The VOY­AGE to RE­COV­ERY

Cruising World - - Under Ay - —Jen­nifer Brett

On Septem­ber 6, 2017, Hur­ri­cane Irma made a di­rect hit on the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, and nearly all of the charter fleets there suf­fered heavy losses. For Voy­age Char­ters (voy­agechar­ters.com), whose base is in Soper’s Hole on the West End of Tor­tola, the de­struc­tion was enor­mous. “We were most for­tu­nate that none of our BVI base team suf­fered phys­i­cal in­jury,” says David Beavis, Voy­age’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. “How­ever, all 29 ves­sels in our fleet were dam­aged. Thank­fully, we had no charter guests on is­land at the time, as we al­ways sched­ule the month of Septem­ber for an­nual main­te­nance.”

Re­cov­ery from a storm of this mag­ni­tude is a long, tough road for any busi­ness any­where, but when your busi­ness hap­pens to in­volve sail­boats and also be lo­cated on an is­land in the Caribbean, there are plenty of lo­gis­ti­cal prob­lems adding to the chal­lenge. “The home of our Voy­age Char­ters BVI direc­tors, Robin and Jo-ann Down­ing, sur­vived al­most un­scathed and, for many weeks, be­came a place of refuge for most of the on-is­land team,” Beavis says. “Once the ba­sic needs of shel­ter, food and com­mu­ni­ca­tion were se­cured, at­ten­tion moved to as­sess­ment of dam­age to our ves­sels and fa­cil­i­ties. With the as­sis­tance of a team of tech­ni­cians brought in from the Voy­age yard in South Africa, the re­pairable ves­sels are be­ing re­fit­ted to fac­tory stan­dards of fin­ish. We are also grate­ful for pri­vately owned Voy­age cats that have been made avail­able to us in the short term.

“By Christ­mas of 2017, we had three Voy­age ves­sels back in op­er­a­tion. That num­ber is now up to 11, and by the end of 2018, we will have 17 ves­sels in ser­vice. We have re­ceived in­cred­i­ble sup­port from our charter clients, who have shown no hes­i­ta­tion in re­turn­ing to the BVI as soon as ves­sels were avail­able. While not un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the vol­ume of work to do through­out the BVI, we are ex­tremely op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture for Voy­age Char­ters and tourism in gen­eral,” Beavis con­tin­ues.

Out of the wreck­age left by hur­ri­canes Irma and Maria emerge op­por­tu­ni­ties to come back bet­ter than be­fore. By the end of 2019, Voy­age Char­ters plans to have a fleet of pri­mar­ily new Voy­age cats, in­clud­ing the Voy­age 575 (cur­rently in de­vel­op­ment at Voy­age Yachts) and the com­pany’s first hy­brid charter ves­sel, the Voy­age 480 Elec­tric. This ves­sel will fea­ture the Ocean­volt SEA sys­tem, which of­fers quiet and clean op­er­a­tion.

Think­ing of head­ing to the BVI on a charter va­ca­tion? Just do it! “The nat­u­ral beauty of the is­lands is as cap­ti­vat­ing as ever, and the wel­come of its res­i­dents par­tic­u­larly heart­felt,” says Beavis. “Voy­age Char­ters looks for­ward to many more years of ac­tiv­ity from our West End home!”

Guests board three of Voy­age Char­ters’ cata­ma­rans at the Har­bour Mar­ket docks in Soper’s Hole, Tor­tola.

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