How Covid-19 is affecting us while living aboard

How has the pandemic affected us as liveaboards traveling far from home?

All in all not too bad and we are very grateful for that. We did have to skip the Bahamas, one of the most anticipated stops of our trip. Does this mean we have to make plans to come back?!

We started taking precautions

when going ashore in the Dominican Republic since there was one reported case in the capital when we were there at the beginning of March. At the time this consisted of carrying hand sanitizer & wipes, washing our hands more frequently than normal, and avoiding touching our faces. Our plan was to visit Turks & Caicos on our way to the Bahamas, perhaps stay a few days depending on the weather. On Saturday we arrived after our overnight trip and headed in to find customs, which was surprisingly challenging. We were anchored in Sapodillo Bay and finally found the office by the industrial docks. The customs officer stamped our passports as he explained that beginning Monday nobody will be allowed to enter the country if arriving from the Dominican Republic.

Hearing this news we decided to fast track to the Bahamas but our weather window was short: the last day we could leave to have a comfortable sail was Monday. We then hurried on to Mayaguana, one of the easternmost islands in the Bahamas, where our cruising guides suggested we would be able to check in. Sadly that wasn’t up-to-date information as the customs office of the island had closed 3 months prior to our arrival. We had to wait out some weather here before we could move on. The Bahamas closed its borders a few days later as we were making our way to the closest port of entry, but unfortunately, we didn’t make it in time.

Our only option was to head back

to the US. We arrived at West Palm Beach, Florida in early April. At this point, we were out of fresh food aside from an onion and 2 sweet potatoes. (Our non-perishable food was well stocked since we purchased about two months’ worth of food in St. Martin in preparation for our time in the remote parts of the Bahamas.) Our water tanks were running extremely low as our watermaker retired just after we left the Dominican Republic. Thankfully Chris on Tala, the boat we’ve been traveling with since Virginia, has a great watermaker and was able to supply us with some potable water for our way home. When we finally pulled up to a dock in West Palm Beach to fill up our fuel and water tanks we felt renewed on Celtic Spirit. This was also the first time in several months we didn’t have to pay for water by the gallon, which was unusual by now – the good habit of not wasting water when filling up remains.

Going ashore for groceries was a whole new experience – when we last shopped in Providenciales a few weeks ago masks weren’t recommended for everyone just yet. We haven’t been on land for so long at this point that we really minimized our time there and wore all the accessories for shopping (masks, sunglasses, gloves).

Sadly the sightseeing has been taken out of our itinerary completely. Scheduled visits from friends and family in the Bahamas were canceled. We had plans for others to visit us along the east coast right about where we are now, coming close to Charleston, SC. We were looking forward to visiting these gorgeous southern cities very much, but instead, we will most likely pass by without going to town at all. Now our only goal is to stay fairly warm as we get closer to the northern latitudes (60F/15C feels very different after a winter spent in beach weather). We are taking our time waiting for good weather windows to make moves and exploring more of the ICW along the way. Rhode Island here we come!

Barbuda Photo Diary

Barbuda is tough to describe with words. If you wanted to see a remote island with beaches that are (still) untouched, Barbuda is more than worth the trip from Antigua. Many miles of sandy beaches greet you upon arrival with possibly the softest sand you ever walked in. The silence and hues of blue are unmatched. At night all the stars come out, at any point you may spot the milky way. The sand shimmers in pink from tiny shells that wash up with the ocean.

Leading up to our arrival we read and heard a lot about Barbuda, so we were also curious to hear the locals thoughts about the new developments being built on the island. Planet Money recently created an episode on this topic, so if you are curious give it a listen. Our personal opinion is that if any millionaire truly wanted to do good for the island, they’d create a national park (at least on parts of the island) to protect it and provide jobs at the same time. Sadly capitalism has made its way to Barbuda in a way that will bring surely bring money in, but will most likely not benefit locals in any other way aside from employment. Let us know your thoughts!

Endless Beaches

Please enjoy a collection of a few of the photos we took while walking from Coral Group Bay through Princess Diana Beach all the way to Coco Point and back.

Frigate Birds

We decided to go on the famous frigate bird colony tour. We called George in the morning and were able to arrange it for 2pm the same day. He sent a cab to our anchorage for us and took us to the colony in his motorboat. We LOVED this tour and recommend it to anyone visiting the island. It cost $100 for 4 people all together ($50 for the cab and $50 for the tour).

Local Lobster

When scheduling our frigate bird tour we also asked George if we would be able to buy local lobster afterwards. He said he could arrange. What we didn’t expect is for him to pull up the lobster trap while we were on our way back from the frigate birds! We scored 7 lobsters for $30 – they were surely the freshest Caribbean lobsters we’ve ever had. Until we learn to catch our own! 🙂

Best of Antigua - A Cruiser's Guide

We arrived  in Antigua after spending 2+ weeks in the St. Martin area, one of which was spent hunkered down in Marigot while the winds blew 25-30kts for 4 days. So once the weather eased up a bit we were ready to make our way to Antigua, the southernmost point of our travels (for now). Once we got here we were spoiled with the weather: a cold front came down easing the trades so much that we had several calm days with no rainshowers at all. This allowed us to explore the east side of the island along with a reef that’s a bit further away from land on the southwest side – all of a sudden we had so much to see in so little time!

Jolly Harbour

Upon arrival to Antigua, we checked in to the country at Jolly Harbour, where the dock made it super easy to do so. We then explored the marina and found several reasons to return later during our stay on the island:

  • Customs Dock This dedicated dock is provided for those arriving or leaving the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Look for the yellow flag and dock where available. Note that if you are headed to Barbuda from Antigua, all you have to do is go to the Port Authority and check out from the port, not from the country.
  • Epicurean grocery store Great selection of fresh greens, along with other vegetables and fruits. Make sure to find the fresh arugula and basil on the top shelf – they are delicious and the local arugula is extra spicy! We were also able to pick up some chicken, Waitrose prosecco (a Celtic Spirit staple) and Dominican ice cream here. Don’t miss the reasonable Chilean wine!
  • Pastries from the Finnish/Swiss lady selling from the back of her minivan You may find her across the street from Epicurean on most days of the week. We had luck on Monday, Friday and Tuesday before. One of my favorite moments was when I asked for one of each of the turnovers she had available that day (mango, raspberry, coconut, guava, pineapple, soursop and more)!
  • Available moorings, marina showers & wifi Most days there are available mooring balls for $25 US/night – you’ll have to pay at the marina. It’s worth it to pay ahead for the night because you can ask for the bathroom codes as well as a wifi voucher!
  • Jolly Beach A 10-minute walk from the dinghy dock, Jolly Beach is a beautiful long sandy beach with the bluest water as long as the eye can see. We found a fresh coconut stand, and daybed & jetski rentals are also available.
  • Burton’s Laundry We don’t usually drop our laundry off as we prefer to do it ourselves, but there was no such option in Jolly Harbour so we decided to leave it at Burton’s. For $35 EC per load the lady does a beautiful job, I don’t think our laundry has been this clean for a while so we returned to her just before leaving the island. Two duffel bags worth of laundry cost us $105 EC (about $40 US) both times.
  • Budget Marine Typical Caribbean pricing but good stock for anything you may need for the boat. We picked up impellers and barnacle buster here. Make sure to bring the checkin papers with you as they will waive the tax if you are on a boat in transit!
  • Sheer Rocks We were invited to spend a friend’s birthday here (thank you and hi Victor & Melissa) and were amazed by the property and views around. You can reserve a daybed with a pool that you’ll have all to yourself (or maybe share with another table, but it doesn’t bother at all). The cocktails are fantastic, and so are the tapas. With that said the place is on the pricier side, but totally worth it if you’d like to treat yourself for a day and experience an unforgettable view.

Nonsuch Bay

Since we had a few calm days, we decided to motor over to the east side of the island. We were glad we did – Nonsuch Bay is a gorgeous slice of Earth with little waves due to the protection from the reefs on the east. It is advised to follow the charts but finding our way in wasn’t too tricky.

  • Protection from the reefs The entire bay is surprisingly calm even though it technically opens to the east and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Option to anchor anywhere We spent some days anchored outside of Nonsuch Bay Resort on a grassy bottom. Snorkeling around the boat we saw several conch and starfish in gorgeous clear water.
  • Free moorings & snorkeling by Green Island The moorings make it convenient. but anchoring is also possible near Green Island. You can easily get to the reefs to snorkel here, as well as walk along the sandy beaches of the island.

English Harbour

There is so much to do in English Harbour you may need more than a few days to explore it all. Restaurants, hikes, beaches … all easily accessible if you anchor in English Harbour. We recommend the tiny little left fork of the harbour when you go all the way in. It is shallow and there is only space for a few boats, however, the water is the calmest among all places to anchor and you can dinghy close to all the attractions. Falmouth Harbour offers much more space and depth, we recommend sticking to the middle anchorage here.

The many reasons we love English Harbour:

  • Croissants from La Brasserie They deliver! But dinghying up to it in the morning is just as fun, and they will make warm fresh croissants for you on the spot.
  • Flatties Try the Peri Peri chicken and the 1lb Espetada steak. All entrees are super shareable so the meal comes out to be reasonable in the end.
  • Pigeon Point Beach We spent several days on this beautiful beach with inviting water no matter the weather – the only thing that may bother you is the sand on a windy day. Remember your hammock as there are several good looking trees to tie it to, just beware of the manchineel. There is a massage lady – $75 US for an hour massage which we was a bit pricey for us but you may want to take advantage of.
  • Catherine’s Cafe Located on Pigeon Point Beach, Catherine’s Cafe is a well-designed restaurant that served brunch and lunch every day, and dinner on Wednesday through Friday. We tried brunch and it was delicious, although everything may be when served on a beautiful beach in the breezy shade. We recommend checking Urchin Atelier just down the walkway, where they sell fresh baguettes and other goodies. Reservations are encouraged.
  • Windward Beach Walk down the pathway of Catherine’s Cafe, and you’ll notice a gate to Winward Estates. Ask the attendant to get through to Windward Beach and they will direct you onto the right path. THe 10-minute walk is totally worth it: although less swimmable depending on the weather, the beach will most likely be empty and the rocky shore with crashing waves makes for a wonderful sight.
  • Shirley Heights in Antigua National Park The best views of Falmouth & English Harbour are to be found at Shirley Heights. A local band plays on Thursdays and Sundays and a touristy BBQ is available. Take a 40-minute walk from La Brasserie or grab a cab at Antigua Yacht Club ($3 US per person one way). It is worth taking a hike down to Galleon Beach via the goat trail, as you’ll get more views and a bit of a workout 🙂
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits at Antigua Yacht Club grocery store We returned here for the fresh arugula and lettuce, but we also found passionfruit and coconut for the first time. Prices are reasonable!
  • Nelson’s Dockyard Part of the UNESCO World Heritage, Nelson’s Dockyard is a beautiful historic marina with bakeries and cafes to explore. The boat watching isn’t too shabby either! Tell them you are anchored in English Harbour in which case you don’t have to pay an entry fee.
  • The Clubhouse Come here for a good dancing session on a Saturday!
  • Roti Sue Delicious roti with tables to sit by.
  • Jackee’s Quik Stop Try the house burger! You won’t be disappointed.
  • Antigua Yacht Services We had to print a few documents before shipping via Fedex and they were gracious enough to help us out here. Willem also had a great conversation about cars with George in the meantime. They can help boaters with several miscalleanous things, so worth the visit or call to inquire.

Cades Reef

Our first time around Cades Reef is a long reef outside the southwest side of Antigua. On calm days it is well worth a stop – you can find a sandy spot on the inside (island side) and swim to the reefs. We saw the most fish we’ve ever seen here – beautiful schools of various kinds.

Bonus: Maiden Island

Our stop on Maiden Island was impromptu: as we were motoring out of the bay by Great Bird Island (lots of reefs to avoid, hence the motoring), we passed by the beautiful beaches and had to stop. Since we were just passing what looked like an anchorage on the chart, we turned right and dropped anchor on a sandy/grassy bottom. It was the perfect lunch stop (although we didn’t have lunch, just walked around) – easy to beach the dinghy on the sandy shore, there are even some picnic tables on the beach. We found several beautiful shells and continued our journey south after walking to the southern point of the island and back.

Celtic Spirit anchored in The Bight

Our Favorite British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands have much to offer for the cruiser and charterer alike. With several islands being only a day sail from each other, it is possible to wake up to new scenery every morning. We loved every day of our month and a half spent around these islands, visiting several of them multiple times. Although a difficult exercise, we narrowed them down to 3 of our favorites. 

Norman Island

We spent close to a week anchored on Norman Island, which was one of our favorite times overall. There are so many reasons to visit Norman Island over and over again – from the snorkeling to the hiking and great restaurants, there is something new to do each day. Here is our list of reasons we loved Norman Island the most in the BVI:

  • Snorkeling by the Treasure Caves Our first time around we saw bait balls being chased by tarpon and pelicans diving into the water over and over again. Another time we swam into the caves and explored coral we haven’t seen before.
  • Pirates Bight Beach volleyball court, great open wifi, drinks to be had on the beach, delicious chicken roti and cheerful staff. Need we say more?
  • Room to anchor The holding right in front of Pirates Bight is great with a sandy bottom and 4-5 meters of water.
  • Plenty mooring balls One can be sure to find a mooring ball even later in the day since there are lots of mooring balls spread around the bay.
  • Great hiking Even the shortest walk to the helipad above Pirates Bight takes you to 360 degree views. For those looking for longer walks, there are great dirt roads leading to Money Bay as well as the other side of the island.ű
  • Willy T Duh! Willy T is great entertainment whether you are into jumping off the back of the boat or not. We also figured out that if you stay long enough in the evening you may have a chance to play your own music… 🙂

Cooper Island

Cooper Island had us at hello. The first time we arrived here we had no problem grabbing a mooring ball in front of Cooper Island Beach Club. Come to find out that was a rare occasion as the mooring balls turn over almost immediately, the island is so popular. We suggest arriving around 9am to be sure to have available space since anchoring close to the mooring field here is tough due to deeper water (10m+).

The second time we visited here we arrived around 4pm and all mooring balls were taken. We went over to the next bay where there is an area with sandy bottom big enough for two boats to anchor. In the morning we realized what a treat it was to have stumbled upon Hallovers Bay. Apart from the rare occasion of not having other boats around us, the water was incredible and the snorkeling close to shore even better. We spent the entire morning in the water staring at coral and wildlife, including rays. We returned here with guests later on as the bay also has day moorings available for those looking to snorkel at lunch time.

The many reasons we love Cooper Island:

  • Cooper Island Beach Club The establishment strives to be as sustainable as possible. They do not provide straws (not even paper ones), serve drinks in reusable plastic cups (that are free to take if you wish – great cups for the boat!), AND they have their own brewery on site to eliminate beer container waste. The restaurant serves delicious dinner that is worth the high island price.
  • Rum Bar With over 750 rums available to taste, we loved exploring the Rum Bar despite not being big rum drinkers. The bartender will also make you a delicious cocktail with the rum of your choosing if you aren’t into drinking it straight up.
  • The Coffee Shop They serve coffee from the Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters over in St. Thomas and also have ice cream for sale. What else can you ask for?!
  • The Boutique The best selection of swimwear and other goodies when it comes to ‘restaurant boutiques’ around the Virgin Islands.
  • Anchoring & snorkeling in Hallover Bay Quiet anchorage with spectacular snorkeling right off the boat.


Our first time around we were sceptical about Anegada, a slice of land about 15 miles from other islands with an elevation of only 28 feet above sea level. Those feelings changed immediately upon tasting the famous Anegada lobster. We visited for Thanksgiving dinner, and the grilled Caribbean lobster at Neptune’s Treasure exceeded all of our expectations. Not to mention the delicious sauteed conch we had as an appetizer!

Reasons to visit Anegada and stay for two nights:

  • Caribbean lobster Do not miss the Caribbean lobster when visiting the island. Although pricey it is 100% worth it. Our favorite was Neptune’s Treasure (also tried The Lobster Trap). Reservations are required, be prepared to put your dinner order in when reserving a table for the evening.
  • Option to anchor Catamarans can enjoy anchoring close to shore on a sandy bottom in shallow water
  • Snorkeling If we had the chance to visit again for an extended period of time, we would rent a car or scooter to explore the north side of the island where there is supposedly spectacular snorkeling to be had.
  • White sandy beaches There is even a water swing in front of Anegada Reef Hotel