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2017 Caribbean Crewed Charter Yacht Shows: A Preview

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Charter Yacht Show, BVI. Photo: Epic Yacht Charters
Charter Yacht Show, BVI. Photo: Epic Yacht Charters

Seeing and being seen is what the Caribbean’s charter yacht shows are all about. The seeing comes by the brokers, the industry’s sales force, who tour the yachts and interview the crews. The being seen is on the part of the yachts and crews, ready to show their best in anticipation of being regularly booked by the brokers. Ultimately, it’s the charter guests who benefit. There’s nothing better than when a broker’s match-making skills between guest and yacht make for the charter vacation of a lifetime. Here’s what’s new this year at the region’s three fall shows:

Pan band Shooting Stars keeping it Caribbean at the BVI Charter Yacht Show. Photo: Epic Yacht Charters
Pan band Shooting Stars keeping it Caribbean at the BVI Charter Yacht Show. Photo: Epic Yacht Charters

November 7th-10th 2017
Nanny Cay Resort & Marina
Seventy-five yachts, mostly multihulls including a growing number of power cats up to a 77-footer, as well as monohulls and power yachts to a smaller extent, will be visited by some 130 brokers from the Caribbean, U.S.A., Canada, U.K. and Argentina.

“Our show features luxury crewed charter yachts more so than mega-yachts,” says Janet Oliver, executive director of the Charter Yacht Society (CYS) of the BVI. “We tend to get the yachts which are new to the industry; those making their debut and in many cases, fresh from the factory.”

Last year, the CYS introduced its Dining on Deck. This event enables brokers to dine aboard the yachts and really meet the crews without having time constraints. New this year, for those not participating, organizers have planned a Quiz Night with quizmaster, Dick Schoonover, manager of the crewed yacht clearinghouse, CharterPort BVI, in Tortola. There will be beer, pizza and friendly competition.

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Also new, on November 7th, there will be a new broker orientation hosted by CYBA (Caribbean Yacht Brokers Association) and the CYS. This will provide an overview of what to expect at the show, a refresh of information from CYBA’s online broker course and tips on how to maximize the four-day experience. Newcomers will have the opportunity to shadow a seasoned broker for the first half day of the show.

Statistics show that chartering is a $250 million industry in the BVI, according to Oliver. Crewed yachts bring in approximately $52 million.

Yacht Haven Grande – home of the USVI Charter Yacht Show. Photo courtesy of Yacht Haven Grand
Yacht Haven Grande – home of the USVI Charter Yacht Show. Photo courtesy of Yacht Haven Grand

November 11th-14th 2017
Yacht Haven Grande | St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
The new non-profit organization, the VI Professional Charter Association (VIPCA), is operating the show this year. Fifty to 75 yachts are expected, representing ‘something for everyone’ in a fleet of sail and power, multi and monohulls. An equal number of yacht brokers from the U.S.A., Canada and Europe are registered to attend.

“A Marine Expo takes place on the first evening and features a wide range of vendors from marine to provisioning businesses. The USVI’s craft distillers will also be there to offer tastings of rum, vodka and gin,” says Oriel Blake, VIPCA’s executive director.

Contests include the long-standing culinary competition and new ‘Most Eco-Yacht’ competition run by Blue Flag Global, with prizes by Cardow Jewelers.

New too will be the Schools’ Open Day on the show’s final day. Sixty high school students will tour the docks to meet the crew and learn about career opportunities in the industry via a special marine seminar with several inspirational speakers. The aim is to encourage Virgin Islands youth to join the marine industry, says Blake, as well as to provide them with industry development opportunities.

Seven percent of employment in the USVI is ocean industries, three times the U.S. national average of ocean and Great Lakes bordering states, according to an August 2016-published, July 2017-updated NOAA (National Office of Atmosphere Administration) report.

Antigua Show shows the flags
Antigua Show shows the flags

December 4th-10th 2017
Nelson’s Dockyard Marina, Falmouth Harbour Marina
& Antigua Yacht Club Marina | Antigua & Barbuda
Over 300 brokers, from as far away as Bali and New Zealand, will tour yachts on the docks at Antigua’s three south-island marinas.

“Our niche is highlighting the large power and sailing yachts that are here in the Caribbean for the 2017-2018 season,” says Sarah Sebastian, co-manager of the Antigua Charter Yacht Show with Afsaneh Franklin, and owner of Nicholson Yacht Charters & Services. “Many of these yachts summer in the Mediterranean and winter with us. Burger, Fraser, Camper & Nicholsons and Northrop & Johnson all bring substantial fleets.”

Two new events bookend the start and finish of this year’s show. One is the ‘Best of Antigua & Barbuda’ on December 4th, which highlights high-end resorts, restaurants, spas, excursions, provisioners and more, that guests can enjoy at the beginning or end of a charter. This takes place from 1 to 8pm, at Nelson’s Dockyard. There will be food, drink and music. The second new event is the Captain’s Sunset Soiree, on December 9th, from 6:30-8:30pm at the newly restored and resplendent Clarence House in the Dockyard.

Popular events continue, such as the Concours de Chef Culinary Competition. This year’s theme will be ‘A Caribbean Brunch’, owing to the popularity of brunch served on the first or last day of charters.

“The yachts are a significant part of the economy here. Consider that the docks are nearly empty three weeks before and then completely filled for the show. The show really kick starts our season,” says Sebastian.


Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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