St. Thomas, US V.I. – While the crewed charter and bareboat industry are clearly slated for a very busy sailing season, the recent Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) show https://vipca.org/usvi-charter-yacht-show/ held in Charlotte Amalie Nov. 7-10 highlighted much of what is unique about the U.S. territory of St. John, St. Thomas, Water Island and St. Croix. It also illustrated the region’s recent reboot as both a charter yacht and sailing destination.
"One of the more interesting things about the current USVI crewed charter yacht industry is that we have a lot of relatively young and ambitious crew and captains here now entering into this career with newer skillsets. Their energy and the competitive edge they enjoy means guests have the option of getting out on hydrofoil kite boards or the incredible Seabobs for snorkeling or great towables from behind the tender,” said VIPCA executive director Oriel Blake.
Not only is there youthful energy to the crews, but there are also plenty of very accomplished sailors among them as well, like Capt. Kennon Jones on the 52ft Lagoon, Ventana, who sailed solo around much of the world for a couple of years before joining the charter yacht trade. It is also becoming increasingly common to see a young man and woman running a yacht with both of them being licensed captains: in part, many newer captain told me, because the Covid-19 lockdowns gave them the time to study up and pass their certification tests.
A number of newer captains at the show had also recently left a traditional career and home life in the U.S. as part of what is being called the “great resignation” – taking the leap into a new life and career. Case in point: Don and Staci Smith of Chicago, veteran sailors who are not only in the middle of starting their very first season as captain and crew are also now partners in a nascent charter company called Virgin Mermaids Charter Company.
"St. Thomas has come a long way in the marine and charter yacht industry,” Don said. “We love cruising over to Brewer's Bay [nestled within the 388-acre St. Thomas campus of the University of the Virgin Islands] or Water Island [which only has 100 residents and no cars]. We are also pleased that many more moorings are planned. We are very excited about staying in the USVI all season, chartering in primarily St. Thomas, St. John. For those interested, we will visit St. Croix. We are offering both day and week-long charters."
The 2021-22 season will also feature the option of visiting Lovango Cay, St. John, which overlooks Caneel Bay. Lovango Cay is an inclusive resort that will open on December 20. All captains and vessels are welcome, with day and overnight moorings available and tender service to/from the moorings to their docks.
The 2021 Charter Yacht Show also recognized many of the participants with an awards ceremony ranging from best dessert to best host and hostess to best overall crew. After three days of fielding questions from nearly 125 individual brokers and preparing a series of lunches and dinners for the visitors, the awards ceremony Tuesday evening was an exuberant moment for a lot of very hard-working professionals who are entering into an intensely competitive crewed charter yacht season. The winners are as follows:
Best Crew in Show - 2021
• Runner Up: Aeolus
Crew: Captain Mayon, Stew Elizabeth, Chef Therese
• Winner: Justified Horizons
Crew: Captain Ryan, Chef Dani, Stew Christian
Best Yacht in Show - 66ft & Over
• Runner Up: Lady Sharon Gale
Crew: Captain Keith, Chef AJ, Stew Zara, Engineer Sean
• Winner: Burn Rate
Crew: Captain Evert, Chef Tanya, Stew Karien, Mate Daan, Engineer Louis
Best Yacht in Show - 56ft - 65ft
• Runner Up: Le Reve
Crew: Captain Dirk, Chef Sandy
• Winner: Aeolus
Crew: Captain Mayon, Stew/Mate Elizabeth, Chef Therese
Best Yacht in Show - Up to 55ft
• Runner Up: Sea Dog
Crew: Captain Keagan, Chef Olivia
• Winner: Southern Comfort
Crew: Captain Ish, Chef Julia
Broker of the Year - 2021
• Runner Up: Lynne Campbell from Carefree Yacht Charters
• Winner: Nick Cirillo from Blue Ocean Charters
Cocktail Mixologist Competition Grey Goose - 2021
• Runner Up: "Stormin' Mornin'"
Mixologist: Stew Zara of Lady Sharon Gale
• Winner: "Mermaid Rose"
Mixologist: Chef Amy of Let's Play Too
Cocktail Mixologist Competition Captain Morgan - 2021
• Runner Up: "So Nice I Made it Twice"
Mixologist: Captain Ryan of Justified Horizons
• Winner: "Mango Lime in da Coconut"
Mixologist: Captain Ish of Southern Comfort
Culinary Competition: Appetizer
• Winner: Burn Rate, Chef Tanya Theron with Lionfish Ceviche with Wasabi Cucumber Ice cream and Plantain Chips
• Winner: Lady Sharon Gale, Chef AJ Sharpe- Red Hind Grouper, Pickled Baby Beetroot and Radish, Parsnip Crisps, Butternut Sqaush and White Sweet Potato Puree, Roasted Okra, and Micros
• Runner Up: Justified Horizons, Chef Dani Querry- Coconut Poached Mahi with Recao, Lemongrass, Lemon Bay Leaf, Ribboned Yellow Squash and Zucchini
• Winner: Lady Sharon Gale, Chef AJ Sharpe- “Pain Kotta”
• Runners Up (tied):
Aeolus, Chef Therese Gorsich- “Chocolate Truffle Cake with Bruleed Pineapple, Passionfruit Caramel, Macadamia Praline, and Lemongrass Ice-cream
Burn Rate, Chef Tanya Theron- Plantain Panna Cotta, Mango Three Ways, Toasted Coconut and Almonds, White Chocolate Crumb, Strawberries, Lime Tuile, and Rum Caramel Sauce
For more on the recent VIPCA, visit https://vipca.org/usvi-charter-yacht-show/.