She was designed by a master. She was built to race.
And for 28 years now she has been carrying passengers all around the Turks and Caicos Islands.
She is "Beluga", a 37 foot catamaran, built by her captain Tim Ainley. Tim operates "Sail Beluga", a private chartered sailing business out of Providenciales. Like her namesake, Beluga is all white and built for the water. She was designed by James Wharram, an award winning multi-hull boat maker who built and sailed the first British ocean-going catamaran. Typical of Wharram designs, Beluga has great stability and speed. Her tall bowpieces hearken back to the old voyaging canoes of Polynesia. Truly Beluga is a distinct sailing vessel on the sea.
But what is truly remarkable about Beluga are her two captains.
Tim Ainley built Beluga in 1980 and sailed her to the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1984. A year later, he began his charter business. Tim is an extremely capable yachtsman. "You cannot be in better hands on the ocean!" remarked one passenger.
But it is Tim's passion for the sea and sailing that is noteworthy. "Tim is extremely interesting and knowledgeable," commented one visitor "and so it's a treat to spend time with him and learn about the beautiful Turks & Caicos.". His desire to share this passion with others is evidenced by the annual Fools Regatta he started in 1990 which is now one of the largest events in the islands and gathers together sailors of all ages and abilities.
Beluga's other commander is Nik who now serves as captain full time. Nik is not only a competent sailor but enables others to share in this passion. As one traveler remarked, "Captain Nik's love of the sport is contagious!" Nik is also an avid snorkeler and he knows the islands and the reefs like the back of his hand. One guest on Beluga raved about her snorkeling experience, "Nik went above and beyond to make sure I was comfortable and set up correctly, and would often check on me while we were out in the water. He jumped right in with us and was diving down and pointing out different fish and eels to us. It was truly amazing!"
Tim and Nik operate "Sail Beluga" to offer tourists a personal way to experience the beauty and the uniqueness of the Turks and Caicos Islands. And passengers enjoy themselves. Said one woman, "It was such a unique and wonderful experience...highly, highly recommend."
For over 20 years Beluga has been an extremely familiar sight on the horizon and hopefully will not sail into the sunset any time soon.