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Antigua

Government Independent from the United Kingdom since 1981, part of Commonwealth Antigua and Barbuda Flag
Capital St. Johns
Currency East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)
Area 442.6km2
Population (2009) 85,632
Language English
Islands 2 inhabited
Economy Tourism, light industry, Banking
GDP per Capita $19,600 (64th worldwide) [2008 Data]
Links CIA Factbook, Wikipedia Page

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I've spent quite a bit of time in Antigua, most of that time somehow just drifted by without my realizing it. I usually anchored in the middle of Falmouth harbour but have also stayed elsewhere on the island as well as at the docks at Jolly Harbour. Falmouth harbour is home to many mega yachts calling in or more-or-less permanently docked at on of the 3 major docks, then many more anchored in the sheltered waters of the harbour. The holding is generally good except for one or two spots in the center, I woke up one morning with a beautiful yacht Latifa only yards from my bow. As I was sure that I gave that boat a good 100 feet separation I knew that I had either dragged upwind or he had repositioned himself. The owner, , and I talked and since his classic yacht is a lot more work to re-anchor than mine I opted to let out another 50 feet of chain (but now I was close to another boat so I motored the dinghy over there to explain the situation). I later visited Latifa and got a grand tour of a wonderful classic yacht.

The “Mad Mongoose” bar on shore offers free WiFi internet 24x7 and is therefore the central meeting point for yachties; plus their happy hour starts early and lasts a long time and sailors are masters at sniffing out bargains like that. I met quite a few interesting people there, and am certain that they thought the same thing about me. Just a few yards from Falmouth is the famous English Harbour and Nelson's Dockyards, the oldest working shipyard in the western hemisphere. The dockyard has been transformed into a working museum, with guided tours going between the buildings and into some of the businesses; a bad thing when a herd of visitors crowds into a working sail making loft and trod across the clean floor or laid-out sails.

I was in Antigua for the kickoff of the Bucket (I stupidly declined a crew position for one of the boats!), then for the Classic Race week and finally for the big Antigua Race Week, which was renamed this year after the official sponsor, Stanford, fell out of grace with the FDC and various other judiciaries.

The island offers quite a bit of things to see and do outside of the yachting world. While mostly arid and devoid of original growth due to over farming, there is a section of old growth and I joined Barry and his family and some other friends on a Zip-Line tour. They had drilled the holes for the thick supporting wires through Kapok trees which just continued to grow despite the multiple piercings. Kapok used to be a cash crop tree, the insides of most cold-weather jackets were filled with kapok before modern fibres supplanted it. The town of St. Johns is picturesque (and full of cruise ships and guests), and the west side has beautiful reefs.

For a map with clickable pictures from this site displayed geographically please click here

Pillars at Nelson's DockyardThese were used to pull boats on land to dry out (careening).
[17°0'29.08"N 61°45'54.72"W ]
Pillars at Nelson's Dockyard
Customs and Immigration Nelson's dockyardThis is a working customs and immigration office where cruisers such as myself have to clear in and out. It is in the middle of the Nelson's Dockyards which is mostly a museum so quite often people mistake this office for an exhibit.
[17°0'29.74"N 61°45'55.34"W ]
Customs and Immigration Nelson's dockyard
Shirley Heights VistaLooking down from Shirley Heights, first comes English Harbour with the Nelson's Dockyards, then the next one over in the distance is Falmouth Harbour - despite being much larger it is not as protected as English.
[17°0'7.65"N 61°45'26.06"W (facing NW)]
Shirley Heights Vista
The Maltese Falcon at the docks in AntiguaThe sails unfurl from the curved booms and the whole mast turns around it's axis in order to catch the wind at the correct angle.
[17°0'57.15"N 61°46'32.34"W ]
The Maltese Falcon at dock.
Shirley Heights steel drum bandOn Sundays there is a dinner with music from this steel drum band, who were very adept at reproducing different songs using just their percussion instruments.
[17°0'7.65"N 61°45'26.06"W (facing NW)]
Shirley Heights steel drum band
Montserrat in the backgroundThese fishermen and women are pulling in a very big net (the dinghy in the picture is over the net) with a puff or two of smoke in the background from the active volcano on Montserrat.
[17°1'1.28"N 61°50'40.84"W (facing SW)]
Montserrat in the background
Just in case you can't tell...Hmm, this must have been written at the behest of American lawyers who worried that someone might not be able to tell the this dock has some slight structural deficiencies and hurt themselves.
[17°0'30.48"N 61°45'56.19"W (facing N)]
Just in case you can't tell...
Carneval AttireSome of the masks and gear made the for Carneval celebrations.
[17°0'29.08"N 61°45'51.63"W ]
Carneval Attire
Preparing for Antigua Race weekThe crew setting up and preparing their boat for the upcoming races at the Antigua Race Week.
Preparing for Antigua Race week
Antigua Race Week partyThe big closing party at the 2009 Antigua Race Week in Jolly Harbour, Antigua.
[17°3'55.68"N 61°53'0.96"W (facing SE)]
Antigua Race Week party
Halcyon Cove beach vistaThe beach of my hotel in Antigua
[17°9'38.18"N 61°50'48.43"W (facing SW)]
Halcyon Cove beach vista
Departing Jolly HarbourDeparting Jolly Harbour in Antigua for St. Martin.
[17°4'19.8"N 61°53'19.28"W (facing NW)]
Departing Jolly Harbour