The British Virgin Islands are home to the world’s largest fleet of charter yachts. Come November 4 to 6, some 65 crewed yachts will be on display to brokers from around the world at the 26th Annual BVI Boat Show, hosted by the Charter Yacht Society (CYS) and held at Village Cay Marina on Tortola.
“We’ll have a plethora of cats (catamarans) again, with an average size in the 55- to 60-foot range,” says the CYS’s Janet Oliver.
Dick Schoonover, who manages the clearinghouse, Charterport BVI, agrees. “New yachts still have two hulls. In fact, we’ll be adding a number of cats, including several Leopard 47s that will be new to the fleet from folks who have left the Moorings fleet. We’ve also added Lumahai, a 2007 Fountaine-Pajot 60 cat, the first Pajot, I believe. The name ‘Lumahai’ is the name of a beach on Kauai, where on-site shooting was done for the film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical ‘South Pacific’.”
Oliver adds, “We also have two power yachts so far, and about 10 monohulls. Nothing exceeding 100 feet.”
The workhorse of the monohulls, says Charterport’s Schoonover, “continues to be the venerable Irwin 68 ketch.”
The broker contingent – the sales force of charter yacht vacations – is expected to his the 100 mark this year, hailing mainly from the U.S. mainland although some come from as far away as Canada, France, and Poland.
In advance of the BVI Boat Show, CharterPort will be hosting the CharterPort ‘Preview’ one day in advance. “After many positive comments that we received after our first CharterPort Spring Charter Yacht Show, the general consensus was that the number of days and number of yachts in the Spring show combined to create a pleasant, relaxed, and unhurried pace that gave brokers and crew the chance to chat in-depth. There are usually around 65 yachts in the Fall show, compared with 25 yachts in the Spring. To that end, CharterPort will welcome brokers for our preview day on November 3rd. Never underestimate the truth of that time-honored catch-phrase, ‘The early-bird catches the yacht!’”
Highlights of the BVI Boat Show include a kick-off Crew Social on November 3, the Expo in the Park marine trade show on November 4 – which this year will also include a Rum Cocktail Contest and Napkin Folding Contest. The Government House Reception, on November 5, is always a favorite of crews and brokers alike. The Farewell Party will be held at Oscar’s, on Frenchman’s Cay. Following the show, brokers will either travel to St. Thomas for the VICL Charteryacht Show or take a day sail to Peter Island for an opportunity to swim, snorkel and sun.
Industry-wise, what’s new is that the territory is awaiting final signature from the United Kingdom’s for the BVI to operate as a Category One Shipping Registry. Last year, the BVI Government launched the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR), which operates under the Chief Minister’s Office. This department streamlines ship registration and survey service for local and foreign boat owners who quality to register their vessels in the territory. It also helps bring boats in line with merchant shipping legislation and enables the registration of larger vessels. Net results of VISR include promoting safety at sea and preventing marine pollution.
VISR was created through a merger of the Shipping Registry Division of the BVI Financial Services Commission and the Marine Unit of the Ministry of Communications and Works. VISR is a branch the Red Ensign Group, which is the United Kingdom’s general registry of British ships and is among the oldest and most prestigious registries in the world.