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SHOW HAS STRONG TURNOUT OF BOATS, BROKERS

Nov. 10, 2001 – A fleet of yachts is filling the Crown Bay Marina docks through Sunday for the Virgin Islands Charteryacht League's 27th annual fall show.
"We had an excellent turnout of 59 yachts, one more than last year, and Crown Bay did a great job of fitting them all in, considering the trend is for bigger yachts," VICL executive director Susan Chandler said.
The show attracted 125 brokers from the U.S. East and West Coasts, Hawaii, England and neighboring islands including Puerto Rico and Antigua. "We've have 24 new brokers this year, so that's a strong turnout," Chandler said.
Brokers are the sales force of the crewed charter industry. They view the yachts personally in order to match-make the right boats with the right clients. "The clients call or e-mail, we establish their budget and qualifications or what they're looking for, and match them with a boat," explained Ann Borns, broker with Admiralty Yacht Vacations, based on St. Thomas.
"This is our fourth show, and we found it very productive," said Bob Brokaw, who with his wife, Lisa Lundt, charters their 102-foot motor yacht Our Delight. "The brokers were more engaging this year, asking good questions and working harder," he added.
The fleet of yachts showing included four new power boats. "This might be a reflection of our baby boomer population growing older and looking for more comfort," Chandler said.
Dick Schoonover, broker with Yacht Connections Ltd., added, "Typically less than 10 percent of the fleet has been power boats, but clients today aren't usually sailors. They're not into sailing barefoot and hoisting the mainsail. Comfort is a big concern." His company has offices in Tortola and England, and he was one of many brokers who attended last week's Charter Yacht Society show in the British Virgin Islands before heading to St. Thomas.
One of the new power boats, Stardust, is equipped with an aft wheelchair lift that can transport physically challenged clients from the lower deck to the bridge.
Following the comfort trend, monohulls are larger these days, some 60 feet and longer, and multihulls — which offer stability that attracts family groups — are popular, Chandler said.
"Twelve years ago, there were only one or two multihulls," Schoonover said. "Now, 50 percent of the fleet over in Tortola is multihulls."
"The identical cabins are desirable when several couples or a corporate group travel together," Admiralty's Borns added.
Getting the word, and pictures, out
Chandler, executive director of the 156-member VICL for nearly a year, says, "I believe strongly in this business and what we have to offer, so I've been using my marketing and public relations background to get the word out." Working with the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, the Coast Guard and local legislators and as a member of the governor's Tourism Advisory Board, she has sought to gain visibility for the V.I. marine tourism sector. "We're even linked to the Department of Tourism's web site, so we receive and pass on all marine-related e-mail queries," she said.
The Charter Yacht League will have a colorful, glossy new brochure out next month that is part of its new marketing plan. It's filled with photographs that give potential clients an idea of what a crewed yacht vacation is like. "There are sections that show clients how they can chart their own course, the range of shore-side activities available, cuisine, specialty cruises like those focusing on scuba diving, how affordable the vacation can be, and how to go about booking a charter," Chandler explained. In addition, the VICL has developed rack cards and direct mail and trade show materials and has revamped its web site. Meantime, the staff has settled into new, easily accessible offices at Crown Bay Marina.
While the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks did not deter yachts or brokers from taking part in the show, business took a downturn — one that appears to have been temporary. "We were already starting to see a drop-off in inquiries in August with the coming economic recession," Schoonover said. "Airfare wars have helped, too. I think in the future we'll see more last-minute bookings, for two reasons. First, people will be waiting to see if they actually have cash in hand and are sure they want to spend it on a vacation. Secondly, they'll be looking to see if it's reasonable to travel."
"Inquiries dropped by one-third or more right after Sept. 11, but we didn't have any cancellations," Brokaw said. "We're looking at 21 or more weeks of charter for the upcoming year." Similarly, Borns added, "Inquiries are bouncing back now, especially with snowstorms in the north."
Some brokers and boaters alike are optimistically looking toward next summer, when Americans who typically charter in the Mediterranean may look to stay closer to home, meaning New England, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Crewed charters contribute to the economy
According to VICL figures from three St. Thomas-based clearinghouses, the average number of charters per year increased from 650 in 1995-98 to 800 last year. For the coming season, 600 to 700 charters are projected. The average charter is composed of four passengers, each paying $1,500 to $2,500; overall charter yacht fees total over $4 million, most of which stays in the local economy in provisioning and marine repair expenditures.
"We do a significant business with many of the crewed yachts," says Marty Goldberg, owner of The Fruit Bowl, one of 18 businesses with displays at the boat show.
"Yachts spend an average of 10 percent of the vessels' value annually on maintenance," Chandler said. And charter clients spend money on taxis, restaurant meals, shopping and more.
In the last year, the Charter Yacht League has worked with the Coast Guard to "bring vessels capable of carrying up to 12 passengers into the inspected realm of boats," Chandler said. The potential success of this program will allow for a greater number of charter guests and greater revenues. "Pertinent boats have already put in paperwork for the inspection," Chandler said, "and one boat has already completed its out-of-water inspection." It is expected to complete the in-water part in December "when they have a break from charters," she said.
VICL members and brokers plan to play a role in terrorism relief efforts. Two New York state brokers, Mike Johnson of Cruising in Paradise in Nesconset and Ken Hecht of Port Yacht Charters in Port Washington, and several league boat operators are working with the mayor's office in New York City to offer free crewed yacht vacations for police officers and firefighters.
The vessels — Ayacanora, Dreamwalker, Glory of Christiansted, Lady Jane and Sea Nymph — are "prepared to give the red carpet treatment," Chandler said. "Being one with nature," she added, "a crewed charter can be a very emotionally healing vacation."

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Nov. 10, 2001 - A fleet of yachts is filling the Crown Bay Marina docks through Sunday for the Virgin Islands Charteryacht League's 27th annual fall show.
"We had an excellent turnout of 59 yachts, one more than last year, and Crown Bay did a great job of fitting them all in, considering the trend is for bigger yachts," VICL executive director Susan Chandler said.
The show attracted 125 brokers from the U.S. East and West Coasts, Hawaii, England and neighboring islands including Puerto Rico and Antigua. "We've have 24 new brokers this year, so that's a strong turnout," Chandler said.
Brokers are the sales force of the crewed charter industry. They view the yachts personally in order to match-make the right boats with the right clients. "The clients call or e-mail, we establish their budget and qualifications or what they're looking for, and match them with a boat," explained Ann Borns, broker with Admiralty Yacht Vacations, based on St. Thomas.
"This is our fourth show, and we found it very productive," said Bob Brokaw, who with his wife, Lisa Lundt, charters their 102-foot motor yacht Our Delight. "The brokers were more engaging this year, asking good questions and working harder," he added.
The fleet of yachts showing included four new power boats. "This might be a reflection of our baby boomer population growing older and looking for more comfort," Chandler said.
Dick Schoonover, broker with Yacht Connections Ltd., added, "Typically less than 10 percent of the fleet has been power boats, but clients today aren't usually sailors. They're not into sailing barefoot and hoisting the mainsail. Comfort is a big concern." His company has offices in Tortola and England, and he was one of many brokers who attended last week's Charter Yacht Society show in the British Virgin Islands before heading to St. Thomas.
One of the new power boats, Stardust, is equipped with an aft wheelchair lift that can transport physically challenged clients from the lower deck to the bridge.
Following the comfort trend, monohulls are larger these days, some 60 feet and longer, and multihulls -- which offer stability that attracts family groups -- are popular, Chandler said.
"Twelve years ago, there were only one or two multihulls," Schoonover said. "Now, 50 percent of the fleet over in Tortola is multihulls."
"The identical cabins are desirable when several couples or a corporate group travel together," Admiralty's Borns added.
Getting the word, and pictures, out
Chandler, executive director of the 156-member VICL for nearly a year, says, "I believe strongly in this business and what we have to offer, so I've been using my marketing and public relations background to get the word out." Working with the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, the Coast Guard and local legislators and as a member of the governor's Tourism Advisory Board, she has sought to gain visibility for the V.I. marine tourism sector. "We're even linked to the Department of Tourism's web site, so we receive and pass on all marine-related e-mail queries," she said.
The Charter Yacht League will have a colorful, glossy new brochure out next month that is part of its new marketing plan. It's filled with photographs that give potential clients an idea of what a crewed yacht vacation is like. "There are sections that show clients how they can chart their own course, the range of shore-side activities available, cuisine, specialty cruises like those focusing on scuba diving, how affordable the vacation can be, and how to go about booking a charter," Chandler explained. In addition, the VICL has developed rack cards and direct mail and trade show materials and has revamped its web site. Meantime, the staff has settled into new, easily accessible offices at Crown Bay Marina.
While the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks did not deter yachts or brokers from taking part in the show, business took a downturn -- one that appears to have been temporary. "We were already starting to see a drop-off in inquiries in August with the coming economic recession," Schoonover said. "Airfare wars have helped, too. I think in the future we'll see more last-minute bookings, for two reasons. First, people will be waiting to see if they actually have cash in hand and are sure they want to spend it on a vacation. Secondly, they'll be looking to see if it's reasonable to travel."
"Inquiries dropped by one-third or more right after Sept. 11, but we didn't have any cancellations," Brokaw said. "We're looking at 21 or more weeks of charter for the upcoming year." Similarly, Borns added, "Inquiries are bouncing back now, especially with snowstorms in the north."
Some brokers and boaters alike are optimistically looking toward next summer, when Americans who typically charter in the Mediterranean may look to stay closer to home, meaning New England, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Crewed charters contribute to the economy
According to VICL figures from three St. Thomas-based clearinghouses, the average number of charters per year increased from 650 in 1995-98 to 800 last year. For the coming season, 600 to 700 charters are projected. The average charter is composed of four passengers, each paying $1,500 to $2,500; overall charter yacht fees total over $4 million, most of which stays in the local economy in provisioning and marine repair expenditures.
"We do a significant business with many of the crewed yachts," says Marty Goldberg, owner of The Fruit Bowl, one of 18 businesses with displays at the boat show.
"Yachts spend an average of 10 percent of the vessels' value annually on maintenance," Chandler said. And charter clients spend money on taxis, restaurant meals, shopping and more.
In the last year, the Charter Yacht League has worked with the Coast Guard to "bring vessels capable of carrying up to 12 passengers into the inspected realm of boats," Chandler said. The potential success of this program will allow for a greater number of charter guests and greater revenues. "Pertinent boats have already put in paperwork for the inspection," Chandler said, "and one boat has already completed its out-of-water inspection." It is expected to complete the in-water part in December "when they have a break from charters," she said.
VICL members and brokers plan to play a role in terrorism relief efforts. Two New York state brokers, Mike Johnson of Cruising in Paradise in Nesconset and Ken Hecht of Port Yacht Charters in Port Washington, and several league boat operators are working with the mayor's office in New York City to offer free crewed yacht vacations for police officers and firefighters.
The vessels -- Ayacanora, Dreamwalker, Glory of Christiansted, Lady Jane and Sea Nymph -- are "prepared to give the red carpet treatment," Chandler said. "Being one with nature," she added, "a crewed charter can be a very emotionally healing vacation."