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Open for Business

Oct 27th 17
By Steve Davis

Hurricanes Irma and Maria were devastating to a number of Caribbean islands and Florida, and now that the storm has fizzled at sea, many continue with plans for a Caribbean season. But it might not be business as usual. Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda directly, leaving it nearly uninhabitable and forcing all the island’s inhabitants to evacuate to Antigua. Its path sliced apart St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, and the BVIs before skirting Puerto Rico and ripping through the Turks and Caicos and running up the Florida peninsula. Then, a little farther south, Hurricane Maria followed within weeks, bowling over Dominica, skirting the Leeward Islands, and spinning on top of St. Croix and Puerto Rico, leaving many in the typical Caribbean cruising grounds to start all over. But, just weeks later, cleanup and rebuilding is already underway. 


While government officials focus on their citizens’ health and safety, hotels and marinas are diligently cleaning, restoring, and getting back on their feet. Although some businesses may not be ready due to the extent of damage, and marinas may not have full dock availability, the consensus is most locations will be up and ready.  


At the recent Monaco Yacht Show, ACREW hosted a discussion on the upcoming Caribbean season. Norena Edelman of IMM in Guadeloupe and FKG Rigging in St. Maarten, started the discussion. “As you know, we are three weeks out from Hurricane Irma, and a week out from Hurricane Maria, so there’s still a lot we don’t know, and there are still some things we can’t say,” she said. “From my perspective, the fundamental requirement is that we can guarantee the safety and security of the yachts. If we didn’t feel we could offer that, we wouldn’t be here. We want to provide accurate information so that people can make informed decisions about what they want to do.” In light of that, several companies in St. Maarten — SMMTA, Dockside Management, and BWA Yachting — have launched a website that will provide up to the minute updates on what is going on all over the islands, “[It] will be run by us and will give updated and accurate information so that you will know what is open and what is not and what state things are in so that you’re able to make the right decision,” Edelman said. 


“The Christophe Harbour community and the larger island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis are fortunate to report that they were spared significant damage from Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma,” says Clare Sidwell in an email, “and the Marina at Christophe Harbour is open and operational, providing fuel and berthing for vessels displaced by the storm. The new Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour is still scheduled to open November 1, 2017.” In the same vein, Marina Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic reports no damage, and is operating as normal. 


IGY Marinas has started repairs at the St. Maarten and St. Thomas locations as well as Blue Haven Resort and Marina in the Turks & Caicos, which is partially open and aims to be fully open for February 2018 or May/June 2018, and The Marina at Ortega Landing in Jacksonville, Florida. They are also pitching in to rebuild the community. “At this time, we are optimistic that our marinas will be operational in most, if not all, affected locations for the upcoming winter season,” IGY noted in their recent update. “From our last check-in,” says Kristin Soto of IGY, “it looked to be that the marinas would be open by November.” 


This article originally ran in the November 2017 issue of Dockwalk.

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