- January 29th, 2008
- in Yachting
If you are ever wondering how the mega yacht services manage to get that hula skirt on the beach for a tropical luau or have a rare bottle of wine opened and poured just in time for lunch, well the chances are Frances David of Shore Side Services is behind the scenes, on the phone and getting it all organized quietly and calmly. Frances is the owner and one-woman show of Shore side Services, largely an administrative role for passing mega yachts in the BVI. Arriving in the BVI in 1981, Frances had successfully run Caribbean Connections before opening the Mega Yacht services company in 2003. Frances describes her role as “Interim mid charter provisioning on many different and bizarre levels.”
Mega Yachts passing through a port and calling on local help is not novel; it is established worldwide through an association of Yacht Support Services. In fact Captains list the BVI as one of their preferred destinations. From a crew perspective our slower-paced islands mean the Captain can keep an eye on the crew. Not going too far and holding and grooming staff over longevity is a key part of service. The Captains do find that having a major support system on the ground is vital to tapping into a network of sources.
Ships do pass in the night and it’s often the role of yacht support services to gather visa information, perform local maintenance and cater to special requests from visiting guests and owners. Frances describes some of her more interesting duties as “a swan, appearing elegant and graceful yet paddling furiously under the water.” In fact the guests would never know the trouble it took to fly in six hula skirts for a south island seas themed barbeque on a remote BVI island. Nor would they be aware that Earl Grey tea being served at 3pm on the top deck was flown in and couriered quiet as a mouse only six hours before. Captains are resourceful and need everything to look smooth, having the right girl in port is essential and many of the passing mega yachts have come to rely on Frances for her sourcing and administrative roles.
In recent years mega yacht activity has increased in the BVI. Mega Yachts used to modern marina facilities accommodating their draft and every technical need are not set up everywhere in the BVI, despite the flow of vessels into the area. As a result many of the luxury yachts stay offshore and at the owner’s discretion remain quiet and unobserved. Frances points out that most of these vessels are “homes away from home and the individuals that enjoy them work extremely hard for privacy, at core are just enjoying a charter like any other.”
Shore Side services deals with the majority of the yachts' customs and immigration papers on their behalf, as well as arranging fuel and provisioning. Frances' role is to ensure a smooth passage through the BVI waters. A seamless trip for Captain, crew and guests helps ensure many return visits to the islands. And what the BVI does not have but Frances can find is done as quietly as possible, the lady loves milk tray.