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BVI Yachts NEED an Agent!

Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 12:23 AM

I just received this email from BVI Yacht Sales and it is NOT good news. Oh my, what is the government doing to the BVI's???

"BVI yacht Sales broker ....
Hello Sailors!

We are now two weeks into a total three week lock-down of all services in BVI, and having had closed borders and 24 hour curfew restrictions has really put a crimp on the economy of the BVI, shutting down all activities everywhere except the very basics. The local government announced last night that the borders will remain completely closed until the 2nd June, at which time they will begin to allow only citizens and residents to return to the territory, but with measures in place to protect the people here now. This restriction of travel for tourists and visitors will remain in place through at least the 1st September. Until then, they will not be allowed into the territory through that time and possibly beyond... time will tell and we will keep you posted.

What this has meant is that boat sales, as well as most other economic activity, have nearly halted. We have a few deals ongoing with boats not in BVI, but other territories are on restrictions as well, so this has been hard for all. The good news, buyers are still emailing us, talks are still happening and there is the potential for boat sales to take place either now while locked down, or soon after, given the high demand we are still experiencing. From the 25th April we may be allowed to move about in the day and be able to continue to conduct some level of works.

In the meantime, we are aware that many of you have your boats here in BVI, and had planned to either return to BVI to use or care for them, to have them sold before hurricane season starts, to have them put away and stored properly on land or in water, or possibly to have them delivered out of the area to locations required by your insurance. We understand that this may be a cause of stress or concern, and we are here to help. Furthermore, the recent enforcement of customs regulations concerning the Registered Agent in the BVI has become an additional problem.
What does this mean?
Every vessel whose owner is not in the territory must appoint a registered agent to be responsible for the vessel while in BVI. This agent will bear full legal responsibility for the vessel in all cases, and must be appointed by law regardless of the vessel on the hard or in the water. The Registered Agent will bear all fines, fees, or costs incurred against the vessel while in the BVI. This is clearly a significant risk and responsibility for the Agent, and a further cost for the boat owner who is not here themselves.
If you have not made a plan for what to do with your boat during this time, or you want to discuss the plan you have in place to be sure its the best option, please write back to us now so we can fill you in on the options available, and help you the best we can.

This is going to continue to be a tough time, and it might be that in the depressed economy we see following the release of travel restrictions that it may not be the best time to sell your boat, but the asset must be protected none the less, so drop us a line and lets be sure you get the best strategy in place to protect your assets here in the BVI through the time to come. We have many recommendations for management and agent companies and will ourselves be involved in assisting you as well.

We are here to continue to work together with you."
Posted By: Zanshin

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 12:11 PM

I think I'll wait to see what comes of this before reacting, but if they go ahead with this plan then, initially, I have no choice since my boat is on the hard in the BVI and I can't get to sail away (and have nowhere to sail away to which is open). But after the hurricane season and re-opening of borders I will vote with my feet. After almost 20 years of keeping a boat in the BVI I realize that I've had enough. I find that the attitude of the belongers towards tourists has gotten worse over the years while the BVI continually finds new fees, taxes and surcharges to levy on tourists without actually giving anything back in return. This seems to be just another way of generating income (for certain people) and while the big charter companies will certainly figure out inexpensive solutions the large contingent of private boat owners will not have this luxury. What really irks me is the timing, just at a point in time where boat owners cannot get the boats out before the hurricane season and have no choice - that leaves a very bitter taste.

It is said that one's true character comes out in times of crises. I think that enforcing this new regulation in this time of crises is not a wise move.
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 12:51 PM

Best of luck to you Zanshin! I agree 100% with what you said. It is sad indeed that the BVI's have changed for the absolute worst now. frown
Posted By: Zanshin

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 01:01 PM

This isn't the first time that fees were made known and then never happened, so I hope that this will fade (like the "Harbour Fees" from a couple of years back did). I've reached out to others in the industry in the BVI and will post any relevant news here; but I think it might take some time to find out what is really going to happen. But since I'm not in a position to do anything about this situation I won't fret. Yet.
Posted By: Kegoangoango

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 03:37 PM

I'll put my flame suite on for the responses to my reply.

"while the BVI continually finds new fees, taxes and surcharges to levy on tourists without actually giving anything back in return."

For my reply "tourists" includes charters, land based vacations, boat owners who store and sail in the BVIs and sailors passing through the BVIs on some kind of journey/vacation. You may not have meant all of those groups, or I may have missed some.

What's the outcome of higher/new fees/taxes/surcharges? Besides the increased revenue for the government, it controls demand. One can argue that it prices out lower income people (and no doubt it does), but what's the option when demand becomes too high? For the BVIs and any tourist "attraction" too much demand in the long run kills the "supply". The supply is cleanliness, safety, availability of marina slips/mooring balls, restaurants, etc. I only started chartering in 2012, so I don't have experience of the "good ole' days" in the BVIs. But I've read enough here and on other sites about how nice, quiet, etc. the BVIs used to be before "it got so crowded" (as I've read). Consider an extreme example of no fees/taxes/surcharges on tourist. Even if the government continued to have enough money to provide governmental services, the demand would ultimately destroy the islands.

The government has the job of balancing the cost of protecting their assets, which includes their citizens and their tourist businesses against the cost to the tourist. One can argue whether they are doing a good job or not, and depending on where you are there are sure to be disagreements on this. But when I've been there over the last 7-8 years I've been a satisfied tourist. If it got too expensive, I'd have to go somewhere else but there are a lot of people with more money than me and if demand got too high where I always felt crowded, unsafe, etc., then I'd also have to go somewhere else. Some are already going somewhere else because it's too expensive or too crowded (signs that demand is somewhat in balance - realizing that any given time "balance" is never exactly 50/50). Will they continue to do a reasonable job? I don't know and everyone can have their own opinion.

But for me (the definitive definition of "tourist" to the BVI), right now I *am* getting something back from those fees, taxes and surcharges.

I'm not discussing increased fees/etc on those that live in the BVIs full time and it's their home. That's a completely different issue and only those who call the BVIs home can comment on this.
Posted By: GeorgeC1

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 04:45 PM

The government should not be in the supply and demand business. It should have reasonable tax and fee rates relative to their cost to provide services. The business people in the BVI should be the ones adjusting pricing relative to supply and trust me on this they have done so aggressively. The money than goes to the hard working people who provide the tourist options.
G
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 05:35 PM

Our friends who are stored on land at Virgin Gorda Boatyard were told today they have to pay $300/month additional for an agent, because of the new rule. That fee is the same cost as what they are paying per month in storage fees too. So their price has just doubled, without any recourse because they cannot fly back to the BVI's and get their boat out!!! They are a 32 monohull sailboat.
Posted By: TomGarvey

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 05:37 PM

Well put, Arndt & George!

I'm just outside of Chicago, and over the last many years the city has increased the hotel/motel tax rate with the attitude that the additional revenue would mean visitors pay for improvements. There have been great improvements in the parts of town that most visitors see and many locals enjoy - Grant Park, Michigan Ave, etc.

Over the 18 years I've been going to the BVI the only apparent improvement I've seen as a result of the additional fees the government has tacked on is the EIS terminal. I hope the belongers have seen improvements, but I'm skeptical. What I have seen is a series of boondoggles and dead ends: Prospect Reef, traffic lights on the RT roundabout, the aborted Smugglers Cove project, the aborted Beef Island golf course, the aborted national airline, the endless "studies" of the EIS expansion. In the meantime, the most obvious & cheapest improvement that would benefit belongers & visitors alike - the rationalization of the ferry system, on which our own Glenn Ashmore wrote a brilliant analysis gratis seven years ago - has received no attention.

The BVI did the smart thing in locking down the territory, and it has been very effective, so far. This boat agent requirement in the middle of a pandemic, assuming it is executed, is the equivalent of hostage-taking. If I still owned a boat down there, I would be looking for a new home for her post-pandemic.
Posted By: RatmansWife

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 07:58 PM

I believe the boat agent issue reflects the expenses the BVI government incurred following Irmaria. Many boat owners had no insurance; others took their insurance payouts and bolted. The government was left holding the cleanup tab. Those who saw Trellis Bay with its dozens of boats on shore (only recently removed) or the sunken boats still littering Manuel Reef can attest to the problem. Not sure the agent solution is the best, but understand the problem.

As far as houses, I believe Hawaii requires rental properties to have a local representative, so that could happen. But so far even hurricane-damaged properties have still had residual value.
Posted By: Michel_Benarrosh

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 08:02 PM

Read somewhere else, but very, very interesting observation: Essentially, what the BVI Gov has done, is freeze US$ tens/hundreds millions of foreign assets. I wonder what international laws say about this... Not that whatever it could say would change anything, but I am just curious...
Posted By: Latadjust

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/16/2020 08:26 PM

Ok now that makes sense, understandable. Probably better to give some notice, but maybe they're looking at the above norm storm season forecast
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 11:19 AM

That is EXACTLY what the BVI's has done, frozen all foreign assets. This approach is not unique however, Cuba did the same thing, as I recall. frown
Posted By: Zanshin

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 11:55 AM

Quote
That is EXACTLY what the BVI's has done, frozen all foreign assets. This approach is not unique however, Cuba did the same thing, as I recall. frown


Could you please provide a reference for that assertion? The press only discusses a couple of court cases between companies where assets were frozen. As far as I know, foreign assets have not in general been frozen by the BVI.

p.s. Just a correction - the Cubans never froze foreign assets, they nationalized them - which is a different matter altogether
Posted By: GeorgeC1

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 01:45 PM

Freezing Foreign assets seems like it would completely kill what’s left of the banking industry. What’s next, raising fees and taxes to kill the tourist industry also?
Posted By: Bvicatter

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 05:20 PM

Thanks for the post. "Back in the day" early 2000's I had Lagoon 380 in charter in BVIs. It was a brand new boat. Within the year of delivery, the charter company told me I needed to have the bottom painted. Cost: $5000. When I questioned the fee, I was told they had to "strip" the bottom before putting on new paint. That is why the cost was 250% of what I would expect to pay anywhere else.

I paid the $5000, pulled the boat from the fleet, and sold it as soon as possible. I felt that the charter company was taking advantage of the fact that I lived 3000 miles away and therefore could treat me like an ignorant piece of dirt.

The increase in fees to ingress and egress the BVIs over the past five or so years have got my attention. If this new fee comes to pass, it will not surprise me in the least.

The people of the Islands, all people, all Islands, have taken devastating hits from hurricanes and now the covid. I am not a policy wonk so I will not opine on whether increasing fees suddenly (in the middle of a financial crunch) on a main economic engine industry is a good idea or bad idea.

I will say that the climate for charter yacht ownership in the BVIs just got even less attractive.

On our last visit January 2020 the sail cat yachts were stacked three to a slip at Sunsail/Moorings base. Literally. Three deep. At the same time, every mooring ball was taken in the usual spots. There is an apparent glut of charter yachts. If the fees continue to increase, tourists will start going elsewhere.

In the meantime- it took over a year to get the main generating plant on Tortola back up after Hurricane Irma- and glass bottles and aluminum cans are still chucked in the garbage because there is no recycling provision on Tortola.

I have predicted this before: the cost of airfare to and from BVI will soon be coming down; the cost of charter yacht time in the BVIs will soon be coming down.

Wishing all health and peace-

JAM
Annapolis, Md
Posted By: JasonHelmbrecht

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 05:43 PM

Originally Posted by Bvicatter
In the meantime- it took over a year to get the main generating plant on Tortola back up after Hurricane Irma- and glass bottles and aluminum cans are still chucked in the garbage because there is no recycling provision on Tortola.

Not sure where your information is coming from but both of these are not true. The plant was online early; I'd guess within a few weeks and much of Road Town got power quickly because the lines are buried. Even in Cane, we had power at the end of January and it only took that long because all the lines and poles had to be replaced.

On Tortola, there are currently 12 recycling drop off locations for glass, plastic, and aluminum. Not to imply everyone uses them but it's available.
Posted By: RatmansWife

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 05:59 PM

We didn't get power until the end of March 2018. They still have not removed any of the old equipment or lines. As of a month ago, there was no recycling in Trellis Bay, so, regrettably, all our metal and glass goes in the trash.
Posted By: JasonHelmbrecht

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 06:03 PM

Originally Posted by RatmansWife
We didn't get power until the end of March 2018. They still have not removed any of the old equipment or lines. As of a month ago, there was no recycling in Trellis Bay, so, regrettably, all our metal and glass goes in the trash.

Looks like the closest for you is Paraquita. We bag ours and take it to Road Town or Nanny Cay usually but I see there is now a location near Rudy's on Ridge Road.
Posted By: RatmansWife

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 08:26 PM

Not very convenient by boat!
Posted By: sail445

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/17/2020 09:25 PM

Just out of curiosity has anyone seen the Recycling bins picked up.
If so was it one garbage truck where everything was thrown in? Or were there multiple trucks?
Posted By: tpcook

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 01:50 PM

Virgin Gorda has a very good recycling operation mainly due to one gal on virgin gorda who set it up and is running it.
Posted By: Bvicatter

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 09:10 PM

Jason- if I am wrong I stand corrected. I recall reading that the main power station on Tortola was out of commission for a long time because they could not source an electrical panel-

In my chartering experiences in BVIs, no where have I ever seen a recycling station where we can drop off glass and aluminum. I don't dispute that they exist- we do look, and have often wondered why an environmentally sensitive country does not put a greater emphasis on recycling the mounds of tourist (and locals) generated glass, aluminum, etc.

In any event- wishing you and all peace and health during these odd times.

JAM
Annapolis, Md
Posted By: Fran

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 09:47 PM

Not looking to argue with anyone but formerly having worked with a US company that was big on recycling, we gave up on glass, we couldn't give the stuff away and had to pay for companies to pick up what we thought would be recycled. No one wanted the stuff. It was far cheaper to make new than to recycle the old glass. Not surprised that it's not readily recycled in the islands.
Posted By: Latadjust

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 10:12 PM

I guess if you HAVE to give up one thing to recycle, glass would be best because it would seem to be the least damaging to dump in a landfill or at sea, no?
Posted By: RatmansWife

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 10:18 PM

Someone on VG is/was grinding glass up until beach sand.
Posted By: NCSailor

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 10:25 PM

Originally Posted by Latadjust
I guess if you HAVE to give up one thing to recycle, glass would be best because it would seem to be the least damaging to dump in a landfill or at sea, no?


Glass can separated and ground down. Dumped at sea or in the landfill it would not pose a serious long term issue. The problem is that with no economic benefit to separating it the most likely path is treating it like garbage.

Plastic is the devil. Lasts forever. And there is so much of it.
Posted By: Carol_Hill

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 10:39 PM

Here in our county in Florida, they do not accept glass for recycling either, or much of anything else, for that matter.
Posted By: Kmon

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/18/2020 11:56 PM

Here in Virginia Beach, we recycle glass and plastic bottles, metal cans, newspaper and cardboard. Not sure how much ends up in the landfill however.
Posted By: JasonHelmbrecht

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/19/2020 12:28 AM

Originally Posted by Bvicatter
Jason- if I am wrong I stand corrected. I recall reading that the main power station on Tortola was out of commission for a long time because they could not source an electrical panel-

In my chartering experiences in BVIs, no where have I ever seen a recycling station where we can drop off glass and aluminum. I don't dispute that they exist- we do look, and have often wondered why an environmentally sensitive country does not put a greater emphasis on recycling the mounds of tourist (and locals) generated glass, aluminum, etc.

In any event- wishing you and all peace and health during these odd times.

JAM
Annapolis, Md

You might have read about the incinerator that suffered a fire unrelated to Irma and took over a year to replace the control panel. In regards to power, I found the official government release that indicates the hospital had power 1 week after Irma and the new plant was not damaged.
Posted By: JasonHelmbrecht

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/19/2020 12:32 AM

Originally Posted by Bvicatter
Jason- if I am wrong I stand corrected. I recall reading that the main power station on Tortola was out of commission for a long time because they could not source an electrical panel-

In my chartering experiences in BVIs, no where have I ever seen a recycling station where we can drop off glass and aluminum. I don't dispute that they exist- we do look, and have often wondered why an environmentally sensitive country does not put a greater emphasis on recycling the mounds of tourist (and locals) generated glass, aluminum, etc.

In any event- wishing you and all peace and health during these odd times.

JAM
Annapolis, Md

No doubt, the recycling is not convenient for charter guests, which is a shame. The charter companies would have to put in a significant effort to allow guest to collect during their charter and then drop off for them after the fact. It's new here and will hopefully expand.

Next season, we plan to start a pilot program on our property that allows guests to collect glass in bins we provide and weekly we will take the initiative to deliver to the central locations for collection. If it's successful, we'll add aluminum next.
Posted By: Deepcut

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/19/2020 12:58 AM

For recycling to be utilized by charters, bins need to be conveniently located where we typically drop off garbage. Keeping it onboard for a week or more not likely to be embraced.

I think most of us would like to recycle for the environment, but especially on a boat there is limited space.
Posted By: tpcook

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/20/2020 12:21 AM

There is a glass, aluminum/plastic recycling company on VG They collect, send some to the states ( I think) and crush glass which some locals are using for countertops. Seems to expanding .
Posted By: tpcook

Re: BVI Yachts NEED an Agent! - 04/30/2020 01:39 PM

Hello:
I owned a 52 ft Jeanneau in the BVI for years. My wife and I are preparing to leave the BVI and go home thru STT. I have inquired and was told I could skipper a yacht out of the BVI to St THomas. I want to do this Mid May so if anyone wants their boat moved maybe I can do this. Will be some paperwork involved. I will use the engine only so minimal problems. e-Mail me at tpcook@videoautomation.com for further convesation
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