The promotion of Dominica as a must-visit yachting destination is catching on and the man behind the campaign is Hubert Winston. Winston, an avid boater and owner of the Dominica Marine Center, in Roseau, is working hard to promote his native island’s natural charms and ever-growing boater-friendly amenities.
“Being on the water for me and my friends while we were growing up was like today’s generation’s attraction to their iPads or computer games,” says Winston. “I can remember waiting for the cement boat to come alongside our dock and jumping off its stern or bow, some 20 to 40 feet above the waterline. Crazy fun! Then, we would hold our breath and swim under her large beam from side to side. After several hours, sunburned and with homework undone, we would head home for a sure beating. Yet we couldn’t wait until the next cement boat’s arrival a week later. We were always water boys.”
Winston moved to Florida at the age of 18, where he ultimately graduated from the University of Miami with a MBA in Business and Corporate Finance. What led him to head back home and work professionally in the marine industry was a desire to address the lack of marine services on the island.
“I kept seeing too many yachts on the horizon and too few in our ports. A lack of services were the yachts’ cries. I decided to provide all the services yachts and boats in general could ever need. Now Dominica is as competitive as any other Caribbean yachting destination,” says Winston, whose Dominica Marine Center started by providing moorings in Roseau, progressed onto sales and service of name brand engines, generators, batteries and dinghies, and today is an agent for Budget Marine. Winston’s next project is a large scale boat yard, especially since he already has diesel engine experts and fiberglass artists on staff.
Winston’s work to boost Dominica’s yachting sector runs far beyond his business. He is president of the Dominica Marine Association, which was founded to tackle the issue of crime on the water as well as to encourage marine tourism by working with local yacht service providers in small communities such as Mero Beach, Roseau and Portsmouth Bay.
“We have accomplished a lot with smaller groups such as P.A.Y.S. (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services) to almost eradicate crime against yachts. In Roseau, I adopted [hired] Marcus Augustus under the Dominica Marine Center to provide security for the entire Roseau Bay area,” he says.
Winston has represented Dominica at almost all Caribbean boat shows, plus the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Shows. Most recently he attended the 2014 U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, and 2015 Toronto International Boat Show along with other OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) destinations to encourage yachting in the wider region. Dominica has been benefiting tremendously from these initiatives, he says.
What makes Winston most successful is his boyhood love of the water that has followed him into adulthood. He enjoys it all – sailing, power boating and sports fishing, and owns a J/24, SeaRay 370 Express Cruiser, and Carver Santa Cruz. One of his best boating stories happened in 2006, right after he moved back to the island, and accepted an invitation of a friend to sail south for the Bequia Easter Regatta.
“This was my first time sailing such long distance on a slow moving vessel and I arrived to Bequia the following evening feeling tired and drained after puking my guts out along the way. The next morning I woke up to the most amazing sunrise, seabirds on the bow singing and a relaxing Caribbean breeze. This was my first most amazing experience on a vessel and an event etched in memory,” he says.
Next up, Winston is planning yachting programs and events.
“We’ll have our Optimist program start off again this summer in Portsmouth. We hope to kick-off our Christmas Regatta in 2015 and start fishing tournaments in 2016.”