Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach, California, has one of the largest recreational boating harbors on the West Coast. Joseph Tatchell noted in his nominating letter: “Newport Beach, California, is an elegant city with much to see around the harbor, from the mansions on the bayfront, to the seals on the docks.” The city hosts a Christmas Boat Parade that dates back to 1908, and the annual Newport to Ensenada Race is now in its 64th year.
Punta Gorda, Florida
Punta Gorda took a beating from Hurricane Charley in 2004 but has rebounded, thanks to a dedicated and passionate boating community. There are plenty of facilities for mariners, including a 2.4- mile harbor walk that leads to Fisherman’s Village — a complex that houses 30 shops, five restaurants and a topnotch marina. More than that, though, Punta Gorda has esprit de corps! The folks who live here love it.
Newport, Rhode Island
Everybody knows about the America’s Cup history, world class regattas and the clam chowder at the Black Pearl. But insider’s know there’s a lot more to Newport. Only here can you sail aboard a classic America’s Cup 12-meter, watch the bay action from Castle Hill and hang with the best crews in the world at Café Zelda. As Bob Nickerson so concisely put it “Newport, Rhode Island. Without a doubt.”
North Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI
OK, we know that a body of water really doesn’t qualify as a town. Yet we had enough folks writing in that we decided to show some flexibility and include the North Sound of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. Steady trade winds create wonderful opportunities for kitesurfing, windsurfing and dinghy sailing. The completely renovated Bitter End Yacht Club offers slips and numerous moorings in front of its boater-friendly resort. Just to the north is Saba Rock, which includes a restaurant, marina and hotel run by an incredibly attentive staff. Around the corner from the Bitter End Yacht Club is the Biras Creek Resort, an upscale resort and restaurant perfectly camouflaged into its lush 140-acre surroundings. Moorings are available for transients, but the dock is reserved for guests only. The resort’s management does an admirable job of balancing the need to maintain the privacy of its guests — the honeymooners from Mayfair set — with access for visiting yachtsmen. Dinner is always superb, as is the view from the terrace over the Caribbean. Reservations and proper dress are required. If your spouse is on the verge of leaving you after a few weeks of cruising, a night at Biras Creek will be the perfect elixir. If not, it probably wasn’t meant to be anyway.
The Bitter End Yacht Club? Saba Rock? Biras Creek? Deciding among these places could be a whole new contest.
San Diego, California
San Diego hosted the 1988, ’92 and ’95 America’s Cup, so its salty bonafides are covered. It also has the third largest naval fleet in the world. In fact, the U.S. Navy is the city’s largest employer. A major port and shipbuilding center, San Diego is also a great jumping off point for yachts cruising south to Baja and Latin America. And if you’re into watersports, the surf and breezes here are world famous.