December 22, 2017

Yachting in Antigua

As the nights are drawing in and temperatures drop, thoughts of swaying palm trees, turquoise seas and a cocktail in hand can seem like a distant dream. But with daily direct flights from the UK, those dreams could easily become a reality. With a flight time of less than 8 hours, and with only a four hour time difference, you could be combing one of the 365 beaches that Antigua is famous for, enjoying the crystal, clear sea, and pristine golden sands sooner than you think.

Antigua map

Fortunate to have come away unscathed from the recent spurt of hurricanes, Antigua has something to offer everyone. There is a vast range of accommodation to choose from. You could be sipping a cocktail from your own secluded beach villa, at anchor on a private yacht, or with the waves lapping at your feet at one of the numerous top-class hotels.

Having spent a week on a private motor yacht charter, I can definitely say that Antigua is a boating paradise. With numerous sheltered bays to anchored in, to either sojourn for lunch, or to spend the night, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

We started our yacht charter at Jolly Harbour Marina, which offers an array of restaurants, bars, and shopping experiences. If you enjoy a good Indian then meander down to Castaways, on South beach, where their authentic Indian chefs will whip you up a culinary feast. The entrance to the marina is well protected and offers an alternative place for those who prefer to be out of the hustle and bustle of a marina.

Jolly Beach yacht

Jolly Beach

Heading north, passing by Five Islands, Deep Bay makes an excellent overnight stopover. For those who enjoy snorkeling, they can indulge in exploring the shipwreck of the Andes, which is positioned at the entrance. Or, step ashore and take the short hike up to Fort Barrington to experience some truly breath- taking views of the island. We continued, passing by the capital, St Johns, and dropped anchor at the idyllic Dickenson’s Bay. There are a variety of beach front restaurants to choose from, we opted for Coconut Grove, and enjoyed some delicious traditional Caribbean fare.

Picking up a mooring buoy at the picturesque Green Island is essential. We explored the uninhabited island, finding hermit crabs galore, before disappearing below the sea to encounter some of the best snorkeling on the island. Losing yourself as you glide through the serene warm waters and swimming alongside turtles, puffer fish, yellow tailed snappers, and stingrays, makes a truly unforgettable experience.

Reef pic

Under Captains command, the yacht sailed south to the picturesque English Harbour. As the only working Georgian dockyard in the world it has recently been given UNESCO title, to protect and preserve the remarkable site. It is full of history and charming buildings, and has a selection of appealing shops, restaurants, and bars. We anchored at Freemans Bay, with Galleon beach at our bow and the delightful views over English Harbour to our stern, we couldn’t have hoped for a more enchanting setting. We decided to have lunch ashore at Boom, which is situated just by the gunpowder room. With hammocks and sunbeds to laze in, and an infinity pool overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard for cooling off, the location was faultless. We had a delicious lunch at the poolside restaurant and indulged in some pampering at the spa. A truly relaxing day.

Admiral's Inn

View from Boom over to Pillars restaurant, at the Admirals Inn

For dinner we treated ourselves at Pillars, the a la carte restaurant at the Admirals Inn, which is delightfully positioned next to the water. The food and service are great, a place I’d definitely recommend. To walk off our indulgences we woke early the following morning, the best time of the day in the Caribbean, and hiked up from the beach to Shirley Heights, following the Lookout Trail. Roughly about a mile and a half and mostly up hill, we arrived slightly out of breath at Shirley Heights, famous for its Sunday night sunset parties. At this time of the morning we enjoyed the peace and tranquility of having it to ourselves and took in the breath- taking views across English and Falmouth Harbour, and as it was a clear day, Montserrat and Guadeloupe. The journey back down is much easier and is only about ½ mile, depositing us back on Galleon beach where we cooled off in the sea. There is a great place to snorkel just off Freeman’s Bay, on the inside of the red marking buoy. If you snorkel around the rocks to Hercules Pillars, you will see an array of multi-coloured fish and turtles.

Shirley Heights

The view from Shirley Heights down to our boat at anchor at Freeman’s Bay

Catch my next blog, where we cruise the rest of Antigua.

By Laura Barber

December 9, 2017

Indulging in a Brokers Lunch

Broker Lunch Aboard Gladius


After a busy morning of looking around yachts I was looking forward to putting my feet up and enjoying the broker lunch we had been invited to aboard Gladius, a 127 feet motor yacht. Built in 2007, by Italian designers Cantieri di Pisa, she is in immaculate condition having just undergone a refit this year. We were given a tour of the boat a member of crew, who was both friendly and informative and was able to answer my many questions. Boosting five cabins, Gladius can comfortable accommodate 10 guests, or 12 when using the additional pullman berths in the twin cabin.

gladius cabin

The spacious master cabin

I loved the media room where you could disappear to watch a film. They have a huge array of films to choose from, as well as satellite TV. A great place to keep the kids entertained for an hour or two.

Gladius media

Media room

The sundeck was spacious, with a jacuzzi and plenty of comfortable seating and sunbathing areas. There is a large BBQ and bar, making it a great sociable area. With a TV and removable sunshades, this place is versatile for both day and night use.

Gladius sundeck


We took a quick look around the garage and were impressed with the range of water sports on offer. They have two wave runners, four Sea-Doo scooters, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, wakeboard, kneeboard, water skis, fishing equipment and snorkelling gear.  With such ‘toys’ expected on these yachts, Gladius certainly ticks this box.

Relaxing in the saloon area with the other invited brokers, we were presented with a delicious cocktail in true Caribbean style!

Gladius cocktail

Daniel enjoying his cocktail!

gladius menu

Our lunch menu

Gladius table

Our beautiful table display. 

Sitting at the captain’s table, we were wowed by the creative and diverse menu that was created by chef Renee. Renee can meet any dietary requirements and has recently completed a vegan cooking course.

Gladius starter

Our first course was presented beautifully and when the glass lidded dish was raised, smoke was dispersed.

Steven Foster, the yachts captain, was very easy to talk to and it was great learning more about not only him, but also the boat over lunch. Raised on a sheep and wheat farm in Australia, Steven’s love of the water led him to a career in the yachting world and has been captain of Gladius for 18 months. When asked about Gladius’ performance he explained that she had an ideal cruising speed of 14 knots, and a maximum speed of 23 knots, although this would certainly leave a dent in your wallet! Equipped with an ultra-modern stabilisation system, Steven explained it helped to reduce roll motion effect and resulted in a smoother more enjoyable cruising experience. He also explained that she features ‘at anchor stabilisers’ which work at zero speed to increase onboard comfort at anchor and on rough waters.

Gladius main

With our starter plates cleared away, we were wowed by our second course. Sous Vide Loin of Lamb over Caribbean Taro and Asparagus Spears served with Smoked Spanish Paprika Tapioca Cracker. The gravy was poured in an unusual way, via a test tube, by the stewardess and when I cut into it was perfectly cooked, slightly pink and very tender. With a Pinot Noir to accompany this course, it was faultless.

Gladius dessert

The dessert was presented in the most unique way, in a sardine tin! It was Black Sesame Panna Cotta with Blackberry Crème. The blackberry crème was delicious.

The menu was exceptional, showing not only the chefs imagination and creativity, but also her diversity in using a range of different ingredients. Renee came out to meet us at the end of our meal and explained that the meal was both dairy and gluten free. We wish Renee all the best in the Chefs competition on Wednesday.

Foodies will appreciate the talents that Renee can produce in the gallery, but equally those with a more simpler palate will not have to worry, as sample menus are provided in advance for charter clients to ensure that their preferences and dietary requirements can be catered for. You can be assured that no one will go hungry on this yacht!

By Laura Barber






December 8, 2017

Attending the Antigua Yacht Charter Meeting 2017

It has been a fantastic day at the Antigua Yacht Charter Meeting and I have enjoyed looking around many yachts, as well as enjoying a broker lunch. Being able to have a personal tour of the yachts has been great as I can fully appreciate any refits that have recently taken place, as well as view the equipment and facilities that they have to offer. As a broker, it gives me invaluable information that enables me to match the right boat to the client, as well as first-hand knowledge when answering any questions that the client may have. It been wonderful to be able to put a face to the captain, crew, and other brokers, as well as being able to have a chat and get to know one another better, as usually these relationships are formed via email. All these factors contribute to us being able to make every charter that bit more successful.



Having a wander round the three marinas, Antigua Yacht Club Marina, Falmouth Harbour Marina, and Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, it is amazing to see the selection of unique yachts on offer for charter.

A snap shot of a few…

Quite essential

The yacht ‘Quite essential’, note the waterfall on the lower aft deck, is a 180 feet motor yacht.


The garage facilities on Sovereign, a 180 feet motor yacht, are just amazing, helping to accommodate the various toys that are expected on such yachts, as well as providing a place to relax by the sea.


A more unusual multihull design, yacht Adastra, measuring 140 feet.


A more traditional style sailing yacht, Eleonora, measuring 163 feet.


With such a diverse range of yachts on offer for charter there is one to meet even the most discerning of clients.

Join me for lunch aboard Gladius, a 127 feet motor yacht, on my next blog.


By Laura Barber


December 3, 2017

56th Annual Antigua Yacht Charter Meeting

With the 56th Annual Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting due to commence on Monday 4th December, the excitement is already building. Nelson’s Dockyard, Falmouth Harbour, and the Antigua Yacht Club Marina are already full to bursting with mindboggling super and mega yachts. When asking what the difference was between the two, I was told it was down to the number of zeros involved!

The yachts range from 54 feet, right up to 295 feet, so there will be plenty of yachts for us charter brokers to peruse, and a great opportunity to meet the captain and crew aboard. Being able to inspect these yachts personally, provides us with the valuable information that can be essential in ensuring that we are providing our clients with the right yacht. Having the chance to meet the captain and crew working aboard these yachts gives us the opportunity, as charter brokers, to forge relationships that can help enable a positive working relationship and a successful charter, and of course a good captain and crew is what makes a charter.

No doubt the chefs aboard these yachts who have entered the Chefs Culinary Contest are busy planning and practicing their menus for next week. Tuesday will see yachts that are over 160ft being judged, Wednesday yachts 126ft to 159ft and Thursday those that are under 125ft. The criteria is to create a Caribbean Sunday Brunch and baked goods basket that they would serve to their charter guests, with a menu that would be suitable for both adults and children. This is an opportunity for the chefs to demonstrate their skill and diversity in being able to use Caribbean ingredients to create a menu that includes both sweet, savory, and baked goods options. With only a helper to assist in the plating and serving of these dishes, the chef must do all the food preparation. They must also consider the most favorable place to serve their brunch, whether it be on the sundeck, the aft deck, the dining room, or saloon, and whether to present it buffet style or plated up. There is much to consider, so the competition is bound to be fierce, and with such an array of talent encompassed in these super and mega yachts, I doubt any judge will go home hungry. Friday at 5.30pm will see the winner and 2 runner ups announced at the Admirals’ Inn, Nelson’s Dockyard.

The pressure is not just being put on the chefs, as there is also a competition for the steward/stewardess. Their criteria is to choose a table style of decoration that shows the colours and diversity of the Caribbean Sea. They will be marked on originality and creativity, the style going with the theme, and the suitability to their chef’s menu. There will be one winner announced in each of the three yacht size categories and the winners will be announced alongside the chefs at the Admirals Inn.

So, an exciting number of events taking place next week. With yachts to view, and scheduled talk on subjects ranging from charter itineraries, to post-hurricane updates, it is going to be a busy week!

Falmouth Harbour

By Laura Barber

December 1, 2017

Yachting Hurricane Aftermath

Did you ever wondered what happened to all those yachts that were shockingly plastered across the news back in September; those having met the ill fate of either Hurricane Irma or Maria? Boats that were capsized, overturned, and stacked haphazardly on top of one another.

BVI yachts pile up

Well, visiting North Sound Marina in Antigua, I stumbled across what could only be described as a yachting graveyard. Dozens of boats, brought over on a 200 foot barge from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), are scattered around the yard in various states of disrepair. Some with gaping holes ripped out of the hull, side rails hanging off, rudders bent at alarming angles, and not a mast to be seen in sight. On taking a closer look, you can really appreciate the level of destruction caused by these hurricanes. The interiors of the boats are severely water damaged and the amount of barnacle growth startling, especially when it’s on the top side of a boat!! It is a disturbing reminder of the power and devastation that nature can wield.

Hurricane damaged yacht

So, what is the fate of these vessels? With a wave of damaged boats hitting the market after 3 major storms, is possible to pick up a bargain, or will these boats quickly become the proverbial ‘hole in the water’ waiting to be filled with money, sweat, and lost hope, when the daunting task begins of repairing it to make it sea worthy again. With transportation, and then storage costs to consider while the boat is being repaired, it may not seem such a good deal after all, especially when sinking in saltwater is the most damaging occurrence that can happen to a boat. With boats not being able to be attended to immediately, due to the ensuring devastation that follows such an event, it results in engines that are not flushed and pickled straight away and are therefore permanently damaged by corrosion. With the engines making up a significant portion of the boats value, this not good news. Saltwater causes damage to electrical devices and connections, requiring a complete rewiring of a boat. Soft furnishings and carpets will have to be thrown, along with waterlogged wooden bulkheads, which undoubtedly will have started rotting. With likely damage to the steering systems and engine controls, it is safer to assume the worst for a saltwater-submerged boat.

Inside hurricane boat

Paying someone else to repair a storm-damaged boat is rarely cost effective. Some boats do find their way to shipyards, who will repair them during the slow season to keep their employees busy. They also have the added bonus of not having the overhead of storage fees. But before getting too excited and placing your bid, read the fine print. Many auctions require that the boat be moved, sometimes within days or hours of the auction’s close. Storage fees, if the boat is not moved, can sometimes be high, so don’t assume you have time to get the details worked out later. Some transport companies and marinas may require you to have insurance on the boat, but getting insurance on a salvage boat may not be easy.  Purchasing and restoring a storm-damaged boat can be a rewarding way to get a boat at a reduced cost, but it also can end up being a big mistake. Understand what you are getting into before you write the check. Bids can often be a binding legal contract, so having second thoughts may not be an option. Remember, don’t let emotion take over for common sense. Set your top bid price and stick to it.  No deal is so good you cannot walk away from it, and it can be very hard to walk away from a bad deal.

Hurricane Cat

It is amazing to hear the progress being made by these Caribbean islands, with the BVI and Puerto Rico planning to welcome back guest for the winter sailing season early this December, and with St Martin hoping to follow suit in February 2018. Moorings have already excitedly announced that they will receive 130 new boats, exceeding the value of $66.5 m, to replace their decimated fleet by Hurricane Irma. With websites constantly being updated to inform you on which restaurants, bars, shops and facilities will be open if you are preparing for a trip, you can ensure that you will be well informed when planning your cruising itinerary. With plenty of support and hard work we wish the affected islands all the best in their recovery, so that we can all continue to enjoy this tropical sailing paradise.

Virgin Sound

By Laura Barber