Sailors return to the Caribbean

Published on January 15th, 2018

What a difference four months make. Last September, the world watched in horror as some of the most beautiful chartering grounds were demolished by two hurricanes. The damage was devastating, but troubled times opened doors for miracles, and helping hands came from all over to aid in the recovery and rebuilding.

The marine industry led much of the effort. Boat builders, marine equipment manufacturers, charter companies, boating publications, and the Annapolis Boat Shows all did their part to spread the word, assist in fundraising, and generally figuring out how to help because we’re all interdependent in this. And it’s nice to see the change take shape.

“The BVIs are now a bit like they were 20 years ago,” says Josie Tucci, vice president of sales and marketing for Sunsail and Moorings. “Instead of full bars, it may be a guy on the beach with a cooler and a barbeque, but the spirit of the place is still there. It’s a bit more rustic and in some ways even more fun.”

As early as October, the two companies were planning to have 180 boats available for charter by Christmas. “Having 130 boats for December 9 (opening day) was a big order,” agreed Leslie Montenegro, head of marketing for Sunsail. “But we have resources to draw on.”

Pulling in boats from the Mediterranean, Belize, and the Abacos couldn’t have been a small feat, especially as Sunsail just announced a new base in Italy, and the Moorings is now operating in the Exumas, Bahamas.

“Our two biggest focal points were clean-up and employee assistance,” adds Tucci. “Cleaning up has a psychological effect and provides a sense of normalcy. We also started an employee relief fund to help our people and their families. We knew the best way to do that was to get charters going, and sure enough, within weeks we had people emailing us saying ‘when are you opening, we’re coming’.” – Spinsheet, full report.

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