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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.