CHARLIE CARY, FOUNDER OF 'THE MOORINGS' AND AN ICON IN THE CHARTER INDUSTRY.
Charlie, who sadly died this summer, first came to The Virgin Islands in the late 60’s to retire. To keep busy, he bought four Pearson 35's with Tony Reynold and some other friends from the oil industry back home in New Orleans, with the idea of starting a bareboat charter company.
He called his company The Moorings.
I met Charlie and his wife, Ginny, in 1972, when I had just sailed in to Road Town, Tortola from England. I was a young man of 25 and was desperately looking for a job. Charlie had just taken delivery of 15 Morgan Out Islands 41s. I eventually convinced him to hire me and I worked for him for just over a year, before running another bareboat company and eventually starting my own.
Charlie was a wonderful man. Looking at The Moorings empire today, with 32 bases worldwide, in every conceivable cruising ground from New Zealand to The Pacific North West, it is easy to forget how this company began.
Charlie and Ginny rented an office and dock space in front of the 'new' Waterfront Condominiums in Road Town, next to the Francis Drake Pub. This was a smart move, as it looked like they owned the whole complex, as the picture shows. Charlie always did have big ideas! Having such a small staff, he and Ginny were very much involved in the day to day activities.
In the bareboat business, you learn to expect the unexpected, but I remember him being so disappointed when two of his brand new boats collided they were the only two boats sailing that afternoon in the whole of the Drakes Channel and they managed to hit each other! If I remember correctly, one was being delivered from the US, with the delivery crew still on board. We could all fill books with stories like these!
On a personal note, I owe an enormous amount to Charlie, as do many of his early staff.
He never seemed to mind that his managers moved on to other companies. In the mid '70s, when bareboating was less competitive than today, the heads of all the BVI companies used to meet for lunch at Treasure Isle Hotel, to share stories and supposedly discuss policy, etc. I remember Charlie looking round the table and realizing that he had employed and trained every single manager except one! It was to his credit that he accepted this as an enormous compliment!
Charlie and Ginny always owned a boat in their fleet, which they named ‘Flying Ginny’. It was always the best kept boat in the fleet. Their last boat, ‘Flying Ginny VII’ is indeed still chartering (privately). She’s a very popular Lagoon 55, run by an English couple, Simon and Joanna.
Charlie also enjoyed fast powerboats and it was no accident that The Moorings chase boat (‘Windchaser’) was a nice new Bertram 28. On my weekly trips to St. Thomas to pick up supplies, I was always instructed to cruise at the rated rpm, but when Charlie was aboard he loved to ‘red line’ it. The two of us had some thrilling rides together!
The Moorings was eventually sold to a European travel group a fact that was not widely broadcast in the US. For most people chartering in The Caribbean, The Moorings was as American as apple pie.
Relatively recently, a group of American investors bought the company back and Charlie, once again, became a figurehead. While not as involved in the day-to-day business, it was great to see him at boat shows and Moorings events. Ginny’s health failed and he retired (once more) in The Bahamas and Florida. He died June 14th at Vero Beach, Florida.
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||Ed Hamilton & Company
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