As the Antigua Charter Show kicks off the winter Caribbean season, M/Y Sherakhan is donating a portion of her charter proceeds to the rebuilding of the region, following the destruction of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which hit the area earlier on this year. “The region needs our business to rebuild the Caribbean to her former glory,” begins Captain Kevin van Luijn of M/Y Sherakhan, the 70m 1965 explorer vessel. “I think it is our responsibility, as an industry, to give back to the islands. They have always supported us and made it possible for us to do our business in the area.”
For Captain van Luijn, the vessel had originally planned to cruise the Caribbean region, but unlike many yachts that changed their itineraries following the hurricanes, they were not swayed by the recent events in the area. “The initial plan for Sherakhan was always doing the Caribbean. Due to the hurricane and the impact on the region we had considered going to other destinations, however we still wanted to try and help the Caribbean, and therefore we decided to go to there,” he says. “So far it has been very difficult to explain to the charter guests that we should come and visit the islands to support them, as we are not helping the islands at all by staying away.”
Norina Edelman, director at International Marine Management (IMM) recently wrote a guest column for issue 184 The Superyacht Report that echoes this sentiment. “Are there strong arguments why we need yachts to return to ensure we will be able to serve you in the future? Absolutely. Can yachts make a real and lasting impact, now more than ever, on our island economies? Absolutely.” However, as discussed at The Superyacht Forum last month (and spoken about in detail in this article by Lulu Trask), the rhetoric surrounding the Caribbean destruction should be dialed back slightly, with many superyacht facilities still up and running for the winter season. However, guests should expect there to be some damage still present in selected areas. As Trask highlights, this is a delicate balance that the market must achieve.
Captain van Luijn reports a positive atmosphere at the Antigua Charter Show, but does forecast that there might be quite some time before the islands return to normal. “I think it will take at least a year to be back at its former glory, and most likely that is way too optimistic.” He adds that, although facilities for visitors need to be repaired, the government and charitable organisations helping the islands should concentrate on supporting residents, first and foremost. “I think the region should focus on food, water and electricity to all locals, rebuild the airport, marinas and then focus on all the tourist things like hotels.”
M/Y Sherakhan, who has just undergone an extensive refit at Icon Yachts in Holland, will donate up to $20,000 per charter booking to causes working with islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. For each charter organised through Y.CO, the brokerage house will also donate $5,000. The current itinerary sees the vessel travel from St Lucia to Grenada, through the Windward Islands, but van Luijn stresses that the vessel would be willing to cruise the entire Caribbean area if the client wished to travel to different destinations.
Image: M/Y Sherakhan
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