English Harbour, Antigua
17º 00.18’ N, 61º 45.65’ W
On the 29th of November, we weighed anchor, motored to the fuel dock to fill both the fuel and water tanks, and set sail for the Caribbean. Six and a half days and 880 nautical miles later we anchored in Marigot Bay, St. Martin. The leg which was rather uneventful could wind-wise be divided into three distinct parts: too much wind, hardly any wind and finally, the trade winds thanks to which we managed to make a total of 155 nautical miles during our last day at sea.
When checking in St. Martin, we learned to our great surprise that unlike five years ago, we now had to pay a fee for using the sea bottom for anchoring. In our opinion, putting moorings to protect the environment is highly recommended but charging sailors for anchoring in front of the town is plain GREEDY!
The northern part of the double-named island, called St. Martin, is French and the southern part, Sint Maarten, belongs to the Netherlands. There is a nice story about how the island was originally divided between the two countries: instead of fighting over the island, both countries chose a representative, the Frenchman equipped with a bottle of wine and the Dutchman armed with a bottle of genever. The Frenchman started walking from the north of the island and the Dutchman from the south. Where they met, the boundary was drawn. The French side is a bit bigger for the simple reason that genever is so much stronger than wine. We think that the same civilised principal could still be applied to many territorial conflicts around the world.
The reason why we had chosen St. Martin/Sint Maarten as our first landfall in the Caribbean was purely financial (this decision was made before we knew that we would be charged for anchoring!). There are two big chandleries on the Dutch side, and the island is duty free. But, on the 12th of December, after we had bought lots of spare parts, a rubber bucket to replace the one we managed to drop into the sea in Bermuda, and a breeze booster as, after three seasons up north, we are not yet accustomed to the hot weather, we were more than happy to weigh anchor and continue our journey to Antigua.
Early the following day, we arrived in English Harbour which was absolutely packed. We had major difficulties in finding a place for Sarema amongst the milling throng of boats of various shapes and sizes. And when we went to check in, for some reason, we were not at all surprised to hear that, here too, you had to pay for anchoring.
We are going to stay in Antigua till we hopefully manage to get our receiving but not transmitting SSB radio repaired. If that is not possible, we'll continue island-hopping to Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe, where we hope to see less people and fewer boats.