Antigua

We spent a week in Antigua servicing our engine and fortifying some less permanent patches that were born out of Bermudan ingenuity and necessity. Compared to that mid-ocean rock, Antigua was bursting with culture. The heat, flavors, and colors of the Caribbean quickly scratched the itch that the neutrality of the North Atlantic had left unscratched. In hindsight it was yet another minor step culturally. It seems that the English were scarily effective at instituting their brand of subdued civility during their imperial conquests and as such, their former colonies tend to exude that sense of order even after native influence has established independence and regained rightful control. But relativity being what it is, I was smitten, we had left the reservation! We hadn’t though. The majority of our time was spent between boat work and the grocery store that doubled as a town square of sorts and boasted incredible free WiFi. Sailing around the world can often be like that, heaps of the mundane in exotic locations, with small luxuries like a shower sometimes being the highlight of a day. The polished wanderlust and awe that is edited into an endless communion with the sublime in travel docs, the dream that is peddled on many a YouTube channel, actually comes in waves. Some large and long and strong – others quick and mild and hard to separate from the humdrum. There were moments where I found myself completely awestruck though. A series of well maintained trails around English Harbor were an absolute pleasure. A trail starting in Shirley’s Heights offered sweeping views of the Caribbean sea and jagged cliffs. It descended the arid windward hillside of Antigua and dead ended at a series of stone tide pools filled with tropical fish, perfect for a soak. Another high was the aptly named Goat Trail featuring a large herd of wild goats that patrolled the cliffs and vistas, keeping the scrubby vegetation under control. There were lows in Antigua as well. Eager to snorkel we asked around for the best spot nearby and a particular beach was mentioned multiple times. We hiked there, hopped in the water, and found an almost entirely dead reef. Gray stone shadows of corals that used to be and recently bleached staghorn and boulder corals littered the sandy bottom and algae grew rampant. A few pockets of fish here and there hung around the corals that were left, but the scene was more like a ghost town than the underwater hive of activity I’ve come to know while diving on reefs. It was a cold reminder of our mission as we navigate the globe, a reminder of what is at stake. We left Antigua with our destination on the horizon, a novel experience given the ~1800 nautical miles we’d covered in our first two legs. The journey to Guadeloupe and our first real cultural baptism by fire was a mere 40 nm away.

-Zach

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