Big White Boats
13 January 2008 | Prickly Bay
Grenada seems to be gearing up for the large motor yachts. There are more meters of mega yacht in production today then there ever have been in the past. The average size of the typical mega yacht is also increasing. Most use 24 (80 ish feet) meters as the loose definition of mega yacht as this is the size where various MCA requirements kick in. The vast majority of all mega yachts are registered in the Cayman Islands due to various cost efficiencies. These yachts then set about plying the waters of the Caribbean and the Mediterranean for the most part.
Until recently when they arrive in the Caribbean there have not been many spots for them to berth. They're too small for the cruise ship docks (although some are getting close), too fancy for the cargo port and too big for the traditional sailing yacht/sport fisher marinas.
Chartering a mega yacht may run $20,000 US plus per day. Due to the vast sums these folks tend to spend when in port on dock fees, fuel, electricity, water, dinning out, provisioning, etceteras, the trend towards larger facilities has kicked into gear. When we were in the Bahamas we stayed at the brand new Emerald Bay Marina in Exuma which should be fully online before long and ready to handle the big boys. The government of the British Virgin Islands (under considerable cross fire) had just agreed to give the green light to a mega yacht marina project while we were there. Staniel Cay and Saint Barts both had huge yachts anchored half way to the next island at Christmas time in 2006. Marigot Bay in Saint Lucia has a new hotel and the start of a marina that can handle a few large yachts and rumors are flying about a bigger facility in Rodney Bay.
Now Grenada is getting into the game. Martins Marina, the former Moorings Secret Harbor base is under new management and apparently working hard to attract big boats. Three are there now. When we arrived we found the 200 footer Blue Moon on the fuel dock at Prickly Bay Marina (which is fairly absurd). Yet Prickly is working hard to build out their marina project complete with mega yacht berthing and services. Port Louis Marina in the Lagoon at Saint Georges is also now open and under the management of Camper Nicholson. They only have one large pier open and partially operational but plan to fill the entire lagoon. Two over 150 footers were docked here in January, Battered Bull and April Fool.
I don't know exactly what this will mean for the cruising yachts out there but I'm pretty sure that the eastern Caribbean will be a different place in the years ahead.