Anamarina was one of the 46 boats reeling in huge blue marlin in the 60th International BillfishTournament last September. Photo: Mark Smestad
Techies and traditionalists alike will have a blast at the 61st International Billfish Tournament (IBT) at Club Nautico de San Juan in Puerto Rico September 2-9. Last year, club member Dr. Ricky Jaen introduced a new satellite program that uses Google Earth to locate potential fishing hot spots. The technology helps anglers find large concentrations of billfish with a high degree of accuracy. The 46 vessels with 176 anglers from 8 countries released a tournament total of 145 blue marlin. What’s more, last year marked the first in more than a decade that a single boat released 10 blue marlin in just 4 days of fishing.
As this year’s chairman of the event, Dr. Jaen will step up the tech side by partnering with fishtrack.com to provide entrants with detailed wind and swell forecasts as well as sea surface temperature charts. This new era of state-of-the-art information doesn’t mean the IBT has lost its charm. The competition still kicks off with the classic fleet shoot-out past the 16th century-built Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro Fort) en route to the fishing grounds of Marlin Alley. Nightly sunset cocktails dockside, a mid-tournament Fiesta Típica featuring Latin flavors and rhythms, and an elegant awards ceremony all add to the allure. There’s also a special ladies schedule that includes a fashion show, rainforest tour and taste of local cuisine. sanjuaninternational.com
Back to School—Sailing School! Want to brush up on your nautical skills? Captain your own yacht? Take an active maritime vacation? The Caribbean islands host a number of sailing schools. September is an ideal time to book a course for the busy winter and spring seasons ahead. Each school shares a commonality of curriculum, whether taught using the American Sailing Association (ASA) or Royal Yachting Association (RYA) certifying schemes. Where each differs is in its location and the various opportunities for sightseeing while sailing.
OnDeck in Antigua offers a Competent Crew Course out of its location in historic Falmouth Harbour. The five-day introduction to sailing for the complete beginner offers curriculums from elementary seamanship to rope work and steering. The B.V.I.-based Rob Swain Sailing School teaches a six-day Live Aboard Cruising Course that puts you behind the wheel of a 34- to 50-foot yacht to navigate this 60-plus island territory with an instructor. Further south, Barefoot Offshore Sailing School in St. Vincent offers one-week Learn and Cruise courses that combine instruction with sightseeing and true blue-water sailing. As one sailing school owner/operator rightly noted, there’s no falling asleep behind a desk in a Caribbean sailing class!
By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating September 2014
Curator Geoffrey Brooks guides school children through the exhibits. Photo: Virgin Islands Maritime Museum
A compass manufactured in 1928 by Boston’s E.S. Ritchie & Son and an oil painting of the 1903 Tortola-built Lady Constance are the latest additions to the Virgin Islands Maritime Museum. The museum, located on the second floor of the Centre for Applied Marine Studies at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in Paraquita Bay, Tortola, B.V.I., first opened its doors in 2005 with a visit from Princess Anne. “The compass is a rare find,” says curator Geoffrey Brooks. “It is made of brass and suspended in a wooden box. It was used by many mariners in East End, Tortola.” The 39-foot cutter rigged sloop Lady Constance belonged to the government and was used as a revenue cutter to intercept smugglers until she sank off St. Thomas in 1921. The museum is dedicated to preserving the rich maritime heritage of this British overseas territory, where traditional wooden sloops were built for over 300 years and used for everything from trading to carrying passengers to the doctor, school and work. Boat models, pieces from the frames of old sloops, antiquated boat-building tools, and old photographs of sloops, shipwrights and boat launchings are displayed in the museum as well as an actual 20-foot old-style fishing boat. Hours are 9AM to 6PM Monday through Friday, with special weekend visits available by request. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Call (284) 494-4994 or (284) 852-7169, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fly in to fish, sail and cruise
Island-hopping by air just got easier. Seaborne Airlines took flight two decades ago providing seaplane service between the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix, and now offers over 2,600 monthly departures to 18 airports in the Caribbean on a mixed fleet of turboprops and seaplanes from its hub at Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan. This is big news for travelers in the wake of American Eagle closing its San Juan base in 2013 as part of the Chapter 11 restructuring of its parent company, American Airlines. Now, once arriving in San Juan via direct daily flights from the U.S. and Europe, yachtsmen can easily take flights to islands from the Dominican Republic to Martinique, and destinations such as the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Dominica. Seaborne Airlines carries the American Airlines code in select San Juan markets and currently has interline agreements with Jet Blue and Delta, although this will likely expand to additional international carriers in the future. “Whether you’re flying in for a sports fishing tournament, to race in a regatta, charter a yacht to cruise, or just visit the islands, Seaborne Airlines can make travel to your destination easier,” says Seaborne Airlines CEO David Ziemer. seaborneairlines.com
By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating July 2014