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Jol Byerley’s Feb 06 Letter from Antigua

Just a short while ago it seemed as if the season would
never arrive. However, now with the Antigua Boat Show well under our belt and
the New Year holidays already over, it makes me realize just how quickly time
flies by. Before we know it, the summer time and its attendant storms will have
arrived and once again there will be hardly any yachts here in Antigua.

Oh well! Anyway, 108 yachts
actually attended Antigua’s 44th
annual Charter Yacht Show although over 130 actually entered. The ones that
didn’t make it were held up by the appalling weather on both sides of the
Atlantic. So it would appear that the Charter
Show was a great
success. The yachts themselves were very professionally run, and the agents
were somehow the epitome of professionalism themselves. This means of course
that very little time was lost in the hunt for charters, and already a great
number of yachts have left the island with guests onboard. There were 237
agents from 17 different countries,
and the bars and restaurants sounded like a meeting of the United Nations.
It’s a fact that most of the agents believed this year to be one of the
best ever boat shows on the western side of the Atlantic.

The
biggest sailing boat was the 250ft Stad Amsterdam built and designed in
Holland, and a regular
competitor in the Antigua Classic Regatta. She is styled after a clipper ship
of the Cutty Sark era and was an entry in the
Rolex Trans Atlantic Race. Only the prevailing head winds stopped her from
being a real threat and eventually causing her to retire. The biggest motor
yacht was the 235ft R.M. Elegant and
most people believed her to be perhaps a naval vessel of some sort when she
appeared in Falmouth.
Perhaps it’s
worthwhile to appreciate that most of the charter vessels are of 80 to 90 feet
in length and have about 5 or 6 crew. All of which are very professional and
whatever they are doing it’s
generally done in complete silence. During the Show there were of course prizes
for the best chef. The judges for this competition were completely
speechless! They admitted
that a top hotel would be made to look like the average hamburger joint by the
men and women who sometimes have to deal with head seas and storm conditions.

As you
all probably know, for 42 years the Antigua Charter Show was run by the
Nicholson Family. But all good things come to an end and last year this really
successful event was taken over by Sarah Sebastian and
Afsenah Franklin.
It had a back up committee of Antiguan Nationals, one of which of course was
Rupert De Verteuille
who only very recently, sadly passed away. Rupert spent most of his life in
Antigua and his enthusiasm for the yachting way of life
was obvious. Anyway, there are many people who believed that without the
Nicholson Family in command, the Boat Show would be doomed. Well, believe it or
not, this 44th
show was one of the best there has ever been and Commander Nicholson would be a
very proud man if he was to know how well this one has been received.

It would
be very remiss if I were to not mention the tremendous leap forward of the
fabulous old Nelson’s Dockyard. It has now been totally reconstructed and
is perhaps the finest working Dockyard in the world bar none. To see it full of
the yachts from the boat show, and this means big sailing vessels and motor
yachts, made my heart sing and it would have done so to yours as well.

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