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Attracting Sailors Again

Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 01:46 PM

We just spent Christmas and New Years with well over 600 boats here in St. Anne, Martinique. There have never been this many boats anchored here but this year was different because most cruising sailors are avoiding the northern islands this year because of all the hurricane damage.

The BVI’s, USVI, Puerto Rico and Sint Maarten/St. Martin are pretty much ghost towns, according to sailors who passed through on their way further south this season.

It would seem that the BVI’s and USVI would love to get these sailors and their significant monetary expenditures back into their economy ASAP.

But how can that happen when these sailors have discovered how very nice the southern islands are?

In the southern Caribbean grocery stores are plentiful and cheaper than further north, beaches are uncrowded, beach bars and restaurants have great food and the prices are half of what a sailor pays further north and the locals really like the visiting sailors.

There are two major items the BVI’s can do to get these sailors to return and spend money in their country:
1. Declare a moratorium on mooring fees. Moorings cost $30-$35 in the BVI’s while anchoring further south is free. Why not eliminate mooring fees for a year to entice sailors back to the BVI waters?

2. Eliminate the excessive Customs/Immigration fees for one year. This will also attract sailors back to the BVI’s from further south as well as from the USVI.

With the destruction of the charter fleets, it would seem having the plentiful cruising sailors visit the BVI’s again would help the economy recover more quickly than waiting for new charter boats to arrive from the factories.

The BVI’s need to market their islands and waters once again or the significant visiting sailing community from a year ago will remain only a distant memory and nothing more.
Posted By: FRANKIE2

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 02:00 PM

Unfortunately, the opposite is reality. Additional entrance fees and "environmental fees" do not encourage sailors to return to the islands.


KF Quinn
Posted By: 706jim

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 05:43 PM

Convert that $35 mooring ball fee to Canadian dollars and you can see how it adds up to a significant expense for us. The first I heard of mooring ball fees (not that long ago) they were $20, so that's quite an increase.
Posted By: agrimsrud

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 07:26 PM

I don't think it's the fees that's holding anyone back. Compared to the total cost, some mooring fees or a 50 dollar impact fee is minor. If this is what is holding back the charter business then I'm sure the charter companies themselves can run a promotion refunding or allocating some discount to pay for the fees.

What the BVI govt. can do is to make it simpler and more pleasant. They should, IMHO, do this irrespective of the hurricane rebuild. And frankly this doesn't necessarily cost them much if anything.

My guess is that the charter business won't be back in full swing until some time goes by and the early adopters take a boat out and talk about their great/fun trip. What people mostly want to know right now is that their vacation is going to be pleasant, they will find water/fuel and can dump their garbage and can find food/drink, that the beaches are good with no dangerous debris, etc. I don't think it all needs to be perfect - people just need to know what to expect.
Posted By: Sea&SkiPJ

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 09:03 PM

New contributor here, but am planning my third charter vacation in the BVI and have been monitoring for quite some time.

I agree with @agrimsrud, if we can afford the cost of travel to the BVI, charter yachts, water toys, provisioning and dining out, then what's another $250 USD?

My concern is the status and condition of certain anchorages (mooring balls), slips at resorts, restaurants, etc. I think of others are similarly concerned, then getting upbeat reports from other sailors will help to reinvigorate travel there.

BTW, anyone know anything about the Willie T?
Posted By: tradewinds

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 09:47 PM

The Willy T is laying onshore on Norman Island. It's expected to be replaced with a new boat.
Posted By: agrimsrud

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 10:11 PM

Originally Posted by Sea&SkiPJ
I think of others are similarly concerned, then getting upbeat reports from other sailors will help to reinvigorate travel there.


I think the challenge is going to be how to get the word out. As I participate in this forum it appears to be that traffic/comments/interest has drastically diminished. How will the people that dropped off get any news that invites them back and rebuilds interest? Not enough that there are positive comments - somehow those comments need to arrive in the view of future and possible charter customers. Social media will likely be helpful but I'm afraid it's a slow slog.
Posted By: sweetsailing64

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/03/2018 10:32 PM

We are chartering in early Feb. I am happy to report back on conditions,etc. Let me know what information would be valuable. What do the inquiring minds want to know?
Posted By: d_fish

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/04/2018 05:01 AM

The OP is talking about cruising sailors versus chartering sailors. Typically the two have very different budgets.

Thinking about the OP there are very good points brought out. Cruisers could be back in the BVIs in large numbers before charterers due to the limited number of charter boats available in the BVIs. Something should be done to entice them back.
Posted By: Winterstale

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/04/2018 01:22 PM

My June charter contract reflects the $6/day cruising tax - not sure if it is realistic or not, but that might be something to omit for the next year?
Posted By: d_fish

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/04/2018 07:46 PM

And that $6/day cruising tax is for charter boats being chartered within the BVI. If you bring a charter in from USVI I believe the tax jumps up significantly but I cannot recall how much pp per day.

If not chartering but cruising, I have no idea what the cruising tax is. Would be interesting to find out. If it is too high, it will scare off long term cruisers as it will become too expensive for them to cruise and stay in the BVI waters.
Posted By: Eriesailor

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/05/2018 10:30 PM

It is $6 per person/day if it is a BVI flagged boat, for non BVI flagged boats it is $16 per person per day. In December I chartered out of St. Thomas on a US flagged boat and spent 5 nights in the BVI. Upon entering we paid $1,100 to customs and immigration - that is a significant number for 5 nights! Now think of a cruiser with a limited budget that wanted to spent two or three weeks in the BVI before moving on. The new higher fee really discourages sticking around the BVI for a longer period of time and I suspect many of the cruisers will simply pass thru for a day or two and head south rather than sticking around. Another thing that could happen is that the USVI gets their act together and starts installing mooring balls at many of their beautiful anchorages. Most of these anchorages are every bit as beautiful as the BVI and also have great beach bars and restaurants. The big difference is you need to anchor rather than grabbing a ball and I think the vast majority of us would much rather be on a ball after having a few painkillers on the beach than at anchor. If mooring balls start appearing in the bays of the USVI it would be much more affordable to just stay there. All that being said, I think it would be wise for the BVI government to revert back to the old fee schedule permanently, otherwise other locales will eventually overtake them as the sailing capital of the world.
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/05/2018 10:42 PM

Exactly Eriesailor - the BVI's priced themselves way too high to attract any sailors from the cruising community or even the USVI charter boats. Now with essentially no BVI charter fleets remaining, the cruising tax will not provide any significant boost to the economy. Why not attract the cruising sailors who have avoided the BVI's because of the excessive mooring fees and C/I fees by eliminating the charges while the country and charter fleets are attempting to rebuild. Spending money with local businesses by cruising sailors will bring in the necessary income to help locals, as opposed to the government.

The number of charter boats and cruising sailors who arrived today (January 5, 2018) in Martinique was staggering. There was a nice weather window and sailors flocked to Martinique in numbers that we have not seen before. Wouldn't it be nice if the BVI's and USVI received some of these boats?

Also, mooring fees in the USVI are $26 in St. John (or $13 if you have the pass). Much different than the BVI's and currently there is no charge for moorings on St. John because the park is officially closed. Free moorings! How about that?!?
Posted By: GlennA

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/06/2018 12:38 AM

Private cruising vessels with the owner onboard are not charged the same as charter boats but I have found several conflicting bits of information . As I understand it from Noonsite: First entry of the year they are charged a "net tonnage fee" of $45 and given 30 days to cruise. Any passengers not directly related to the owner pay the daily rate . After 30 days there is a $200 annual temporary import duty.

Back in 2008 there was a proposal to charge:
- $1 per foot for the first day in BVI waters
- $0.75 per foot for the second day
- $0.50 per foot for EVERY day thereafter
but I think I remember they chickened out but I have also heard of some boats being charged $1/foot/day as recently as this year..
Posted By: d_fish

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/06/2018 01:03 AM

Ouch on C&I fees imposed on charter vessels coming in from outside the BVI. I am sure that will hurt USVI charter companies.

Private cruising vessel fees seem reasonable if the $45 net tonnage fee is correct. Although I wonder if crew are exempt from the daily cruising rate. How does the BVI government determine who is considered crew and who is considered a passenger? This could be a deterrent to cruising vessels entering the BVIs if crew are considered passengers.

I can also see cruisers steering clear of the BVIs due to the cost of mooring versus anchoring. Not many places left to anchor and mooring fees add up quickly.

Also I do know that some insurance companies have "red lined" USVI, BVI, and St. Martin for their cruising vessels as they have deemed the areas unsafe - probably due to potential hazards underwater.

Quite a conundrum as to how to encourage cruising vessels to return to the BVIs. Catch 22 - need revenue to rebuild, need to reduce fees to entice boaters back.
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/06/2018 01:28 PM

Private sailing vessels are treated differently than charter boats. We were charged $10 C/I fees upon checking in to the BVI's as a private vessel. However the bad news is that after 30 days the cost is $211.50 to sail in the BVI's for a private vessel. No private vessel can remain in the BVI's after 30 days without paying the excessive import fees. This is as of 2018, more current that Noonsite.

Noonsite tends to be very unreliable for C/I information.

d_fish has the correct information about the BVI's being red lines by insurance companies and excessive mooring fees too. The local businesses need sailor's money and that is more beneficial than paying massive fees to the BVI government.
Posted By: GlennA

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/06/2018 03:29 PM

$200 for a year long permit after 30 days is not all that bad compared to $300 from day 1 in the Bahamas or $50 for 7 days and $300 for 3 months inTurks and Cicos.
Posted By: casailor53

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/06/2018 03:45 PM

Originally Posted by d_fish
I can also see cruisers steering clear of the BVIs due to the cost of mooring versus anchoring. Not many places left to anchor and mooring fees add up quickly.

While I agree that there are "Not many places left to anchor", real cruisers NEVER anchor.
Posted By: stephenr

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/07/2018 02:11 PM

Moorings cost $30-$35 in the BVI’s while anchoring further south is free."

I believe anchoring is free in BVI too.
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/07/2018 07:17 PM

While anchoring is always free, even in the BVI's, it is very difficult to find a spot without interfering with the extensive mooring fields. AND, real cruisers DO anchor casailor53 smile
Posted By: StormJib

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/07/2018 08:43 PM

We have done all the islands south of Miami except Venezuela. When the dust settles the fleets will be restored in the BVI for this reason first. The ease and short distances between islands or bars. No other place has anything like that 10 months(even 12) out of of the year. Before the storm the BVI was way over subscribed many weeks out of the year. Raising the fees and increasing the level of services would be a plus for the local economy and environment. Unless we want to go to a practice where you must have a mooring reservation like Nantucket and Catalina..... then a day will be reached when the total number of boats out on the water must be limited. There is zero need to hurry or rush lhat along. When you look at the total costs of a charter trip starting with transport to the airport and end with transfer home from the airport the overnight mooring fee is a small fraction of the total trip cost.

If you have not tried it.... the food is always far better in the French Islands.
Posted By: GeorgeC1

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/07/2018 09:16 PM

Originally Posted by StormJib
We have done all the islands south of Miami except Venezuela. When the dust settles the fleets will be restored in the BVI for this reason first. The ease and short distances between islands or bars. No other place has anything like that 10 months(even 12) out of of the year. Before the storm the BVI was way over subscribed many weeks out of the year. Raising the fees and increasing the level of services would be a plus for the local economy and environment. Unless we want to go to a practice where you must have a mooring reservation like Nantucket and Catalina..... then a day will be reached when the total number of boats out on the water must be limited. There is zero need to hurry or rush lhat along. When you look at the total costs of a charter trip starting with transport to the airport and end with transfer home from the airport the overnight mooring fee is a small fraction of the total trip cost.

If you have not tried it.... the food is always far better in the French Islands.


Everything can be described as a small portion of the total cost. In the end however all those items add up to become the total cost. I know several friends who will no longer sail in the BVI because they feel they are being gouged everywhere from the moment they arrive until they leave. I have talked with several dedicated BVI sailors. They never went anywhere else until Irma forced them to move their trips this fall. They now don’t plan on coming back to the BVI after seeing other options. If the BVI government were smart they would use this as a opportunity to retool the entire visitor experience from the moment you set foot at the customs dock.
Posted By: tradewinds

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/07/2018 09:50 PM

Since when is Venezuela an island? hairy
Posted By: GeorgeC1

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/08/2018 12:11 AM

Originally Posted by tradewinds
Since when is Venezuela an island? hairy


Since the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!
All kidding aside there are lots of islands off the coast.
Posted By: deliveryskipper

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/08/2018 11:12 AM

Originally Posted by StormJib
We have done all the islands south of Miami except Venezuela. When the dust settles the fleets will be restored in the BVI for this reason first. The ease and short distances between islands or bars. No other place has anything like that 10 months(even 12) out of of the year. Before the storm the BVI was way over subscribed many weeks out of the year. Raising the fees and increasing the level of services would be a plus for the local economy and environment. Unless we want to go to a practice where you must have a mooring reservation like Nantucket and Catalina..... then a day will be reached when the total number of boats out on the water must be limited. There is zero need to hurry or rush lhat along. When you look at the total costs of a charter trip starting with transport to the airport and end with transfer home from the airport the overnight mooring fee is a small fraction of the total trip cost.

If you have not tried it.... the food is always far better in the French Islands.
Posted By: deliveryskipper

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/08/2018 11:17 AM

There are no reservations at Catalina. Mooring balls have always been first come first served. The only time you can reserve a ball is if you own it. You must call ahead and reserve it for the day you want to use it otherwise the harbor patrol will rent it out to someone else.
Posted By: d_fish

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/08/2018 04:57 PM

While this is off topic, there is actually a relatively new reservation system in place for certain coves or harbors in Catalina. It was implemented a few years ago, we use it when frequently.

http://www.thelog.com/catalina-conn...nnounces-new-mooring-reservation-option/
Posted By: sleepychef

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/08/2018 06:57 PM

The BVI was at saturation point where there was no room for boats to anchor, all mooring balls gone early in the day and restaurants full. Irma cleared a lot out and the BVI is no Ghost Town as per the OP. There is now room in the mooring fields and at most restaurants when pre Irma there wasn't. The sailors are already back.
Posted By: NCSailor

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/08/2018 09:57 PM

That may be true In Anegada that was mostyly spared but not the rest of the BVI. Think North Sound, CGB, Trellis, Cooper, Sopers. Are the sailors back at these places? Hardly.
Posted By: sleepychef

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/09/2018 02:36 PM

To say Anegada was spared is a lack of understanding, 100% of the businesses were damaged 5 including mine were close to total destruction. Any building built close to each other sustained major damage just as on the other islands. The difference with Anegada is we didn't wait for insurance payments or the government to help we rebuilt ourselves, cleared all our roads ourselves, put all the electric poles in ourselves so power could be reconnected sooner. This is the difference and why Anegada is ready.

Are the sailors back at the other locations, well some have returned to CBG and North Sound, many moor at Cooper already but Sopers is just getting there now. The difference is I live here and no whats happening.
Posted By: casailor53

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/09/2018 05:57 PM

Originally Posted by casailor53
Originally Posted by d_fish
I can also see cruisers steering clear of the BVIs due to the cost of mooring versus anchoring. Not many places left to anchor and mooring fees add up quickly.

While I agree that there are "Not many places left to anchor", real cruisers NEVER anchor.

I really needed to proof this!

I meant "real cruisers ONLY anchor". I was only ever in a marina for repairs, or in Venezuela (pre- Chavez), where it was dirt cheap, and secure.

That's what I did for 3 ½ years, but somewhere along the way (too much sun and rum probably), I forgot how to proof-read!
Posted By: markis

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/10/2018 09:44 AM

You want to attract sailors? Just smile, and wear something pretty. Maybe try a little make up.
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/11/2018 01:16 PM

Glad you can provide local info sleepchef. BUT, our friends were in Soopers hole and were 1 of only 3 boats there. They said it was a ghost town, along with most of the other anchorages they visited. That was 2 weeks ago.
Posted By: GeorgeC1

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/11/2018 03:10 PM

The government as mentioned should look at every aspect of bringing tourists into the country. Step one should be customs. I brought a new group in and the biggest issue they had was customs. I don’t think they will go back again as they viewed the procedure as openly racist and on that day it probably was. Sadly kind of sets the tone for a trip.
Posted By: sleepychef

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/11/2018 03:12 PM

Originally Posted by Maria_and_Steve
Glad you can provide local info sleepchef. BUT, our friends were in Soopers hole and were 1 of only 3 boats there. They said it was a ghost town, along with most of the other anchorages they visited. That was 2 weeks ago.



Please re read my post as I STATE that Sopers Hole has a long way to come, also 2 weeks ago is usually the quietest time of the year, the week before Christmas, again local knowledge.
Posted By: Kiles41

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/11/2018 05:25 PM

I think sleepychef has it right. I was there the week after Christmas, and while Sopor's Hole was pretty much empty, Norman, Leverick and Jost were certainly not ghost towns. There were also boats at Cooper even though nothing is open there yet. Anegada was pretty crowded on New Year's Eve and all the charter boats I saw there did not spend their entire charter on Anegada. Overall it was not as busy as previous years, but restaurants and bars were open and there were boats in the mooring fields. As for those who gripe about mooring ball fees, you can always anchor.
Posted By: aarpskier

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/11/2018 06:59 PM

No need to debate. Just check out the webcams.

White Bay: White Bay Webcam

Cooper Island: Cooper Island Webcam

Not as busy as pre-hurricane, but certainly not ghost towns.
Posted By: NCSailor

Re: Attracting Sailors Again - 01/11/2018 07:04 PM

With all due respect, Sleepchef has a vested interest in promoting that things are back to normal. That’s just not what I’m hearing and I have spent 6 weeks in the Virgin Islands since Irma and I’m just returning today from another trip. I am planning a charter in April and look forward to seeing many boats in the harbors.
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