Open for Business

27 October 2017 By Steve Davis

Hurricanes Irma and Maria were devastating to a number ofCaribbean islands and Florida, and now that the storm has fizzled at sea, manycontinue with plans for a Caribbean season. But it might not be business asusual. Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda directly, leaving it nearly uninhabitable andforcing all the island’s inhabitants to evacuate to Antigua. Its path slicedapart St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, and the BVIs before skirting PuertoRico and ripping through the Turks and Caicos and running up the Floridapeninsula. 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 groundsto start all over. But, just weeks later, cleanup and rebuilding is alreadyunderway.

While government officials focus on their citizens’ healthand safety, hotels and marinas are diligently cleaning, restoring, and gettingback on their feet. Although some businesses may not be ready due to the extentof damage, and marinas may not have full dock availability, the consensus ismost locations will be up and ready.

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

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

IGYMarinas has started repairs at the St. Maarten and St. Thomas locations as wellas Blue Haven Resort and Marina in the Turks & Caicos, which is partiallyopen and aims to be fully open for February 2018 or May/June 2018, and TheMarina at Ortega Landing in Jacksonville, Florida. They are also pitching in torebuild the community. “At this time, we are optimistic that our marinaswill be operational in most, if not all, affected locations for the upcomingwinter 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 byNovember.”

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