Charlie & Ginny Cary named in SAIL’s ‘Top 40 Sailors Who Made A Difference’ List

Moorings1972It was great to see Charlie and Ginny Cary named one the ‘Top 40 Sailors Who Made A Difference’ in SAIL magazine’s 40th anniversary issue. I knew them well.

Charlie and Ginny first came to the Virgin Islands in the late 60’s to retire. To keep busy, they 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.

They called their company The Moorings.

I first met them 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 Island 41s. I eventually convinced him to hire me and I worked for him for just over a year, before running another bareboat charter company and eventually starting my own in 1975. Ed Hamilton & Co came in 1982.

Charlie and Ginny were a wonderful team. Ginny was the one that always seemed to get everything done, but Charlie was the soft spoken boss! 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.

In the early 70s they 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 above 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 them being so disappointed when two of their 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 and Ginny, as do many of their early staff.

Charlie never seemed to mind that his managers moved on to other bareboat charter companies. In the mid ’70s, when the industry was less competitive than today, the heads of all the BVI companies used to meet for lunch at the 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 and had the top crew. Their last boat, ‘Flying Ginny VII’ is indeed still chartering (privately). She’s a very popular Lagoon 55, run by an English couple, Tom and Gemma.

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.

Later 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, 2007 at Vero Beach, Florida.