By Richard Hagan
22 Dec 2023
Yacht Club Isle de Sol lies in the protected waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon on the island of St. Maarten, just a 20-nautical mile cruise from the Caribbean hotspot of St. Barths.
Already a focal point in the popular cruising grounds of the northeast Caribbean, Isle de Sol is renowned among the yachting community for its exceptional facilities and amenities, including the recently opened Anchor Bar and the rooftop Sky Lounge, as well as a swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, pickleball courts and a basketball hoop.
The repertoire of services at Isle de Sol is also expanding, with the recent addition of an in-water maintenance program for visiting yachts, mirroring the success of a similar program at IGY Sète Marina in the south of France.
We caught up with the management at both facilities to find out more about the benefits for owners, captains and crew on both sides of the Atlantic.
New in-water maintenance program at Yacht Club Isle de Sol
“Most top-end marinas don’t allow much work to be done on yachts while in port; we’re trying to shift that paradigm now,” said Brian Deher, IGY Marinas’ VP of Operations Caribbean and Latin America.
At Isle de Sol, this required careful planning and a major adjustment to the water depth. “The first step was significant dredging which we completed this summer, allowing us to move larger vessels that may require service work to the furthest point of the marina to protect the ambiance and level of care for all the other yachts in port,” Brian explained.
Thanks to the layout of the marina, Yacht Club Isle de Sol can also support the most demanding of projects. “We can literally drive a 100-tonne crane right up to the yacht if needed,” he added. “Being able to perform in-water works right here in the marina reduces the need to travel long distances to get work done in a shipyard, so we anticipate a high level of interest as awareness grows.”
Facilitating maintenance and repairs in the marina
Already a number of superyachts – including several over 60 metres in length – have carried out a range of works from life raft exchanges and repairs, hydraulic repairs, interior and carpentry work, satellite and superstructure work, paint touch-ups, generator replacements, and various other projects.
For its part, IGY is not directly involved in any of this work, instead acting as a facilitator. “Our skill sets focus on logistical planning, in addition to providing the normal services that one can expect while at any IGY marina worldwide,” said Brian. “Our concierge team is standing by not only to serve the captain and crew of the yacht but also to assist third-party service providers with their logistical planning.”
As part of a broader initiative across the IGY portfolio, Yacht Club Isle de Sol is actively working with yacht crew and management companies to assist with planning their maintenance schedules. “We’re asking yacht crew and managers to let us know what work they need to carry out, not just now, but also over the next 12 to 36 months,” Brian explained. “This way we can help to map out a schedule that allows them to do that work while visiting IGY facilities worldwide.”
In-water maintenance program at IGY Sète Marina
IGY Sète Marina, located along France’s southwest coast, has also been gaining traction with the yachting community since it opened in 2019. A state-of-the-art superyacht marina located midway between Barcelona and the Côte d’Azur, the charming town of Sète, dubbed the ‘Little Venice of France’, is now a popular stopover for yachts cruising east or west.
Following the subsequent launch of its in-water maintenance program last year, its appeal has only grown, affording further reasons for yachts to visit and stay for longer.
“Sète is fast developing as a yachting destination; I always knew it had the potential,” said General Manager Jérôme Cuaz, who was born and raised here. “We welcome a growing number of vessels every year, which is a great sign, and being able to accommodate yachts up to 180m has certainly put this IGY facility on the map.”
The marina celebrated a recent milestone with the arrival of a legendary 97m Lürssen yacht. The yacht enjoyed a six week stay at Sète while the Lürssen team finalised its interior refit. The project was such a success that the yacht has already booked a month-long return visit for March 2024 when it heads back from the Caribbean.
Developing efficient and cost-effective solutions
Now with the added appeal of being able to conduct in-water maintenance and repairs in the marina, its proximity to the commercial port of Sète is another draw, affording easy access to a range of contractors and skilled labour. “We can help facilitate if vessels require local contractors, otherwise they have the option to bring in their own,” explains Jérôme. “Nearby Montpellier Airport offers daily direct flights to Amsterdam and Paris, providing easy access for contractors as well as crew changeovers.”
Jérôme is also keeping a keen eye on costs and remains committed to finding effective solutions for yachts of all sizes. “Working under TPA, non-EU flagged yachts can save 20% VAT on maintenance work and equipment, but we’re aiming to go further, introducing cost reduction strategies including a tailored concierge service and on-site catering services for crew.
“My goal is to offer the same customised solution here in water as you would expect at a shipyard – our team is very service minded and we do our best to fulfil every demand!” In fact, IGY Sète Marina’s professional team now also has its own project coordinator to further assist captains and contractors with project planning and all other project-related tasks.
Positive feedback from captains
IGY Sète Marina has enjoyed a number of positive reviews from visiting yacht captains. Captain Scott, master of a 66m motor yacht, had the following to say: “Sète is going above and beyond to make our stay as simple as possible, and the facilities are exactly what we need. Its teams were also fantastic to work with; they really bent over backwards to accommodate us and make our visits outstanding.”
Captain Jean-Maxime, master of a 44m motor yacht, also had a positive experience, saying: “It’s the first time we have had such skilled and welcoming staff around us. The vibe is great, it’s safe and it’s amazing how helpful the staff can be. They’re very efficient and reactive.”
For more information about IGY Marinas’ in-water maintenance and repair programs, please visit IGY Sète Marina or Yacht Club Isle de Sol.