Arrival in the Caribbean marked the end of the last big ocean crossing (3200nM across the Atlantic) of the circumnavigation.
Landfall is always exciting, but we weren’t too thrilled with our noisy berth in the cruise ship harbor, so we only stayed a few days doing all the chores needed after a month at sea: gorging on fresh food, doing laundry, and walking around on land!
We sailed for Martinique, an overnight passage northwest, on May 1. A strong breeze and favorable current made the trip fast: 15 hours, averaging 7.5 knots! We just loved Martinique – new friends, bustling and quiet anchorages alike, swimming, and hiking.
Before dawn on May 11 Heretic left Martinique for a 60-mile sail north to the rainforest island of Dominica.
Heretic‘s next port was the Iles des Saintes just south of Guadeloupe. After a boisterous sail, we entered the anchorage in a torrential downpour.
But the skies cleared the next day, so we went diving and hiked to a ruined Napoleonic fort, overrun with feral goats!
A 25-mile sail up the coast of Guadeloupe itself brought us to the Cousteau Underwater Park where did three dives, spotting trevally and turtles, and the best coral we’d seen in the Lesser Antilles. We credited this to three causes:
- Distance from shore–land run-off on Martinique, on the other hand, seemed to have covered much of the coral in algae.
- Protected status–fishing appeared to have decimated reef populations everywhere we dove on Martinique and Iles des Saintes, and trap fishing had caused notable damage to the coral.
- Temperature and depth–at 40 feet deep, the coral was living in 85 degree water; nothing thrived in shallower depths where temperatures reached 90 and above.
We then spent a week in English Harbour, Antigua, completing a few boat projects and exploring the Nelson Dockyard, built as a base for the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. We hiked around the harbor, joined the dancing crowds at Shirley Heights on the steel drum night, and rowed our dinghy out to do a night dive outside the harbor (not on the same night!).
We flew our spinnaker the whole way to Barbuda, Antigua’s sister island. The turquoise water was beautifully clear and bathtub warm, but unfortunately this meant that the coral was bleached dead.
We cleared Customs and Immigration out of Antigua/Barbuda at Codrington, the small dusty town, and set sail for Bermuda on June 1, 2010.
All text and photographs © Ellen Massey Leonard and Seton Leonard, 2015, All Rights Reserved.