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Cruising World - - Off Watch -

30 years and had never seen any­thing like Irma and Maria. Conch lost about 40 boats to the hur­ri­canes, and sev­eral more had dropped their rigs. But they too were slowly re­build­ing, and had sev­eral char­ter book­ings for later that month. Twist had re­cently been cruis­ing in the is­lands and said there was a sil­ver lin­ing to the dark cloud of the storms. “The good news is that if you char­ter now, you’re vir­tu­ally on your own. Ev­ery­thing is pris­tine. I think peo­ple are com­ing back.”

In Road Town’s har­bor, we stopped to chat with Mark San­ders of Tor­tola Marine Man­age­ment, who said the car­nage af­ter the storms was ar­rest­ing. “Your eyes just can’t process it,” he said.

San­ders ex­plained that much of the dam­age in Road Town had been in­curred when a trio of fer­ries broke free of their moor­ings and crashed through the ma­rina. TMM suf­fered a “good hit,” he said, and had lost about 11 boats. Be­cause there were only so many re­sources on Tor­tola, where some of the dam­aged boats were be­ing fixed, oth­ers were be­ing shipped to Flor­ida and South Car­olina for re­pairs. But like so many other com­pa­nies, TMM also had 16 new boats on order, all cata­ma­rans from La­goon and Foun­taine Pa­jot. The hur­ri­canes had cer­tainly been hard on the BVI, but they seemed to be cre­at­ing a wind­fall for al­most all of the French boat­builders.

We didn’t have time to call on ev­ery char­ter op­er­a­tion, of course, but re­ports from the is­lands con­firmed that most op­er­a­tors had weath­ered the storms and were re­group­ing and get­ting back to busi­ness. Dream Yacht Char­ters, for in­stance, had 70 boats in St. Martin and the BVI, and es­ti­mated that 60 per­cent of them were to­tal losses. But they had also pur­chased 20 re­place­ment boats and were back in busi­ness. The docks of the Cata­ma­ran Com­pany, lo­cated on Hodges Creek on Tor­tola’s East End, re­mained rel­a­tively in­tact, as did much of its fleet.

Conch’s Twist has the fi­nal say here, and his words sum up the sen­ti­ment of ev­ery­one in the char­ter busi­ness in the BVI. “There’s one thing ev­ery­one can do to help us re­turn to nor­mal,” he said. “Char­ter a boat and come on down.”

Herb Mc­cormick is CW’S ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor.

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