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 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.

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