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More boats, larger yachts at USVI Charter Yacht Show

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By Carol M. Bareuther

Music and film magnate David Geffen’s 454-foot M/Y Rising Sun proved the perfect backdrop to the nearly 60 monohull, multihull and motoryachts docked at IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande on St. Thomas for the USVI Charter Yacht Show.

Held Nov. 10-13, the theme this year was certainly size. More specifically, over 100 brokers attended, yacht participation was up over past years and so was yacht length. In fact, the fleet included two motor yachts, the 111-foot Broward M/Y Lady Sharon Gale and 92-foot Tarrab M/Y Suite Life, as well as the 83-foot Prout catamaran Blue Gryphon.

Capt. Keith Hyatt, captain of M/Y Lady Sharon Gale.

“We’re a bit of a dinosaur as a monohull as a large percent of the charter fleet today is catamarans, but I think the world needs dinosaurs,” said Capt. Keith Hyatt, captain of the Lady Sharon Gale, which is based in St. Maarten but will relocate to Grenada for the next hurricane season and spend much of this winter season chartering in the Virgin Islands. “There are several good places to charter in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Magens Bay is one highlight. Everyone loves St. John, which is two-thirds national park.”

Damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017 led to a change of owner, crew and a $1.5 million refit for the Lady Sharon Gale. The USVI Charter Show is her first showing since the refit. Similarly, new ownership and the conversation from private to charter yacht necessitated a million-dollar-plus renovation aboard the Blue Gryphon. Part of this was done at Rybovich in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the rest at Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine. New owners Jon and Kait Bellemare and crew left Maine on Oct. 30 in transit to St. Thomas.

“We ran a Lagoon 62 for the past five seasons and are very familiar with this area,” said Jon Bellemare, who adds the boat will also take part in the Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting next month. “This boat has a toy-heavy program, a shallow draft for her size and thrives in the Bahamas. We’ll be back there next summer after what we expect to be a great winter charter season in the Caribbean. In October, we’ll ship her to the Pacific and spend 2020 in Tahiti and Bora Bora.”

Carol Bareuther is a freelance writer in St. Thomas. Comments are welcome below.

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