The Caribbean cruising season is nearly upon us and there are some significant updates from your “other-half-of-the-year” home that may make the 2011-2012 season one to remember.
If St. Lucia had not previously been on your owners’ itinerary, you might find yourself visiting the “Jewel of the Windwards” this year. The island’s government and Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation have recently enacted changes in previous regulations to encourage yacht charters and cruising, thus making life easier for yacht industry-related businesses to operate in the country.
Yachtsmen now can stay in St. Lucia waters for up to six months. Yachts whose owners are temporarily on the island may remain in the state for up to three years free of duties and taxes.
Several significant tax waivers also will have a positive affect on the importation of yachts, boat safety and water sports equipment, and materials necessary to set up the infrastructure of yacht service facilities (subject to approval). Charter businesses will be encouraged to establish local offices by a 100-percent waiver on income tax for the first five years of operation. (For more information visit www.igymarinas.com; http://www.igymarinas.com/news-events/latest-news/the-st.-lucia-ministry-of-tourism-announces-major-/)
If you haven’t heard of or already have discovered the fantastic Yacht Club Costa Smeralda Marina, make it your mission to add North Sound, Virgin Gorda to the itinerary this year. This state-of-the-art superyacht marina opened last spring with an inaugural Superyacht Rendezvous and Regatta (www.superyachtrendezvousandregatta.com) and plans to continue the annual event once again March 14 to17, 2012.
The marina accommodates yachts up to 100 meters with up to a 9.1-meter draft. A new clubhouse is on schedule to open by the start of the charter season. Coordinates: 18º 29' 30.40" N 64º 21' 31.48" W
Radio: VHF 08. www.oilnutbay.com
St. Maarten is pulling out all of the stops this year to get the season off to a swinging start with Spotlight St. Maarten (www.spotlightstmaarten.com). November 11, 2011 marked the kick-off of a month-long celebration of daily events, from parties and races to seminars and expos. All yachties are welcome!
Sunday, November 27 is the official opening of the Fort Louis Yacht Club at Marina Fort Louis, Marigot. Take a break to enjoy a free drink and some authentic Creole flavors at the new Italian/Caribbean-themed restaurant.
Local marinas are offering discounts on transient dockage fees throughout the Spotlight St. Maarten event, which ends December 17, 2011. Get your VIP invite at www.spotlightstmaarten.com and enjoy access to the VIP party at Yacht Club Isle de Sol, featuring G Love and Orange Grove in concert.
So here’s to the start of a fabulous winter cruising season. Who knows, maybe this year you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the fabled St. Lucia parrot, or re-discover silver on Virgin Gorda, or simply catch a glimpse of that green flash…