Monday, December 22, 2014

A "Climate Change" That Could Benefit Boating?
US-Cuba Relations Thaw

 Are Cuban waters warming back up?
With last week's announcement of plans to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, the White House may have also heralded a new era in recreational boating to the island nation. Designed, in part, to facilitate "an expansion of travel to Cuba," the measures indicate a thaw in the political climate, likely to be welcomed by South Florida cruisers and charterers.

Located only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, Cuba used to be a favorite destination among yachtsmen and American tourists in general. The portal was closed in the early 1960's, however, after Fidel Castro gained power and the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with the communist regime. Now it appears the travel ban and trade embargo will be lifted, restoring some freedom of movement to the island's residents and visitors alike, such that boaters may again enjoy the Cuban cruising grounds and marinas.

Currently, there are only 15 marinas on the island. However, in advance of the anticipated removal of travel restrictions, Cuban developers have already announced plans to add 23 more with over 5,000 boat slips, according to marina consultant, Richard Graves of Richard Graves & Associates in South Florida. With the expansion of marinas such as Marina Gaviota Varadero, which officially opens in 2015, larger recreational yachts will be able to test the waters and charter boat operators will likely add Cuba as a popular destination for guests.

Read more:

As always, we will keep you posted with any updates we receive regarding this possible boon for boating. 
For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

Saturday, December 20, 2014

USVI Charter Yachts Get 12-Pack For The Holidays
Coast Guard Bill Affecting Passenger Limits Passes

Christmas came a few days early for certain charter boat operators in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday when President Obama signed the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation contains a regulatory amendment which will double, up to 12, the number of passengers affected charter yachts can carry on board.

[click to view]
Named in honor of the retiring congressman from North Carolina, who is also the only current member of Congress to have served in the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coble Act authorizes appropriations totaling over $17 billion for service operations during the next two fiscal years. The Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), deemed the funds necessary to ensure "the men and women of the Coast Guard have the tools they need to carry out their critical missions, enforce our laws on U.S. waters and the high seas, and safeguard our Nation's maritime interests around world." According to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the legislation also "encourages job growth in the U.S. maritime industry by cutting regulatory burdens on job creation."

Operators of mid-sized charter boats have been dealing with one such regulatory burden since 1993 when the Passenger Vessel Safety Act placed a 6 passenger limit on boats weighing less than 100 tons. The so-called "6-pack" restriction had an especially negative impact on the crewed charter business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, resulting in $70-$100 million in lost annual revenue, as reported to Congress this year by the territory's non-voting delegate, Donna Christensen. Apparently, this was the result of charter yachts taking their business to the neighboring British Virgin Islands, where vessel inspection regulations are less stringent and the 6 passenger limit does not apply.

Sunny with a 100% chance of more guests on board
Now, with the passage of the Coble Act, and pursuant to an amendment practically hidden therein, an uninspected, U.S.-flagged vessel less than 24 meters in length (about 79 feet) operating in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be permitted to carry up to 12 passengers as long as the yacht meets safety standards identical to those imposed by the British Virgin Islands for similar vessels.

Needless to say, reaction in the British Virgin Islands to this "12-pack" amendment is lukewarm, if not, frigid. Some local commentators offered cautious optimism, seeing the change as possibly benefiting both territories in the Virgin Island archipelago. Others have expressed concern, especially given other factors, such as tax savings, which already make basing charter operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands more favorable.

Meanwhile, in a recent press release, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh, Jr. welcomed the bill's passage, stating, "This legislation is a critical first step in our journey to regain our position as the world's leader in this important industry sector."

Here on the mainland, our own charter captain and crew are waiting to see if lawmakers will give any consideration to making a similar passenger limit adjustment for mid-sized vessels operating in this region. It'd certainly add a sparkle to our future holiday season[s]. So, we're standing by, hopefully on the "nice list"....

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©


Friday, December 19, 2014

Survey Says ....
Stanley Yacht Services On Board

In addition to year-round yacht maintenance, one of the many services we offer our clients is an on-board presence during any number of instances, including those related to the sale or purchase of a vessel. From previewing targeted listings to performing captain and crew functions during sea trials, we do whatever it takes to ensure the transfer of ownership process goes smoothly. Our clients enjoy peace of mind knowing we're there, even if it's just to make sure the yacht is "put back to bed" properly after all the brokers, prospective buyers, contractors, and day workers have left. The last thing anyone wants is an urgent call hours after a marketing photo shoot because there's smoke coming from the galley due to a grill being inadvertently switched on by an unfamiliar hand. (Yes, unfortunately, things like that happen.)

SYS On Board: Capt. Ben Stanley, right, stands by with
a client's broker, Wayne Cannava of Gilman Yachts.
Photo | Stanley Yacht Services, Inc.
Needless to say, having a reliable team like SYS on board during pivotal events such as marine surveys is also of paramount importance to our out-of-state clients, who are often unable to attend. This weekend, for example, we will represent one of our contract clients during the in-water survey of a 52-foot Hatteras. A scheduling conflict prevents our client from meeting with the inspection team but we'll be on board to answer any questions the surveyor may have and to absorb any insight the surveyor may proffer.

With this weekend's appointment in mind, and realizing some of you may be less familiar with the marine survey process, we thought we would share "Seven Tips to Get More Out of a Marine Survey" - some excellent advice recently posted by BoatUS.

1. The only good survey is a current one

Relying on an old survey is a bad idea. The marine environment isn’t nice to boats and sometimes a “little” maintenance issue can quickly turn into a more serious problem. If you need to have the boat insured, you’ll usually need a survey less than six months old – after that, it begins to smell like dead fish.

2. Don’t miss your own survey

Just like your wedding, you need to be there. Attending and asking questions will reap reams of information about the boat you’re buying, and most surveyors are happy to talk about what they are finding and what needs to be done to fix things.

Photo | Boat Owners Association of The United States

3. Experience trumps price

Don’t select a surveyor on price alone. It’s important to find one that has experience on your type of boat that can tell you what you need to know. Surveyors who are members of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) or the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) are wise choices as these professional organizations have certification processes and provide educational training.

4. It’s not pass or fail

A survey is only a guide to determine if the boat is acceptable to the buyer. An insurance company may also use it to provide a list of corrective actions needed to provide coverage.

5. Surprise, surprise

Boats are a series of complex systems and even brand new boats sometimes have recommendations from a surveyor. The difference is that with new boats, corrective actions are often taken care of through the builder’s warranty.

6. Use the survey to negotiate

Surveys include an approximate fair-market value for use by lenders and insurance companies. If the numbers warrant it, there’s also nothing wrong with using this value in an attempt to negotiate a better deal with the seller.

7. A survey gives you a great punch list

A survey can guide planning for upgrades, repairs and help you prioritize.

Obviously, a thorough inspection of the yacht and its systems by a certified marine surveyor is essential in giving you an unbiased appraisal of the vessel's value and seaworthiness. While buyers usually embrace the outcome, some sellers face the process with trepidation, worrying that the survey will cast their asset in an unflattering light. For that reason, we also offer pre-survey survey services [say that 3 times fast] to clients who are listing their yachts so they have an opportunity to address any items likely to affect valuation during a formal survey. And when it is time to schedule that survey, have no fear because remember, even if you can't be there, we can.

If you have any questions or need further information about our on-board services or anything else, don't hesitate to contact us!

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

From All Of Us To Each Of You ...

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Team Vestas [Second] Wind?
Grounded Team Looks To Resume Racing

Even as an independent review panel investigates the events and actions leading up to the grounding of Team Vestas Wind's 65-foot boat halfway through the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, the team's CEO, Morten Albæk, has declared a firm commitment to re-entering the contest. During a recent press call in Abu Dhabi, Albæk described the Danish team's current thought process:
We’ll do everything within our means to make that happen. That said, the assessment from all parties is that the boat can’t be repaired, and therefore one of the options we’re looking into is building a new boat. Whether that can be done, and done in a time which is meaningful for Team Vestas Wind to re-enter the race, is still to be concluded.
During the call, the sailing team's skipper, Chris Nicholson, and navigator, Wouter Verbaak, also reflected on the unfortunate accident, even acknowledging what they could have done differently.

We'll be back

Only time will tell whether Team Vestas can pull off splashing a new boat and we'll have our fingers crossed that whole time. Having faced adversity with pragmatism and poise, they deserve another go. So, cheers to a second wind, lads!
Capt. Ben & Mate Jo

Friday, December 12, 2014

Weekend Water Works
Better Boating Means Safety First

By the time Captain Ben fires up the engines to begin our undocking procedure, we've already planned our return - from checking tide charts for best arrival times to carefully looping standby lines on the appropriate pilings in case there's no dock assistance when we get back. It's all part of our standard safety first approach to better boating. And, as you surely know, safety first should be the mantra of all boaters, professional and recreational, alike.

With a great weather forecast plus the Winterfest Boat Parade on Saturday, we're sure to face heavy boat traffic in and around Fort Lauderdale this weekend. So, with that in mind, let's get ready for some fun-filled frolicking on the water, shall we? Grab some sandwiches, refreshments, music, and your sunblock and sunglasses for daytime, a wrap or light jacket for later.

Now, here are a few reminders from Captain Ben before we head out:

Make sure your boat is ready.

Did you put the plug in? Let's hope you did. Also, be sure to check your engine(s), oil & fuel levels, navigation lights, and that you have all the required safety equipment on board. Inspect your flares, handheld radios, batteries, etc. And do NOT overlook your life jackets: you'll need the correct number (one for each passenger plus a couple spares) and sizes. Remember, in Florida, children under the age of 6 are required to always wear a life jacket while the vessel is underway.

Don't drink and boat.

If you plan on partying, make sure there is at least one competent and sober designated skipper. Remember, the effects of alcohol are amplified when you're out on the water. While it is not illegal to have alcoholic beverages on board, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence. Drunk passengers are also more likely to slip, fall or suffer other dangerous outcomes due to impairment. Recent boating accidents have certainly heightened law enforcement's attention to the perils of boating under the influence and officers are certain to be on high alert this weekend.

Pay attention.

Keep an eye on the boats and people around you, especially at night. While we're certain you will be alert and sober, sadly that's not going to be true for everyone on a boat this weekend. Stay a safe distance from other vessels, not only to avoid collisions, but also in case someone falls (or jumps) overboard. At all times, follow the Rules of the Road - just in case, here's a refresher for recreational boaters.

It is also important to pay attention to your boat's load capacity. Don't invite more guests on board than your vessel can safely carry. We see this way too much on the water during party weekends. Overloaded boats risk getting swamped or, worse, capsizing. Regardless of the number of friends enjoying the ride, you need to pay attention to their whereabouts at all times and make sure their weight is distributed evenly.

Have a great weekend!

By planning your outing in advance and staying on top of your game, you can have a wonderful experience this weekend, enjoying the sights and sounds of the season. And to those of you participating in the Parade, HONK! HONK! Have a blast! We'll see you on the water!

M/Y Freedom | Winterfest 2011

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

From "Taking In A Reef" to "Taking ON A Reef!" Then What?
Team Vestas Wind Faces Big Boatyard Bill

Here at Stanley Yacht Services, we like to say we're experienced enough to fix anything on a boat but smart enough to know our limits. That being said, the massive repair job Team Vestas Wind's grounded vessel requires would probably classify as one beyond the scope of our in-house abilities. So, what exactly are they looking at?
How to Repair a $6M Racing Yacht You Sailed Into a Reef | WIRED
Whether they decide to rejoin the race, we applaud everyone at Team Vestas for their resilience and stoicism in the face of this unfortunate setback. They're winners in our books on the face of that alone. If they do plunge back in, we wish them favorable winds and settled seas. Good on ya, mates!

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bridge Meets Megayacht ... With A Resounding Crash!

Rocky Ride For RockStar

On a recent delivery, we went under the Broad Causeway drawbridge with a certain amount of trepidation as the east span was locked in the down position and we had to navigate the 82' Astondoa Tiffany through the narrowed overhead opening while dealing with a pretty stiff current. We look back on what ultimately turned out to be a smooth passage with no small degree of relief now, considering what happened to the 161' megayacht RockStar last evening.

Yacht crashes into Broad Causeway drawbridge

Certainly not what you want to have happen at the beginning of charter season, especially when the weekly rate is reportedly a quarter million dollars. We hope for all involved that repairs can be made (to both the yacht and the bridge) without undue delay.

Thankfully, no one was injured - not physically, anyway - but there will definitely be a lot of explaining to do! For our part, every time we go under a bridge from now on, we'll remember RockStar (and keep our fingers crossed).

Have you had any close calls under a bridge? Do share in the comment section below!

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Got Gobbles. Got Gadgets. Got Giving?

It's #GivingTuesday and we are thrilled to announce our participation in this year's campaign!

Here at Stanley Yacht Services, with the enthusiastic assistance of the Captain & Crew of our charter yacht Freedom, we have happily given - in the form of time, services, goods and/or funds - to the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida; the Salvation ArmyThe A21 Campaign, a non-profit organization that works to fight human trafficking; and John Knox Village, a not-for-profit retirement community located in Pompano Beach, FL.

We have also contributed to the National Safe Boating Council's #GivingTuesday program to help promote a safer recreational boating experience for everyone through education, outreach, and training.

As always, it is our honor to give to these organizations and to promote their causes; we are thankful to be in a position to do so. And we hope you can all join us in today's global celebration of generosity. After all, in the words of Capt. Ben, "Giving is fun and fulfilling!"

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

Monday, December 1, 2014

Make Sure You Have The Latest "Rules Of The Road" On Board!

Don't get caught empty-handed! The United States Coast Guard has issued an updated version of its "Rules of the Road", entitled Navigation Rules And Regulations Handbook. This publication supersedes the previous Navigation Rules: International-Inland.

In addition to international and inland navigation rules, the compendium includes guidelines on bridge-to-bridge radiotelephone communications and "various other pertinent provisions of the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations regarding compliance and penalties associated with the Navigation Rules."

Be advised the new handbook is not currently available in printed format from the USCG. So we suggest you download and save it:
USCG Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook
Get it, read it, learn it, live it!

If you're like us and like colorful pictures to go along with the often cumbersome regulations, we also recommend you download a copy of A Boater's Guide To Federal Requirements For Recreational Vessels And Safety Tips, published by the Coast Guard's Boating Safety Division. It includes handy safety equipment charts and departure checklists.

While it's great to have easy access to federal regulations, remember your state and/or local area may have additional, more restrictive requirements for boaters. As such, remember to always check the rules and ordinances applicable to your specific locale!

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

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