Well its official, Party of Five’s first guests have come and gone. It was a very successful visit and here is a quick run down of how it went and what our upcoming plans are.
For those readers who may not know the story. My parents Christmas gift to my brother and his family was a trip here (Antigua) to visit us. So this meant we would have a total of 7 people coming to visit at once. My dad (Ted), my mom (Judy), my bother (Ryan), sister in law (Joanne), nephew one (Wylie), nephew two (Carson) and my niece (Aubrey). Of course with that many people visiting there was no way we could host them on our boat. Instead they had rented a very nice villa right in the heart of Jolly Harbor (Villa Gatsby).
Since their plane was set to land at 5:00pm on Sunday night they were concerned about finding something to eat. They had asked us if we could pick up some initial food (and beer) and meet them at the villa when they arrived. Instead we picked up the food and beer and went to the villa early (hoping they would let us in). The fantastic did indeed let us in so we got the beer chilling and food laid out. Shortly after my brother texted to let me know they had landed and were headed to customs. I sat in trepidation waiting for the follow up text that they had passed customs. Unfortunately they next text was bad news, mom and dad had been pulled aside for further inspection. You see, they were carrying double the luggage and the second bags contained a metric shitton of boat parts. As some parts can be difficult to find or eyewateringly expensive here in the islands I had been shipping them items for months. All I could do was sit there and fear the worst. Fortunately I didn’t wait long and got a text they were in the cab and on their way. Since I had the forethought to send them all our pertinent boat papers and reciepts the custom officer had a cursory glace and passed them through. Wheh…
In short order the van arrived and disengaged my entire family, many of which I had not seen in over a year. Although I’m not one to show emotion physically, I can say I was bursting inside. It was fantastic to see familiar faces. Hugs and hellos went around before we helped them with their luggage and finally sat down for a cold beer. After the first beer we got to unpacking the luggage and got to have a second Christmas. It was a crazy array of items that keep spilling out of the luggage.
– Blow up beach loungers
– Clothes Pins
– Electronic components
– 2 Wind generators (yes really)
– Ryobi batteries
After the unpacking a few runs back to the boat to ferry parts, we sat back to bullshit and plan the next days. I will spare you the intricate details of all the things we did, but here is a quick list.
– A sail up to Deep Bay to see the fort and enjoy the beach (underestimated the extra weight of passengers and ran aground).
– A beach day at Jolly Beach
– A bus trip to St. John’s
– A bus trip to English Harbor and Nelson’s Dockyard
– Fishing (everyday), many grunts, pinfish, trigger and even a puffer were caught
– Golf cart rentals and racing around Jolly Harbor
– Played games, dominoes for the adults and tablet games for the kids
– Breakfast and dinner together every day
– Sleepovers at both the boat and the villa
– DID LAUNDRY IN A REAL MACHINE
I wouldn’t have believed it, but in a blink 10 days had passed and my brothers family was headed back home (my parents had 4 more days). As a final gift my Mom and Dad bought the entire family a fantastic pizza lunch. The cousins got to spend a little more time together and Party of Five got to eat out for the first time in months. It was very much appreciated. Unfortunately after lunch we walked them to the cab stand and waived as they pulled away (Jonah waived through heavy tears).
Since the villa had only been rented for 10 days, my parents would be staying on the boat with us. Of course with a more manageable number I wanted to do a bigger trip and show my parents some of Antigua. We talked about heading around to Green Island or spending a few days in Falmouth. In the end, Sea Schells invited us out to Cades reef. It turned out to be a damn cool experience even for the regular Party of Five crew as you are essentially anchored right on the edge of the big ocean between 2 reefs. We swam, snorkled, fished, hunted and even cleaned the bottom of the boat. It was a little creepy spending the night so exposed, but a worth while experience. The next day we decided to head over to Carlisle Bay for more beach time, fishing and stunning views. We walked around town a bit, bought some beer and spend most of the day on the beach. The kids swam, body boarded and played while the adults enjoyed the beer, the sun and the sand. A spectacular day. Unfortunately with so little time, we had to up the anchor the next day and make the run back to Jolly Harbor. Initially it was a “Spirited” run as the wind and seas had built and there were large(ish) short period quartering waves for about a nauticle mile. Of course everyone forgot about the seas once the fishing rod starting singing. Unfortunately that fish got off, but another one quickly hooked up once we rounded the corned and began heading north. We landed a nice Bar Jack that I promptly threw back once I consulted the Ciguatera guide. Once the hook was down in Jolly, Quincy put out another line that was promptly struck. Whoo hooo a nice Mutton Snapper was pulled aboard. Finally a fish we could eat. After a nice dinner (burgers with mutton snapper starter), we called it an early night.
The next day everyone was a little somber. We all knew it would be our last few hours together and everyone was feeling a little bit down. As happens in a time like this, the time seemed to fly by and before we knew it, we were again standing at the taxi stand waiving good-bye. This time both Jonah and Daphnie were crying. I have to admit the next few days on the boat felt very lonely even though we spent a bunch of time with Syrena (Chris, Catherine, Will and Aimally(sp)). Although there were times during the visit where we struggled with the interruption of our routine we were very sad to see everyone go.
So now with a lonely and quite boat we are left to contemplate our next steps. Believe it or not in the 2 months (really 2 months) we have been here in Antigua we haven’t really seen much or cruised. There are many reasons for this, but the fact remains we missed a lot. Of course we would really like to now cruise Antigua….. but… believe it or not we have already begun thinking about those big bad hurricanes again. The cruising season is marching past and if we don’t move we may not see anything else. So… We have decided to wait for the next weather window and take a straight shot up to St. Martin. I’m guessing our anchor will get sticky again and we will be there a while. On the upside, St. Martin is very conducive to visitors. Seriously if you have been contemplating visiting us, this will probably be the last opportunity this season. Flights are fairly cheap and St. Martin offers a very cool “mini cruising ground” for daysailing and adventure.
The “kitchen” table!
Ahhh an icy Banks (sorry Antigua not a fan of Wadadli)
The waiting game!
They have arrived!
Yes they made boobies and I did my best Joey!
Damn, she looks pretty good all showered up!
The trip to Nelson’s dock yard!
The seas were so calm on this day that a person was actually on a SUP in the open ocean!
There was drinking!
Some pool time!
Fishing.. I promise everyone fished but I only had a picture of Quincy and I!
Get in the kitchen and make me a samich (or 20)
Sea Schells gifted us this Lobster. Unfortunately my brother had already left.
Jonah playing “Puss in Boots”. I think he was working on his sad face to get Grandma and Guido to stay!
One last photo before they leave!