BVI News

Yacht cruisers speak! Here’s why they’re avoiding BVI

File photo. Not necessarily the boats mentioned in the story

Facebook discussion among yacht cruisers who frequent the Eastern Caribbean has given insight into the damage that is being done to the territory’s status as a premier sailing destination.

A local business owner who operates a marina in the territory invoked the discussion among sailors by asking sailors to describe how they were feeling about the BVI amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion pulled more than 100 comments and revealed that the BVI’s COVID-19 regulations aren’t the only thing deterring sailors. A reportedly negative attitude from Customs and Immigration officials, as well as the continued closure of seaports, were among the top issues deterring sailors. 

Additionally, some sailors said they feel the government is anti-sailing while others said they decided to turn their backs on the BVI in December 2020 when four US citizens were detained and charged after their boat ‘accidentally’ entered the BVI’s closed territorial waters.

“We will skip BVI. There is a zero chance we are putting a tracking app on our phones or wearing a tracking bracelet,” one person confessed.

“Too many horror stories”

“We love the BVI and I think once (if) things open up again people will flock back. That being said, the ‘word on the street’ is cruisers, charters and day-boats aren’t wanted. We can all appreciate the protections the BVI took. But constantly telling people the country will open and then changing the date feeds the mantra of BVI not wanting all the boat traffic. They have been closed since March—plenty of time to assemble and execute a plan of reopening…where is it?” a comment read.

“If anybody asks me about cruising the Caribbean, I say, ‘avoid the BVI’ … From the stories I’ve heard about the expenses being high, the authorities being finicky, and the cruisers that got detained/fined, we don’t feel we’re missing anything good/unique by skipping the BVI,” another sailor said.

“Too many horror stories coming out of the BVI. You are your own worst enemy. We will never return there. I think a lot of cruisers feel the same way,” another commented.

“We have been waiting in St Martin for BVI to open it’s borders to yachts. I understand that borders were scheduled to open 1st March but delayed once again until 15th April. We have given up waiting and are starting to move south — Antigua, SVG, Grenada; all open and welcoming.”

Recently, Nanny Cay Marina found a creative way to attract business by circumventing the current closure of the territory’s sea borders.

The company started offering to transfer privately-owned vessels from the neighbouring US Virgin Islands (USVI) into the BVI, free of cost.

Inconvenient and expensive

After the boat is transferred, the owner or crew members would then have to fly to the BVI to collect the vessel and sail the BVI waters.

However, many of the sailors who joined the recent Facebook discussion said this option doesn’t ‘float their boat’ as the option is inconvenient and expensive.

“… These are cruisers. They live on budgets. You’re asking someone to bring in their boat and then fly in at an added cost. In the meantime, they have to stay in a hotel, all to go forgo your system of check-in. That is rude and expensive. Gather your marina owners, run your numbers and bring it to your Minister of Tourism and see if they can maybe give some cotillion classes for government officials. That would be nice; real nice if they could actually promote cruisers instead of making everything an issue,” a cruiser said.

Scaring off cruisers

“Cruising sailors go from the south to the BVI to cruise it — not sit in a marina. They can sit in a marina in the south right through hurricane season. So can’t see that initiative drawing the crowds this season. The biggest complaint we hear is of the bureaucracy — fines for straying into waters when passing. That has scared off a lot of folks. It’s gov you need to talk to,” the discussion continued. 

The reopening of the BVI’s marine borders to international traffic is now scheduled for April 15 after being pushed back for the third time.

Locals continue to complain that the extended border closure and strict COVID-19 regulations are causing irreparable damage to the BVI’s reputation. 

Chairman of the BVI Marine Association, Andrew Ball recently confirmed that multiple local charter companies have sailed their boats to “bluer waters” in a bid to stop financial haemorrhaging.

Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

68 Comments

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  1. YOUTH MAN says:

    Some of these people are just greedy.

    Like 13
    Dislike 76
  2. fowl foot says:

    ahhhh you all shout to hell up tourist will still come to the peacefull Bvi

    Like 10
    Dislike 74
  3. To the Government says:

    Here we go again. These boating company do not care about we the people whether we live or die. All they want is the money and still do not hire the people in the BVI when they get going.

    Like 25
    Dislike 95
    • Dave says:

      These are cruisers. Nothing to do with charter companies… they do, buy groceries, pay people to maintain their boats, purchase cell phone plans, frequent bars and restaurants, utilize taxis and rental cars, and other things that benefit us all though…

      Like 68
      Dislike 2
    • WEW says:

      The sailing community cares more for the people in the BVI than their own government.

      Like 67
      Dislike 6
      • Local says:

        @WEW thats what you think think again its all about money for them they dont give a rat a** if you get sick or die once they making money so dont mind the hype or noise ita all about them

        Like 6
        Dislike 20
        • EAST MAN says:

          Very true.

          Dislike 10
        • HonestTruth says:

          The question is why should they care about you personally when you personally do not care about them? What goes around comes around / you reap what you sow.

          For the record, they care about the people in the BVI so far as it benefits their business. You may not like them and they may or may not like you but it is what is called a symbiotic relationship.

          By contrast, the government officials are only in it for themselves and nobody else. Maybe their family and close friends, but that’s about it.

          Like 11
          Dislike 1
        • WEW @ Local says:

          When you get sick and die you think the government cares ? NO. as long as they have gotten your money

          Like 3
          Dislike 1
    • Tourism says:

      Which industry do you work in? Clearly one where you have not been affected. I am a belonger working in tourism and we are all struggling.

      Like 39
  4. Oh please says:

    This is a staged something. All over the world is closed down so where are they going with these lies.

    Like 17
    Dislike 76
    • @Oh please says:

      Times have moved on, everywhere was closed, but lots of countries have since opened up. That’s where tourists are going. You can shut your eyes and pretend otherwise but it wont change the reality.

      Like 23
      Dislike 1
  5. East man says:

    Some of these people just want to come in here before time and give us Covid and set us back. They could care less about the BVI people.

    Like 24
    Dislike 76
    • Yup says:

      Agreed. They be giving us the virus and THEN the vaccine. That stuff makes you blind and turns your skin white. The UK is trying to wipe us out forever!

      Like 10
      Dislike 69
      • Lodger says:

        So what colour does it turn white peoples skin?

        Like 29
        Dislike 2
      • You says:

        Were you born stupid or its a condition you developed over time?

        This is pure and utter stupidness! How did they give us the virus? With all of the control mechanisms that are in place to make us covid free at this moment in time?

        stop the fearmongering you mongrel!

        The UK is trying to wipe us out? I thought most of these international charter companies here were American though? but you know….

        do you…..

        You will get your wish though, because were aren’t going to open on the 15th April either.

        Like 16
        Dislike 1
        • Ido says:

          The 🇬🇧 said don’t open. The marines are coming once the COI is done. Queen taking back her land and people. We will be servants again.

          Like 1
          Dislike 6
          • Just stupid... says:

            Cruisers will go so where else. Stay locked up and hope you get a taste of the banking and finance business, eat your conch, lobster and goat, and then beg for help next hurricane.

  6. WTF says:

    These people live on boats, they can quarantine on their boats. This seems like exactly the type of long-stay seasonal customer that the Government told us they wanted. Go read their comments. They are enjoying St Thomas, St Martin, Grenada, The Bahamas, and others. Their COVID numbers are under control and their medical facilities are keeping up. These people would be a much needed economic stimulus that doesn’t come out of the taxpayers pocket (or pension!) and come at a proven low risk. Get it together BVI! What is most disturbing is the negative attitude these people have toward the BVI after the way it has handled the situation. Most of the complaints are about Government, not protocols. This feeling will last, and it will affect us for years to come.

    Like 86
    Dislike 3
    • Hmm says:

      If seems that there are a couple of different issues in here. But disturbed by the one that is complaining that they don’t want to quarantine, quite clearly said that they wouldn’t use a tracking app or bracelet. This is a visitor we can do without. We have no cases for a reason. Because all visitors have to quarantine. Plenty of cases have been caught and contained in quarantine. Why would a boat person be treated any different?

      If they are suggesting that they wouldn’t stop at any bvi facilities then there is no economic benefit to the bvi anyway.

      Just because you sail in doesn’t mean that you get to be exempt from the practices that have, so far, kept us safe.

      Like 12
      Dislike 6
    • SMDH says:

      Same people in 3 months will says these destinations crowded and ain’t wan to go there. Bla bla bla

  7. Eric~BVI says:

    Facts are facts. Historically speaking, the BVI government screws up just about everything it touches. From levying new absurd fees and fines, to infrastructure forecasting/building, social programs for their people, education, and of course the constant whispers of corruption that the belongers and all who watch know is prevalent.
    I enjoy the atmosphere and people of the BVI and wish them the best. The fact is without cruisers and tourism dollars, the BVI is nothing more than an irrelevant settlement in an obscure archipelago with a few communities struggling to survive. Fix your house BVI.

    Like 87
    Dislike 5
    • Visitor says:

      They don’t screw up everything. The drug business seems to thrive.

      Like 20
    • Hmmmm says:

      That is Governments all over the world. The Perfect Government is a Dictatorship. You have two choices, Them Blue or Them Red. So what is your point? No more Governments?

  8. Beware says:

    Youth man, fowl foot, to the government, oh please, East man – all these posts seem to be coming from the same keyboard.

    Like 13
    Dislike 14
  9. Jolene says:

    These negative comments are not helping.

    Like 27
    Dislike 4
  10. think twice says:

    The charter guests I’ve talked to didn’t mind the extra’s to be able to come and enjoy the uncrowded waters and beaches. It is worth it and it is safe. Facts!

    Like 9
    Dislike 17
    • How many? says:

      oh yeah, BOTH of them?
      Since our tourist arrivals are at a fraction of 1% of normal, I am sure that the few who get in are happy to have uncrowded anchorages and quiet places.

      Like 14
      Dislike 2
    • Retired says:

      The retired don’t mind. However people or families working don’t have the time. I changed 3 times and decided to charter elsewhere: about $6k in provisions, dining out, and shopping that will be spent somewhere else.
      The comments here and other place leave feeling” why should we ever come back….”.

  11. Lol says:

    Who really suffering in this feild beside the economy hmm who own these characters business not local …

    Like 2
    Dislike 31
    • WTF says:

      You said it yourself. The economy affects everyone, and removing almost 30% of it makes a big hit. Everyone suffers. Watch our cell phone bills, power bills, water bills and others all climb in the months to come. What about all the people that rent the apartments? How many marinas are owned by locals – almost all of them! Marinas don’t make money without boats! Enough of this from here/not from here and black/white nonsense! Everyone suffers. This affects us all.

      Like 31
    • @lol says:

      You are just as clueless as the govt. There are MANY MANY locals who are suffering as a result. Bars, restaurants, stores, mechanics, captains, charter companies, taxis, car rentals, guest houses and the list goes on. Keep up the small mindedness and see how far it gets you.

      Like 20
      Dislike 1
  12. Rubber Duck says:

    Fat Alberts gang don’t gaf.

  13. The nation says:

    So, we are supposed to operate on people’s feelings only??? Is another sailing jurisdiction doing better than BVI in terms of marine tourism?

    Like 4
    Dislike 4
  14. Oh no says:

    I guarantee you it is not staged. I stumbled over the post on FB and the actual comments are probably too atrocious for BVI News to post. I was wondering what kind of journalists we had here since they never picked up the story.

    Like 21
  15. BEE says:

    Everything there is pretty much a correct resume of how cruisers see the BVI.
    And we’ve been saying for donkey’s years that the BVI’s ever-so-welcoming Customs and Immigration people act like they were trained by the East Germans. These “ambassadors” all act like every tourist is trying to pull one over on them. They aren’t.

    Like 34
  16. Davey Jones says:

    Perhaps this break will allow the contaminated waters of many anchoring locations to filush out that holding tank waste that has been [allegedly] discharged by the charter boats
    Lax rules and enforcement have turned popular spots into sewers

    Like 8
    Dislike 13
  17. Most Interesting says:

    Some say they will not. come because of detained people who breached the border. So I guess Customs was suppose to not do anything. You pay their salaries so what they do is their right. Ok then. Customs and Immigration? Depends, You come to enjoy yourself or you come to remind them you pay their salaries? Totallyt agree on the. sea port dates changes. Day Sailers should just need to bring a negative pcr test and go to designated areas for now. Boats do not have dumb sailers, enough said. The USVI and BVI Government should be in talks to synchronize policies.

  18. Yes I says:

    Seems like the tail wagging the dog. Bet the can’t do that …. in a 🇺🇸 jurisdiction. Yet they want to come in and start hiding lives at ransom fir a 💵. People look out. you have been Forewarned

  19. Resident says:

    BVI’s loss was Grenada’s gain. For the second half of 2020 while the BVI borders were closed to everyone Grenada had a structured, well executed plan for boaters, cruisers that is, to sail to Grenada, be tested for Covid, then quarantine at anchor for 14 days on their own boats then they were free to move around and mingle with the local population. Many BVI based crewed boats went to Grenada as well. The result was the marinas, boatyards, grocery stores and hardware stores in Grenada were bustling with activity. Cash was flowing and there was tons of money injected into the economy of Grenada while all along the Covid count remained low. We are now well into March 2021 and boats are still not allowed to come to the BVI on their own after one year, WTF….

    Like 21
  20. Just Wrong says:

    I speak from over 50 years experience sailing primarily in the BVI, but all over the Caribbean as well. All of the Winwards and Leewards especially.
    Trust me when I say that If the BVI wants to encourage sailing cruisers, they must fix immigration and customs at the sea ports. The attitude that most sailors run into is just plain awful.

    Like 25
  21. BVI Sailor says:

    They can’t go St. Vincent for sure as all have to be vaccinated to go there and still quarantine so who ever included Vincy didnt do their research 🤔

  22. TheEntitledClass says:

    Sound like a bunch of selfish people who feel the world belongs to them. They are more concern with their need over the lives of a nation. A few months of not being able to sail the VI Waters isn’t the end, but death is.

    Like 1
    Dislike 7
  23. WEW says:

    A long line every night at Rum Runners, Christiansted board walk.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The deterrent for me predates COVID. The decision to throw open arms to Russian gangsters/oligarchs and others laundering their money just gives these beautiful islands a funk I’d rather avoid. Last in a long line of bad decisions, but definitely the worst. You won’t find me in Vegas or Malta, either.

  25. Laundry says:

    My aversion to returning predates the pandemic. The decision to open the BVI to money laundering by Russian gangsters/ oligarchs, drug cartels and others has cast a funk over these beautiful islands. I no longer feel safe or welcome.

  26. The Bad Capt. says:

    I’ve been visiting the BVIs annually since 1999; it is the highlight of my year. I’ve always been cognizant of the fact that my Guests and I are Visitors in someone else’s Country. Be it visiting Vivian at the Anegada Reef Hotel or the Crew at Cooper Island Beach Club; it’s been like coming home every year. Unfortunately in 2020 I opted not to make the trip. The uncertainties and inability to count on the Country being open to Visitors were my biggest reasons. While I respect the need to ensure everyone’s safety, it became increasingly unsettling with each delay. Might the BVIs had done better to simply say “Check Back in 2021” and not string things out? I don’t know. Hopefully by Fall 2021 the BVI Government will have a plan in place that offers reassurance to those wanting to make the trip.

  27. David Ruskin says:

    BVI is doomed, so unfortunate

  28. @AnneBonny says:

    The BVI will open when the locals decide/rebel and realize that they want the tourists back…! Until then, just leave them alone! Maybe they need a break from tourists, expats and sailors! no worries find some new places to explore, the world is big!

  29. Busy Bee says:

    Everything there is pretty much a correct resume of how cruisers see the BVI.
    And we’ve been saying for donkey’s years that the BVI’s ever-so-welcoming Customs and Immigration people act like they were trained by the East Germans. These “ambassadors” all act like every tourist is trying to pull one over on them. They aren’t.

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