History credits Jack Von Ost with the advent of BVI charter. But there was another man before him. His name is Paul Gouin—and we sat down with him for an unexpected history lesson.
History books credit the advent of modern charter in the BVI to a New Jersey dentist by the name of Jack Von Ost. He founded Caribbean Sailing Yachts in 1967 in Tortola with a fleet of 16 Capri 30s. He also initiated concepts such as owner lease-back programs and on-site provisioning before handing over his bookings to The Moorings in the early 1990s.
But locals say there was another man before him, a man you’ve probably never heard of. His name is Paul Gouin, and in 1966, he was the first to advertise charters originating in the British Virgin Islands.
“I shipped three boats from France to Puerto Rico ahead of the winter season in 1966, then single-handedly sailed them to Tortola to rent them,” Gouin says.
Gouin was 23 years old at the time. He had discovered the BVI three years prior, and while falling in love with the place, he noticed that all the bareboat charters at that time started at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, cruised in the BVI, and went back to St. Thomas. He envisioned a bareboat rental operation based on Tortola, under the name Neptune Cruises.