Sail Away

New Boats & Bases The Caribbean char­ter trade is bullish, says

SAIL - - Contents - Peter Nielsen

De­spite last year’s hur­ri­canes, the Caribbean char­ter fleet is back in busi­ness

There’s no doubt last year’s hur­ri­canes caused a ma­jor up­heaval within the Caribbean char­ter in­dus­try. Nor is there any doubt that it has re­bounded well. The big­gest and most ob­vi­ous ob­sta­cle—af­ter re­build­ing bases and other in­fra­struc­ture—was boat avail­abil­ity. But a year down the road many fleets have al­ready been largely re­built.

And it’s not just the heavy hit­ters, like Sun­sail, the Moor­ings, Dream Yacht Char­ter and Hori­zon Yacht Char­ters—which lost hun­dreds of boats be­tween them—that are re­plen­ish­ing their fleets.

CYOA Yacht Char­ters in French­town, St. Thomas, for in­stance, re­cently took de­liv­ery of 10 new cats and monos, with more in the pipe­line. (In fact, CYOA’s fleet largely sur­vived Irma’s blasts, although the USVI’s in­fra­struc­ture was hard hit.) Mean­while, Sail Caribe, whose Puerto Rico-based boats mirac­u­lously sur­vived Hur­ri­cane Maria, has opened a base in Red Hook.

On Tor­tola, Conch Char­ters’ 50-strong fleet was vir­tu­ally wiped out, but the com­pany is happy to en­ter the win­ter sea­son with 19 boats at the time of writ­ing. Sim­i­larly, Hori­zon saw its en­tire BVI fleet de­stroyed, but had al­ready man­aged to re­place 35 of its boats by the end of Oc­to­ber. Fi­nally, Nav­i­gare Yacht­ing goes into the win­ter sea­son with 29 boats, while the BVI Yacht char­ters fleet is up to over 50 mono­hulls and cata­ma­rans.

With the im­me­di­ate cri­sis over, many com­pa­nies are also now turn­ing their at­ten­tion to new des­ti­na­tions and op­por­tu­ni­ties. Nav­i­gare, for ex­am­ple, has an­nounced a new base in Nar­ra­gansett Bay, Rhode Is­land, to take ad­van­tage of some of New Eng­land’s beau­ti­ful cruis­ing grounds and is also now part­ner­ing with Navy Point Yacht Sales in On­tario, Canada.

Sim­i­larly, Dream Yacht has a new Croa­t­ian lo­ca­tion, in Pula on the Is­trian Penin­sula, close by a na­tional park that typ­i­fies the beauty of this coast­line, along with new bases in Belize and St. Lu­cia. It has also de­vel­oped the first-ever frac­tional pro­gram for char­ter boats.

At Sun­sail, the brand’s new­est base in Palma, Ma­jorca, has been a big hit with Amer­i­can sailors, and the re­cent an­nounce­ment of bythe-cabin char­ters in Sun­sail flotil­las in the BVI and Mediter­ranean has opened up a whole new kind of cus­tomer base.

Fi­nally, the Moor­ings opened a new base in the Ex­u­mas this year, one of the first com­pa­nies to start op­er­a­tions in this part of the Ba­hamas. They also have a new base in An­tigua, which was left un­scathed by the last year’s hur­ri­canes, though sis­ter is­land Bar­buda was not so lucky.

Bot­tom line: the choice of bare­boat and crewed char­ter des­ti­na­tions has never been greater. The ques­tion now, what re­mains to be dis­cov­ered? s

BVI Yacht Char­ters bviy­achtchar­ters.com Conch Char­ters conchchar­ters.com CYOA Yacht Char­ters cyoachar­ters.com Dream Yacht Char­ter dreamy­achtchar­ter.com Hori­zon Yacht Char­ters hori­zony­achtchar­ters.com Nav­i­gare Yacht­ing nav­i­gare-yacht­ing.com Sail Caribe sail­caribe.com Sun­sail sun­sail.com

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