Sweethearts of the Caribbean

Sweethearts of the Caribbean

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Horizon Yacht Charters in Antigua. Photo: Jackie Ashford

Classic yachts and wannabes rule the seas at the 38th Sweethearts of the Caribbean and 34th Classic Yacht Regatta. This low-key event hosted by the West End Yacht Club (WEYC) in the B.V.I. on Valentine’s Day Weekend February 12-14 is part time warp, part modern-day regatta, and a whole lot of fun. There aren’t many regattas where classes include 100-plus-year-old yachts, but this one does. A few of the famous fractional-rig, wood-built Tortola sloops always take part—the 22-foot Intrepid, 25-foot Youth Instructor, and, we hope, the newly restored 29-foot Esmie. These vessels once served as the only link between the B.V.I. and its neighbors and now compete in this regatta with a combination of adults and junior sailors as a neat tie between past and present. Although the event was originally conceived as a schooner race, dwindling participation led organizers to offer registration to “classic plastics” (yachts with fiberglass hulls more than 30 years old) and even newer monohulls in an Open class. Enjoyable regatta events happen on both sea and land. There’s a single-handed pursuit-style race to Jost Van Dyke the first day. The second day is a couples’ and crew fleet race around the natural markers of Peter, Pelican and Flanagan islands followed by a big, prize-giving party sponsored by Mount Gay Rum at the Fish n’ Lime restaurant in Soper’s Hole. “We expect around 40 entrants,” says WEYC Commodore Louis Schwartz. “The camaraderie generated through the decades by those who gather and sail has been immense. I know sailors who met at Sweethearts 25 years ago, married and now attend with their kids.” facebook.com/groups/weycbvi/

Wed then weigh anchor in Antigua and Barbuda.
The twin-island country of Antigua and Barbuda is such a popular wedding destination that Horizon Yacht Charters offers a five-day itinerary. It’s the perfect venue for those who want to say their “I do’s” ashore with family and friends and then jump ship to their own private yacht for a honeymoon charter. “February is a great time to charter as it’s high season, meaning there is an abundance of restaurants, bars and shops open allowing you to anchor off in a bay and dinghy across to enjoy a romantic dinner or to go and enjoy the nightlife,” says Megan Grant, the customer services representative who authored the five-day itinerary that starts from the company’s Jolly Harbour Marina base and includes several out-of-the-way stops. “Even though it’s high season, the beauty of chartering a boat in Antigua is that you can still find yourself alone in a secluded bay. One of the most spectacular is Pinching Bay just north of Five Islands Village and accessible only by boat. Imagine anchoring here and enjoying the peaceful vibes whilst barbecuing off the stern for lunch.” Traveling to Antigua and Barbuda just got a lot easier to love with the nearly $100 million renovation to the V.C. Byrd Airport completed last summer. The state-of-the-art facility features 15 self-service check-in kiosks, 14 departure gates, 4 jet bridges, a mini food court, and more than a dozen retail stores. horizonyachtcharters.com