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Learning to sail without oilskins and four layers of clothing – hello Antigua!

I was recently back in the UK during Cowes Classic Week and boy did I know it!  Although I didn’t get to race and enjoy the bracing (!) Solent breeze, I was amazed at the amount of clothing the crews were wearing just to keep warm.  The rain certainly didn’t help, I’m sure!

That is not to say there aren’t beautiful UK sailing days; I just got unlucky with my timing.  Now, this is all well and good for the likes of Musto and Slam; both doing a roaring trade with new oilskin sales and extra warm neck scarves (I know, I own about four!), it doesn’t always offer the ‘new to sailing’ adventurers the best total experience.

Palm tree-lined beaches await you

Flying back to Antigua’s steady temperatures of between 26 and 34 degrees Celsius, I thought I’d encourage more sailors from the UK (and possibly Canada who tend to get quite a short sailing season up there) to come and experience this kind of sailing with us here in Antigua.

The biggest difference, apart from the temperature of the air and sea, is the fact that it is non-tidal here. So, if that’s always been a concern of yours, you will love sailing here.  We do get a range of about 12 inches which is nothing to the multiple feet you experience in places such as Chichester Harbour.

Racing in the UK – our craft – note blue sky!

At this time of year, the water temperature is a very pleasant 82 degrees I was told yesterday.  It doesn’t quite feel bath-like, but it’s certainly very pleasant for a splash around with your noodle and a cold Carib on a Sunday afternoon after a day on the water.

Some of you may have taken courses in the Med where you can get quite flooky wind.  I remember heading out to race a few years ago in Chichester Harbour and it was looking like a perfect Force 3. Well, by the time the hooter went for the start we were hanging on for dear life and pretending to have fun!

Here in Antigua, we tend to get around 15 – 20 knots and always from the East (ish).  It always makes people smile when I print the weather forecast for our charter guests and they see a steady stream of arrows from the right depicting the Easterlies.  Some people, new to the Caribbean, will ask me if the wind is greater in the morning or the evening and I have to say that it doesn’t really change.

Sailing our Bavaria 33 “Vixen” from Barbuda to Antigua

I personally think that Antigua offers the best of all worlds if you are considering a ‘new to sailing” or “discover sailing” charter experience.  You can choose to stay on the protected west coast which is the Caribbean Sea, you can also work on your passage planning skills by sailing up to our sister island of Barbuda, or you could even explore the coastline with a trip to the East coast of Antigua which takes you into slightly bigger seas at times.

Whatever you decide sailing Antigua, you won’t need your cosy neck scarves or oilskins!