By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
A large number of vessels are leaving the British Virgin Islands and fleeing to southern shores as the peak of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season draws nearer.
Executive Director at the Charter Yacht Society Janet Oliver told BVI News between 80 and 85 percent of their members have gone to islands such as Grenada and the twin-island state of Trinidad & Tobago to wait out the season.
She said those figures represent roughly 25 percent more than the usual number of boaters who leave the territory for vacation and other reasons during this time.
“It is true – lots of boats have gone down but I can’t put an exact figure [on it],” added General Manager at Nanny Cay Marina Miles Sutherland Pilch.
Pilch, however, said vessel owners should not be blamed for being cautious and leaving for a while.
Chairman of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA) Louis Potter has said fleeing boaters will mean a drop in revenue for the territory.
“This is the time boats [usually] tend to do their repairs, and a whole lot of things,” he said.
Potter said part of the reason for the mass movement hinges on insurance companies which have insisted that vessels move to ‘safe areas’ during the hurricane season. Vessel owners who chose to remain are threatened with higher insurance premiums, Potter explained.
Hurricane shelter for vessels needed
Both Potter and Pilch have now underscored the importance of building a vessel storage facility capable of withstanding major hurricanes. The men told BVI News they hope such an initiative be given consideration.
In that way, boaters will be more likely to remain, Pilch explained.
Boat owners usually utilize Sea Cow’s Bay and Paraquita Bay lagoon to secure their boats during a hurricane season, BVI News understands.
Government, in the meantime, has also been told they can assist stakeholders in the marine industry by lowering the taxes and improving service delivery and customer service.
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