We arrived in Antigua on the 19th January 2023 and anchored in Pigeon Beach in English Harbour. It had been 12 years since Emilie or I had visited Antigua and it was good to be back. It has been interesting to see the amount of development around English and Falmouth Harbour, with lots of new money apparent on the southern parts of the Island.
A two days after clearing customs we experienced an Earth Tremor from a 5.8 magnitude quake off Dominica. It was interesting to experience an earth tremor onboard a yacht and it felt like our keel was bumping off the sea bed. We remained on close guard watching the tide and swell in the bay for the next two hours in case of any tsunami influence from the tremor but nothing more came of it.
Over the next few days we caught up with old friends and new friends, and did some hiking and lots of swimming and snorkling in the area. It was nice to see so many turtles in English harbour, and we had a resident large green turtle who hung out right next to Sunday Island.
The 26th January was Australia day and we met with a bunch on other Aussie cruisers for a BBQ on pidgeon beach. It was a fun day with lots of other kids for Issy and Max to play with. With Issys birthday on the 29th of January, and one of our friends Chris also celebrating her birthday Emilie made a cake and we blew out some candles.
On the 29th of January we borrowed a friends car and toured the island visiting “Devils Bridge” and the sting ray sanctuary in. The sting rays were so friendly you could feed them with some squid and also hold them. It was magnificient to hold a massive sting ray and show the kids up close where the barb is and how to be safe around these peaceful creatures.
We explored Antigua until the 31st of January then made our way towards the BVI, however the wind swung to the NE and we were experiencing rain and wind squalls so our planned night crossing was not appearing to be very pleasant, so we aborted and anchored in Five Island Harbour Antigua. I awoke at 2am to a terrible smell and we found out that we had anchored down wind of Antigua’s rubbish dump where they were burning all sorts of rubbish. We moved south about 1nm out of the lee off the dump to anchor for the rest of the night before re-commencing our voyage towards the BVI’s.
As we passed St Barts in the early evening we decided to anchor under the cliffs in Shell bay and enjoyed a restful night surrounded by billion dollar mega yachts. The next morning we departed and sailed towards St Martin to take advantage of the large grocery stores. Two days in St Martin was enough for us and we departed Marigot at midnight on the 4th February. The winds had swung to the East and we had an enjoyable sail towards Virgin Gorda with the yankee poled out and a full mainsail sailing at 7-8kts.
We arrived at Virgin Gorda at 1530 on the 4th February and anchored in Big trunk bay off the “baths” while I dinghied up to the marina to clear customs. The next morning everybody was awake early and we swam into the beach and walked through the rocks of the Baths. It is quite amazing that these massive bolders were pushed up beneath the ground by a volcano, creating numerous pirate caves and secret passages. We walked through the rocks to Devils bay and had the place all to ourselves. Not 10 minutes after we finished our morning explore but a number of tourist busses carrying hundred or so tourists arrived and the palce was swarming with humans so we evacuated back to Sunday Island.
The next day we motored to Long Bay and anchored. It was difficult to get hold in the shallow sand, and once secured we went for a quick evening dive on the reef. The next morning Issy and I went for a dive on the point, however the swell and wind had picked up and the visability was too poor to see the reef so we picked up anchor and sailed to Leverick bay.
That night we booked a table and dressed up as pirates for the famous “Pirate Beans” show. Issy and Max were the only kids in the audience and Beans made them feel very special. Issy won the “Pirate Princess” conk shell blowing competition. Beans show went for two and a half hours of entertainment. There were many swigs of rum and lots of dancing and interaction. I highly recommend the show for anybody passing through the BVI’s.
We then sailed towards Trellis bay Tortola, anchoring at Great Camano Island on the way and exploring the windward shore consisting of debris from storms and hurricanes including shipwrecks and hermit crabs that had made their home amongst the debris.
Trellis bay was the first bay I came to when I visited the Caribbean 15 years ago to visit my Aunt who had lived in the BVI’s for 20 or so years. It was sad to see how badly Trellis bay was affected by the hurricane and many of our old favourite haunts and dives were no longer there. We did explore the famous studio of Aragon but could not afford to buy any of the beautiful but expensive art. Trellis bay was marked by our transition to our third log book since starting our cruise. In logbook 2 we logged 6200nm between 1st August 2022 in Greece and 8th February 2023 Tortola.
We decided to abort plans to stay in Trellis bay overnight and sailed on to Peter Island which is a private island and does not welcome cruisers. The next day we sailed to “Treasure Island” otherwise known as Norman Island. This island is famous for being the island that the book “Treasure Island” was based on and it was fun to explore the many caves. One morning the kids were coaming the beach and found an old glass bottle washed up on the rocks. To our supprise the kids opened the bottle and found a treasure map! We immediately went into treasure searching mode, and low and behold Issy and Max found a small treasure chest hidden under a pile of rocks! There were two other locations of buried treasure drawn on the map and we explored “Spyglass Hill” searching for the other treasure but were “attacked” by cactus plants before we found the other buried treasure that remained on Spyglass hill.
We met a number of very nice American cruising familes at Norman Island and enjoyed the weekend playing with water toys and BBQ’s on the beach. We were joined by the Americans for some fantastic diving and snorkling in the area where the coral is the best we have seen so far in the Caribbean. One of our favourite places to snorkel has been the Indian’s, a group of rocks about 3nm from Norman Island.