Antiguan Traditions

“The British attitude toward Antigua was ‘defend at all costs,’” says Randy, our tour guide to Antigua’s legendary English Harbour, a portion of which is now protected as Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. “This especially applied to English Harbour.”Standing in the center of the park, I take in the naturally protected harbor that the British used as their base of operations in the Caribbean
Author:
Publish date:
nelson.int

“The British attitude toward Antigua was ‘defend at all costs,’” says Randy, our tour guide to Antigua’s legendary English Harbour, a portion of which is now protected as Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. “This especially applied to English Harbour.”

Standing in the center of the park, I take in the naturally protected harbor that the British used as their base of operations in the Caribbean from 1725 to 1889. To the south, via a short channel, is the open ocean. To the north is Deep Bay. Across the harbor is Shirley Heights, a prominent hill where the British placed their artillery. From this lofty perch they could see—and fire upon—not just English Harbour, but any marauding ship plying the waters of Antigua’s southern coastline.

Around Nelson’s Dockyard I see numerous vestiges of yesteryear: stone buildings used for a seaman’s galley, sail lofts, a copper and lumber store, a cordage and canvas store, a pitch and tar store, a joiner’s loft and other buildings that once housed seafaring trades. Interestingly, this legacy still thrives today, albeit with a modern twist. Nelson’s Dockyard might be a national park, but the rest of the harbor is abuzz with sail lofts, chandleries, woodworking shops, welders, painters and diesel mechanics. Antiguans have long enjoyed the reputation of being some of the world’s best varnish workers, and many superyachts visit the island to have their brightwork rejuvenated.

Directly across from Nelson’s Dockyard is Antigua Slipways, where numerous boats are perched on the hard in various states of repair. In other yards, boats are undergoing everything from AwlGrip work to bottom jobs. I smile as I reflect on what Admiral Horatio Nelson might think if he saw a 100-foot megayacht being worked on near his namesake dockyard. Certainly the types of ships—and their intended purposes—have changed. But 120 years after the British navy sailed away, English Harbour continues to cater to sailors bound over the horizon.

Related

judges2-1024x319-0219-600x

2019 Pittman Innovation Awards

For the past couple of decades, the digital side of sailing has become increasingly important, to the point where it’s now almost inconceivable going offshore, even aboard a daysailer, without at least a modicum of electronics onboard—a trend that has been very much in evidence ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. Check back for updates! I took this shot from Cooper Island Beach Club as my ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Fall in line In the days before GPS, the best trick outside the book for finding a harbor in dense fog went like this: if it’s surrounded by rocks, forget it; if not, in you go, but never try to hit it ...read more

190115-Mark-Slats-Golden-Globe-Race2048x

Photo-Finish in the Golden Globe Race 2018

With less than 1,700 miles to go to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, second-place Mark Slats of the Netherlands has cut another 393 miles out of the lead held by French sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in the Golden Globe 2018 race.  Jean-Luc aboard the Rustler 36 Matmut ...read more

06-Heineken-1-R2018_1March_©LaurensMorel_LMA5965_p

Post-Irma Heineken Regatta

Even more than a year and half later, the scars from Hurricane Irma are still all too visible on the island of St. Maarten. But if Irma couldn’t prevent the famed Heineken from taking place in the winter of 2017-18, you can bet it’s not going to put a crimp in either the racing ...read more

05-TRANSPAC_71417_SG_055268

The Transpac Prepares for No. 50

Because modern yachting is in many ways an invention of the early to mid 20th century, in recent years sailors have been celebrating any number of milestone anniversaries. Now it’s the biennial Transpac’s turn, as it prepares for its 50th race from Southern California (following ...read more