A common misconception is that cruisers spend most of the time on the move. That you set sail and go somewhere every day. That is rarely the case. Most long distance cruisers go further when they do set sail, often over night, before they set up camp at the next place that they want to explore. You drop the hook and the boat is quickly transformed from an ocean going vessel into a home. The stand up paddle board, dinghy, sun cover, swimming platform, hammock and all sorts of other stuff that has been safely stored for the passage comes out for your life on the hook. Then, if your new ‘home’ is in a new country, it is time for formalities. Health check, immigration, local currency and new SIM cards for the phones. After that, there is almost always something that you urgently need before you can enjoy the new place. Petrol for the outboard, gas for the cooker, fresh water or a spare part for something that has broken on the boat. I find that it usually takes a couple of days until you really get to enjoy your new environment. Only then is it really time to do what you came for. To find your favourite watering hole, talk to locals and fellow cruisers, figure out what you want to see on land, rent a car, hike somewhere or just stroll around the place and enjoy the atmosphere. And when you are done with the place, you need to stock up, find someone that will take care of your laundry and pack away all the stuff again before it is time to clear out of the country and make sure you meet the requirements for entering the next place.
We are now in Antigua. It is hard for a sailor not to enjoy this place. This was the English naval hub in the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries and Nelson’s Dockyard has been beautifully restored into a Unesco World Heritage site that is well worth a visit. The place is also full of superyachts and all sorts of establishments that are ready to offer anything that a cruiser needs. In my case, I need a professional rigger as Saoirse’s standing rigging (essentially the wires that support the mast) is eleven years old and due for a replacement. Fortunately my former colleague (actually an Executive Manager), Ruud Bosman, is anchored right next to us and has put me in contact with a rigger that I hope will be able to help out. But more about that at a later stage. Now it is time to do what we came for. To see the place. Tonight we are off to a steel band and barbecue party at Shirley Heights. Overlooking the spectacular English and Falmouth Harbours. Life on anchor is good!