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Superyachts are setting course to Bermuda as a safe haven during the Covid-19 crisis, the owner of ships' chandlers Bermuda Yacht Services said yesterday.

Mark Soares added: “This is not our normal season for superyachts, most would be in the Med at this time.

“It's possible that some are attracted to Bermuda because people are looking for alternative places to go that are safe due to Covid — that is part of it — protecting crew, owners and guests in visiting an area that is safe.

“Places like Italy and Spain have had big problems. It is absolutely good news for Bermuda.

“Some vessels are just passing to get fuel, but some will stay and if they have guests come to visit them, that's a lot of spending.”

He was speaking after four superyachts visited the island this week, with at least four more expected during the next few weeks.

One of the yachts, the 180ft Silver Shalis, is owned by Larry Silverstein, the billionaire chief executive of Silverstein Properties, the developer of the World Trade Centre in New York, destroyed in 2001 in a terrorist attack using two hijacked passenger jets.

The Maritime Operations Centre said the superyacht came to the island on Tuesday, was docked in Penno's Wharf, St George, and left today.

A 280ft boat owned by wealthy businessman Ron Perelman, the head of US-based Perelman Private Holdings, has been docked at Ordnance Island, St George's, since July 8.

The 201ft Just J's, owned by Jay Schottenstein, the chief executive of the US's Schottenstein Stores, is also in Penno's Wharf and the Viva Mas, is docked in Hamilton Harbour.

Bermuda Yacht Services said it was responsible for customs and immigration clearance for the boats and had organised fuel, parts and other stores as well as the mandatory corona- virus tests for passengers.

Mr Soares said: “Being that they are confined on arrival, we have to facilitate the delivery of whatever they require.

“They have to get tested before arrival, on arrival and then on Days 3, 7 and 14 — they undergo all of the regular visitor testing regimes. Most have been confining until second local test on Day 3.”

He added: “Any of their guests would likely be coming by private jet.”

The Government has been working to attract superyachts to Bermuda by allowing easier charter opportunities and long-stay visits.

The Superyachts and Other Vessels (Miscellaneous) Bill became law on January 1 and created three types of vessel permits — transit, cruising and charter permits.

Zane DeSilva, then the tourism and transport minister, said: “The Government of Bermuda welcomes pleasure craft and superyachts to Bermuda.”

He said that legislative changes “foster a charter yacht industry and streamlines the process for obtaining permission to conduct a charter business in Bermuda”.

The superyachts legislation said a superyacht was “a vessel measuring in length in excess of 24 metres, irrespective of tonnage, with passenger accommodations not exceeding 12 persons, excluding crew.”

The law excluded passenger ships or any vessel used for the commercial transportation of cargo.

Mr DeSilva said in the House of Assembly in May: “This season for superyacht charters was thought to be a casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, in April, local port agents received inquiries from owners, captains and brokers about ‘safe harbouring' and chartering in Bermuda while the pandemic situation unfolded in Europe, the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean.”

Mr Soares said superyacht owners and captains should consider Bermuda.

He added: “We are a beautiful destination, very safe and with relatively low Covid numbers.”

Pretty to watch: the Silver Shalis, docked in St George's, is one of four superyachts to visit the island this week (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Superyachts docked in St George's. Sliver Shalis (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Superyachts docked in St George's. Just J's (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Superyachts docked in St George's (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Superyachts docked in St George's. Sliver Shalis (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published July 16, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated July 16, 2020 at 1:43 pm)

Superyachts sail to safe haven of Bermuda

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