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Dominica and Antigua, a world of a difference

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Dominica is always very peaceful so we were surprised to see at least eighty yachts in the bay when we arrived. Obviously something was going on, as 40 or 50 were charteryachts from Guadeloupe with huge Landrover and Trust advertisements on bow and stern. Ah those French, we thought, always busy with regatta's and everyone dressed up in tight sportshirts and cool sunglasses. But these guys were not at all French! The boats were chartered by 208 Russians, competing in their КАРИБСКАЯ РЕГАТА ’11, as was displayed on Big Papa's dinghy pontoon. So global economy is not doing that bad.
But normally Dominica is quiet. Everybody has time for a chat and as soon as “our” last year's boatboy Fire got wind of our arrival, he sped towards us to enjoy a couple of shots (rum) with us.

Through Guadeloupe (bad weather and bad anchoring grounds, last year and this time again so we'll skip that in the future) to English Harbour in Antigua where we were welcomed enthousiastically by Hans en Anja (Fiddlesticks). It was great to see old friends again and it added a special touch to our visit to Antigua.

 

Antigua. It sounds exotic and attractive for tourists: it is a tax-free paradise. Furthermore Antigua is historically famous as it was admiral Nelson's base. English Harbour, the well-protected bay where we were at anchor, is located strategically so a windjammer can sail easily in and out. That is why Nelson chose this bay in the 18th century as base of operations and English Harbour is now a sympathetic museum to please tourists. 
Next door is Falmouth Harbour, where the extremely rich keep their megayachts. Dragons are hoisted in their berths and the grey boat in the background of the photo is not a custom's boat but a yacht.
But never before we saw a gigantic cruiseshipdock as they have in the capital St.John and the accompanying shopping area (Rolex, Breitling, Gucci, souvenirs and… an Australian chocolate & ice cream parlour) is tasteful decorated although we don't desire all this (except for the ice cream). Luckily there was no cruiseship when we were there and the veg and fish market was a local matter with nice fresh produce and although the people are used to loads of tourists, nobody tried to rip us off. The locals live their own life and the tourists prefer to stay safely in their designated area.

Shirley’s Heights on top of the cliff is a famous hang-out with Sunday night BBQ and live music, and all the yachties and other tourists go there. So did we. Splendid view on the bay with Witte Raaf conspicuous in the middle. Antigua's best steelpan-band played very well so it was a nice party but with almost no locals, so not exactly our cup of tea.

Of course we knew Antigua is not the cheapest island to stay, but 70 euro's for only four days seems a bit much. On Dominica we paid 3 euro's for two weeks! So the difference between islands is also expressed in terms of squeezing out tourists (or not).

All’s well that ends well and the trip from Antigua to St.Maarten is shorter if you depart from the west coast, so finally we stayed overnight in a beautiful quiet bay. Hermitage Bay in Five Islands Harbour is a must for a stop-over, including free WiFi so probably Antigua will see us back.

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