As I sit here in Antigua looking for dates of the Russian Revolution on the internet (don't ask!), I am constantly surprised and delighted by the sheer volume of information that is available to me at the touch of a few buttons.
Recently, to demonstrate the power of the internet, a friend of mine from the UK mocked me when I said I had seen an article about a turtle that was given wheels as he/she had lost the use of his/her back 'legs' (I'm sure that I will be corrected about the use of the word 'legs'). The popular view is that if you live in the islands you spend most of your waking hours full of rum (and a few sleeping hours, too, for good measure) and tend to talk a lot of nonsense. Imagine my satisfaction when I searched for said turtle and there he was; in all his back leg, wheely glory!
The purpose of this ramble is clear (!). You can do so much research on the internet for your next sailing trip, weekend away, or annual vacation, that you actually start to believe you have been to that place already. This happened recently when I started to research, with some gusto, a trip to Scotland. I had routes planned around favourite restaurants and had even reviewed the menus so knew in advance that I would be having the lobster and Chardonnay on said date. The upshot of all of this research was that I felt like I had already been to Scotland and the result was a trip to Las Vegas (now that is a sensory experience!).
Imagine what I missed through not having the experience through my own eyes. I did not get to smell the wild heather growing in abundance on the moors. I did not get to pet that sheep in the lane or try and understand what the barman was asking me with his broad, Scottish accent and I certainly did not get to smell the salty freshness of the sea first thing in the morning. There is just no substitute for having the experience.
When people ask me, as they do each and every day, so what's it like to actually sail and vacation in Antigua, no matter how hard I try, I can not truly get the experience across. I can articulate the feel of the white sand under your feet when you jump out of the dinghy - I can certainly say it is as soft as flour, but it does not get you the reality.
I explain the smell of the island as you emerge from the plane after so many hours in a small, confined space; you know you've arrived in the tropics the minute you step foot on the steps. If you were blindfold, you would immediately know: "I'm in the islands".
I explain the feel of the tropical sun at different times of day; the gradual heating of the island as you move from breakfast time to mid day and beyond and how it feels on your skin. I explain the look of the sunset each night as you sit on deck (clutching said rum) or on the beach and the sense that another day is coming to an end.
In my view, in the days of information overload, it is always best to leave something to be discovered and enjoyed and remembered. Sailing Antigua? Wake up and smell the tropics.