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A visit to Antigua Charter Yacht Show

Lying like a pearl on the necklace of the Caribbean, Antigua is the perfect location for the Charter Show. Boats, brokers, vendors, and sailors gather in the historic Nelson’s Dockyard and Falmouth Harbour to enjoy the magnificent scenery, turquoise waters, and – usually – perfect boating weather. Antigua is an ideal location for the show. As well as the weather. The docks are big enough, and the water is deep enough for the huge boats. There’s a pleasant, short walk between the different areas. And there is a selection of restaurants, and bars, ranging from the roadside cook-up to the luxurious cuisine of beachside and marina restaurants. Hotels, too, are varied and fascinating, historical or modern? You choose.

The Yachts

Snapshot of a few yachts in English Harbour Antigua
Yachts in English harbour, Antigua

The boats, oh the boats! Ranging from the smallest sailing boat, A small but perfectly -formed Afaet, skippered by the fantastically-named Captain Duck, to the vast 300-foot Motor yachts like Faith and the multihulls. Whatever the style or size, they are polished to within an inch of their life, declaring: “if you think we look good from the outside, come on aboard. You ain’t seen nothing yet”.

This year there are fewer boats, but I feel the quality is good. There is no shortage of brokers and visitors ready to be impressed, and they are! The organizers have ensured that attendees are fed and watered at the historic Copper and Lumber Hotel before they set out on the onerous task of boat visiting and testing the hospitality of the boats and crews.

Catamarans | Antigua Charter Yacht Show

Multihulls like Earlybird, a regular visitor to the show; monohulls like Blue Devil, a new kid on the block; sailing yachts, like the exquisite Savarona, the show has them all, each one welcoming guests with an exciting and unique experience on the ocean wave.

The Steward and Chef competitors have been judged. I can’t wait to learn how the teams met this year’s challenges. Being a chef on a super yacht is an enormous challenge. Fussy eaters, specific requests, and it has to look and taste incredible. Chefs are artists, and creating something special is a constant quest. I wonder if the charter show organizers would like a new judge next year. I am prepared to take one for the team and help. This year’s challenge involved caviar – what else – and mystery ingredients! Every chef is convinced that have won!

What’s today’s agenda? Which boats shall I venture aboard, and on what shall I focus? In a perfect world, I would lavish on them the attention they each deserve. Even with a short visit, the feel for the boat, the care lavished by the crew, and the atmosphere created by the captain all come across. Without their passion, a boat is flat and uninspiring. Fortunately, that passion is palpable; the boats’ external shine and sparkle are echoed aboard. The skippers, the crew, and everyone are happy to welcome one aboard. And to share their enthusiasm and love for the sailing world.

Lunchtime | Where to dine

Lunchtime. Hard decision. One of the buzzing local restaurants or a quiet mull of what I have seen
this morning?

No time for a siesta. But I sit for a few moments enjoying a double espresso. And gazing at the beautiful boats in the harbour, surrounded by verdant hills, still green despite the shortage of rain. Sails seem to float on the horizon. The Antiguan flag designed by Sir Reginald Samuel dances on the boats in the welcome breeze. An air of relaxed anticipation prevails as brokers and visitors hop from boat to boat.

Seminars | Antigua Charter Yacht Show

The week is not just about visiting boats. There are several seminars, not least one presented by Axxess Marine on the increasingly important communication at sea. Some of the yachts have more Comms equipment than a Navy battleship. Indeed being up-to-date with the latest technology and maintaining it is not a sinecure. And is one of those vital ingredients for security and comfort afloat; we all need wi-fi and Comms everywhere now.

The small, huge, monohull, motor, and sailing boats offer unprecedented comfort and fun. The crews are all dedicated to ensuring their guests step off the boat at the end of the holiday. Relaxed, well-fed, and watered. And wishing they could stay on board and go around again with their new friends made with the crew.

The mood is pure enjoyment; well, this is Antigua, so what else would you expect? The charter show kicks off the Caribbean sailing season and does so in style; it is making a declaration – it will be a fantastic season.

by Zoe Carlton

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