Saturday, April 30, 2016

Island hopping back to Antigua

We've been making our way slowly back to Antigua, leaving behind the pretty beaches in Virgin Gorda, provisioning and spending time with friends in St Martin, snorkeling in St Barts and catching up with more friends in Nevis.

Picture perfect beach around the corner from North Sound Virgin Gorda
Distant squall on the way to St Martin

Sunrise and calm seas
We get fuel in a few places in St Martin, but my hands down favorite fuel dock is on the French side near the bridge. They have a pet goat that hangs out around the pumps and acts pretty much like a dog.

Mina the goat at 'her' dock
Awww... isn't she cute?!
On the other side of Mina's fuel dock is the dinghy dock where we tie up to go to one of the French markets. Next to the dinghy dock is a lobster shop and there are always baskets in the water where the lobsters are kept until they become a meal. 

Cleaning up

Sailing on to St Barts and looking back at St Martin and a beautiful cloud formation.
Next morning - sunrise over St Barts as we depart for Nevis
The wind was right for a stop in Nevis on our way to Antigua, plus our friends Fred and Dorothy on Aviva were there and we hadn't seen them on the water yet this year. A bonus was that there was a blues festival going on in Nevis that we'd be able to listen in on from the anchorage - nice! An even bigger (and unexpected) bonus was the huge mass of sargasso weed we sailed past on the way to Nevis. 

These giant masses of seaweed are perfect hangouts for fish so we made a beeline for the edge of the weed and caught four mahi in about an hour. No doubt we could have kept pulling in fish for hours, but we had more than our share, so we hailed Aviva on the VHF and told them we'd be arriving later than we anticipated, but dinner was on us!

One, two...
The dark strip in the back is the weed we were used to seeing. We hadn't seen the milky lighter bit before this.
Our visit with Aviva was too short because we were leaving early in the morning for Antigua and they were headed over to St Kitts to pick up visitors, but we had a great mahi dinner and a few games of dice.

Hi Aviva! Bye Aviva! See you in Newport maybe this summer?
Looking back at St Kitts as we leave sister island Nevis on our way to Antigua
Finally on to Antigua where we catch up with friends John and Alex on s/v Free Spirit. We met these two just over a year ago when we were welcomed in to a new circle of friends.... "Friends of Denis" to be specific... but haven't been in the same place at the same time since then. We reconnected in St Martin where they'd just finished repowering Free Spirit, and had some really fun evenings in their company. 

It's our habit when we're anchored in Jolly Harbor to knock off whatever we're doing at about four in the afternoon and dinghy over to a tiny beach nearby. John and Alex started to join us there as did a few other boats and soon our little beach was full of friends each day.

Skip, John and Alex in Antigua
Tiny shells from the tiny beach
As with Aviva, our time with Free Spirit was much too short. They're headed back across the Atlantic - final destination unknown. If ever there was an aptly named boat, Free Spirit is it. We miss them already! 

Alex and John - ready for anything.
 I'll leave it here for now.... and I promise some lovely Barbuda shots in the next post!