Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Sailing with Charlie: Creative Charter Marketing

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There’s been a lot going on in the world recently – hurricanes in the Caribbean, a virus pandemic, floods, forest fires, a plague of locusts, wars, genocide and starvation – the list goes on; it’s biblical. It’s almost like someone is waving a magic wand over the planet saying, ‘You’ve been having it too easy, well, here are some more challenges.’

In the Caribbean we rely on rich people – for villa and yachting holidays and for setting up offshore business accounts to mitigate high taxes. Now these two ‘pillars’ are looking a bit wobbly, not only will costs go up but the inconvenience of all the new Covid security requirements will not be encouraging for would be visitors. So there needs to be even more enticements; waving palms, trade wind breezes, turquoise water and spectacular sunsets may not be enough. 

VISAR – Preparation Tips for Hurricane Season

Charlie has an idea for tourist agencies to convince vacationers that now is the time to have the time of your life. ‘We must run videos, descriptive videos for YouTube, web sites and TV, suggests Charlie, ‘of how sailing used to be compared to the luxury of sailing today.

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‘Here’s how: Start with the first yachts made available by the early charter companies in the late 1960s. Create simulations of sailing vacations from bygone days and compare them with the latest 2020 luxury catamaran vacations.’ 

1960s: Highlight hoisting sails at the mast and then reefing in a blow, spray flying and drenched crew. Show a terrified crew hoisting hank-on sails and dropping them in a storm and then changing to a storm sail with the boat pitching and rolling. Another crew member being sick over the side. 

Then the comparison: Everything done from protected helm station; a smiling and dry helmsman pushing buttons with sails furling in, everything working like clockwork; Catamaran sailing fast on an even keel. Mozart playing in the background.

1960s: Arriving at the anchorage and having to fake out the chain and line on deck. Then heaving the lead to ascertain the depth. Finally dropping the anchor hand over hand until sufficient rode is deployed. Setting the anchor by backing down – then calamity, the dinghy painter becomes caught in the prop and the engine clunks to a stop. Angry words heard between the captain and crew. Anchor drags … more stress. 

Recovering a Stolen Yacht in the Amazon

Present day comparison: Pretty uniformed crew on the foredeck pressing a button and watching the anchor descending. Thumbs up from foredeck to captain who smoothly sets the anchor. Snubber line or bridle attached, cool as a cucumber. The dinghy is on a hydraulic platform at the stern, no problems. Final shot of all the guests happily snorkeling. 

1960s: Preparing lunch on board. The alcohol stove is prepped for lighting. Huge flames can be seen coming from an alcohol stove in the cramped galley. Black smoke billows over the guests. The fire extinguisher is activated. A guest complains that the beer isn’t cold enough right in the middle of all the confusion. Finally burnt sausages and beans are handed up to the cockpit. Nobody has thought to set the table.

Present day comparison: Beautifully set table with flowers. Wine glasses in place. A mixed salad with home-made vinaigrette arrives at the table followed by a fresh salmon quiche followed by a fresh fruit bowl with pineapple and mangoes. Oohs and aahs emanating from the guests. Pretty uniformed hostess pours wine and finally presents a plate of Belgium chocolates.   

1960s: Guests arrive on deck dressed up to the nines ready to go ashore for dinner. The dinghy is a hard fiberglass design. First lady to board steps on the gunwale and capsizes the unstable craft. Screams heard from all on board; lady dragged from the water… Finally, bedraggled guest returns and boards dinghy successfully. Then, the Seagull outboard won’t start and one lady gets whipped with the starter cord. Irate captain rows guests ashore swearing under his breath.   

Present day: Smart centre-console inflatable dinghy with quiet, four-stroke engine ready alongside at the aft sugar scoop. Guests board happily and glide to the dinghy dock where a pretty, uniformed hostess helps them to disembark. Caribbean reggae playing, ‘Every little ting, gonna be alright.’

Charlie has been given the green light to execute his idea, ‘Now is the time. Luxury sailing in paradise. Today is the first day of the rest of your life!’

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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