The first of our boat guests, Angela and Sharron, arrived in Antigua on February 5th for a week-long, all-inclusive holiday in the sunny south, aboard the luxury sailing vessel Kinship.
Sharron’s initiation to sailing was rather dramatic. We waited for a rain shower to pass then set out on the Caribbean Sea. No sooner were the sails up, then the wind picked up, the rain came back, Matthew donned his ski goggles to protect his eyes from the salt spray, and Sharron’s eyes got as big as saucers! She was certain we were doomed! First of all, she didn’t know that sailboats are supposed to heel over, so she was definitely freaked out by it leaning over. The fact that Matthew was wet and not a happy Captain, of course added to her anxiety! We decided to head back to the anchorage, and just like that, ♪ up came the sunshine and dried up all the rain, itsy bitsy Sharron went out to sail again♪ We were treated to a lovely rainbow, then went to a beach, had a swim, collected shells and had lots of girl-talk. Back on the boat we had celebratory beers for surviving her first sail, a nice dinner and a beautiful Caribbean sunset.
From there the week just flew by, and what a success! I was overdue for a dose of sister time, and they were overdue for some holiday time. Antigua provided a lovely venue for both those things. I don’t think it could have been any better. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Sailing: After her scary introduction to the motion of a sailboat, we were able to re-introduce Sharron to the boat and its motion much more gently, so that by the end of the week she was loving it. We started by having early morning “Yacht Yoga”, on deck, where she earned her stripes as official “Deck Fluff”. Then we moved gradually into her training as “Rail Meat”.
- She (and I) will only ever be apprentice rail meat though, as Angela is clearly the best at that job! In fact, she is more than rail meat, she is a full-fledged bow-rider! On the last leg of our sail into English Harbour, which was directly into the wind, she rode the bow like it was a bucking bronco! Waves were crashing all over (and under) her, and she was screeching like a kid on a roller-coaster ride. Thank goodness for safety harnesses! And for the cockpit, where Sharron and I stayed, watching the “15 foot waves” all around us.
- Swimming: Angela very quickly conquered her fear of swimming with the fishies. We started by practicing using snorkeling gear on a nice beach in Jolly Harbour. She found it kind of freaky to breathe while facing downward – she kept wanting to turn her head sideways before breathing in. But once she had mastered that, we moved on to the North Sound for some snorkeling in a shallow reef off Rabbit Island, where there were small corals but no fishies. Then she got to conquer her fear of swimming off the back of the boat when her hat blew off her head in Jumby Bay.
A moment or two hesitation meant that she had a longer swim, but she did it! Fear doesn’t stand a chance against Angela!!! She showed it who was boss. Finally, in English Harbour where we were anchored close to shore, we swam ashore, over the first rock outcropping where we found corals and some little fishies! She got to see the Dory fish and several other types, but the real thrill came when we found a shelf that ran parallel to the shore, just off the beach. We swam there for ages, finding sea urchins and colourful fish of all sorts. What a treat. Ange didn’t even freak out when she saw the “5 foot swordfish”! The next day we had sailor baths (a.k.a. skinny dipping in the early hours with a bar of soap), that’s how “at ease” our crew got with the water. Great success!
- Hiking: After spending 24 hours on the water without touching land, we anchored in Falmouth Harbour (after helping dredge out a bit of the channel with our keel, thus requiring a full-fledged Rail Meat drill). We did a bit of exploring there, then we moved the boat to the quieter bay at English Harbour, and took a recommended hike up the hillside to the Shirley Heights Lookout. That was an real hike, clambering up rocks, stumbling over roots, seeing lizards and birds galore, and the views! Spectacular! We could see water on three sides of Antigua, and from the top we had a fabulous view of the anchorage below.We also got to check out the old fortifications, and took a wander through the Nelson Dockyard Museum. This is a port with long and interesting history.
Eating: Sharron was of course delighted to find herself on a vegetarian all-inclusive vacation. And since we had provisioned the boat in the French island of Guadeloupe ahead of time, we had lots of wonderful French bread, cheeses, wine, beer and chocolate aboard. The guests insisted on replenishing the provisions and adding fresh bananas, pineapples and avocadoes we found at the road-side stall on the way back down from the coffee shop, so it wasn’t truly an all-inclusive (but they promised that was our little secret). Besides, who could resist the local avocadoes! They were the biggest, freshest, most delicious avocadoes you have ever had. Sharron made us a guacamole that was to die for – happy hour was especially happy that night.
We also swore our guests to secrecy after they insisted on buying us two lovely dinners ashore. I hope our guests didn’t go home broke from their all-inclusive holiday!
All good things must come to an end, and on Sunday we had to say our goodbyes as Angela and Sharron rode off in their taxi to the airport (followed shortly thereafter by Matthew on his bike, to deliver the second misplaced object of the week, but we’re not mentioning that, honestly ).