Victoria International Marina is packed with nearly 50 Nordhavn yachts in their largest-ever rendezvous, which had been postponed for two years because of the pandemic.
The first boaters arrived on May 4 and the event runs until Sunday. Most came from the U.S., with the rest from Canada.
It’s exactly the kind of event dreamed of by the late Bob Evans, who was behind the idea of the marina in Victoria’s harbour.
The Songhees developer, who died in 2021, believed the marina would attract high-end international yacht owners who would spend money in the capital region, renting bicycles and cars, going to restaurants and taking in local entertainment.
Craig Norris, chief executive at the marina, said boaters are keen to explore the area as soon as they arrive. Just as Evans envisioned, they are renting electric bicycles and cars and going to grocery and liquor stores. Some return to their boats toting art or clothing they’ve purchased.
“They want to buy something to remember the trip,” Norris said Thursday.
Some had pre-ordered marine supplies, which were stored at the marina for pickup. Local companies such as boat-cleaning firms, engine mechanics and painters are at the marina as well.
Not all the Nordhavn yacht owners brought their boats here. Some flew in and are staying at local hotels, Norris said.
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams said the gathering is a “sign that things are getting back to pre-pandemic levels right now.”
The 28-slip marina received permission from the Victoria harbourmaster to accommodate the rendezvous boats, Norris said. It was built for vessels 65 feet to 175 feet long, although many of the rendezvous boats are less than 65 feet.
This is the third gathering of boaters with specific types of vessels to visit the marina.
When such destination events happen at this time of year, they fill up the marina before the full summer season begins. They also help staff to build skills as they work with different vessels, Norris said.
“There’s a lot of engineering involved in roping off and tying off and mooring these boats.”
Designed and produced by California-based Pacific Asian Enterprises, Nordhavns are an “expedition” or “adventure” type of yacht, he said.
They tend to be owner-operated and fitted out with gizmos and gadgets. The ocean-going vessels are considered to be very resilient and manoeuvrable.
Norris said the marina is booked at about 25 per cent for the summer season, but he expects that to increase as boaters learn that Canada is now open for business after two years of pandemic restrictions.
Meanwhile, new ownership of the marina could be announced in about a month, he said.
The property went on the market in 2021 following low booking numbers in the wake of the pandemic, and a number of bids have been submitted, Norris said.