The Antigua Cruisers Community (25 Mar – 9 May 2016)

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With our parents now gone, we adjusted back to normal boat life. Eating on board, afternoon swims, walking Scrumps along the beach and generally enjoying time together. On Easter Sunday we had a lovely BBQ on a secluded bit of Jolly Beach with Jacqui & Freddie from Shavora, which reminded us just how amazing our boat life is as sometimes we take it for granted particularly when we are missing home.

While Simon was knee deep in engine oil doing masculine boaty maintenance I enjoying a day sunbathing at the Marina swimming pool where I bumped into our friends Tina, Mark and May from Magic. We hadn’t seen them since we left them in Blue Lagoon St Vincent about 6 weeks ago. It’s always great seeing a friendly face and they were with a couple on a boat called AWOL who we’d meet very briefly in Las Palmas before doing the Atlantic Crossing. All of them were still based in Falmouth Harbour but had popped up to check out Jolly Harbour for a day out as they were planning on moving up in a few days. Mark & Tina said they were having a party on Magic on Friday night and invited us over. This was the first time we’d been asked to attend a social gathering on someone else’s boat and we were really looking forward it. Little did we know it was to be the beginning of a very busy social month and the start of many new friendships…………..

Cliff and Val on AWOL, Cliff was ex-Royal Navy and Val a great fun Glaswegian gal who became Simon’s smoking partner. Nick and Teryesa on Ruby Rose, both from London but Teryesa originally from Adelaide, Australia. They were the only fellow cruisers we’d met that were of a similar age….. although Nick was a little bit older but young at heart (Sorry Nick!). Nick had been a dentist and Terysa a paramedic. Martin and Buzz the dog on Dawn Corus, ironically Simon had met Martin before in a vets in Bristol while both of them had been getting Pet Passports before both leaving to sail around the world….what are the chances!!! Martin’s wife Dawn was back in the UK visiting family with their other dog. Sandra & John on Eupraxia, John was a big time doctor (our words not his!) and Sandra was a hoot and great conversationalist. All of them had meet on the Atlantic Rally Crossing 2015.
There was also Bev, an Australian solo cruiser on Catamaran Aseka who spent a long time living in the Caribbean on her boat. She had been one of the first female radio operators on an oilrig….. Go girl! And Bev introduced us to Canadians, Rick & Helen on a Catamaran called Symmetry. We fell in love with them instantly as one of their favourite karaoke songs is ‘I’m on a boat mother fuckers’ and Simon used to sing this before owning a boat, so we knew we’d get on like a house on fire.

I could literally write a book on all the things we got up to with this lot while in Antigua, the list is literally endless. On the Sunday after Magic’s party we had a big beach BBQ with a bonfire. Nick brought his guitar and Tina helped on the vocals, which shorty blossomed into the forming of Nic ‘o’ Tine.
After this first BBQ Simon and I were supposed to leave Antigua as we’d signed out at customs ready to head back to Guadeloupe, but something made us change our minds. With all these new friendly faces about, we had decided to stay and be sociable. A decision we definitely didn’t regret. There were 2 for 1 pizza nights, regular Sunday beach BBQs, open mic nights, fish and chips, Nick’s famous presser cooker ribs, games of cards against humanity. We had an absolute blast.
We all headed down to Falmouth Harbour for the Antigua Classics Week, Bev’s friend took us out on their catamaran to watch some truly spectacular boats racing. Nic’o’Tine were now practising daily and got up on stage to perform at the Classics Open Mic night, hell they even had me singing in public on more than one occasion. One of our highlights was the Mount Gay Rum Red Cap Party, Tina had been on a mission collecting tickets from various parties in order to get a prestigious ‘Red Cap’ and after many boozy nights the pinnacle of drunken nights had arrived. We were all the Red Cap party, ready to reap the benefits of Tina’s hard work, not only did we all get a red cap but everyone enjoyed the hour long free bar which resulted in an early night for most us ….apart from Pregnant and non-drinking me of course!!!!

Simon spent many days working on board Magic and helping them as they were flying back to England and had decided to put their boat on the market. In return they spoilt us rotten and inundated us with supplies that they no longer needed, helping us to save towards our flights home for the birth of jellybean.
We also went on a number of wild goose chases to the vets, airport cargo, government vets and pet shops in relation to them flying home with their dog, May, as we will too have to go through all these hoops with Scrumpy. It was a real eye opener particularly where we spend 3 hours at the airport cargo filling in various forms and generally dealing with people who had no idea what they were supposed to be doing.
A coupe of days before Tina & Mark’s flight home we took them out along with Nick & Tereysa to Deep Bay for one last sail. Over the last month we have grown so close to them and the sail back to Jolly Harbour was an emotional one. They had lived aboard Magic for 18 months and travelled thousands of miles on her along with thousands of memories. Now they were saying goodbye and possibly for the last time, even I felt a tear in my eye. They are two truly wonderful, fun and amazing humans, with such an energy about them. We felt privileged to share this last memory with them on Tudor Rose and promised we would visit them back in Yorkshire when we return home.
Over the weeks all the various cruisers we’d met had come and gone, some moving south to get out of the hurricane belt with hurricane season soon approaching, some heading North to the USA and some heading to Bermuda ready to tackle the Atlantic crossing for a second time. We hope that some day somewhere our paths will cross again and that’s all part of the fun.
Talking of this we finally got to bump into one of our favourite people Michael Sweet on Henrietta, who we first met in Spain. In his 70’s Michael has singled handed sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. He is literally our hero and is one of the nicest people you will ever met. We loved finally catching up with him again, but unfortunately only for a few hours as he too is heading North. Fingers crossed we will get to see him again in the not too distant future. (www.sailinghenrietta.com )

With Magic now gone Simon and I were at a loss with what to do with ourselves, so decided to fulfil our time now pestering Nick and Teryesa on Ruby Rose. I can honestly say I think we eat dinner on their boat nearly every night for two weeks, but hey Nick liked cooking and we liked eating so it was a match made in heaven. They would often baby sit Scrumpy while we did a food shop and most afternoons and evenings we spent chatting rubbish and gossiping, we don’t have TV so we have to get drama from somewhere. Most conversations were dominated by Game of Thrones and haberdashery, as we taken a few trips together to the material shops in St Johns. One trip we actually had to take two buses and ended up buying a mountain of foam and sunbrella material to make new cockpit cushions. Trying to get a roll of foam the size of Hagrid on a bus was quite an experience and I’m surprised they didn’t charge us for an extra person.

Nick and Terysa also have similar sailing plans to us, they are flying back to the UK in June and returning to their boat early January 2017 to continue sailing North up to the USA. We have all loved the social side of Antigua so much and it has probably been one of the most enjoyable parts of our trip so far. When we first arrived we didn’t have a lot time for Antigua but over time it has grown on us and now we will have very fond memories of it for years to come. For the first time we have finally felt part of the sailing communities we have heard about. When N&T return to Ruby Rose, we have decided to make our way to the USA together. Sailing around the world on a boat is amazing experience but sharing your memories with friends is so much more entertaining.

(internet in currently AWFUL……. so photos will have to follow later, sorry folks)

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