Typically at this time, megayacht captains, owners, and charter guests are making plans for the winter season. Due to Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria, however, you may question whether to head to the Caribbean as usual. Rumors, erroneous information, and even lack of information are compounding matters. The St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) therefore created a website to serve as a go-to resource. Caribbean Yachting Update 2017 contains verified and otherwise trustworthy details about marinas, restaurants, and more on 16 islands and regions.
The SMMTA has independently verified information on things like airports, package shipments, and bridges. Its members, plus businesses with which they cooperate, are providing additional details and progress reports weekly. In other cases, the Caribbean Yachting Update website contains information from sources that the SMMTA finds reliable. “The website will communicate what is open and available, as well as what services and facilities are reduced or closed,” the organization states. “Requests for status reports have been sent to colleagues on every island.”
Reports are still pending from the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, and Puerto Rico, all of which suffered significant damage. Independently, Kenny Jones, executive vice president of marina operations for IGY Marinas, informs us that “90 percent of the marina is fully serviceable” at American Yacht Harbor in St. Thomas. He adds that at Yacht Haven Grande, also in St. Thomas, all docks should be repaired by December. On a related note, FEMA and other U.S. government agencies have been using Yacht Haven Grande as a command center for Caribbean relief efforts.
On other islands, however, the Caribbean Yachting Update website contains detailed information. For example, in Barths, a number of restaurants and hotels are welcoming guests already. More expect to open in the coming weeks, through the holidays. The Caribbean Yachting Update website categorizes them according to month. In addition, the highly anticipated annual fireworks show on New Year’s Eve is proceeding. And, the organizers of the annual St. Barths Bucket are holding the race in March. In fact, more than 30 sailing superyachts have preliminarily committed to competing. (They’re listed on the Bucket website, too.)
In St. Maarten, where significant damage occurred, a number of businesses are back on their feet. FKG Marine Rigging and Fabrication and BWA Yachting are among those fully operational. Partially operational businesses include Yacht Club Port de Plaisance. The remaining marinas anticipate November and/or December openings.
Equally important, the website indicated which islands and regions received little to no damage. These include the Dominican Republic. Hurricanes Marina and Irma passed over the northern coast but left the southern coast unscathed. Indeed, Marina Casa de Campo, to the south, contacted us directly with a statement. “Marina Casa de Campo is completely intact,” it reads. “None of our facilities have suffered any damage, and operations in the entire complex continue to work at full capacity. We are ready to receive yachts in the 2017/2018 season.”