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Charter cancelled in British Virgin Islands

Published on March 23rd, 2022

The 2022 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival on March 30-April 3 has been caught in the crosshairs of a government action that detained 184 boats from three charter yacht companies. Phil Vitale, one of the 28 entrants in the Bareboat division, got some bad news this week:

To say we’re disappointed, and angry just doesn’t seem to cover it.

Early on March 22, I and my five sailing mates got word from the Ed Hamilton Co. (a charter broker based in Maine that I have worked with several times in the past) informing us that, contrary to what the Moorings told them at a press conference the day before, the boat we chartered (three years ago) from Moorings would not be available for us on March 25 when our 10-day adventure was to start.

They said The Moorings would refund the money we’d already paid, but since they had no other boats available, our charter was cancelled.

Our whole fiasco began in 2020, when less than a week before we were to board The Moorings charter for the BVI Spring Regatta, we were notified that the emerging pandemic had forced the race that year to be cancelled and the BVI was closed to international travelers.

Even though it was not their fault, The Moorings took the high road then and offered to honor the charter the next year at no additional fees if we’d not ask for a refund at that time. We agreed, and reluctantly began planning for the 2021 races.

But, a month before that race was to start, they were again cancelled due to a combination of a dramatic reduction in the number of boats registered and the COVID-inspired widespread fear of infection.

Once again The Moorings offered us the opportunity to take the credit for this year’s races, which, again reluctantly, we agreed to do.

Fast forward to this week. With one of our crew already in Puerto Rico for a pre-race side trip and the rest of us packing sea bags for a bought-and-paid-for flight scheduled to lift off at 0600 on March 25, out of the blue the bad news dropped on us.

For a couple of hours, our rep at Ed Hamilton scoured her contacts at the BVI charter companies looking for ANY boat we could use for the race, but at that late hour (and due to the current, COVID-reduced inventory) there were none available.

To say the least, this sucks.

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