Talk about mixed – and telling – signals….
It is ironic that while the delegate to Congress is pushing legislation that could lure boaters back to the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Port Authority’s executive director is passing the buck to the bankrupt V.I. government for action that could help those same boaters.
Gordon Finch said last week that it wasn't the Port Authority’s responsibility to provide dinghy docks in the territory’s ports, despite the fact that ports clearly fall under Finch's purview. He said the government should build the dinghy docks.
That message smacks of the indifferent, often-biased, attitude that sent millions of dollars sailing away from the U.S. Virgin Islands in the first place.
In Delegate Donna Christian-Christiansen's press release on her move to get the U.S. Congress to bend the Coast Guard regulations on charter boats, the delegate made it sound as though the nefarious six-pack rule was the sole reason that yachts left the territory.
But the six-pack rule was only one problem. There were others. And attitude was a big one. People in the boating community were viewed by some as unwelcome poachers.
In the incident that brought the issue to the forefront last week, Finch was talking about a specific dinghy dock in Crown Bay to be used by commuters from Water Island.
So, let's look at that issue.
Do those commuters work and pay taxes? Do they buy food, clothing and other necessities in the island’s stores? Do they support the economy in any number of ways?
Without any question.
So did the captains and crews of the many charter boats who once worked in the territory. Many don't do so any more. They work in the British Virgin Islands where the government seems to understand and appreciate what they bring to the economic table.
Not only are most of these people law-abiding citizens but they are also vehement environmentalists who guard the islands’ ecology with their very livelihoods. And whether they live aboard their vessels or on land, these boaters work, pay taxes, buy food and clothing and support the economy of whatever island they choose to live in.
The Port Authority, which is a profit-making entity, is in a perfect position to bolster the image of the U.S. Virgin Islands as a boater-friendly place by not wasting any time in starting to build those docks everywhere they reasonably can, using them as portals for the people who will get out of the dinghies and begin to contribute to the territory's economy.


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