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Antigua - learning to chill with 0.2m under the keel.


Antigua was a learning ground for operating in shallow waters, trusting your eyesight not the GPS and being thankful to the many ships who had discovered, to their peril, where the reefs are.

Berthed stern too with the anchor out forward at Cat Marina in Falmouth Harbour, we managed to scrape the sandy ground upon leaving, turning just as we got the anchor up. Thanks to 145 hp inboard we gently powered through easily and quickly regained some depth under the keel.

Antigua was a mix of fabulous sailing, jovial helpful people and history. Sitting having lunch in the very historic English Harbour (dating back to the 1600s), we met the Antigua girls rowing team who had just rowed themselves across the Atlantic and into the record books as the first women's black team to compete, something like 39 days in a 19ft boat – hat off to them an enormous feet of determination and stamina.

Our tour around Antigua included Nonsuch bay, a beautiful sheltered lagoon protected by an impressive reef. As we were anchored in total shelter with the Atlantic rollers crashing against the reef only a couple of hundred meters away, kite surfer's loved the flat water and strong trade winds. As we went in search of a good snorkeling spot we found the bottom with the dinghy this time - breaking the shear pin which then tested Brent''s rowing stamina as we rowed upwind for a mile or so. He did very well and got us safely back.

There were some beautiful beaches on Antigua, not least Jumby Bay which looked ideal on the navionics charts, a bit of a sand bar where I figured we would have half a meter under the keel and then what looked like a 10 m deep pool to anchor in.

The 10 m pool was non existent, when the depth went down to 0.5 ( below the keel), we anchored and swam out with the lead line and never found anything more. Brent sent a correction to Navionics.

To clear out of customs in Jolly Harbour, thanks to some now very effective crew, we maneuvered into the narrowest berth ever. Fortunately it was under the watchful eye of the “Mama”in charge of the clearing out process who was so impressed she shepherded us through clearance in record time and allowed us to leave the boat on their dock while we went to the best supermarket since Rodney bay!

Having checked out we motored to Deepwater Bay for the night and snorkeled the wreck for the Andes – easy to locate as its funnel just breaks the surface - very conveniently with a rope to tie the dinghy on. (You can see the funnel in the picture with Saorsa in the back ground and Brent and Emma snorkeling in between).

Drinking our final Antiguan beer on the beach watching the sun go down I left Antigua thinking – I will be back.

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