Every year Nicholson Yachts shrugs off the bitter New England chill and heads to Antigua for the annual charter yacht show. This is the show’s 57th year, and Nicholson president Karen Kelly Shea has a distinguished and long relationship with it and the extended Nicholson family, who launched the concept of crewed yacht charter decades ago.
Karen, her fleet, and her staff are an enduring presence at the event. Each year she shares with friends and colleagues a little bit more about Antigua, its people, its rich naval history, and yes, about the yachts and owners and crew who have made it the great international yachting and chartering hub that it is.
That’s why we return to Antigua, year after year. So far this year, our discovery is Fort Berkeley and the steep, one-mile Middle Ground Trail that leads from Nelson’s Dockyard to Pigeon Beach.
What a stupendous vantage point! The Brits planted 29 cannons at Fort Berkeley, on the western entrance to English Harbour. The British fleet was headquartered at the Dockyard in English Harbour during the 1700′s and 1800′s and one can’t imagine it ever being caught off guard by a military rival with the existence of Fort Berkeley, which was built in three stages between 1704 and 1745.
Karen knows this area like the back of her hand, and over the years explored the Fort grounds when they were far rougher. Back then, the story goes, Desmond Nicholson would lay in marker stones by hand to prevent hikers from falling. He always carried a brush and can of paint to keep the white blazes marking the trail fresh and visible.
Today, with one challenging part that you climb with the aid of a sturdy rope, the trail, a part of the country’s national park grounds and maintained by the Royal Naval Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda, is as scenic and accessible as ever.
Need proof? Here it is!