Most Caribbean countries still require quarantine or are completely closed to visitors. Of the countries that are open and that we would like to sail to, Antigua is closest. It is about 250 M there and with the prevailing wind, it takes us about 1.5 days to sail that stretch non-stop.
Since we do not want to start too early in the morning, we plan to leave Bequia around 10. Then we make it up to northern Guadeloupe sometime the next day and there it is allowed to anchor so we can rest one night. From there we can then continue up Antigua. You can only clear into English Harbor and St Johns. We do not want to go to St Johns, because we have heard rumors that you will be forced to quarantine there for 1 or 2 weeks. The reception routine on Antigua involves doctor visits on board and PCR tests with negative results. After that, you have to come ashore and do the check-in.
There are some conditions that affect when we can sail to Antigua and they determine when we can leave Bequia.
- To avoid crossing or using the engine, we wait for the wind to turn from northeast to east and preferably southeast for at least 2 days.
- You can only be received on Antigua weekdays, if you arrive on Saturday or Sunday you have to wait in quarantine on the boat until Monday.
- It is not possible to check out of Bequia on Sundays.
Bequia to Deshaies on Guadeloupe
In the middle of the week, the weather forecast shows that the wind will turn from northeast to around east in a few days. Perfect, then we can check out and sail away on Saturday morning. With a stop at Deshaies in Guadeloupe Sunday to Monday and then continue to English Harbor. That way, we only need to be awake one night and be sure to get to Antigua during the day.
I check us out Saturday morning and after the dinghy is stowed on the foredeck, we pick up the anchor and leave Bequia at 9 o’clock. The weather is fine with a fresh breeze that takes us up to St. Vincent where the wind gets weaker when we get in the lee of the island where we support with the engine when the speed is below 3 knots. In the northern part of St Vincent is the volcano La Soufriere, which has been active for a few months. There is some smoke from the crater and the area sheltered by the volcano has been colored brown by ash from the volcano..
When we come out into St Vincent Passage increases the wind again and soon we were up at St Lucia, where the pattern of weaker wind in the lee of the island is repeated and we support as usual with the engine when the wind is too weak to keep up their speed. Same thing again after St Lucia up towards Martinique. While we sail past Martinique, it will be evening and we get a sunset with fantastic colors.
During the evening and night, we pass the Martinique Passage where the wind increases again and we are soon up at Dominica which we also pass during the night. Then there will be a stronger wind when we sail up to Guadeloupe where we are met by a large squall with even more wind and rain. When we sail at night, we use the radar to see how squalls move and if we risk getting in the way of them. If we have the opportunity, we change course or reef we mainsail before the squalls are upon us. The genoa is easier to reef, so we usually wait to reef it until later.
After a fairly strenuous night sailing, it is nice to arrive at Deshaies and get some rest.
Deshaies to English Harbour
We start just after 8 on Monday morning and when we get around the headland in northern Guadeloupe we see Flying Penguin which started a while before us.
On the way to English Harbor, I tried my luck fishing, and just outside Antigua, we got a barracuda on the hook. It fought hard for five minutes or so, but then it got tired and was relatively easy to take in. Since a barracuda caught near land can be infected by ciguatera, we release it (the hook was in the outer part of the gap and came loose easily).
We arrive at English Harbor after 5 hours of sailing and find a place to anchor. Here is a poor anchor bottom, gravel, and pebbles on flat rock, so it is difficult to get a really good grip. After only 30 minutes, we get a visit from a doctor who tests us, but he ignores checking the document with the crew’s body temperature, which was one of the requirements to get to Antigua. Now we just have to wait to get the results of the PCR test, hopefully, tomorrow and if it is negative we are welcome to land in Antigua.
Our sails delaminated even more during the voyage to Antigua and we need to do something. The question is what should we do and why do sails that are only 3 years old delaminate?