The holiday rush of 2008 left a lighter financial impression than it normally does throughout the Virgin Islands, both U.S. and British. This was no secret to those engaged in the charter business, whether theirs is the premium, budget, bareboat, or crewed sector. Of course, aberrations abounded: There were tales of a two-week crewed charter booked at the last minute with the tip to the crew paid up front, the base whose staff saw all but one boat go out during the Christmas and New Year's periods, and the company that experienced no change in clients buying and placing yachts in its charter fleet.
Nearly all company owners agreed on these facts: Overall activity was down, in some cases running at half of last year's pace; traffic was due to more discounts and last-minute bookings than last year; and everyone's waiting for a springtime reservation infusion, when families vacation during school breaks. "We pray that this comes around," said Andrea King of Island Yachts (www.iyc.vi), located in Red Hook, St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Stay tuned.
Expansion in Maryland
Annapolis Bay Charters, on Chesapeake Bay, has expanded its fleet in time for the 2009 summer sailing season. The addition of nine boats brings the total fleet size to 32. The new yachts are less than a year old and are loaded with such modern amenities as chart plotters, autopilots, air-conditioning, and flat-screen TVs. Additions include a 2008 Jeanneau 39i, a 2008 Jeanneau 39 DS, a 2007 Catalina 42, three 2007 Jeanneau 42 DS's, a 2008 Jeanneau 45 DS, and a 2007 Jeanneau 49 DS. For more views of the fleet and other details, consult the company website (www.AnnapolisBayCharters.net)
In the Pacific Northwest, Charterfest Returns
The Pacific Northwest's springtime show called Charterfest runs April 4 and 5, 2009. The weekend display features a mixed fleet of more than 100 power and sailing vessels available for the charter and yacht-management programs of six companies at Squalicum Harbor marina, in Bellingham, Washington.
Participating companies, typically offering Charterfest-only discounts, are Bellhaven Charters (800-542-8812, www.bellhaven.net), Bellingham Yachts (360-671-0990, www.bellinghamyachts.com), Northwest Explorations (800-826-1430, www.nwexplorations.com), Par Yacht Charters (360-752-5754, www.paryachts.com), San Juan Sailing (800-677-7245, www.sanjuansailing.com), and San Juan Yachting (800-677-7245, www.sanjuan
For more details, contact Ann Grimm at the Port of Bellingham, Washington (360-676-2500, ext. 388; www.portofbellingham.com).
Shutterbug Alert: Win a Charter
Help The Moorings celebrate its 40th anniversary by submitting photos and videos of a previous vacation with the charter company. The grand prize is-what else?-a seven-day/six-night bareboat sailing charter or a seven-day/six-night stateroom vacation for two on a Moorings crewed yacht in the British Virgin Islands. Second and third prizes are also awarded. Contact The Moorings (www.moorings.com/photocontest.aspx) for details. The entry deadline is June 1, 2009.