|Broker Report: 2010 Tortola Charter Yacht Show|
|Written by Kim Kavin|
|Tuesday, 30 November 2010 08:58|
Sandy and Tom Taylor of Taylor’d Yacht Charters recently returned from the charter yacht show on Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Following is their take on the boats they saw, the Virgin Islands charter market, and the state of the global charter market.
You have been booking charters and attending charter yacht shows in Antigua and Genoa for years, but this is the first time you’ve attended the Tortola show. Why did you decide to go?
We’ve been receiving several inquiries for the BVIs and sailing catamarans. We usually book the bigger boats, but with the economy the way it is right now, people are inquiring for these more affordable charter boats. So we went to take a look at what’s available.
In Tortola, the main type of boat that’s available is the sailing catamaran. There’s a veritable sea of them.
Yes, but we learned that not every sailing catamaran is the same. There are ones built by Privilege, Voyage, and Lagoon. The Privilege, for instance, has a much bigger salon area than the others.
And because the boats can be similar, the crew really stand out. They are what make one charter yacht different from another in the British Virgin Islands. It’s really not just about choosing the right boat in these islands. It’s about working with a broker who has met and interviewed the crews.
What else did you learn about the Virgin Islands charter market?
These boats do 20 to 25 charters a year, whereas the bigger boats we usually book do 10 or 12 at the most. It’s an important detail because we now understand just how popular these boats are. They really are a lot of bang for your buck.
We also learned that there are a lot of owner-operators, which you don’t usually find in the large boats. They took a lot of pride in their boats—it’s their boat, instead of them being a captain who runs somebody else’s boat—and I thought they were fantastic.
And, because it was our first time in the BVIs, we also realized what a great place it is to charter. The islands are close together, so there’s not any major long-distance cruising, and the islands are protected, so guests don’t have to worry. It really is a fabulous location with a lot of great charter options.
How did the quality of the boats look to you at the Tortola show?
We saw more than 50 charter boats in three days. Some, like 76-foot sailing catamaran King’s Ransom, were just absolutely stunning. There were also a lot of really nice, mid-range catamarans. All the boats we saw were clean, but there were maybe a half-dozen where I said, ‘Hmm. This is a little cramped.’ Once again, we were reminded about how important it is for brokers to actually get on boats and see them before offering them to a client.
Did you get a sense of the market in the Virgin Islands? Is the economy’s effect on these smaller yachts different from what you’re seeing among the large charter yachts in the Caribbean?
These boats are busy in the BVIs. There are lots of big, huge boats in the Caribbean that still don’t even have Christmas and New Year’s charters booked, but these smaller boats are all getting bookings. Their calendars are starting to get full. They’re not entirely full, but they’re steady, which is a good sign for this particular market.
How about your business overall? Is Taylor’d Yacht Charters seeing a steady stream of inquiries?
Yes, we’re steady, too. We’re getting inquiries on a regular basis. Right now, for the Caribbean, the inquiries seem to be for these smaller boats.
It’s a little bit hard to put that into a broader perspective about the whole industry, because these types of smaller boats are not available in the Mediterranean during the summers, but I can honestly say that our phone is ringing.
Is there anything else potential clients should know about chartering in the Virgin Islands this winter?
I’d tell our clients who haven’t considered the BVI sailing catamarans in the past to maybe give them a look. We know who to recommend now, and there are a lot of really great options.
Sandy and Tom Taylor may be reached through the Taylor’d Yacht Charters website.
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