Life After Irma
Greetings from Horizon Yacht Charters and the beautiful British Virgin Islands! As you may already know, Hurricanes Irma and Maria dealt the charter industry in the BVIs a substantial blow in September 2017. But through the tenacity of the residents and businesses, they have banded together and rebuilt the islands into the beautiful destination that many call a “sailor’s paradise.”
One of our three bases is located in Nanny Cay on the island of Tortola in the BVI and was severely impacted by Irma. Despite limited communications, power, and water, we reopened our offices immediately and began the rebuilding process. First, we secured the well-being of all employees, family, and friends on the island and next, we began the painstaking process of inspecting each yacht at the base and communicating to owners and charter guests.
The process of rebuilding the fleet was the next step in our recovery. We had on order 6 new yachts to add to our BVI fleet including with a Saba 50 catamaran, a Bavaria Cruiser 46, two Bavaria Cruiser 41s, a Bavaria Cruiser 37, and two Helia 44 catamarans. By October 2017, we were repairing 18 yachts for charter service, and with more brand-new yachts joining us in the near future, we will have an expected fleet for Fall 2018 of 25-30 yachts.
In November of 2017, Horizon Yacht Charters welcomed the arrival of its first new yacht—a beautiful, brand new Saba 50, with 4 more that followed in the next week. Bavaria Cruiser 37 ‘New Beginnings’, 2 Bavaria Cruiser 41’s – 2 Cabin ‘Patches’ and 3 cabin ‘Island Karma’
Bavaria Cruiser 46 ‘Blue Parrot’. This officially re-opened our base at Nanny Cay Marina full-time and charters resumed by Christmas of 2017. We are fully operational in our BVI base, and all services are back to normal. Our bases in St Vincent and Grenada were completely unaffected by the hurricane season and are busier than ever as some of our BVI clients relocated their charters further south.
Helping Hands and Hearts
Just days after the storms hit, Sylvia Driver, one of the Directors of Horizon Yacht Charters, created an online fundraiser to help our staff. With donations far and wide, she helped to raise almost $50,000 to purchase generators and other basic necessities.
The islands are full of big-hearted folks, and Horizon Yacht Charters is proud to say that many of our charter guests have some of the largest. At the end of November, a container packed full of household items for our staff was on its way to Tortola thanks to Patrick Festing-Smith, a 30-year visitor to the BVI and owner of NANUK in our fleet. Shocked by the devastation caused by Irma, Patrick decided to “stop looking at the damage and try and help these poor people. Some of whom I have known for decades and have now lost everything.”
Patrick was able to line up Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, who has sailed on NANUK three times in the BVI; music producer and performer Danny Michel, who has also sailed with Patrick; Ron MacLean, longtime TV host of Hockey Night-In Canada; and Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo. They all joined forces to put on a wonderful event focused on raising funds for the people of the BVI.
With Patrick’s help and the generosity of strangers, the event raised a total of $55,000. Those funds went to the purchase of much-needed items for the Horizon staff.
BVI After the Storm
It’s lovely to see how hopeful and positive everyone is for the future; people take the time to smile, chat and generally a caring spirit is very prevalent in all walks of life. Horizon Yacht Charters BVI has been in business in these islands since 1998, and we feel that this season is like stepping back in time. If you chartered in the BVI two decades ago, you may remember the quiet anchorages, so we know you are going to love the vintage BVI. The mooring balls are still there but gone is the race to get to them at the end of the day.
The hills are lush and green again, with many beaches on the outer islands as beautiful as ever. There has been a lot of work done to ensure that our environment returns to its pristine state, and the beaches and waters are safe for everyone to enjoy. The famous Wreck of the Rhone commemorated its 150th Anniversary recently, and divers were surprised and pleased to see how little it was affected by the storms.
One by one the restaurants and bars reopened their doors, first to feed the many volunteers and residents who worked day and night to rebuild the island, and then to feed the much-welcomed visitors. As soon as shipments started to arrive, supermarkets, bars and restaurants began to come alive. Visitors should be happy to know that flights into each of Beef Island, Tortola (EIS) and St Thomas (STT), as well as the ferries, are all running well.
Nanny Cay Marina Update
As Horizon Yacht Charters is based out of Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, we have kept a close eye on the progress being made. As of the end of March 2018, 60 new docks in the outer marina are close to completion. They are finalizing the addition of water and electricity to these docks and once completed, they will have 100 docks in the outer marina with 60 available for short and long-term dockage.
Their goal is to have the inner marina fully operational by November, with phased roll out of docks and services between now and then.
Quote from a recent charter January 11, 2018
Horizon Yacht Charters prides itself on our returning charter guests. One such guest, John d’Arbeloff, wrote us about his recent charter:
“I wanted to share our experience of sailing the BVI from Dec 30th to the 8th of Jan. Having been sailing in the BVI for over 20 years, I must admit I was a bit apprehensive as to what the condition of the islands were in after the 2 big hurricanes and what would peoples’ spirits be like when we arrived.
One word – FANTASTIC!!!! Incredible weather, beautiful turquoise blue crystal-clear waters, mind-blowing sunsets and a warmth among the community like I have never witnessed before. There is something magical about these islands, something that draws warmth and love. Norman’s (Pirates Bight) rocked on New Year’s Eve! Nanny Cay Beach Bar is crazy fun as usual, the Baths are perfect and not very crowded! Cow Wreck Beach and Belles beach bar on Anegada is simply gorgeous as always. Soggy Dollar and Foxy’s are back and all the fun is still there, and the diving never ceases to amaze me. Yes, there is some rebuilding going on and some areas are better than others, but the green hills are back, the wind blows steady and the spirit is very much alive. My advice, come back to the BVI – the BVI is VERY much alive!”
Come Visit the BVI’s
Charter businesses are operating, the beaches, bars and restaurants are thriving, tradewinds are constant and the water is as beautiful as ever. We invite you to consider a charter with Horizon Yacht Charters in the BVI for your next holiday!