A visit to St Barths and final preparations

One day in Sint Maarten we decided to take the ferry to the previous Swedish colony St Barths. Now it belongs to France, but it was Swedish for a time during 17th and 18th century.

We took the ferry in the morning and since we had been in Sint Maarten for 4 days of more we didn’t have to do any testing or quarantine. We arrived to fancy Gustavia and took a walk around. A lot of famous, rich people have houses in the island and the town is filled with fancy stores.

Fancy stores in Gustavia, not for us…
But pretty, well organized and CLEAN streets. Not very common in the Caribbean, so much trash everywhere…
The streets in Gustavia has both a French and a Swedish name.
The Swedish clock tower.
A pretty beach close to Gustavia.
Same beach seen from above.
Overview of Gustavia, with all the red roofs.

The bar were Mick Jagger supposedly goes for hamburgers….
Swedish souvenirs.

After a nice day in St Barths we took the ferry back to Sint Maarten. Our last days in Sint Maarten was mostly focused on getting everything ready for the crossing. We fixed some things on the boat, bought a lot of food, cleaned and made sure that everything in the boat was properly stowed away. We checked the weather and decided on a day for departure.

Cleaning fruit and vegetables in chlorine to get rid of dirt and bacterias.

 

Diving in Statia and off to Sint Maarten

When we finally managed to leave Antigua after the trouble getting checked out of the country (see pervious post) we set off towards Statia (St Eustatius) where we were gonna do a couple of dives. Due to Covid-19 we were not allowed to go ashore in Statia but we could do a quarantine dive. With this we were not allowed to leave the boat and we took our own dinghies to the diving sites instead of going with the diving boat. We had hand sanitizer with us to clean the equipment we used and so on. It actually worked really well and nice to support the diving centre at Statia and a good way for us to see a bit of Statia.

In total we did three dives, and saw huge lobsters, a sleeping turtle, big stingrays, barracuda, moray eel and a lot more! No photos from below though as we don’t have a waterhouse on our GoPro (it can only go down to 10 meters). We only have pictures of when we entered Statia, the water was so incredibly clear. You could sit at the bow, watching stingrays and fish swim 10 meters below the boat. Incredible!

After the dives we stayed in Statia over the night before we started to make our way towards Sint Maarten. We had originally planned to sail to Guadelope after Antigua, but France closed their borders so instead we sailed to Sint Maarten where we planned to do the final preparations for the Atlantic crossing back to Europe.

Sunset in Statia.
Arrived to Sint Maarten and we quickly started with some of the preparations. We prioritized checking stuff on the boat that might take some time to order and fix, like the rig for example.
The chandlery in Sint Maarten is very well sorted, good place to fix stuff before a crossing.
Sint Maarten was quite different from the places in the Caribbean we visited before. Way more tourists, big hotels and so on. Not only in a negative way though, after being quite isolated for a while it was kind of nice with some people.
Our small dinghy acting as a fender…
One day we took a visit to the “airplane beach” in Sint Maarten. The planes fly in really low over the beach, and when departing the jet blasts throw sand all over. The beach was also a very nice beach and it was really fun to watch the planes!

Airplane selfie!

Another day we went to a rum tasting, Toppers Rhum. They had all kinds of flavoured rum in beautiful bottles, so naturally we left with a few…

Cheers!
Lot of different flavoured rums.

We stayed at anchor the first days in Sint Maarten, outside the bridge. But after a couple of days we moved into Simpson Bay and into the marina. The marina was not super expensive (Northern Europe prices) and with the marina we got access to a really nice pool area!

With the marina we could use the pool here, some tennis courts and a gym. Really nice!

 

Finding caves in Antigua

After almost two weeks at Barbuda we left and headed back to Antigua. Our plan at that time was to spend a couple of more days in Antigua and then sail to Guadelope. But France closed their borders, which meant so did Guadelope (which is a part of France). We still planned to stay a few more days in Antigua but now we had to find another island to sail to before we should start our crossing back to Europe. But more on that later.

When arriving to Antigua once more we sailed back to Jolly Harbor and stayed in the marina over the Easter holidays. For Easter Antigua had banned visits to beaches and sailing due to the coronavirus. So we stayed in the marina until Easter holidays were over.

We celebrated Swedish Easter in Jolly Harbor.

We also worked a bit on the boat while we were in the Marina, and took our time to do a proper cleaning with the vacuum cleaner and so on. But after a couple days in the marina we wanted out on anchor again and we sailed to Great Bird Island on the northeast coast of Antigua. It was a really pretty place, we explored the island, hung out with our sailor friends and snorkeled.

Taking a hike (more of a walk really) on Gr. Bird Island.
Cliffs on Great Bird Island
Dramatic sunset view.

One day we went out to Hells Gate, an very cool arch. It is just a short dinghy ride from the anchorage and well worth the visit. Next to the arch was also some cool cave structures (see link to video below).

Hells gate close to Great Bird Island.
Posing time.

We also found another very cool cave that also can be seen in the video, it is a pretty deep cave with water in it. It is only reachable with dinghy and is located close to the north beach on Great Bird Island. If you drive with dinghy from the north beach along the “peninsula” on the eastern side of the island you will find the cave entrance.

Link to a short cave video on Google Drive.

We also had some nice evenings with our sailor friends. Here on the picture Emma & Roger from Sanuti and Bert & Stephanie from Temanua.
Snorkeling time!

After a few days on Great Bird Island we left to St Johns (the capital of Antigua & Barbuda) to check out. Since we couldn’t sail to Guadelope anymore we had decided to head for SInt Maarten with a short stop at St. Eaustatius (Statia) on the way. We were not allowed to go ashore in Statia, but we were allowed to dive there. We had contacted a diving centre and would do three dives there before we sailed on to Sint Maarten.

But first we had to check out from Antigua, which was not very easy. First we arrived to customs office in St Johns 2 minutes before closing, and they had already gone home so we couldn’t check out there. They said that we could try to go to Falmouth and do the checkout there instead. So we stressed to get to Falmouth before they closed. When getting to the customs office the first response we got when saying we wanted to do the checkout was: “You want to do the checkout now? (Big Sigh)”. It was maybe 30 minutes until they closed. Then they asked where we had the boat and unfortunately we said St Johns and then it was impossible to do the checkout there. Of course it is understandable that they have to follow the rules, but from the moment we got into the office it felt like they were looking for a reason not to do avoid the work of doing the checkout. It also felt kind of wrong since the officials in St Johns also said that we could go to Falmouth instead.

So we had no choice but to head back and spend a night in St Johns, call the diving centre in Statia to ask if we could postpone our dives one day. They were really helpful and we rescheduled our dives.

The water near St Johns, not very nice swimming water.

In the morning when we got to the Customs in St Johns we were able to do the Customs. We were then 4 boats that would do the checkout and this time it was also a response with a sigh. “How many boats want to do the checkout? Four? (Big Sigh)”. The whole process took some time but finally we were able to leave Antigua.

 

Hurricane damage hotel, Frigate Birds and sink hole

After a quite long time at the southern part of Barbuda we sailed up to Low bay, a bit up along the west coast. The beach on the west coast was once the 17 mile beach but after the hurricane Irma the part of the beach disappeared and opened up an entrance into the Codrington lagoon. At the bach there used the be a hotel that was now very much destroyed after the hurricane.

The beach at Low Bay.
Very pink colors in the sand.
The hurricane damaged hotel

One day we took a guided tour to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, which was really cool. Being at the sanctuary felt like being in a Planet Earth episode. The birds are very big and not afraid of us. We could watch chicks being feed, male frigates showing off and birds flying around at very close distance.

A guided trip to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary.
Birds everywhere!
Male Frigate blowing up his red balloon under the beak to impress the females.
A lot of birds in the sky.
A walk through the town on Barbuda, Codrington.

The following day we took another trip to Darbys Sink Hole, which was a very cool place. Barbuda in general is very dry but in the sink hole there was a small rainforest.

On the way to the sink hole.

Walking down into the sink hole.
The rainforest in the sink hole.

After the sink hole we went to a cave, which was not very cool but nice visit anyway.

We ate lunch at a casino at Barbuda, the food was actually really good!
Road block in Codrington.
Buying some groceries at Barbuda. No big stores here but we found a lot of the stuff we were looking for.
Rainbow at Low Bay.

After two weeks at the beautiful island Barbuda it was time for us to leave and sail back to Antigua again.

 

We are a little behind on the blog posts and are currently in Sint Maarten preparing for the Atlantic crossing back to Europe which we will start tomorrow. So there will be no updates on the blog while we are out on sea. You can follow our position under Current Position here on the blog.

Off to the island with the most spectacular beaches!

After one night in the marina we set sail up towards Barbuda, which we heard so much good about. It was quite a close-hauled sail up but otherwise a fine sail. We arrived to Cocoa point at Barbuda one hour before sunset and got our first view of the magical beach at Cocoa point, on top of the beautiful beach we also saw a couple of horses walking in the water at sunset. At Barbuda both horses and donkeys roam freely and during our stay at Barbuda we saw several of them.

The beautiful beach at Cocoa Point.
After the hikes at Dominica (which ofc was amazing) it was nice to have some chill beach time.
Horses visiting the beach.
And donkeys too!

After a few days at Cocoa Point we continued to a new anchorage at Barbuda, this time White Bay by Spanish Point. The entrance to White Bay was a bit tricky with a lot of reefs but we managed to get into the anchorage safely. The water in White Bay was very clear and it was like snorkeling in an aquarium. At White Bay we stay for another couple of days, we snorkeled a lot and took a walk and explored the more rugged east coast of Barbuda.

Taking a walk to the east coast of Barbuda.

After White Bay we sailed back to Cocoa Point and stayed there for some more days, we had more beach time and had a lobster bbq.