End of a Season?
- April 10th, 2008
- in Yachting
Wait for the Summer Loving
There was a time when the start of hurricane season marked the end of tourist season, particularly in chartering throughout the islands. But the fact that there has not been a significant hurricane in the BVI for a number of years has extended the season into and through the summer.
Charter companies had once planned the majority of maintenance on their charter yachts for the summer months, which worked out well. Staff holidays and all boats being maintained at the same time or nestled safe in hurricane holes or in yards brought business to a halt and represented an unequivocal “off” season. Not to say that Paraquita Bay isn't full of boats on heavy moorings or marinas not full with boats on the hard. Most certainly there is always a scramble to chain up and prepare any vessel on the water in case of a hurricane, and the BVI has had its share of named hurricanes, tropical storms and countless warnings, so the industry is more than prepared. Yet charter yachts are still out there in the height of the warning window. Offshore bars and resorts are still operating as late as possible, and September now seems to be left as the dead month; there comes a time when they must close.
Peter Twist and Andrew Waters (yes, related) are managers of Conch Charters, one of the principal longstanding charter businesses in the BVI, and they are kept busy. Over the years maintenance has evolved into a task that must be undertaken all year round, not just left for the off season. With over 45 boats for which to cater and an ever-extending season, every effort must be made to ensure the boats are in immaculate working condition all of the time.
I heard a funny story a while ago (which I cannot factually state for many reasons!) about a charter cat that went out without its main in the stack pack as it was being repaired. At the end of the week the guests said they had enjoyed a great sail and the charter company held its breath…the guests had motored everywhere—their choice, but the charter company had been so money hungry they did send the boat out on that hope.
At Conch Charters, the case is slightly (vastly) different. Maintenance is a high priority and is deemed crucial to the safety of the vessel and its passengers, holiday makers and first-time sailors or not. Managing 45 working boats is time consuming and requires considerable care and attention, but even with the increased demand from Europeans and continental US travelers wishing to take advantage of the favourable rates, Conch Charters, through careful planning, is able to accommodate.
Charter companies offer fantastic deals in the summer months. In particular, Sunsail, with its sterling rather than dollar market, takes advantage of recent two-for-one offers or simply the bang for the buck with the pound. In a Mediterranean market, flotillas saturate the blue seas and its plethora of island hops. In the BVI, the summer sailing is tranquil, calming, quiet and—to some no doubt—romantic. Weddings proliferate in June and July and guests are able to take advantage of reduced rates in resorts.
Also in July, there are annual events such as the AH Riise Billfish Tournament in Bitter End, the windsurfing sailing extravaganza HIHO, and the lead-in to the island’s Emancipation Festival in August. Winds pick up in July, traditionally the most consistently windy month, and warm trades blow from the southeast. The north shore, with no danger of ground swell, has flat calm anchorages. The BVI has a year-round tropical climate with only slight fluctuations in temperature influenced by humidity. Businesses stay open all year round and the islands do not sleep in the summer. It hasn’t taken many people to work out that the summer is a heap of fun to be had for slightly less money, and if you like the heat, well then hot times are ahead!