The anchor is up at Anse de Colombier early on Monday morning for the short return trip to Gustavia Harbor. Our first stop is at the Captainerie to clear customs, followed by a brief visit to an Internet café to catch up on correspondence. Back on board, our attention is directed towards preparing Cutter Loose for tonight’s sail to Antigua. On overnight passages, we enjoy easing into departure. Mechanical and rig inspections complete, a hearty early dinner is served in the cockpit at 2 PM. This allows a few hours of rest before the anchor is up at 4 PM.
Our destination is English Harbor on the south coast of Antigua, a journey of 90 miles. Without a doubt, this is the most delightful overnight passage of our winter cruise. A high pressure ridge is directly overhead, resulting in benign weather and sea conditions. With winds less than 5 knots and 2 to 3 foot seas, the diesel engine moves Cutter Loose along smartly and smoothly.
At sunset, St. Barth is still plainly visible astern. Soon the clear night sky is filled with stars and constellations. Similar to illuminated road signs, the lights of St. Kitts and Nevis pass 30 miles to starboard. Further down range, the cruise ship Mein Schiff passes two miles to starboard on a reciprocal course towards Philipsburg on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. She is adorned with a light display resembling a small city. The traffic tonight is extremely light. Only a handful of other cruisers are taking advantage of the settled weather to accomplish the crossing to Antigua.
On this passage, we alternate two hour watches. Energized by snacks and sandwiches along with mugs of hot tea, the watches pass quickly. Our buddy boat, Dragon’s Toy, is within VHF range, allowing for early morning banter on the radio.
At first light, Cutter Loose is less than two miles off the southwestern coast of Antigua. The final ten mile stretch to English Harbor seems like the longest part of the journey. While the entrance to English Harbor is fairly straightforward, it is difficult to concentrate on navigating the twists and turns of the channel. The compelling urge is to drop anchor as soon as possible in order to rest.
The first anchorage to starboard is Freeman Bay. It is filled with cruising boats, all pointing in different directions given the light and variable wind conditions. The second anchorage to port is Tank Bay. It too seems filled to capacity. Our third option is Ordinance Bay to starboard. Weaving our way through the mine field of anchored boats, there is a space at the head of the harbor just large enough to accommodate Cutter Loose. The anchor is down and the Q flag is up at 8 AM, signifying the successful completion of this 16 hour passage. Customs and Immigration can wait for a few hours while the crew catches up on some well-deserved sleep.