Spirit of Discovery blog
A morning landfall after an ocean crossing is always special, and to see the island of Antigua firming-up out of the haze is a classic example. The sun rising ahead of us as we entered St John’s, the scent of the tropics was welcome after the pure sea air we have been enjoying over the past week.
As our tours fanned out in every direction, many headed to the closest beach, the rum distilleries that dot the island or set sail on catamarans to take in the scenic coastline, including English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard. As its name suggests this tiny port was once a critical naval hub in the 1700-1800’s and is one of the most well preserved sites of this type in the world. Nearly all of the original buildings are still in place in what was once the headquarters of the Royal Navy’s ‘Leeward Island Squadron’. Many of the islands we will visit later were ‘borrowed’ from the French thanks to the efforts of this fleet of ships, and it is easy to visualise the ships of the line anchored in this picturesque bay.
One of the more famous of these visitors was Admiral Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory, which we passed in Portsmouth at the start of our long voyage. It’s truly remarkable to think of these venerable ships making the same crossing as, while they were big for their time, they seem very small compared to Spirit of Discovery, and she would not even fit through the narrow entrance to English Harbour!
English Harbour today, aside from being a historical landmark, is a popular yacht haven and a few modern conveniences have crept in to support this industry, but it was still lovely to see the familiar and iconic red phone box, squeezed between the ancient dockyard buildings! Back across the island with our tour to take Spirit of Discovery to Road Town, Tortola. Our Caribbean Spring continues!
Captain Darin Bowland, MSc
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