I was one of the lucky few who attended the U.S. Superyacht Association’s Captain’s Briefing at Isle de Sol in Sint Maarten on Jan. 16-17. Topics covered included weapons on board, hired security teams and support, new technology and ISPS regulations.
On the second day, STCW, LYC3 and Port State Control/Paris MOU were discussed. (We’ve all heard the acronyms; this was the way to find out how they directly affect us, our crew and our vessels.) Lastly, we were briefed on the North American west coast as a cruising ground and, specifically, the America’s Cup events in San Francisco this fall.
A quick look at Google showed me about 155 slips in Simpson Bay Lagoon and Marina Fort Louis for vessels larger than 35m. Let’s add at least 10 more that were likely anchored in Simpson Bay or off Marigot, and a few yachts in Philipsburg.
That’s roughly 165 yachts with a crew of more than four. Out of 35 slips in Isle de Sol, three vessels appeared to have guests, about 10 percent. So excluding those, that still left about 150 yachts or about 600 captains and crew potentially available for the briefings.
On the first day of the briefing, 20 crew showed up. On the second day, 30 of us attended. Now, to my way of thinking, that’s a ridiculous showing for an event that is presented to and for those crew.
Perhaps some crew weren’t interested in the topics. OK. Perhaps some were picking up guests the following day. Fine. Maybe some were in the middle of some much-needed repairs in preparation for departure. I get it.
But where was everyone else?
The sponsors spent a great deal of money providing this event and frankly, if I were them, I’d think very hard indeed on whether to commit to this sort of thing again. Yes, they were there to advertise, but they were also making information available that we might not find elsewhere.
I mean, where else do you get to hear the prime minister of a country and her security chief discuss how yachting and their economy go hand-in-hand? Where else do you get to ask questions of a company that can provide the services we might need in a hurry when the boss changes his mind at the last second and wants to travel in pirate-infested waters?
When is the next time you’ll find Marshall and Cayman Island registries in the same room stating the same facts? Oh, and did I mention free drinks in the bar afterwards?
That was a sad, sad turn-out. Those captains and crew in Sint Maarten who could have attended but didn’t should be ashamed of themselves.
Capt. Mac McDonald
M/Y Lady Lola