Posted: 25th January 2019 | Written by: OnboardOnline
In 2017, the Caribbean was hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria causing significant damage to one of the world’s most popular cruising grounds for superyachts.
Sixteen months later, after a coordinated effort by governments, yacht owners, local companies and aid organizations to ensure help reached those in need, much of the infrastructure has been rebuilt and the winter yachting season is now in full swing.
As a leading operator of numerous facilities affected, IGY Marinas remained steadfast in its commitment to keeping yachting in the Caribbean, contributing significant financial and human resources to restore the infrastructure and support local communities.
Mindful that bringing a yacht to the Caribbean is always a big decision, IGY provided regular updates to reassure yacht owners and captains that its marinas would be restored in time for the winter season.
Visitors old and new in Yacht Haven Grande, St. Thomas
“It was a huge undertaking to get the marinas on St. Maarten and St. Thomas back online and rebuilt within the 16 months from September 2017 to December 2018.” said Brian Deher, Regional Director of Marina Operations and Planning (Caribbean). “But IGY is happy to report that we achieved our goals, and not only are the properties as busy as ever for the 2019 winter season but, the facilities themselves also look better than ever.”
“It was a true collaboration of effort, not just to restore IGY’s facilities but also to make important improvements for the future.” said Gili Wojnowich CMM, Regional Director of Operations (USA, Bahamas and Latin America).
Pulling together at Isle de Sol Marina in St. Maarten
The transformation, little more than a year later, is impressive, with a record number of superyachts returning to the Caribbean islands. “St. Maarten and St. Thomas are experiencing a bumper season as there seems to be pent up demand to return to people’s favourite cruising grounds around St. Barths, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands.” said Brian.
Further heartened by the support and positive feedback from visiting yachts, the mood at IGY is understandably upbeat.
Isle de Sol Marina fully restored
Having witnessed, firsthand, the aftermath of Irma in St. Maarten, Captain Chris Lee on M/Y Sealyon praised the turnaround saying, “We really appreciate the huge efforts to repair our home marina, Isle De Sol Marina; St Maarten. I have stayed in touch throughout and understand the work put in by all to be fully open for winter 2018/2019. A massive effort, well done, because the marina looks great! IGY goes from strength to strength.”
Similarly Captain Emile Bootsma from M/Y Blue Moon said, “For most of us, Isle de Sol has always been a second home and arguably the jewel in the IGY portfolio, so the result from Hurricane Irma in 2017 was truly gut wrenching. In true Caribbean spirit, IGY not only repaired Isle de Sol but used the opportunity to make several key infrastructure improvements to the facility. Isle de Sol now looks and operates better than when it was new!”
Isle de Sol Marina by night
Isle de Sol Marina now has several new concrete finger piers, new high-res, digital CCTV security cameras (40% more than before), new generators and electrical infrastructure, plus upgrades to the gym, tennis courts and the Fat Turtle restaurant. The entire property was also repaved and landscaped.
“Both of our St. Thomas facilities experienced significant infrastructure damage from the combination of high winds, debris, and heavy rainfall. The most obvious damage to Yacht Haven Grande included several sunken vessels beneath the docks that drifted in from nearby anchorages, mangled fuel and utility lines everywhere, notable interior flooding throughout most ground level spaces and major loss of general aesthetics including signage and landscaping.” said Gili.
Superyachts arrive in Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas
After significant works, the marina now boasts new hardwood decking, several state-of-the-art superyacht power pedestals, reconstructed retail spaces, improvements to guest amenities (swimming pool, gym, etc.), enhanced security systems and new landscaping.
Further east at American Yacht Harbor, “The storms caused significant damage to the fixed dock infrastructures, upland storefronts, and an extensive portion of the roofing structure.” said Gili. “The facility was further challenged due to its position on the local power grid which ultimately meant that it would remain on partial generator power for nearly two months.”
The season in full swing in American Yacht Harbor in St. Thomas
The property now has a new roof and a repainted exterior, rebuilt interior spaces and an improved infrastructure, sparking a surge in interest for upland tenancy and marina reservations.
While the northern islands took the brunt, a number of marinas in the south were left relatively untouched. “Rodney Bay Marina on St. Lucia was not affected by any of the hurricanes in 2017 and actually has a long history of no major hurricane damage in the area. The southern Caribbean certainly benefited in late 2017 and early 2018 due to all the damage in the north.” said Brian.
“This resulted in many yachts that have not visited or chartered in the area to venture further south to Rodney Bay and the beautiful cruising grounds in the region.”
Aerial view of Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia
Superyachts remain a core focus for IGY Marinas, the only marina management company with the capacity to handle the largest yachts in the world, including vessels over 150m, at its properties in the US, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Mediterranean.
But their strength also lies in their understanding of local culture and knowledge of the experiences available in each region, earning a reputation for the highest standards among the 8,000+ yachts visiting IGY's marinas each year.
Yet none of this would be possible without the spirit and warmth of the Caribbean people. An integral part of IGY’s mission is the act of giving back time and support to the communities where they operate, and during the recovery process this included widespread support for local inhabitants.
Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia
The IGY Community Outreach Project, “Inspire Giving Through You” gives back to communities local to IGY properties by encouraging people ashore to connect with local charities and non-profit organisations. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria this extended to environmental efforts on the ground in St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. Lucia.
In February last year, American Yacht Harbor and Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas rounded up volunteers among employees, owners, captains and crew to help rebuild the badly damaged Ivanna Aurora Kean High School's Marine Education Building. Meanwhile in St. Maarten, The Yacht Club at Isle de Sol and Simpson Bay Marina took the lead with volunteers to clean up Simpson Bay Lagoon and Beach. In St. Lucia, Rodney Bay Marina, Greening the Caribbean, numerous volunteers, captains, crew, owners and a youth group cleaned up a 5km stretch of Rodney Bay Beach.
Welcome arrival at Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas
True to their motto, ‘Think Smarter, Think Different’, more than ever IGY is proud of its world-class marinas and of its people, committed to ensuring the best possible experience for owners and guests throughout their network. When a yacht chooses to cruise the Caribbean, Mediterranean or elsewhere, IGY Marinas provides crucial support, exceptional amenities and consistently high level service.