The marine tourism sector is booming in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Yacht chartering directly contributed $88 million to the territory’s economy in 2021. This figure is forecasted to be higher in 2022, according to the V.I. Professional Charter Association.
To meet the USVI’s growing need for a marine workforce and enable young Virgin Islanders to fill these positions and build professional careers, the V.I. Professional Charter Association announces new and continuing marine workforce development programs that are free to selected participants. These are a first-time Junior Sailing Summer Camp, July 5-15, for ages 13-17; the 5th annual Marine Apprenticeship Program, May 27-June 24 and August 1-5, 2022, for ages 18-29; and new, in partnership with the Department of Labor, a VIPCA-led 12-month Marine Apprenticeship Work Placement Program with sea time to qualify for a U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License, for ages 18-29.
“The U.S. Virgin Islands has a booming yachting industry with marine tourism at a historical peak. Captains are needed, and the best place to start in becoming a captain is on the water! Making captain’s training available locally has been at the forefront of VIPCA’s mission since the association’s inception. Recognizing this, VIPCA was nominated by the Governor to represent the marine industry on the Virgin Islands Workforce Development board while appointing VIPCA as an ‘eligible training provider,’ said Oriel Blake, VIPCA’s executive director, in a release.
Junior Sailing Summer Camp
The Junior Sailing Camp, held at the St. Thomas Yacht Club near Red Hook, offers teenagers 10 fun-packed days of learning to sail IC24s and Hobie Cats. This year, the camp is July 5-15. Instruction on land and sea includes understanding the parts of a boat, navigation skills, reading weather and conditions, safety basics, and of course plenty of sailing. The Junior Sailing Camp is entirely free to students and sponsored by RapierMed, a financial services and venture capital firm. For more information and to enroll, visit: vipca.org/junior-sailing-summer-camp/
“RapierMed is pleased to support VIPCA in its continuing efforts to educate Virgin Islands’ youth to play a major role in the territory’s marine tourism sector. Familiarity with ocean-going vessels, and life and work on the water, is essential to continuing the tradition of marine expertise in the Virgin Islands and creating valuable skills in our youth,” says Trey Goldsmith, chief operating officer and general counsel for RapierMed LLC.
VIPCA Marine Apprenticeship
Since 2017, VIPCA has graduated 40 students from its marine apprenticeship program, with over half of the graduates successfully entering the workforce locally in marine industry careers. The five-week course will be May 27-June 24 and August 1-5 and provides intensive captains and Standards of Training and Certification of Watch-keeping training. The jam-packed apprenticeship schedule includes swimming, sailing, SCUBA diving, and power-boating instruction; first aid and CPR certification; boating safety certification; charter vessel maintenance and charter business operations; technical skills and proficiency in diesel engines, outboards, electrical systems, and plumbing; and a half-day at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment onboard a response vessel. the marine apprenticeship is FREE to participants and sponsored by the Island Foundation and fiscally managed by the Marine Rebuild Fund within the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. For more information and to apply, visit: vipca.org/youth-training/
“Cruz Bay Watersports is thrilled to support this exciting initiative and support the cultivation of the next generation of mariners in the US Virgin Islands,” said Chris Batchelor, chief operating officer, and partner of the Cruz Bay, St. John-based watersports company.
12-month Marine Apprenticeship Work Placement
New, with the Department of Labor as a sponsor, VIPCA offers a PAID 12-month Marine Apprenticeship Work Placement. This is a mentorship and scholarship program that supports the apprentices in careers as paid crew, including obtaining their U.S. Coast Guards Captain’s License. Enrollment is open on a rolling basis and includes the training of VIPCA’s Marine Apprenticeship program. Cruz Bay Watersports and the Lovango Resort and Beach Club are the two businesses currently employing graduates of VIPCA’s Marine Apprenticeship as Marine Apprentices and they are actively recruiting for this 12-month Marine Apprenticeship Work Placement.
“We are fortunate to have a program like this in the territory,” says Matt Snider, project manager at Lovango Resort and Beach Club, located in Pillsbury Sound two miles north of St. John. “There is a multitude of ways the apprentices that work with us are exposed to the marine industry. Primarily, their job is to crew our ferries bringing guests to and back from Lovango. Apprentices are also exposed to valuable marine industry skills seeing the operation of our mooring field and in boat maintenance and repair,” Matt Snider, Lovango Resort and Beach Club. For more information and