The Gowrie Group, a leading marine insurance agency that manages the comprehensive crew health insurance and yacht insurance programs offered to active members of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA), is pleased to announce that starting February 1, 2022, coverage will be extended to shore-based active VIPCA members.
“The VIPCA Crew Medical Program has been such a large success, that the shore-based membership has asked to be included in the group association health plan for the year too. The U.S. Virgin Islands does not offer individual health plans and small group policies are extremely pricey and hard for a group to access. Working with CIGNA and VIPCA, plus understanding the needs of health insurance in the territory, Gowrie has been able to secure affordable health insurance to the shore-based vendors and businesses that are part of the active VIPCA membership,” says Rick Bagnall, Senior Vice President, Gowrie Group, Division of Risk Strategies.
Highlights of Gowrie’s insurance plan for shore-based VIPCA members include worldwide coverage, coverage in the U.S. CIGNA National network, two plans to choose from with varying deductibles, up to $5,000,000 per Policy Year limit, and monthly credit cards or EFT payments.
CIGNA provides global assistance and benefits. With 24/7 medical management services, multilingual claims administrators, and highly trained customer service professionals, this health insurance plan brings VIPCA members the products they need, backed by the service they deserve.
Enrolling in the VIPCA Shore-Based Medical Program is as easy as 1-2-3.
First, are you a VIPCA supplier, a business that serves or services VIPCA clients and members, or a VIPCA vessel owner or manager?
Secondly, if yes, are you interested in the VIPCA Health Insurance Program?
“For years VIPCA’s Board of Directors have been working to provide shore-based insurance for our members because we saw the value in having quality, affordable healthcare for our marine vendors, marine service providers, and their employees. I saw that personally. While running a marine services company, one of the most important benefits I hoped to provide to our technicians was healthcare. However, we kept running into roadblocks because there was no other individual or group health insurance option in the Virgin Islands available to the public. This new health care program for VIPCA’s shoreside members from Gowrie Group changes the existing situation in a significant and positive way. I am proud that we as an organization are available to provide this to our members,” says Peter Pieschel, member of the VIPCA Board of Directors and Chairman of the Vendors Committee.
A robust charter yacht season is officially underway in the U.S. Virgin Islands. That’s the take-home message from the USVI Charter Yacht Show, held November 7 to 10, at IGY Marina’s Yacht Haven Grande St Thomas, and hosted by the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) as a fully vaccinated event with COVID-19 protocols in place. Over 100 brokers from the Caribbean, U.S., and Europe attended in person, with an additional 40 virtually, a figure that combines to underscore the Show’s must-do nature for this global charter yacht sales force. Nearly 40 yachts were open for show, a number down from past years yet due to the industry’s success in that many yachts were already out on charter. Solid ongoing sponsor support from local and U.S.-based businesses and the Government of the Virgin Islands provides the firm foundation for the continued growth and success of the charter yacht industry and its economic contribution to the U.S. territory as part of the vibrant marine tourism sector.
Photo: Aeolus, Best Yacht in Show – 56ft – 65ft, L to R: Captain Mayon Hight and Mate Elizabeth Bork. Credit: Kody Zenger.
The Honorable Albert Bryan Jr., Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, attended the charter brokers welcome event on November 7th, and made opening remarks:
“A year and a half ago we made a conscious decision that we were not going to close our shores to sailors. We were going to honor what is in our Virgin Islands national anthem, the Virgin Islands March, to ‘hold out a welcome for one and all’. That attitude has certainly paid off. I’d like to thank all the charter brokers who made last season one of the most amazing seasons on the water. Including, for the first time, charter boats in Christiansted and Frederiksted on St. Croix. Totally amazing,” says Governor Bryan.
Looking ahead, Governor Bryan added, “we are investing in the infrastructure of our blue water economy not only in the charter industry but in fishing and cruising by putting in new ports, new boat launches, and moorings. And we will be putting in a tender pier on St. Croix so charter yachts can not only cruise over but have their passengers come ashore as well as they already enjoy in St. Thomas and St John.”
A ‘Must-Do’ Show
This year’s USVI Charter Yacht Show format provided safe and effective ways for brokers to see the yachts and crews. These included small group tours and meals aboard the yachts, and open-air socially distanced social functions onshore. Real-time videos of the yachts tours and crew interviews gave virtual attendees an up-close view.
“The show offered a great cross-section of the different boats in the fleet for charter. I do not believe there is any substitution for stepping on the boats, meeting the crews, and interacting with all the different industry personnel. Any guest that steps aboard a vessel in the Virgin Islands is about to experience one of the best vacations in the world. The natural beauty, wonderful cuisine, and people really make the Virgin Islands stand out. Additionally, with COVID changing the charter industry, I have been pleasantly surprised with the rediscovery of the USVI’s as a charter destination,” says Nick Cirillo, based in Havre de Grace, MD, owner of Blue Ocean Charters, and winner of the Show’s 2021 Broker of the Year award.
Similarly, says Ann McHorney, chief executive officer and charter broker for Fort Lauderdale, FL-based Select Yachts, “I missed the show last year due to COVID and so it was doubly good to have a chance to reconnect with familiar crews and boats, meet new and catch up with fellow brokers as well. When charter guests come to the Virgin Islands, they want to get on a boat, leave their cares at the dock, have fun, eat well, play, laugh, and enjoy the marine life. That’s just what this fleet offers.”
A Boutique Fleet
The boutique fleet of yachts ranged from 45- to 120-feet in length, and included monohulls and multihulls, power, and sail. Each yacht and its crew together provide a distinct experience such that no two are alike.
“What’s special for us in winning this award is that this is our second season in the term charter industry and first year showing in person. A lot is new and fresh, and we’re still learning, but we work as hard as we can to put forward the best product. It’s nice to have this acknowledgment in the award and it shows we are evolving in the right direction,” says Captain Ish Alexander, who with Chef Julia Malone charter the Lagoon 52, Southern Comfort, and who won Best Yacht in Show in the Up to 55-foot category.
It’s the little things that set the 2021-build Lagoon 65, Aeolus, apart, according to Captain Mayon Hight, who with Chef Therese Gorsich, and Stewardess/Mate, Elizabeth Bork, earned Best Yacht in Show in the 56- to 65-foot category. “We have high-end bath products, water toys like Seabobs and Subwings, and at the end, each guest gets a custom video of highlights of their charter.”
Burn Rate, a 120-foot Palmer Johnson motor yacht, earned Best Yacht in Show in the 66-foot and over category.
“For us, it is an honor to be able to work on Burn Rate and we have a lot of pride in keeping her in mint condition. All the credit goes to the crew for their hard work in keeping that high standard,” says Captain Evert Theron, also speaking for crew Chef Tanya Theron, Stewardess/Mate Karien Koekemoer, Deck Mate, Daan De Beer, and Engineer Louis van Wyk.
Photo: Burn Rate, Best Yacht in Show – 66ft & Over. Credit Kody Zenger
Over a decade of charter experience among the crew is just one feature that earned Captain Ryan Querry, Chef Dani Querry, and stewardess/mate, Christian Doyle aboard the 2021-launched Lagoon 65 Justified Horizons, the Best Crew Award.
“We leverage our combined talents to offer an experience that is a step above,” says Chef Dani Querry, who adds that they already have 22 weeks of charter on the books for the 2021-2022 season. “We capably handle our jobs individually and we work together well as a team so that no guest is left wanting. Ryan is a dive instructor, I’m the chef, and Christian ties it all together with incredible touches like tablescapes. We are the only 6-cabin Lagoon 65, which means we can take 10 guests. One of our niches is celebrations. We go over the top with decorations and a homemade cake for guests celebrating special occasions.”
Strong Season Ahead
In the last five years, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ charter yacht industry has proved resilient in the face of challenges such as hurricanes and a global pandemic, grown as an economic force, and put the U.S. territory back on the map as an unsurpassed self-contained jewel of a charter yacht destination. Many yachts have near to fully booked seasons, and that season started earlier this year as of November 1. With enhanced marine infrastructure projects slated, the season ahead will further solidify the U.S. Virgin Islands as a prime yacht charter destination in the Caribbean – and World.
“We are looking at an unprecedented number of sailing and charter vacations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and this year feels like we are prepared for it,” says Dare Blankenhorn, VIPCA president and owner of St. Thomas-based Charter Caribe. “The Government support that we have received has allowed us to focus heavily on developing our products within the territory. Every week, we are seeing infrastructure progress and feel the pace and rhythm of the U.S. Virgin Islands increase. Our goal today is to be grateful for our opportunities, and to take care of the things that matter to all of us… protecting our beautiful environment, creating a healthy balance between tourism and our infrastructure needs, and making sure that everyone is living, working, and experiencing the best aspects of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Awards and prizes included for each winner a $500 store credit at Harbor Shoppers, amounting to over $4000 between all winners. Also donated as a prize was a Galaxy phone by Viya, STCW basic training course by the Captain School, Ultimate Cabana days for up to six from Lovango Resort and Beach Club, leatherman’s by Budget Marine, oil changes by Multitech Marine, and vouchers to culinary winners from the Ashburton Cookery School & Chefs Academy.
Sponsors of the USVI Charter Yacht show include the USVI Department of Tourism; Yacht Haven Grande; IGY Marinas; Offshore Marine; the Gowrie Group; Catamaran Central; Moe’s Fresh Market; Grey Goose, distributed by West Indies Company; Veuve Clicquot and Captain Morgan, distributed by Bellows International; Parts & Power Ltd., distributor of Northern Lights; Pamlico Group; the Charter Yacht Broker Association; Cardow Jewelers; Harbor Shoppers; and Viya Business Solutions.
SIDEBAR: 2021 USVI CHARTER YACHT SHOW COMPETITION WINNERS
Best Yacht in Show – 66ft & Over
Winner: Burn Rate ◦ Crew: Evert Theron, Tanya Theron, Karien Koekemoer, Daan De Beer, Louis van Wyk
Runner Up: Lady Sharon Gale ◦ Crew: Keith Cressman, Annette Sharpe, Frans Cornelisse, Zara Browne
Best Yacht in Show – 56ft – 65ft
Winner: Aeolus ◦ Crew: Mayon Hight, Therese Gorsich, Elizabeth Bork
Runner Up: Le Reve ◦ Crew: Dirk DeLo, Sandra Anderson
Best Yacht in Show – Up to 55ft
Winner: Southern Comfort ◦ Crew: Ish Alexander, Julia Malone
Runner Up: Sea Dog ◦ Crew: Keagan Steyn, Olivia Boyd
Best Crew in Show
Winner: Justified Horizons ◦ Crew: Ryan Querry, Dani Querry, Christian Doyle
VIPCA is the territory’s 501(c)(6) nonprofit marine association, whose purpose is to promote, protect and further the capabilities of charter yachts and the marine businesses that sustain them. Projects and initiatives VIPCA membership supports includes producing a marine directory of local information, technical advice, and resources; improving Customs and Border Protection facilities; facilitating access for charter vessels between the USVI and the Spanish Virgin Islands; compliance guidance; installation of territory-wide new transient moorings; and marine vocational training for V.I. youth under the organization’s charity fiscally sponsored by Community Foundation Virgin Islands (CFVI.net), the Marine Rebuild Fund.
Do you live or work in the Greater Caribbean region? Do you have experience with fisheries, tourism, recreation, or other coastal businesses? Do you have knowledge of coastal management? Have you experienced any seaweed or other algae blooms in the Caribbean?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, we want to hear from you!
Our team of researchers is conducting a survey to learn more about how Sargassum events and related management strategies impact people who live or work in the Caribbean region. As someone with strong ties to the Caribbean region, your participation will be valuable for us whether or not you have seen or experienced seaweed events in your area.
Please forward this survey to colleagues and friends who might be willing to share their thoughts on resource management, coastal businesses, or Sargassum. For more information on the project, visit our project website: https://web.uri.edu/maf/2021/06/30/saragassum/; feel free to reach out to me or other team members with thoughts or questions – we would love to hear from you.
¿Usted vive o trabaja en la región del Gran Caribe? ¿Tiene experiencia con pesca, pesquerías, turismo, recreación acuática, otros negocios costeros, y/o el manejo de la costa y sus recursos? ¿Ha tenido contacto con floraciones de sargazo o algún otro evento de floración de algas en el Caribe?
Si su respuesta a cualquiera de las anteriores es “Sí”, quisiéramos aprender de sus experiencias y perspectivas a través de esta encuesta!
Nosotros somos científicos estamos llevando a cabo un estudio sobre el impacto de las floraciones de sargazo en el Caribe. Nos interesa saber cómo las floraciones de sargazo y el manejo de éstas afectan a la gente que vive o trabaja en las costas caribeñas. La participación de usted en nuestro estudio será muy valiosa para nosotros, haya o no haya tenido experiencia directa con sargazo, dada su conexión a las regiones costeras del Caribe.
Le agradeceríamos si usted quisiera compartir esta encuesta con sus colegas o conocidos quienes podrían compartir sus experiencias con nosotros. Para más información, favor de visitar la página web de nuestra investigación: https://web.uri.edu/maf/2021/06/30/saragassum/. Siéntase en libertad de comunicarse conmigo o cualquier otro miembro de nuestro equipo, nos gustaría mucho saber de usted.
Vivez-vous ou travaillez-vous dans la Grande Région Caraïbe ? Avez-vous de l’expérience avec la pêche, le tourisme, les loisirs ou d’autres entreprises côtières ? Avez-vous des connaissances en gestion côtière ? Avez-vous connu des proliférations d’algues dans les Caraïbes ?
Si vous avez répondu OUI à l’une de ces questions, votre témoignage nous intéresse !
Notre groupe de chercheurs mène une enquête sur les personnes qui vivent ou travaillent dans la région des Caraïbes, pour en savoir plus sur l’impact des arrivages de sargasses et des stratégies de gestion associées. En tant que personne ayant des liens étroits avec la région des Caraïbes, votre participation nous sera précieuse, que vous ayez ou non vu ou connu des proliférations sur les algues dans votre région.
Veuillez transmettre ce sondage à vos collègues et amis qui pourraient être intéressés à partager leurs réflexions sur la gestion des ressources, les entreprises côtières ou les sargasses. Pour plus d’informations sur le projet, visitez le site Web de notre projet: https://web.uri.edu/maf/2021/06/30/saragassum/, et n’hésitez pas à me contacter ou à tout autre membre du groupe de recherche si vous avez des idées ou des questions – nous aimerions avoir de vos Nouvelles.
Jan. 30-Feb. 1: 2018 Caribbean Travel Marketplace at the Puerto Rico Convention Center. Click here for more information.
Feb. 15: Membership Mixer at Pirates Treasure Museum from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Click here to view the flyer. RSVP with Lisa Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 340-774-6835.
March 15: Join USVIHTA for breakfast at our Annual General Membership Meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty will join as guest speaker.
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