A Tough Scrape in Antigua

We thought we’d finished all our eastward passages when we got to St. Martin. Heading east means going straight into the trade winds and their associated rough seas. We had forgotten about the Nevis to Antigua passage. It’s due east and that’s where we needed to go next - another 10-hour washing machine ride. When we arrived in Jolly Harbour on the west side of Antigua, we cleared customs and went straight to sleep.

Panache had become a virtual saltlick after all the saltwater spray from the crossing, so the next day we decided to go into JH marina for a few days to get cleaned up and re-provisioned. The wind was kicking up as we entered the marina (it always seems to start blowing when we are about to dock the boat). Unfortunately, I clipped a piling on the way into our slip. It was strictly pilot error. I had to exit and re-enter and the second attempt was perfect. But the first had left its mark on our gelcoat. Kind of like a scrape you might get on your fender in a parking lot. And like getting your fender fixed, the repair is usually much more expensive that you were expecting. C’est la vie!

Antigua has more great harbours than any of the other Caribbean islands. It was home base for the British Fleet in the 1700’s when Lord Horatio Nelson was in command of the Caribbean fleet. Falmouth and English harbours are on the south coast. Both are very well protected and the latter was the site of Nelson’s Dockyard, the centre of activity of the British Navy. Much of the historic dockyard remains and is very well preserved. It’s a real treat to walk along the cobblestone streets and among the sail loft (whose massive pillars still remain), foundries, cookshacks and watering holes that were frequented by Jacktars and officers alike. We were lucky enough to catch a practice run for a parade of police and military officers as they marched through the dockyard in time to the drumbeat.

Falmouth is a very large harbour about 10 minutes walk from English harbour. It was race week in Antigua when we were visiting and there was quite an array of mega sailing yachts on display. One of the most iconic and interesting ones was the Maltese Falcon, one of the world's most complex and largest sailing yachts (88m / 289ft). It has three free-standing, rotating, carbon fiber masts (a modern twist on the square-riggers of old) and, incredibly, is said to be easily controlled.

The coast of Antigua is lovely with many sailboats and nice marinas. However, go one road back from the waterfront and you are into the areas where the locals live – generally quite poor and rundown. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I found the contrast in lifestyles more dramatic on Antigua than I have on the other islands.

Next stop – Guadeloupe and Les Saintes (back to French food and wine – yeah!).


Christopher Columbus named the island "Antigua" in 1493 in honour of the "Virgin of the Old Cathedral". In 1632, a group of English colonists left St. Kitts to settle on Antigua. Sir Christopher Codrington established the first permanent European settlement and guided the development of the island’s sugar trade. Antigua was long considered Britain's "Gateway to the Caribbean" as it is located on the major sailing routes among the region's resource-rich colonies.

As with other Caribbean islands, the sugar industry collapsed in the early 1900’s and the economy is now dependent on tourism.

In 1968, Antigua, Barbuda and the tiny island of Redonda (all British dependencies) were combined to become an associated state of the Commonwealth. They eventually gained full independence in 1981 and the country is called "Antigua and Barbuda".

The total population is about 80,000, of which 91% is African or Mulatto, 2% White and 7% Other. Almost ½ of the population lives in St. John’s, the capital city. The major Antiguan sport is cricket.

Click on the photos below for a larger view


  1. Tadpalmer on June 22, 2017 at 11:58 am

    Fantastic pictures. Incredible 3 masted ship. Am on ferry with Annie on our way to see edmond in Victoria. Love you guys. So great to see your news. Keep safe and healthy. Fair winds and kind seas to you. Xoxoxoxo tad

    • pricepowell on June 24, 2017 at 8:18 am

      It’s so great to hear from you. Have fun in Vancouver. Glad you’re enjoying the photos. Much love to you and John and the family. Gail

  2. Goshka on July 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Price, Gail – how amazing to read about your adventures after what being locked into a mid-warp of what seemed like an endless run of the HBS Report and other corporate matters….finally got done and took a few minutes to get caught up on your travels. Amazing! Makes me want to sail the world! Thank you for putting a huge smile on my face and a pinch of jealous longing in my heart (kidding! I am delighted for you!). All the best to you both and we miss you around here, Price! xox Goshka

    • pricepowell on July 7, 2017 at 5:50 am

      Goshka, I’m delighted you enjoy our blog. As it turns out, I underestimated the time required to maintain a weekly posting schedule. First of all, you have to select and edit your photos (we post about 5%-10% of the total number of photos we take). Then you edit your video. This can be a lot more time consuming than the photos, particularly if your video covers a longer time span. For example, if you take a video from the car as you are driving through the countryside, or one while you are snorkeling, you will likely have a lot of material. In these cases, there is always plenty of bad/boring footage that needs to be edited out. I aim to keep the videos short, typically less than 2 minutes. Now you write your copy. I also like to include a “Background” section at the end of the copy that provides a short history of the island(s) we are visiting – this needs some research. Finally you create your blog and upload, format and organize all the content. Typically the whole process takes at least half a day, and can be a full day if there is a lot of video editing involved.

      However, family and friends seem to enjoy reading about our adventures, so I’m happy to put in the time. Please say hi to the gang. Cheers, Price.

      • Goshka on August 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm

        Price, that is a lot of work! But how much joy for all your friends and family to follow your and Gail’s amazing adventures. Be well and smooth sailing! Xox G

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