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November 9th 2017. By Kim Kavin.

The Great Caribbean Comeback

Following a destructive hurricane season this past autumn, the islands of the Caribbean are ready for a yacht charter comeback.

The names Irma, Jose and Maria shall forever live in infamy after the beatings that the northern Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands endured this past autumn. The size, intensity and back-to-back frequency of the hurricanes made 2017’s season one of the most destructive on record for some of the islands where yachtsmen and charter clients regularly cruise.

With the end of the hurricane season coming November 30 and the start of the winter cruising season in early December, all of the islands are now engaged in “The Great Caribbean Comeback.” From charter companies rebuilding their fleets to marinas laying new docks and waterfront restaurants putting up new walls and roofs, everybody on the islands is working overtime to welcome the boaters back.

St. John is a part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which means your cell phone will work without additional plans and you don’t need to check into the country when chartering from St. Thomas. Most of St. John is a national park with excellent anchorages and an abundance of inexpensive ($20) moorings. Maho Bay on the northern side is fringed by a white sand beach that extends 60’ out into turquoise water, where it joins a reef. Curious turtles surface all around and dozens of stingrays glide just below the surface. Rent a car for a four-hour a whirlwind tour of the island including a stop at Skinny Legs, a hole-in-the wall cruiser bar that can’t be missed if you’re stocking up on T-shirts. Visit the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins to catch perhaps the best view in the islands as well as some local history.

Following a very destructive hurricane season in the blue waters of the Caribbean, it’s finally time for a yacht charter rebirth in and around the area.

CYBA International, one of the world’s leading professional organizations of charter yacht brokers, says that it expects 80 percent of the private, crewed-yacht fleet to be fully operational by the season’s start—and is reminding charter clients that the islands themselves are just as gorgeous as ever.

“Our hearts go out to the people of the Caribbean that were lashed by Irma and Maria last month,” Trish Cronan, CYBA president and president of Ocean Getaways Yacht Charters, stated in a press release. “The news footage highlights the devastation, yet it does not paint the entire picture. The islands still shimmer with exquisite natural beauty—even Mother Nature cannot strip them of that.”

Organizers of the BVI Spring Regatta in the British Virgin Islands are equally determined, if not defiant, in the face of the wreckage.

“Let it be known the British Virgin Islands will be open for business,” the organizers stated in a press release. “Please don’t put off your plans. It is intended that the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival, located at Nanny Cay Marina, will run from 26th March to 1st of April 2018. It might not be in exactly the same format, but the organizers are focused on continuing with their plans.”

Organizers of the RORC Caribbean 600 which starts at Antigua, put out a similar announcement.

“It’s business as usual in Antigua and in many islands in the region, and even those that were badly damaged are working hard so we can all ensure that the Caribbean sailing season will carry on as normal,” Kathy Lammers, head of the Caribbean Sailing Association, stated in the press release. “We look forward to welcoming sailors from all over the world as usual this season.”

Numerous large-yacht owners have also announced their commitment to support the islands this year, more than ever. Those open for crewed charter bookings now include the 108-foot Alloy Seaquell, with Ocean Independence; the 142-foot Palmer Johnson; Lady J as well as the 116-foot Holland JachtbouwWhisper with Churchill Yacht Partners; the 164-foot Proteksan-TurquoiseOdessa with Edmiston; and the 137-foot Kingship Ocean’s Seven with Yachting Partners International.

Management companies are adding more yachts to the list every day—including hard-hit, Tortola-based CharterPortBVI, which put out its latest announcement with a resilient flair.

“Like a phoenix arising, after losing the Lagoon 56 cat Jan’s Feline in Irma’s fury, Capt. Kirk Robinson returns with a new addition to the BVI fleet,” the company stated in a press release.

Jan’s FeLion, a Lagoon 64, is now taking bookings for Virgin Islands yacht charter. She’s open for Christmas and New Year’s.

Give a call today, and be part of The Great Caribbean Comeback this winter.

Kim Kavin

Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of 10 books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine www.CharterWave.com.