Entrepreneur to sell off Seabreachers
A Bermudian businessman has said his adventure water sport company has been so severely hampered by red tape that he has been left tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
Antwan Albuoy, who owns Kinezumi Water Sports with fellow Bermudian Shena Virgil, said he has been forced to sell his two semi-submersible Seabreachers because he could not find a suitable location for them.
The Ports Authority refused him docking locations in the West End and the Corporation of St George refused a location in the East End.
Mr Albuoy told The Royal Gazette: “It was something unique for Bermuda. In January, I assessed how I could get out of this financial hole and the only option I had was to sell the Seabreachers.
“The Bermuda Tourism Authority is trying to attract the adventure seekers and provide more water sports, and these crafts ticked the box.”
Mr Albuoy said he received pre-approval for the craft from the Ports Authority in 2015 and bought the first of two Seabreachers in April 2016.
After being denied locations in the West End, he located to Coot Pond near Tobacco Bay in St George's for the rest of the season. In 2017, the business added jet skis and a second Seabreacher to its offering and he was given approval from the Ports Authority in May of that year to locate to Coot Pond.
However, the approval was withdrawn after complaints were received based on environmental factors.
He searched for another location and “from there it went downhill”, Mr Albuoy said.
He was given approval by the Corporation of St George for a floating dock at Hunter's Wharf. He then had to submit his approval letter to the Department of Planning, but did not receive final approval until after the summer season ended.
In 2018, he reapplied to the Corporation of St George and the Department of Planning as they would only grant a one-year lease, by which time his existing lease had expired.
His request to extend the existing lease was refused, and he incurred application costs a second time.
Planning permission was not granted until June of 2018. “With all that down time in 2017 and 2018, I wasn't able to earn a significant income but the business expenses didn't stop. We had loans to pay and rent to pay.”
The Corporation refused approval for the Seabreachers to operate in Hunter's Wharf, only allowing the jet skis.
A Corporation of St George spokesman said: “He was permitted to operate jet skis only as the area is a high-traffic area and the ferry operations are in close proximity.”
Mr Albuoy decided to try to launch the Seabreachers out of Ferry Reach but it was “too cumbersome”.
Logistics made it “a very inadequate way to do business”, he said.
Mr Albuoy continues to operate his jet skis out of Hunter's Wharf but he is now selling the Seabreachers at a significant loss.
He added: “We are all Bermudian and if we want Bermuda to succeed we must all row in the same boat. Government needs to work with entrepreneurs not against them in order for tourism to prosper.”
We reached out to the Ports Authority but did not receive a response by press time.