Hurricanes pummel yacht industry
After Irma and Maria, we ask what hurricanes have done to the Caribbean's yacht and tourism industry. Plus: the first word from the Monaco Yacht Show.
Edited by Oliver McGuirk
We are going to be joined live from Monaco, I hope, with the wonders of Skype, by Rory Jackson. Rory was stuck, ironically, out at sea few minutes ago. So we're very glad to have him here.
Rory wrote the front page story in the report today about the effect of the hurricanes in the Caribbean and on the yachts. What did you discover about what had happened to yachts and marinas in the Caribbean in the path of these-- Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria?
What I sort of discovered was that the marina infrastructure itself, where the yachts, superyachts had been at the time-- actually, it wasn't affected as negatively as some of the on-land infrastructure and the human capital that was there because what's maybe not as known is that the yachts in the area rely massively on the work of the local communities.
And when it comes to small servicing things, one of the examples I was given was that there was a piano teacher that was in St. Maarten who serviced a lot of the yachts and the children that were onboard to maintain lessons and stuff. He has since been uprooted. And that's just one example of a much wider issue.
And the infrastructure that was there for the people that contributed towards the yachting community is now in some areas just simply not there at all. St. Maarten was described as unlivable by some people. And what's happened since then is that the communications have been so poor that the extent of the damage is still widely unknown in some areas. And obviously, now it's moved on to Puerto Rico and other areas. So the effect has been significant across the board.
How important is yachting to the Caribbean as an industry? You talked eloquently about the people whose livelihoods are affected by it. Do we know how important it is as a part of their tourism, as a part of their economy?
Well, I think you sort of hit the nail on the head there. It's the tourism that is the major part of the economy. Obviously, yachting and superyachting, to a certain degree, all contribute towards that. But it's the elements that are on land-- it's the bars, it's the restaurants-- that a lot of the local people do work in.
How do you train your staff to make sure that they are-- they know what to do in case of storms? Now, obviously, you hope that they all have been evacuated from the path of a hurricane. But there are storms that they might encounter all the time around the world.
Yeah. I think that's a lot to do with preparedness. The highest level trading is-- relies with the captain, perhaps, and the first officer, second officer. So it's a lot of in-house training from that point of view-- and knowing the boat itself, knowing what it can handle if you're at sea, for example.
The construction plays a big part in terms of its weight and its seaworthiness, really, in that kind of weather. But preparing, really, for something like a hurricane is-- it's a science, really, like Rory was saying. You read the weather. You try to get as complete a weather picture as you can.
And you react to that, which really, [INAUDIBLE] situation would include leaving if you're at all able to. But yeah. I think that securing any loose items and if you're on the dock, doubling and tripling up on the lines that are holding you.
So briefly, you've just got to the Monaco Yacht Show. What are your first impressions? What are people saying? Are they optimistic? Are they pessimistic? What's the news straight from Monaco?
The one major development this year is Kymeta Technologies have a new flat-panel antenna, which means all the domes that you're used to seeing on yachts will almost become redundant in the next sort of few years. So as far as something that's going to be disruptive for the market, that's actually quite a major one.
When I was a little late to the conversation earlier, it's because I was on the Maltese Falcon. And that's been one of the first early adopters of this technology. They've lauded it as being very, very useful to what they were doing because in charters, one of the major issues now with the amount of connectivity people are having is that people are used to on-land connectivity. And when they go out sea, they expect the same sort of quality of connection that they have back on land. But it's simply not feasible in lots of scenarios. But this new flat-panel technology is hoping to at least sort of bridge the gap a little bit to encourage more people onto boats.
Wonderful. Well, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you, Jay.
Thank you, everyone, for your questions and comments. Ted [INAUDIBLE] said, "more jet skis." I don't know if that is a question, a demand, a comment. Ted, you can always let us know. Thank you very much for joining us. And we'll see you again soon.