142' PALMER JOHNSON LUXURY CHARTER YACHT

A Week in Paradise

A yacht charter story around Antigua  |  By Alexia Howard, age 16 

Calm bays, soft pink sand, turquoise water and an incredible Chef make for a perfect vacation in the Caribbean island of Antigua.

This year for spring break, we were able to go to the beautiful island of Antigua. We had never been before and it was totally worth the long trip from Denver. Antigua is pronounced (An-tee-ga), which we learned from the locals. It is part of the Leeward Islands in the West Indies. We arrived to bright sunshine and 80 degree weather and it stayed that way every day. Once aboard the Lady J, the fabulous crew treated my sister and me to the best Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris while my Mom and Dad had Key Lime Coladas. Chef James also had out little spoons of lobster or—as I said—little bites of heaven! The yacht was docked in the Antigua Yacht Club Marina, which was really nice. There was a gym that my parents used and tennis courts that I got to play on. You could also paddle board and kayak in the bay as it was so calm. 

Antigua-Charter-Luxury-Yacht-Lady-J_1.jpg

That afternoon we walked around a bit and discovered a nice restaurant overlooking the water. You can also walk 15 minutes to get to a pretty beach. If you walked another direction for 10 minutes, you would end up in another marina but first you walk through an old stone gateway. We learned it was a preserved historical site, which was very cool. Back on the boat, our first dinner was a ceviche starter followed by yummy sea bass stacked on vegetables. I don’t love fish but this was delicious. My parents do love fish and they were raving about it. Of course, my favorite was the chocolate molten cake dessert that had warm chocolate oozing out of it when I cut into it. Delicious!

Antigua-Charter-Luxury-Yacht-Lady-J_2.jpg

After a wonderful night’s sleep, we awoke to home-made peanut butter and chocolate muffins, a favorite of mine. A one-hour smooth trip took us to a secluded bay where we were able to get out the kayaks and paddle boards. The water was so clear and turquoise blue. Next adventure... we hopped on the jet skis to explore the various bays. My Mom and I like to go slow and see the sites while my Dad and sister like to see how fast they can go. The crew also got out a new toy called the catapult or blob. Basically you sit on one end while someone else jumps on the other end so you go flying into the water. The biggest challenge is getting on to it. But we had so much fun trying as our parents sat on the trampoline laughing at us.

Antigua-Charter-Luxury-Yacht-Lady-J_4.jpg

Another awesome meal we had was a Greek themed lunch. Chef James made a Greek salad, grilled octopus, feta with herbs, homemade pita bread, homemade hummus, and tzatziki. It was so good. He makes all of his own bread every day and it is all wonderful. For dinner one night he made sushi and sashimi with seaweed salad and soba noodles that we all loved. It was better than any sushi restaurant we go to at home. The next day, we got to go to another beach and bay. The sand is like powdered sugar so we played paddle ball on the beach and took long walks. One of my favorite things is going on the wing. It is an inflatable toy that you lay on and then are whipped around by someone driving the tender. Jared, the first mate, loved to drive us over big waves but we held on most of the time!

Antigua-Charter-Luxury-Yacht-Lady-J_3.jpg

My favorite day was the last day. We went to another bay but had our own private beach. The crew set up a volleyball net and we had a beach barbecue. It was so fun playing volleyball and then being able to walk right to lunch complete with grilled lobster, scallops, and ribs, plus grilled vegetables that everyone devoured. They even dragged the water trampoline to the beach so we could lay out there after lunch.

Antigua-Charter-Luxury-Yacht-Lady-J_6.jpg

We were also able to snorkel, which was amazing. We saw so many different colored fish. That night we even ended our trip with our tradition on Friday, pizza and a movie. However, we didn’t have to order in as Chef James made us 4 different kinds of homemade pizza. I wish we could bring him home with us! I would definitely recommend Antigua. It is a beautiful island with soft sand beaches, clear blue water, and fun places to use all of the toys on the Lady J.

Antigua-Charter-Luxury-Yacht-Lady-J_5.jpg

There are also lots of hikes around the island plus zip lining and horseback riding. We were having so much fun doing all of the activities on and off the boat we didn’t do any of those but for those interested the island offers a lot of different things to do. Bon Voyage!

St. Lucia, Island of Riches

Reprinted with permission from Boat International, Nov 2017.

St Lucia’s rainforest-cloaked hills and plunging coastline hide endless treasures for those in the know. Cécile Gauert rediscovers the island’s chartering charms on board Lady J.

I have just touched the top of St Lucia’s vertiginous Petit Piton and I did not even break a sweat. There is more than one way to get up close to this iconic rock: the hard way, with hiking shoes and ropes; or the easy way. Fortunately, the captain of Lady J, on charter in the Caribbean, has arranged for his guests to try the latter. 

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_2.jpg

After a fast, dry ride on Lady J’s 31ft Intrepid tender to the pretty Sugar Beach, my companions and I, giddy from our first night aboard the 141ft Palmer Johnson, pile into a van for the journey up the winding road that leads to the Tet Paul Nature Trail. Rufina, a native of the nearby village, guides us along the path, a young mother hen to a flock of tootling tourists. She rattles off the names of plants along the way: “This is the guigui tree, or porcupine tree. It is very spiky. Be careful as you are passing by.” Birds seem to chirp in response to her clear laugh. 

My attention veers from pineapples, sweet potatoes, bananas and jagged trees to the green hills that drop off into a purple horizon. Eventually, we walk far enough that the trail overlooks St Lucia’s famous landmark. “This is the only spot on the island where you can see the Pitons this far apart,” Rufina says. She asks if we want I a photo and demonstrates how to create the illusion that her finger is touching the summit of the 2,424ft Petit Piton. I follow suit—no sweat at all. Through some foliage, I spot Lady J, bobbing gently in the shade of the mountain. The yacht’s captain, Allan Rayner, later tells me what he likes about St Lucia: “When you go on hikes you meet the locals and they explain everything to you. They are super friendly and happy just to chat.” 

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_1.jpg

Early the next morning I spin away on an exercise bike the crew has set up on the yacht’s sundeck, watching wispy clouds wreathe the emerald slopes. We share the anchorage in front of Sugar Beach, the Viceroy beach resort that was formerly the Jalousie Plantation, with only one other yacht. St Lucia, for all its beauty, numerous diving spots and two very good marinas, is not a magnet for superyachts, although the government is trying to change that by promoting the fairly liberal regulations relating to private and charter yachts. But it does take a bit more dedication to visit here than other traditional charter destinations. Getting to this island requires cruising through some deep water, and winter winds can make passages rough. The famous breezes, great for regattas, are not always ideal for serene passages on superyachts. Our original charter plan followed Captain Rayner’s favorite itinerary, from St Lucia to Tobago Cay and the Grenadines, but the forecast forced him to reconsider and stick to a lovely stretch of St Lucia’s coast. 

"I think St Lucia attracts your most adventurous type, people who are into diving, hiking, and want to see the more rugged sort of Caribbean."

While other Caribbean islands including St Barths have carved a reputation as the place to see and be seen—any captain who’s tried to get a slip in Gustavia over the Christmas and New Year period knows this pain—St Lucia is more discreet. But that is part of the island’s charm and probably why it is such a sought-after getaway spot for honeymooners, celebrities and charter guests who are looking for a different experience. “I think St Lucia attracts your most adventurous type,” says Rayner, “people who are into diving, hiking, and want to see the more rugged sort of Caribbean. The same goes for the Tobago Cays and the Grenadines. St Lucia is secluded. You do your own thing on the boat. And it’s just incredible anchorages.”

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_3.jpg

St Lucia is the third largest of the five major Windward Islands and, at 238 square miles, it really is quite small. The longest distance as the crow flies from north to south is 27 miles, and from east to west is 14 miles. A few roads snake around big hills covered with thick jungle. It shares natural and topographical similarities with Martinique, the island 25 miles to the north, but St Lucia is far less developed, particularly when it comes to its infrastructure. Thankfully, it was not affected by hurricane Irma and Maria.

Its topography may be why the fierce Caribs fared better here than on other islands. But it did not prevent St Lucia from getting caught in the tug of war of imperialism, a history embedded in the culture. The official language is English, which Derek Walcott, the late poet, playwright and the island’s Nobel laureate, used masterfully, but a colorful patois is also widely spoken, and French names pepper the map. The island’s beauty and natural volcanic treasures were also said to have attracted to St Lucia the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, Empress Josephine, whose father had an estate here.

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_4.jpg

Alongside its adventure credentials and rich history, wellness is also very much at the heart of tourism here and the island is dotted with resorts and spas offering treatments that incorporate local products. A tempting “sweet surrender” chocolate wrap is on the menu at laidback Ti Kaye Resort & Spa, which clings to the steep hill above Anse Cochon. More treats are on offer at Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, which Lady J often calls home when in St Lucia. One of the Caribbean’s prettiest bays, its water turns from jade to gold as the sun descends at the end of the afternoon, and the humming of motorboats is soon replaced with the sound of tree frogs and music ricocheting across the water from a casual bar named Doolittle’s. The Auriga Spa at Capella offers an enticing honey and nutmeg exfoliation treatment and traditional rub techniques, exclusive to St Lucia and involving bamboo sticks.

I decide to continue my exploration in wellbeing with a tasting of some of St Lucia’s molasses-based rums aged in Bourbon barrels at Capella resort’s rum cave. I have no trouble any evening falling asleep between recently refurbished Lady J’s silky sheets (made from the finest long staple combed 100 per cent Egyptian cotton). Fortunately, it’s only a short walk to the dock from this rum haven. 

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_5.jpg

If you don’t plan on being tucked up in one of five cabins by 10pm, head to the north-west end of the island, which is especially lively at the end of the week. Fish Fry Jump Up Fridays expunge the stresses of the working week with free-flowing Piton beer or spiced rum, served with fried fish or chicken, and music getting louder as the night advances. It is particularly lively in Castries near Rodney Bay, home to the island’s original superyacht marina, now part of the IGY marina network.

"We are treated to lunch at Jade Mountain, overlooking the Pitons. I sip green gazpacho and take in the view."

Our program in St Lucia blends great onshore and onboard experiences. We are treated to lunch at Jade Mountain, Nick Troubetzkoy’s spectacular resort overlooking the Pitons. I sip green gazpacho and take in the view, one of St Lucia’s best. Next stop is the resort’s chocolate lab, where we are shown how to transform chocolate from the nearby Emerald Estate into fudge bars.

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_6.jpg

The chef on Lady J also uses the local chocolate to create sweets, truffles and other sinful treats. He sends these from the galley after each meal, no matter how elaborate and even after a seven course wine pairing menu. My favorite among the delicious offerings this evening is the pairing of a Chilean pinot noir with forest mushroom and truffle risotto. Each meal is a surprise, with fresh edible flowers, purple cotton candy, homemade goat’s cheese with seawater, and sweet or savory profiteroles, which the chef teaches us how to make in his galley.

No amount of jet skiing, swimming or paddleboarding – we did not have time to try any of the rainforest’s numerous zip lines – can offset these delightful culinary adventures. But who cares? The nightly note on my bedside table reads: “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.”

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_7.jpg

Lady J’s incursions into the picturesque bays of St Lucia’s west coast prove equally full of surprises. The crew organizes a barbecue lunch on a small beach near the fishing village of Canaries, a place that is just as colorful as the birds of that name. The long table set on a narrow stretch of sand affords views of strewn driftwood, as if cast by an artist’s hand, against a backdrop of clear waves and deeper blues further out. A couple of villagers engage the crew in some banter for a while, but then leave us to enjoy a feast on their beach.

St-Lucia-Luxury-Yacht-Charter-Lady-J_8.jpg

We cruise just a few miles along the coast, from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay and back, but it feels like we’ve traveled quite far and ventured way off the beaten path. St Lucia is still a pristine experience, a taste of the authentic Caribbean, a delicious blend of nature and laid-back luxury. I’d recommend that you go now while it still is a bit of a secret. Just make sure you don’t tell anyone else. 

An Out Island Odyssey in the Southern Bahamas

The Southern Bahamas are one of the most remote destinations in this area, not often explored, and considered off the beaten track for adventurers worldwide, but also one of the most beautiful cruising grounds for charter yachts. Scattered like pearls in the ocean to the southeast of Nassau, these islands have some of the prettiest and most pristine scenery in the country. For those seeking a little more than a land-based vacation, night-life and shopping, Motoryacht Lady J offers a fabulous, brand-new 7-day itinerary.

Lady J features prominently on ShowBoats International Magazine after hosting a fabulous yacht charter along the Turks & Caicos Islands.

The Islands of the Turks and Caicos are a unique Caribbean destination for luxury yacht charters, and 142’ Palmer Johnson M/Y Lady J recently hosted friends from ShowBoats International Magazine who discovered the aquamarine waters of the area while being pampered by the professional crew. We invite you to read the article below and download the full 5-page PDF (complete with photos, maps, and extra details) to learn more about this magical corner of the Caribbean and the most delightful way of exploring this tropical spot, your own Lady J luxury yacht charter.

Published courtesy of ShowBoats International  |  By Danielle Aragon Cabrera

 

To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of travel is meeting expats—people who took everything they cherished in their lives and moved to a vacation destination or to the middle of nowhere. Maybe they wanted to get away from a too-hectic life. Maybe they always had itchy feet as nomads meant to absorb as much of the world as possible. I’ve always been somewhat jealous of these types. But that is also the nature of the yachting lifestyle, isn’t it? Having the ability to move from one destination to another by simply picking a point on a map and saying, “I want to go there.” The Turks and Caicos is such a destination. Many people you meet are not from there and those who are typically only are second or third generation. Aside from long-time Turks islanders, many residents first came to this British Overseas Territory on vacation and vowed to move here. Who could blame them? There’s nearly 350 days of sunshine and with miles of uninhabited beachfront property, your neighbor could be anywhere from mere feet away to miles down the beach. 

 
LadyJ-Blog-IMG-turks-&-caicos-2.png

Now, Providenciales, or Provo as it is affectionately nicknamed, the territory’s most developed island and largest town, is not what you would call a bustling city or business center—everything here caters to the tourist. You can move from hotel to hotel, availing yourself of each one’s facilities. You’re staying aboard your yacht in Blue Haven but want to use the spa at Amanyara? No problem. Heard that the breakfast at The Beach House was first rate? Well, then by all means, it can be arranged for tomorrow morning with no fuss. The stretch of beach at Grace Bay has been voted time and time again as the world’s best and you can have beach chairs and lunch set up at The Alexandra Resort on that famous beach tomorrow. Nowhere have I seen so many hotels working together like a network, all willing to share in the wealth of and cater to the visitor.

Located 575 miles from Miami, Florida, south of The Bahamas chain and north of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos has traditionally been a stopping point for refueling and provisioning rather than a large-yacht destination. IGY Marinas looks to change that. The international group manages the marina part of the newly renovated Blue Haven Resort and Marina, the former Nikki Beach resort on Provo’s northwestern tip. Catering to yachts up to 220 feet, the marina began welcoming yachts in summer 2013 before the grand opening in December. We spent a night here, sampling the marina’s and island’s many amenities before boarding the 142-foot Palmer Johnson Lady J, our host for the next three days.

While the aquamarine waters of the Turks and Caicos beckoned the next day, so did the island’s delights. We began by taking a conchcracking lesson at Da Conch Shack and then sampled some of the ubiquitous conch ceviche, which was lemony and superb, some of the best and freshest I’ve had. We then moved on to afternoon drinks at the Grace Bay Club, one of the island’s adults-only resorts. Grace Bay Club has everything from a beachfront pop-up restaurant and bar to the Caribbean’s longest bar: 90 feet long with an infinity edge that stretches it even farther into the horizon.

On land, there aren’t many attractions beyond hotel amenities, but there are biking trails, some shopping in Grace Bay and high-end restaurants. Also, bird watching is given high marks. Watching flamingos frolicking in their natural habitat at the aptly named Flamingo Lake—also popular with anglers for bonefishing—enthralled me. The best sighting opportunities, however, are on North, Middle and East Caicos, where you can see plenty of flamingos in the lagoons, salt ponds and mangrove wetlands, along with more than 170 bird species.

An afternoon helicopter flight over Provo revealed abundant undeveloped land between the many resorts that dot the islands and beachfront properties belonging to celebrities like Donna Karan, Bruce Willis, Oprah Winfrey and Keith Richards. They find here a sanctuary-like atmosphere that’s conveniently close to the States.

We crisscrossed over miles of empty beaches, secluded bays and waters so blue they looked like someone had dropped food coloring in them. The barrier reef that surrounds the islands, the world’s third largest barrier reef, creates a mirror-flat sea. We caught sight of a couple of kitesurfers taking advantage of the area’s trade winds and shallow beaches ideally suited to the sport.

We returned to Blue Haven Marina to board Lady J, eagerly anticipating our own sojourn and ready to get out on the water. Captain Stephen Bay leads the seasoned crew aboard Lady J. They are all watersports enthusiasts and were ready to show us the best of anchorages for a week of activities.

After a short cruise to the Northwest Point anchorage, we tendered to land for lunch and a spa treatment at the Amanyara resort. The resort sits inside two protected areas comprising 5,000 acres, the Northwest Point Marine Natural Park and Pond Nature Reserve, and is one of the most serene places I have ever visited. Wedged into natural surroundings, Amanyara feels more like Thailand or Bali than the British West Indies, although continuing that Robinson Crusoe-lost-in-paradise feel.

We returned aboard for an afternoon of watersports, swimming and snorkeling off of Amanyara where, just beyond the barrier reef, a 6,888-foot drop along the ocean floor forms an ideal wall for diving.

The next two days went by in a flash. While some of the ladies partook of another spa experience, this time at the Regent Palms Turks & Caicos, others enjoyed an afternoon of sportfishing, which is superb in this area. South Caicos is a renowned spot for lobster and conch. Captain Bay and crew are avid fishermen and returned from a short jaunt with no less than five three-footers in hand. Their appetites whetted, they planned for an afternoon of bonefishing upon their return to Blue Haven Marina.

One afternoon, the crew took us all aboard Lady J’s 32-foot Intrepid for a beach picnic on Fort George Cay. Uninhabited and a protected national park, this tiny cay was once a fortified island that protected the waters from pirates. Snorkelers easily can spot 19th century cannons lying underwater among swirling shades of turquoise and natural sandbars appearing at low tide.

As Lady J made her way south to the more typical charter destination of the British Virgin Islands, Captain Bay vowed to return at the end of the charter season. The Turks and Caicos had proven to be a worthy spot, a little slice of heaven away from the Caribbean’s crowded docks. I promised to come back as well. Who knows, maybe you’ll find me here five years from now, a true expat, having left the rat race and living the dream.