Recently the pace of our sailing life has slowed down. We’ve definitely turned a corner from discovering new places to digging deeper into our favorite spots, which means fewer long passages and longer stay overs.
We returned home from St. Martin in late January for several big events. The first was a diving trip to Roatan, a little island off of the coast of Honduras. It’s not an area we have ever explored by boat, but it has a reputation for outstanding diving. So in 2021 we booked a week during hurricane season at a dive resort, so that we could still experience some Caribbean Sea life while our boat was safely docked in Charleston. Unfortunately, the week before we were to go, we both caught Covid! It was a real bummer, but fortunately the dive resort had a generous policy that allowed us to rebook without penalty.
So it was that we came to Roatan in February of this year. I posted all of our Roatan adventures on Facebook, so I’ll just hit the highlights here in a few photos.
The second big event during our time home was our oldest son’s wedding in February. What a joyous occasion! Clint and Sierra planned and executed the whole thing, and it was memorable. I’m still not cleared to share any of photos I’ve received on Facebook, BUT I did get permission to post a few here on the blog. See what we Crowes can look like when we’re not living on a sailboat!
The third big event was something I’d been waiting for a LONG time – almost a year! You may remember that I had some wisdom teeth removed in March of 2022, which made me kinda miserable in the Turks and Puerto Rico. While my gums did finally heal, I was left with a perpetual sinus infection. I finally saw an ENT in the fall, and they confirmed that I had an infection that no amount of antibiotics would cure. I needed surgery. The only catch was that the first date they had open for it was in 2023.
So just a few days after Clint’s wedding, I donned my surgical gown and went under the knife. The surgeon’s goal was to correct a deviated septum, reduce the size of my turbinates, and clean out a blocked forehead sinus.
I’m happy to say that this surgery was a MASSIVE success. I’m breathing through my nose fully for probably the first time in my life! Recovery took about 4-6 weeks, most of which I spent at home. Andy returned to Gratitude after the first week, and I followed him after week 4. The timing worked out pretty perfectly; after my wisdom-teeth debacle, I knew better than to try and get back to sailing too soon. By the fifth week I was finally feeling up for more time on the water.
Captain Andy, by this time, was thoroughly sick of being on a dock, so we spent a week moored in Marigot Bay in St. Martin (the French side). I wish we had done this sooner! We really do love Simpson Bay, but you get a whole new view of the island when you stay in a different spot. We walked around Marigot, tried some new bars, and of course ate our favorite place – La Tropicana.
Dinghy Drama in St. Bart’s
As much as we enjoyed exploring the French side of St. Martin, we knew that we needed to be in Antigua soon to host a visit from our friends Dan and Tracy. So we picked our best weather window and set out for the French island of St. Bart’s. It was a gorgeous sail – no engines needed! – but a short stay. We had hoped to go ashore in our anchorage at Anse de Colombier for a hike. BUT when we tried, a rogue wave pushed Patience (our dinghy) onto a submerged rock, resulting in a broken transmission rod and a prop that wouldn’t spin. Another challenge, one we’d not encountered before.
So without a dinghy for excursions, we decided just to get on with our sail to Antigua, where we had a dock reserved. Unfortunately, the weather offered us no great options. We took the least bad weather window, with 5 foot seas. (The days surrounding our passage predicted 6 and 7 foot waves.) We don’t like to venture out in seas greater than 4, but for our schedule’s sake, we toughed it out. We were miserable, of course – the higher the waves, the more you feel like you’re inside a washing machine, at sea – but that just made us ever so grateful when we finally, finally pulled into Jolly Harbour, Antigua, right at dusk on March 30.
Dan and Tracy flew in for a week with us on April 1 and graciously received the news that we’d be staying at the dock for the week of the visit, given our dinghy woes. We found a mechanic to begin work on repairs and rented a car to help us get around the island. Some of our ventures were successful, like our lunch at Sheer Rocks and our access to a really good grocery store right across the street from the marina. Others, not so much – like our trip to Dickenson Bay Beach on Good Friday, where we discovered that by law, no alcohol is sold or served in Antigua on Good Friday. (The BVIs have this law too! Maybe it’s a British thing?) And no food, if the power goes out unexpectedly (like it did that day). We did put our toes in the sand, and enjoy some waves, but without meal options there wasn’t reason to stay for long.
However, we all enjoyed just being together, and cooking, eating, shopping, and reading were our main activities. Dan and Tracy assured us it was just the break they needed, proving once again that they are exceptional boat guests.
Our next trip home was scheduled for April 22, and the next couple of weeks were very chill. We worked out, did some boat projects, got to know our cruising neighbor on the other side of the dock (Hi, Rusty!) and went on a 2-tank dive. We also discovered that our marina had a pool! (Sorry, Dan and Tracy – wish we’d found that while you were here!) Jolly Harbour Marina really is a worthwhile stop when you’re island-hopping north or south in the Eastern Caribbean.
Our next post will feature our abrupt departure from Antigua to Guadeloupe, wherein we’ll regale you with a tale of the most unpleasant customs agent we’ve ever encountered in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, enjoy this photo of me getting creative in adapting my Crossfit workouts for the boat…