CURRENT LOCATION: Anchored in Mosquito Cove, just outside the entrance to Jolly Harbour, Antigua
17 04.593' N, 061 53.623' W
In retrospect, it may not have been the best idea to set off on an overnight sail immediately after participating in a death march; however, we are not always at liberty to do things exactly
when we want. Cruising offers a lot of freedom, but our decisions are often influenced by the forces of nature and bureaucracy.
First, let's consider the weather. The forecast called for two days of continued easterly wind and swell, after which the winds would pick up and shift to the north:
Since the last half of our journey was to be a sail due north, we certainly wanted to do this before we were faced with twenty-knot winds and ten-foot seas from a northerly direction. That pretty much mandated either a Wednesday departure or a long wait for another weather window without that northerly component. Extended forecasts did not look promising in that regard.
Each country we visit has different rules regarding how long we can stay. The Dominica Department of Immigration gave us clearance for two weeks. If we wanted to stay past that time, we would have to make another trip to Immigration to request an extension. Our week-long stay here, thus far, afforded two enjoyable land excursions (the main reason we were here), but both were expensive. We have done all that we can afford to do here, and extending our stay would likely mean spending lots of time on the boat (and telling Alexis 'no' regarding future tours). Instead, we were looking forward to spending this type of quiet time in the setting afforded by Jolly Harbour.
With nature and bureaucracy conspiring to push us toward a departure on Wednesday, the only remaining decision was whether to target an anchorage for Wednesday night or to do an overnight sail. Guadeloupe has four anchorages spread upon its western coastline which would have made anchoring overnight a viable option, regardless of the pace we managed during our first day. However, in order to make the trip in two days, we would need to make maximum miles during daylight hours. Bottom line: A DEPARTURE AT FIRST LIGHT. We were already a bit masochistic to consider taking off on the day after the brutal hike to the Boiling Lake, but the notion of being underway at the crack of dawn was just too much for our weary bodies to entertain. In addition, I took a fall on a slippery rock while hiking and absorbed most of the impact with my right thumb and wrist. We bandaged it up and it was going to heal just fine, but still, adding another day of anchor duty this week was not an appealing idea. Thus the decision was made, it would be an overnight trip.
With plenty of time to cover the distance between Dominica and Antigua before the winds veered to the north, we set no alarm clock. Wednesday morning, we took our time getting out of bed and getting ready to depart. Once off the coast of Dominica, we were met by a pod of dolphins. It has been a while since we have been visited by these remarkable creatures, and the acrobatic display of this group was the best we have ever seen:
With a healthy dose of positive energy provided by these good luck omens, we were on our way toward covering the 100 nautical miles to Antigua. It would have been a perfect sail, had the islands of Guadeloupe not gotten in our way:
We arrived in Antigua sore and tired. Because of the changing wind conditions, we had hand steered most of the way. You would be surprised how much hand steering involves work from the leg muscles, especially in a rolly seaway. We were feeling every one of the thousand steps we took on our 5-hour hike.
Here in Jolly Harbour, they ask that you park your boat at their dock for the purpose of checking-in to Customs and Immigration. We did not know this the first time through, but today it was a welcome treat. I would not have to unpack, assemble, and inflate the dinghy immediately upon arrival. Instead, we simply pulled up to the dock, marked with a big yellow flag, and stepped off:
We had arrived before their offices opened, so we sat on the boat getting a few things squared away for about an hour before Master Sheryl could check us in. The country of Antigua & Barbuda allows us to stay for two months, so we should be good to relax here for as long as we need, prior to departure for Bermuda.
We untied the lines, motored back out to Mosquito Cove, and planted our anchor in less than 8 feet of water. We had only enough energy left to do the bare minimum required to convert our sailing machine into a home. Everything else (including dinghy launch) would wait for tomorrow. A lazy day turned into an evening which found us in bed by 7PM (early, even for us). It was no surprise to either of us that the next time we looked at the clock, it read 7AM.