Google Fi accounts, we lifted anchor and headed to sea around 1700 hours, departing with the cruise ships. We decided to skip St. Maarten since we have been there 4 times and we are trying to push east. So, St. Barth’s was another 15 nm east and that became our target. Look at the sea state, it was like a lake and we had a beautiful night at sea.

The calm ocean between USVI and St. Maarten was like a lake. Lucky us.

St. Barths’s is a very special place

Well known to the rich and famous, many of whom own homes here or send their mega yacht teams to back up the quay here, St. Barthelemy is special. We departed St. Thomas at 1700 and we sailed / motored into St. Barth’s at 1400. We anchored deep into the harbor to try and get away from the roll, but even that did not help. The harbor is very rolly with the boat rolling side to side nonstop. Even in the inner harbor, the mega yachts are rolling side to side and surging fore and aft off the quay and tugging on their anchors set in the middle of the harbor. I can not imagine many will stay long. Remember, this was in calm weather patterns; if a north swell is running this harbor must be really difficult to tolerate.

That said, the town is so lovely with businesses and homes built up the steep hillside. It is a hike up to the shops on the third or fourth street off the harbor. After 4 streets the hill is too steep to develop and that is it. The cars are all tiny, like smart cars and Fiats, the pickup trucks are small and even the concrete trucks are small because the roads are so narrow and very steep.  Here, small cars and scooters are the mode of transportation.  People so calm here. Everyone greets each other first with a hello and how are you? Then they chat a little bit and then deal with business. Very nice to see.

The main street on the waterfront, St. Barths
Scooters are the best mode of transportation
Narrow one lane streets, small cars needed for sure

Here is a photo essay of St. Barthelemy

Typical Sailing club on the harbor
One of the many dinghy docks around the inner harbor
The Anglican Church in St. Barth’s
The beautiful churchyard as seen from the street
The stonework is impressive
Businesses on the first floor, homes on the second floor
We really enjoyed looking at the stonework detail
Notice the lace curtains in the open air windows!
Radeen strikes a pose at a stone wall restoration site
The quay where yachts will back up to and drop an anchor via Med Moor
The main street on the waterfront
Mega Yacht SEVEN SINS on the quay. She is for sale for $30,000,000

After only 2 days, we moved on…

We only stayed two days because we are pushing to get east to Antigua and then sail south down the windward islands to Grenada. So, at 0200, we lifted the anchor and headed out the harbor past this anchored tall ship, Sea Cloud II…

Hello 0200, Tall Ship as we motor out of the harbor under radar and instruments!

Off to Antigua…

The 75 nm run to Antigua was aggressive as the winds came up, but that will be the next blog post. Thank you all for sailing along….

Our planned run to Antigua

Live Tracking Map here

Remember, you can always see where we are via this live Garmin Inreach tracking map. Plus you can zoom into an area and study the routes and times and speeds we have run. We find maps very interesting. Enjoy…