WE VISIT THE HUGE NEW MOORINGS / SUNSAIL / FOOTLOOSE BASE IN TORTOLA
We book a large number of charters with Moorings, Sunsail and Footloose, so when in Tortola recently, I made certain I visited their new, expanded base. All three companies (plus Moorings Power, formally Nautic Blue) are now in the same marina at Wickham's Cay II, Road Town.
I'm sure the owners will save some costs by having everyone in the same place, but we have always felt each company attracts a different clientele and provides a different service. It will be interesting to see if management can keep these individual identities and we will be monitoring this closely.
For anyone familiar with the previous layout, the old Moorings reception area is now Mariner Inn Reception (the hotel rooms). Walk past this to the dock and turn right for the Sunsail Reception. Further down, in the old maintenance area, is a new wooden building housing Footloose Reception. The entrance for Moorings charterers is now further south down the Cay, behind the hotel rooms. Moorings' Reception is in a nice new building, and a covered way leads to the docks.
To accommodate more boats, the docks have been extended and a new breakwater has been built parallel to the harbor entrance. Many people were skeptical that this could be built in time, but the breakwater is in and while the very end of the Cay is still very much a building site, the additional hotel rooms on the point are coming along nicely. A dockside vacuum plant for cleaning bilges and a holding tank pump out station are planned, plus special attention is been given to the natural circulation of water around the docks, to try to keep the whole facility environmentally friendly.
Maintenance for all three companies is done on the Treasure Isle Dock, which is just off the end of the Footloose dock. They have, however, retained the old Sunsail maintenance area on the east side of Maya Cove (Hodges Creek) for larger projects. Sunsail has moved out of their base on the west side of Maya Cove, which they rented from a local investor. No company is showing signs of moving in, although some guests are staying in the hotel, at least until more rooms are built at the Road Town facility.
By its sheer size, the facility is impressive, although, as someone who has walked these docks many times over the years, I found myself remembering a different time, when Charlie Cary (the founder of The Moorings) personally met and welcomed every charter guest as they arrived, but those days are of course long gone. It will also be interesting to see the effect these changes will have on some of the existing less expensive bareboat companies. Will this be an opportunity or simply more competition? We have our theories but would love to hear yours!
Tortola runs at a relaxed pace, so designing and building this magnificent facility so quickly is an incredible feat. On this quiet midweek afternoon in early November, I enjoyed chatting with old acquaintances on the docks, but in a month, these same docks and crews will literally be turning around more than a hundred charters in a weekend and from what I saw, they are more than up to the challenge!
At Ed Hamilton & Co, we have always provided a more personal service, because we know that clients have the option of calling each company's sales office. Every post charter comment is read and initialled by all our brokers, bareboat and crewed, myself included. This way, we all know how each company is performing and can give you an independent opinion. So when you are ready to book your Sunsail, Moorings or Footloose charter, or any of the other great bareboat companies in The Virgin Islands, give us a call. It won't cost you any more, but the unbiased advice, experience and additional security could make all the difference. We make the whole booking process a lot simpler - after all, we've been in this business since 1972!
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