Monday, April 25, 2011


If you love ladies with a past, you’ve come to the right place.
Welcome to English and Falmouth Harbours
and the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.

These classic ladies fall into three race categories – genuine classic yachts built in the 20s and 30s - modern yachts built to honour the craftsmanship of yesterday’s beauties - and traditional wooden workboats from the islands. An additional class was added in recent years, the Spirit of Tradition Class, that accepts yachts built along ‘classic’ lines but with modern additions.

Visitors were welcome to walk the docks and chat with the crews as they cleaned and polished their boats for Elegance Day – it’s not enough to be a fast boat, you must also be beautifully maintained.
And then it rained.
And the crews started drying and polishing again – every inch.

Velsheda is a beautiful J-class yacht.
She arrived in Antigua with her mother ship, a motor boat to house the owners of the racing yacht and their guests. Meet Bystander. Just how do you spell “$$$$$”?

Ranger is a crowd favourite and has fun loving crew members.
Looks like it's possible that a little Mount Gay loosens everyone up. “The rum that invented rum” may have generated a few rum squalls during the week.

Marie was our favourite racing yacht. We checked her out from every angle. A crew member joked, “If you have $5000 in your pocket right now, she’s yours.” Maybe a safe bet we weren’t carrying the cash?

In addition to the big boats, there were beautiful ladies of a more modest size.

And the wooden Carriacou sloops are in a class of their own. These traditional island work boats are built by hand and by eye - no blueprints and no hull molds. They’re sturdy but elegant, hardy but fast.

In addition to dock walking and gawking, we spent some fun times volunteering at the Antigua Yacht Club. Geoff went to AYC every morning during race week to help with the morning clean up and tent changeovers – these tents down, those tents up, depending on that day’s sponsor.

I spent a shift in the yacht club office and another day bartending in the members lounge with Moe, a new friend and fellow cruiser volunteer.
We enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to meet people, 
both other cruisers and local yacht club members.

On several of the race days, Geoff dinghied out to the start/finish line with his camera. The light winds that plagued the entrants meant lots of canvas being added and great viewing - the pictures say it all.

And here’s a favourite classic that's well-known
on the race circuit, Old Bob. 

Three other vessels caught our eye. They weren’t here to race but they attracted a lot of well-deserved attention. And they couldn’t be more different from each other.

First up, The Maltese Falcon, all 289 feet of her. Her beam is 42.2 feet - that's the length of Beach House 
Her revolutionary sail system is apparently under consideration for use on smaller and more attainable boats.

Leander was also here for a visit. At 246 feet, she’s one of the largest yachts in the world available for private charter. Rumour has it that Leander has been chartered by the royal family in the past, and that when she left Antigua a few days ago, she was headed to England to arrive in time for the royal wedding. Inquiring minds are wondering where William and Kate are honeymooning and how they're getting there. 

We happened to be visiting friends when Leander left the harbour.
Check her out and say hi to Sandy and Leslie.

And the third non-racing ship that bears mentioning is the tall ship Picton Castle, based out of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
She’s on her fifth circumnavigation as a teaching vessel and spent Classics race week here, welcoming visitors aboard for tours. What a thrill to check her out.

The piece de resistance of race week was the Sunday Parade of Classics through English Harbour. We were fortunate to score reservations through friends at Catherine’s Café – the premiere place to be on the premiere day of Classics. Thank you, Bob!
Lunch was pricy but excellent and the view even better as we cheered our appreciation for these classy ladies with a past. It's possible that the crews were having as good a time as the spectators.

Will we come to Antigua next April for Classics?

Just ask these Rum Gay smiles.


  1. Awesome photos guys, we drooled over some of those magnificent yachts!Looks like you are having a great time and enjoying those Mount Gays, we drool over that too! Great to hear from you both, sending you our best wishes for Easter, Love from the Biscayne Bay Crew xxxx

  2. Great job guys. Be careful or all that wood will work it's way into your veins. Consider yourself lost soul after that (Take it from me).

    S/V Astor

  3. Gorgeous pictures. I know you had a blast. Can't believe you got to see the Maltese Falcon up close. We have read so much about it in the sailing mags. Also, we anchored right next to the Picton Castle in Yost Van Dyke. We talked with the crew but never got invited aboard. Looks like you got the grand tour. There is a book written about it and Harry had just finished reading it.

  4. So cool! So envious!
    Much love to you both from Bristol Rose, still in Manly, Queensland.

  5. Great Pix Geoff! I think you should convert some of the sailing shots to Black and White. The classics shooting the classics!