Every now and again our tolerance for a little extra risk pays dividends. That was the case as we guinea-pigged our way under moonlight up the shallow mangrove-lined channel that runs through the middle of Guadeloupe on our way to Antigua. We can now say for sure that a 2 meter deep boat can safely pass this 1.8 meter deep channel at high tide.
We saved five hours with that little shortcut, which we were thankful for as we pulled into British Harbor in Antigua that Christmas Eve afternoon. John Burnie, who taught us how to sail Tamarisk back in Turkey, told us this was the place to be for the holidays and he was definitely right – this is where the serious yachties come to party it up with Santa hats and rum punches so strong that only a few even remembered what happened when the woke up on Christmas Day. And that was a perfect excuse to do it all over again that night.
As we sat in the famous Nelson’s Dockyard sipping our own Christmas rum punches with our newly arrive friend, Tom, from San Diego, it was impossible to ignore our remarkable surroundings. Parked immediately next to us was Icon, the 180 foot mega yacht that rents for over $500,000 per week (google it if you don’t believe it). We love these moments because they remind us of the best shortcut we ever took – the one where we began this journey after totally skipping the entire burdensome process of becoming millionaires / billionaires.
But even an absurd behemoth like Icon is only a footnote in a place like Nelson’s Dockyard. That’s because the dockyard itself is perhaps one of the most significant locations in maritime history. This is where the British Navy based for two centuries as they colonized the Caribbean, protected the valuable sugar trade routes, serviced their fleet, and sought shelter from hurricanes. Without this permanent base, Antigua (and perhaps the entire Caribbean) would be far less British than it is today.
The past few days have been boring but necessary work days on the boat. But with that now finished up, it’s time to get back to business. And by “business” we of course mean exploring the rest of Antigua before heading off to the ultra-trendy St. Bart’s island (yes, that’s back to France) for what’s known as the best New Years party in the Caribbean. Which reminds us… we need to pick up another couple bottles of rum.