Living like locals in Antigua

Pirates, optimists and happy hours seem to sum up our time in Antigua. We’ve just spent eleven weeks living in Falmouth Harbour in Antigua while Patrick worked at a local boatbuilding company to refill our cruising kitty. We’ve gotten to know the bay very well, the local buses very well and our little beach very well. We’ve made lots of new friends both on other boats and on shore. We’ve celebrated many birthdays and enjoyed quite a few rum based drinks. Antigua has been fun.

Patrick and I spend a few months living and working in Antigua in 2004 when we were sailing through the Caribbean on Twilight, our 35ft classic boat. So it was great and a little bit surreal to be back doing the same thing thirteen years later. It can be hard to change your mind-set from ‘cruising’ from place to place to settling on your boat in one harbour for a longer period of time. Life needs to find a new rhythm and pace – I guess you can settle in a bit, get to know a place a bit better – the trick is to realise when it’s time to move on again.

Falmouth Bay is a great anchorage – it’s vast with an ever-changing array of boat eye candy from the many super-yachts, a lovely little beach and plenty of restaurants and bars. There is a beautiful hike from Pigeon beach over the hill to the historic and very picturesque English Harbour. There is plenty of space for everyone and everything – paddle-boarders, dinghy sailors, boats of every shape and size, turtles and even dolphins!

Our lovely friends on Dana De Mer unfortunately lost their mast between Guadeloupe and Antigua – awful for them but very selfishly it meant we’ve had them in Antigua with us the whole time which has been fabulous – not for my liver but for my sanity!! Hope and I even managed a semi-regular morning exercise routine on the beach.

Fin turned 7 in April and true to form, we had two great celebrations including a pirate party on the beach complete with games, a treasure hunt and a ‘burning’ pirate ship cake! Patrick also celebrated his birthday – a little more of a subdued affair after a Sailing Week Reggae concert (featuring Damian Marley) the night before!

Stella and Fin took dinghy sailing lessons at the local sailing academy and we even managed to buy a cheap second-hand Optimist sailing dinghy which has been brilliant! Fin is already far better than me at sailing it! The kids also attended Easter camp at the Academy – a welcome break from boat school for both Mum and kids!

Ultimately, like anything, it’s the people who make it and we have been so very lucky to have wonderful people around us in Antigua who have made it a memorable and fun time – we’ve spent many happy hours in Antigua.

Highlights

  • Spending time with new friends on boats Drakkar, Slice of Life and Invincible.
  • Making friends with the Greensmith family & visiting their lovely Antiguan home.
  • Watching England vs West Indies cricket game at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
  • Welcoming in fellow South African Chris Bertish after his awesome Atlantic SUP Crossing. Totally inspiring!
  • Being part of the wonderful Antigua Classic Regatta again – P sailed on Seefalke II while the kids and I watched the racing and enjoyed the shore side festivities.
  • Pigeon Beach BBQs with steak from the St John’s meat market and our first smores.

Top Tips

  • Great sheltered anchorage round the back of Green Island (Nonsuch Bay) – get they before they make the island private…
  • Skullduggerys at the Antigua Dock has the best wifi but you can also get free wifi outside Covent Garden supermarket.
  • Bar-B under the yacht club has the cheapest (& longest) happy hour.
  • The Catamaran Club Chandlery (Northside of Falmouth Harbour) is very well stocked for materials.
  • Helpful and friendly at Woodstock and Antigua Boats & Carpentry if you need work done on your boat.
  • The museum in the capital St Johns is very hands-on and great for kids.
  • The Academy (Antigua Sailing Academy) has a fabulous cafe with delicious smoothies, salads and margaritas – also great sailing lessons for kids.
  • Papas by the Sea has a pool, trampoline, football net and happy hour – what else could you possibly need?!!
  • The Big Epicurean supermarket in St Johns although not in the centre of town, is well worth a visit if you can get there – bus to the Woods Centre goes regularly from St John’s bus station.
  • If you anchor off the Hermitage Hotel in Five Islands Bay – you can pick up their wifi (no password!).

4 thoughts on “Living like locals in Antigua

  1. Ah an update I have been waiting for. Kids are growing up too fast. Good to see how healthy and happy you all are x x

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  2. Love the fact that you set the pirate ship alight on Finn’s b’day! I saw the pic of the cake and said to Stu ‘ it looks like Noah’s cake – do you remember when the sails set light and dad had to pour hus cup of tea over to put it out?!’ Then I saw the flaming cake a few pics later! Great times. Xxx

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