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A Classic Swansong in Antigua

We left Bequia with a surprise in store for Freddie in St Lucia. Unknown to him, Niki Ricketts, his Year 4 teacher, was coming on holiday with her family to a hotel just north of Rodney Bay. We stayed overnight in Marigot Bay and the following morning made our way up the coast to the anchorage just outside Rodney Bay Marina. Nostalgia flows through us once again. This is the place where we made our landfall in the Caribbean with Giles and Ray nearly 5 months earlier. After telling Freddie we were on a mystery tour around the north of the island we watched the surprise on his face as Niki walked into the hotel reception. It was priceless and a lovely for him to see a familiar face from home and talk about his friends. His smile got even broader as she revealed a Minecraft magazine and genuine Cadbury’s mini eggs from Worcester!

We sat and chatted for an hour or so and it was lovely to meet Niki’s husband and daughter.

Next stop was Martinique to have the engine serviced ready for the trip back over the Atlantic. The shifting high pressure systems around the Azores makes for a more unpredictable trip back to Europe so it seemed like a good opportunity to visit the Volvo agent in Le Marin for a health check. After ‘value’ provisioning at the French supermarkets and getting stopped by the Gendarmes for allowing Freddie to drive the RIB in French territory (?!), we sailed around to Anse Mitan to meet up with Andrew and Carolyn on Askari and enjoyed a memorable birthday at the local Bistro d’en Face, eating Entrecote au Poivre and sipping ice cold dry rose. It’s a bittersweet time as Andrew and Carolyn are heading south to continue their voyage back to Oz and we knew that we are on our way north to Antigua for the Classics Sailing Week and our Caribbean Odyssey is entering it’s twilight stage.

Before reaching Guadeloupe’s main island we wanted to catch up with Paul and Kirsten on Harlequin in either Prince Rupert Bay in Dominica or Les Saintes. We made it up to Prince Rupert Bay in a single, marvelous, passage. Harlequin was still anchored there, so we joined her and waited for Kirsten and Paul to return from their trip to the Emerald Falls. The one day stopover turned into two and included a riotous BBQ laid on for all the Yachties by the PAYS guys. We met new people and families amongst the ‘Danish invasion’ of the bay and caught up with Satu, Raku and their boys on Lunni.

This was it, our final run to Antigua had arrived. Missing out Les Saintes we managed to reach the ever windy Deshaies and yellow flagged overnight before leaving early to sail up to Falmouth and English Harbour. Again, it was a superb trip. Sun blazing, a steady 20 knot easterly and slight S/E swells made it a wonderful run. The cherry on top came as we approached Falmouth and the racing fleet of classic yachts turned towards us on their outbound reach to the seaward mark. One by one the beautiful yachts, under full sail, elegantly slid past our starboard side. Magical.

We had given ourselves two weeks to enjoy the Classics Week and, with everywhere so busy with racing and preparing for TransAts back to Europe, we needed to start getting Moana ready so that we could leave her temporarily in Jolly Harbour and fly back to the UK.

The Classic Regatta is centred around the Antigua Yacht Club AYC and the boats gather in Falmouth for each day of racing around the southern end of the island. The atmosphere is relaxed and inclusive. Everybody is welcome and it was a privilege to see so many beautiful old yachts in one place.  There’s entertainment every evening, culminating in the prizegiving at the AYC. The highlights for us were the traditional Sunday procession of yachts and crew into English Harbour, a magnificent event in a special place, and the Gig racing on the Tuesday based in, and around, the Admirals Inn inside the World Heritage Site of Nelson’s Dockyard.

   The eccentric single handed, home made, Ponzi races, classic rowing boat races and classic dinghy racing. Adults and children alike took part with a spirit of friendship and fun.  A traditional English Cream Tea was even being served on the lawn in Nelson’s old dry dock.

Being back in FaImouth & English Harbour felt like a Caribbean homecoming. So many great times and memories of the people we have met and enjoyed time with. It was fitting that we were here to lower the curtain on our incredible 2018-19 Transatlantic and Caribbean adventure. Our family and individual spirits have been lifted and enriched by this whole experience, and inspired by the friends and characters who we have been fortunate enough to meet along the way. There is treasure at the end of the Caribbean Rainbow.

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