With Covid – 19 and the Corona madness still around, yacht owners, charter guests, captains and crew are questioning and investigating the possibilities to sail to the Caribbean ( or not ) this upcoming winter season.
The Islander spoke with Jan Roosens, Managing Director of the Yacht and Ship agency Yacht Assistance – Maritime Services with headquarters in St.Maarten-St.Martin to find out the latest.
Yacht Assistance – Maritime Services is a French registered company based in Marigot Saint Martin Antilles Françaises, and is also registered as a company on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten.
It’s a full service company, which provides assistance mainly to SuperYachts, Mega Yachts, Sail Training Vessels (Tall Ships) and small Cruise Ships, already for over 30 years.
The Islander: What is the prediction for the yachting arrivals in the Caribbean at this moment?
Jan Roosens: It is a little early to give a correct impression at the moment when we speak ( August ) I think because nobody knows what the near future will bring, but we have received some reservations from yachts and sail training vessels for St.Maarten and Saint Martin already and I’m hearing positive things from other Islands also, so there is hope.
What are the rules and regulations, restrictions etc. for crew and or guests arriving at the Island?
Jan Roosens: That also is difficult to answer as it changes almost every day. We had some Corona infections at a certain moment in April, later on we had none for at least a month, and now again we have several cases. I think that it is the same all over the world but as a small Island we have only a few cases so I guess it’s easier to contain and follow up.
We’ve had our complete lock down period and that’s luckily over now, the main airport Juliana on the Dutch side is open, even for USA flights, and the small airport in Grand Case on the French side is also fully operational.
Of course, when the new young minister of Tourism, Airport and Harbor, Ludmilla De Weever, decided to let American people come in at a moment when the USA had a lot of positive cases, she received a lot of bad comments, but I think she was absolutely right to do so. You can’t let the complete economic situation go to zero, not even with a pandemic.
When it all started in March we still had a lot of mega, superyachts and sail training vessels around but with the good cooperation from the government on both sides of the Island we were able to clear everyone out and clear in new crew that came to pick up vessels.
Arriving yachts for the winter season will have to go through some testing as well as arriving passengers, guest or crew by airplane but they will be accommodated as good as we can.
Brian Deher, Caribbean manager of the IGY facility Ile De Sol in St.Maarten told me that they now have their own testing facility in the marina with certified nurse supervised by a doctor.
So, guests and crew can come in and remain in quarantine there or on the yacht during the time it takes for tests to come back ( within 24 hours ).
I know that the French side is also working out something like that.
I’m hoping that by the time the yachts are here it will all be easier and less hefty, but again, we can’t predict the future so we have to anticipate.
The Islander: Are there any new regulations for yacht clearances?
Jan Roosens: well, there are a few changes. One is for example that a yacht now has the obligation to work with a yacht agent so that things can be controlled better, in the old days any captain or crew member could clear in and out. Maybe the day when there is a vaccine or safe drug that will change again but for now it is what it is.
We know the requirements at the moment when a Yacht is due to arrive so we ( or an other agent ) can give the captain or management company the necessary information and documents when they ask us to be there agent. It does not make sense to give information at this moment as it may change ( and become hopefully less strict ) further in the year.
The Islander: How are the hospital, doctors and other medical situation when someone should be positive tested or in case someone falls really ill?
Jan Roosens: We are prepared. There is a permanent Medevac team standby at Juliana airport complete with private jet for long distance evacuation and helicopter services are also available. The hospitals on both sides of the Island are very well equipped and capable of handling not only Corona related issues but also almost everything else.
We’ve had of course several non Covid related emergencies in the past with guests and crew members of yachts, offshore and on shore, and each time it worked out well.
The Cross Antilles Guyane, SNSM and Sea Rescue are all cooperating superbly when a yacht or any vessel has some trouble. A few seasons ago, the Cross Antilles contacted one of our mega yacht clients twice daily while they were more that 1000 miles from St.Maarten on an Atlantic crossing with updates from a doctor for a guest with a medical problem. The captain had asked us for a helicopter but no one can fly out over a thousand miles and back !
Everything went well later on at the hospital on the French side.
The Islander: So, in closing ?
Well, I would say, book your charters and tell your owners to set sail for the Caribbean this winter. We will be ready !
Yacht Assistance assists with all imaginable services not only DURING a vessel’s visit in the Caribbean but also BEFORE and AFTER their stay.
The company has her own network of resources & experts with people available on several Islands and cooperating with THE BEST yacht agents on other Islands and countries.
Yacht Assistance has also an office in Antibes from where they operate during the summer to serve the Mediterranean.
Yacht Assistance is a “ONE STOP” contact for any mega or superyacht’s visit to all the Islands of the Caribbean.
A captain or management company can receive one invoice for all the services provided on all the Islands if wished, or pay directly to Yacht Assistance and the cooperating agents at each Island individually.
Have a look at the web site www.YachtAssistance.com and browse through https://www.yachtassistance.com/recommendations.html and the different categories to find out why hundreds of people rely on Yacht Assistance for the best yacht and ship agent services in the Caribbean Islands and other countries.
Yacht Assistance is certified to handle
ON BOARD AND ON SHORE HELICOPTER OPERATIONS.
They can arrange that you can fly from your yacht to the airport, to St.Barth, to Anguilla, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the Grenadines etc. Land at a hotel, do a sight seeing tour directly from the yacht with owner or/and guests, land at private properties like the Loterie Farm in St.Martin and other places.
Yacht Assistance‘s owner has been involved in the new build of several + 100 ft yachts and has experience as a former pilot, so many technical issues on yachts can be addressed easily and resolved in the best way possible.
Other Agents make Money – We make FRIENDS
Is what they say, and after doing business for over 30 years in the Caribbean and specifically in St.Maarten-St.Martin, there are hundreds of mega yachts and other vessel captains and crew that agree with it.
You can e-mail Yacht Assistance at: info@YachtAssistance.com or call +590690266862 or +590690629955