27/02/12 – ‘TIA’…….This is Antigua…..

Well……where to start…..it’s been an interesting and busy time in Antigua…..who said the Caribbean was going to be relaxing?! The stream of amazing yachts coming in and out of Falmouth and English Harbours has continued throughout, always something going on.

Watching the Superyacht Challenge regatta…….two classic gentlemans yachts…’Talitha’ and ‘Nahlin’

It’s also been great to catch up with old friends who are now living out here or just visiting. It has meant that we have had the opportunity to explore more of the island and its history too. A memorable day trip on Aztec with Jonty & Vicky and their visitors from the UK (Jonathan & Jackie), swimming ashore for lunch. A fabulous day with Neil & Stella during their holiday at Hawks Bill….

Lunch at OJ’s, Aztec at anchor in the background……the working sugar mill at Betty’s Hope….

Visiting Devils Bridge on the Atlantic coast……….. a very civilised afternoon tea with Neil & Stella

The consistent ‘Christmas Winds’ finally dropped for a while too, allowing us to explore some of the more remote anchorages. Mungo arrived for a week’s visit, so we were able  to give him a flavour of the Caribbean and a relaxing time prior to his exams.

Anchored alone off Green Island, lovely spot…….Mungo & Amanda at Pigeon Beach….he’s grown!

Mungo catching his first fish…a 5lb Spanish Mackerel……..sunset, anchored off Jolly Harbour

During this time I was initiated into the Royal Navy Tot Club of Antigua & Barbuda (many thanks to my sponsor John Duffy)…..an interesting experience involving a lot of rum and learning about naval history, specifically around Nelson’s career. The club does a lot of good work in Antigua to maintain historical sites and pathways, providing entertainment for Royal Navy crews locally, amongst many other things. Shortly afterwards, I was asked to join the Tot Club Team for the Wobbly Boat Race…..where the objective was to build a boat in 4 hours and race it around a course for charity.

Performing the final part of the Tot Club initiation……initial framework for the boat build…..

HMS RumRun & its motley crew, including mermaid Lindsay…….launching from the beach…

Some varied designs in the 14 entries………………cheating was actively encouraged…!

And so to one of the maddest decisions I’ve ever made……accepting an invitation to race in the RORC Caribbean 600, one of the toughest current offshore races…..in the smallest boat to enter…a Mumm 36!

Mumm 36 ‘High Tension’ casting off for the 600…watching the start on ‘Impulse’..the 218ft ‘Hetairos’

…..we’re off…..that tiny boat in the foreground is us……..after the finish, heading back into harbour

…..It’s finally over….a great reception…………….at the prizegiving with owner/skipper Bernie…..

In the meantime, ‘Aztec Dream’ was moored at the Antigua Yacht Club, the centre of the shore action, and Amanda was busy helping with the finish line monitoring, as well as being adopted by the Tot Club…..and finding time for some dinghy sailing…

Monitoring the finishing line at Fort Charlotte……dinghy sailing in Falmouth Harbour…

It took 4 days and over 700 miles for ‘High Tension’ to reach the finish, but the reception was fantastic, with horns blaring from the superyachts in the harbour and chilled cases of beer on the pontoon….even it was only 9 in the morning…..and the best bacon sandwiches ever!

So we’re having a few quiet days to recover. Spent a lovely day walking around the historic forts and graveyards around the harbour and up to Shirley Heights with Russell & Tammy. They leave for the islands further north tomorrow and we are back in the UK for a week from Sunday.

….following the dry riverbed between historic sights…….the high point of Shirley Heights….

Oh well, better sign off before this gets too long and clogs up everyone’s email…..and we need to go to the beach…..

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