Following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian seventeen months ago, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) has focused on rebuilding social infrastructure to support the youth of our Community.
Last year, restoration of the Sir Charles Hayward Yacht Club began. The GBPA is pleased to confirm the completion of the facility, along with the renovation of the Maritime Police Station located next to the Club.
“The Yacht Club sustained widespread wind and flood damage,” said Howard Russell, GBPA Facilities Manager, and Project Coordinator. “With the help of local contractors Shabazz and Johnaptle Construction, extensive repairs were carried out on the building’s exterior and interior and to the Club’s surrounding facility. Amongst other things, all windows have been replaced by hurricane impact windows, the ground floor was completely gutted and a new kitchen installed with new floors everywhere. It was a major project costing well over $300,000.”
Sergeant Bronson Knowles, who is stationed at the Maritime Police Station, described their property as “dilapidated” following the unprecedented Category 5 storm. He explained that this restoration was crucial because the site is both a convenient and safe location from which officers can operate to provide marine support to the Island.
“We’ve operated out of this building for the past nine years,” said Sergeant Knowles. “During the hurricane, we had a number of vessels that were inundated with four to five feet of floodwater and were swept from one side of the building to the other. It’s good to now have a comfortable environment where we can be prepared to deploy at any moment.”
The Grand Bahama Sailing Club (GBSC), also located at the Sir Charles Hayward Yacht Club, is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the sport of sailing is available to all. Chris Paine, a GBSC representative, shared the following comment: “It’s critical that we provide opportunities for Grand Bahama’s youth to be active, challenged and entertained, and the Sailing Club has provided that chance for so many since 2006. We are delighted to be back up and running at the Yacht Club, and once again look forward to offering sailing lessons and opportunities for the island’s children to learn and have fun.”
Mr. Paine added that, when he became interested in the then-defunct Yacht Club 15 years ago, his immediate thought was to transform it into a sailing club for children. “In 2006, we approached the late Sir Jack Hayward in an attempt to get the Club. He was very responsive and very enthusiastic, and that’s how it all began.”
With assistance from parents who saw Mr. Paine’s vision, they were able to purchase boats and equipment to offer successful sailing programs for children throughout the year, including the very popular summer camps.
GBPA Acting Chairman Sarah St. George said, “As part of our commitment to our island’s children, we have supported, and will continue to support, the Grand Bahama Sailing Club. It’s a wonderful facility and the GBSC Board has done an exceptional job over the years in encouraging children to learn how to sail. It’s a skill that promotes good health, sport, and pleasure that can be pursued throughout their lives. It’s so important to learn those skills young. And let’s not forget, The Bahamas has produced some of the best sailors in the world like Robert ‘Bobby’ Symonette and Olympic champions such as Sloane Farington, Cecil Cooke, and Durward Knowles.
“We are delighted to have the Maritime Police housed at the Yacht Club. This not only adds a layer of security for the entire area but may also inspire our children to one day be part of the Marine Police Force protecting our beautiful island,” Miss St. George added.
The Sir Charles Hayward Yacht Club, located west of the Grand Lucayan Waterway, was built by Sir Jack Hayward in 1976 and named after his father. In addition to playing host to the Grand Bahama Sailing Club, the Yacht Club is a great community and family entertainment space with two tennis courts and a swimming pool and can be hired for weddings, and business and social functions.