What is Operation Sail It Forward BVI?
Support medium/long term recover by supporting the sailing charter economy, to help restart economy by going to the BVI and chartering in the BVI’s.
To connect with local efforts and volunteer on the ground.
To raise some money prior to going to directly support local causes. To both do some good and to have a sailing vacation at the same time.
To journal our charter aboard The Catamaran Company’s base so that we can share with others the delights that are still to be found, the additional adventure, how one can help make a difference while there, that the fun and the culture of the islands lives and that life long memories and friendships are there to be built.
John and Autumn Vernon’s story...
Spearheading Operation Sail It Forward BVI starting November 25, 2017
- Charter Booked on “Rum-Away” reserved on Sept. 20, 2017
- Lagoon 450 – 2018 New 4 cabin/4 head/2 single berths.
“The BVI’s is part of us” by John and Autumn Vernon
My first sailing vacation to the BVIs was in 2001. I absolutely fell in love with the islands and I have returned for a bareboat charter every year since. I did miss one year but after suffering major withdrawal symptoms I made up by returning for two charters the following year! That’s just the start, from here it gets personal. In 2006 I met my wife Autumn while sailing in a regatta in the BVI's. A common fondness for sailing and the BVIs was a great foundation.
That’s also the year I picked up my Island name; Captain Johnny Rotten thanks to dear friend Greg who has since passed away but my memories of sharing a cabin with that crazy pirate will never fade. Autumn and I have returned to the BVI's together each year since we met. There was only one exception when Autumn couldn't make a trip due to an overseas deployment with the US Air Force. The solution to that issue, like when I skipped a year, was to return for two charters with Autumn the following year. Autumn was easily agreeable to the “let’s go sailing twice next year” suggestion that another thought starting to formulate in my mind, perhaps I better get to signing this girl up for a long-term charter, I think you know what I mean!
In 2010 Autumn and I tied the knot in Tortola, at “Myetts’ Cane Garden Bay.
We now have two children, Katie (4) and Kai (3) and both and been on a bareboat charter with us in the BVI’s. Though now we are going through a “kid free” charter phase just until they are a little older and competent swimmers. The choice of Kai’s name was also an indication of our draw to the sea and the Islands, the name Kai literally translates to ocean. Our bond with the BVI’s goes from strength to strength.
There has always been a strong element of fun and adventure with every crew I put together, and also a strong romance theme. In addition to our story one of our crew Andreia in 2011/12 met a guy Stefan while partying during New Year’s at Soggy Dollar and then later, Foxy’s for the famous New Year’s party. In 2014, Stefan and Andreia were back in the BVI’s, this time to celebrate their wedding with a shore based party and two catamarans for those whose preferred their rum drinks on the water. Last year while enjoying happy hour at Saba Rock, myself and most of the crew didn’t notice that two of the party had quietly snuck away. Steve and Julie return, with Julie walking ahead of Steve, wearing a huge grin and holding her hand forward displaying a glistening ring on her finger – yep, what a place to pop the question. It worked, she said yes! Some of my regular crew members have started to joke that perhaps we should rename boats I charter to “The Love Boat”. Not sure that fits with my Island name though.
Over the years I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve introduced to the BVI’s. I think it’s about 50, most have returned at least once and several are on their own 5th or 6th trips to the BVI’s. These are just a few examples of how the BVI’s has become part of our personal, family, friends and life fabric.
It extends further though, to the people and places along the way that we love and enjoy. Too many to list but a common theme of beautiful people and surroundings, laid back, friendly and welcoming.
With Hurricane Irma approaching the BVI’s we watched with concern. Hearing about and seeing some of the massive devastation was heartbreaking. We made some donations but were desperately wanting and trying to think of how to help in a more meaningful/direct way. We knew that just trying to get there to help with no real plan could be futile and potential more of a hindrance than help. Autumn and I talked a lot about this and decided to align behind a couple of themes: (A) Support medium/long term recover by supporting the tourism economy, to help restart economy by going ourselves and spending money in the BVI’s. (B) To connect with local efforts and volunteer on the ground. (C) to raise some money prior to going to directly support local causes. To both do some good and to have vacation at the same time.
With the above goals in mind I called Lisa at The Catamaran Company to inquire about catamaran charter availability. I talked about wanting to get down there, our emotional connection to the Islands and our objectives. This is where Lisa expanded out thinking. We thought that by getting down there soon we could help and also inspire others within our network to get back to the BVIs themselves. The Catamaran Company has an array of new catamarans that were not in Tortola during Irma and Catco had my top choice available: Lagoon 450….Lisa took it to the next level and suggested we use our story more broadly as a way to super charge the objective by adding a fourth objective (D) to journal our charter so that we can share with others the delights that are still to be found, the additional adventure, how one can help make a difference while there, that the fun and the culture of the islands lives and that life long memories and friendships are there to be built.
Our plan is fluid but is built on the foundation of the love between our Crew, our love of the BVI and the people, the natural beauty of the sea and the islands that is present to be enjoyed. Before we depart we are going to establish local connects with a couple of local community efforts and make specific decisions regarding volunteering as part of our float plan
We will create a sail log and diary to be shared with photos and videos to assist the next Operation Sail It Forward Groups and allow them to build upon our first entry.
We want to dive the Rhone, connect with other charters and share their stories and maybe create a flotilla arrival for a reopening beach bar with a fun pop up beach party!
There are so many opportunities and good ways this could go – I invite all of you join me submit your ideas, create your own Operation Sail It Forward Groups and continue to support the islands we all love so much!
More information about “Rum-Away” Lagoon 450
- Boat Model: Lagoon 450
- Boat Type: Catamaran
- Year Built: 2018
- Length: 45' | 13,72m
- Number of Persons: 12
- Number of Double Cabins: 4
- Number of Single Cabins: 2
- Number of Showers: 4
- Number of Heads: 4
- Double Bunk: 0
- Frontpeak: 2
- Double Berth: 0
Low Price: $8,600 per week
High Price: $12,900