A few weeks after majestic cruise ships returned to Charlotte Amalie Harbor, another segment targeting vacationers at sea made its grand entrance as 66 luxury yachts and sailboats occupied the berths at Yacht Haven Grande, starring in the 2017 Charter Yacht Show.
Along with the polished vessels came 66 yacht brokers, owners and crews of captains, cooks and deck hands. Each one of them ready to impress at the event that ran from Friday through Monday.
According to one broker, the show provides an opportunity to look over this year’s offerings in seagoing accommodations. The chief organizer of this year’s show said there was no better way to demonstrate that V.I.’s tourism is open for business.
Because of the damage inflicted on land-based guest quarters, the yachts themselves also served to lodge some yacht show guests, said Oriel Blake.
Blake is executive director of the V.I. Professional Charter Association. The 2017 exhibition was the association’s first attempt at putting the yacht show together, she said.
Several steps went into the staging. Yacht Haven Grande had to complete its mitigation of storm damage. Logistics were needed for coordinating the arrival of participating vessels and crews.
Then there was the hospitality, Blake said, and registration of the guests.
“Looking after charter brokers, their arrangements; the evening events – there was one every night,” she said.
Organizers also made sure each of the four day event’s activities came together as planned.
Walking through the grounds of Yacht Haven Grande on St. Thomas makes it easy to forget that two major hurricanes rolled through Charlotte Amalie Harbor eight and ten weeks ago. Blue skies, puffy clouds and sparkling waters provided a beautiful backdrop for dozens of sail boats and catamarans. Many of them decorated with colorful banners.
Owners, crews and brokers strolled along the berths, chatting on the last day. Chris Patrick, a broker with CKIM Group, Inc., a luxury travel agency specializing in villa, resort and yacht vacations around the world, squeezed in a final meeting with a yacht owner.
It was his job as a yacht broker to know as much as he could about the features, the personality of each crew and the level of service they were likely to provide.
“We come to meet the crews to get to know their background and to match the client with the right boat and the right crew,” Patrick said.
Along the trip to St. Thomas, the broker said he was not sure what he would find in the post Irma and Maria world. Upon arrival at the yacht show, he said, he was pleasantly surprised.
Helping marine professionals make those post hurricane assessments, yacht show organizers held a Marine Charter Conference. Then came the shows’ contests, a culinary competition and a Captain Morgan & Stoli Cocktail Competition.
Turning out show-stopping drink offerings was part of a speakeasy-theme night and yacht hop, giving guests a chance to enjoy the amenities of participating vessels throughout the evening.
Organizers also engaged guests in a community-service component, helping volunteers from My Brother’s Workshop build wooden seating for placement at public schools. MBW trains at risk young men and women in the building trades, including carpentry. The program also trains youth in food service. The St. Thomas non-profit supported the event by having some of its trainees serve as bartenders and servers at the various events, Blake said.
A portion of the proceeds from the yacht show benefit MBW and the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. Among its hurricane recovery support initiatives, CFVI is also assisting the boating community with the recovery of derelict vessels, Blake said.