Students from the Youth Empowerment Project and instructor Camique Osborne greet captain Graham Gips and chef Kristiann Gips of Allende and their dog, Friday, during the Charter Yacht Society Show Friday at Village Cay.

Yacht chef Sally Duncan ushered students from the Youth Empowerment Project aboard Azuria, the charter catamaran she works on.

“Why do you think we like to sail in the BVI?” she asked. “Because it’s pretty,” one girl said.

“Good weather,” said another.

Ms. Duncan told them they might be forgetting the most important ingredient of all.

“The people here are friendly,” she said, eliciting grins from her young guests.

“You guys are nice, thoughtful and hospitable.”

She also explained why charter yachts are important to the territory.

“Tourists bring money,” she said. “But not just to us. It brings money to the territory and keeps people employed.”

She and her husband, captain Mark Duncan, know better than most how good it is to be employed. The yacht they owned, Viking Dream, sank in Nanny Cay during Hurricane Irma, and they were lucky to be hired on Azuria in time to not miss the season.

They’d had 18 charters booked, and managed to keep eight of them.

“With extra bookings, we were able to do 16, and that’s a lot,” Ms. Duncan said.

“Most boats wouldn’t have done that many — even the ones that weren’t damaged.”

Even with all the challenges, the couple said this season has been a success in other ways as well.

“We have anchorages to ourselves,” Mr. Duncan said. “That hasn’t happened in 20 years.”

Their itinerary has been changing regularly throughout the season, with more businesses and attractions opening up every week.

“Cooper Island, Marina Cay have just opened,” Ms. Duncan said. “They’ve started work on Saba Rock. Life is reappearing.”

spring show

With 22 boats registered, the spring show at Village Cay typically is smaller than the one that takes place at Nanny Cay during the fall, according to Janet Oliver, executive director of the Charter Yacht Society of the BVI. The event is usually organised by clearinghouse CharterPort, which bowed out this year in favour of the Charter Yacht Society.

“We’re in the middle of the season, and there are lots of boats that can’t come to it because they are actually out chartering,” Ms. Oliver said of last week’s event, adding that it nevertheless provided an especially valuable opportunity for boats that missed the November show. “If they have a damaged boat from Irma, it’s an opportunity for them to be seen before we go into the charter season.”

Ms. Oliver added that 40 crewed yachts are actively operating in the territory right now, out of a total of 75 registered with the CYS.

CYS Chairwoman Ruth Ross added that the season has been “surprisingly busy” given the devastation wrought by the hurricanes.

“Guests started coming back in earnest in December, and there’s been so much positivity from them,” she said.

In the beginning, she added, guests were concerned about the level of hurricane damage, but “they’ve discovered that once they’re out on a charter yacht, it doesn’t really matter, because the sea is still beautiful.”

She added, “We’ve got fewer boats chartering than usual, but those that are here are busy.”

Ms. Oliver said that roughly 350 bareboats are currently operating in the territory. Some 80 percent of the VI’s estimated 900 boats were damaged or destroyed after Irma, according to a government estimate.

Broker Els Kraakman from BVI Yacht Charters said the season started out “tough,” with many cancellations.

“In December it started picking up again, with lots of good reviews,” she explained, adding, “Now I’m back to where I was before.”

She is anticipating a quiet summer, with most of the crewed yachts gone south. The bareboat side of BVI Yacht Charters’ business in the VI is shutting down from August until October.

“We have to refocus on selling crewed yacht charters in the Grenadines, which I’ve never done before,” she said. “It will be a different kind of summer, for sure.”

VI is ‘shining’

On another catamaran, Allende, the students were welcomed aboard by owner-operators Graham and Kristiann Gips and their 200-pound German shorthaired pointer, Friday, who eagerly welcomed the children to his floating home.

“He loves to swim,” Mr. Gips said as the students crowded in to pet the dog. “He climbs up the swim ladder himself.”

Despite the difficulties this year, he added, the couple managed to complete 16 charters this season, and they welcomed the chance to dock at Village Cay and “cool their jets” for once.

“The BVI is really shining right now,” Mr. Gips said. “I don’t know what it was like here 20 years ago, but right now it’s pretty special. If you’re looking for an empty anchorage, it’s great to be able to show that. On the other hand, the reason there are so many empty anchorages is because there are fewer boats on the water, and that’s bad for the BVI.”

Last summer, they outran Irma just days before the storm hit. This summer, they aren’t taking any chances: They’re heading to Trinidad.

“The idea is to get far south of the hurricane belt,” he said, adding that they’re not the only charter operators with that strategy. “The feeling around the marina is that more yachts than usual are headed south this year.”

As Mr. Gips and Friday the dog bid goodbye to their young visitors, he said that if they hadn’t had a vacation plan they would have stayed and chartered through the summer.

“People realise what the risks are; it’s appropriate to take precautions,” he said. “[But] it leads to an opportunity for those willing to stay.”