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Charter firm founder ‘a visionary’

Charlie Cary, a founder of The Moorings and pioneer in yacht chartering, died June 14 at his home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 89.

Charlie Cary, a founder of The Moorings and pioneer in yacht chartering, died June 14 at his home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 89.

Cary, his wife Ginny and Tony Reinold, a friend from New Orleans, opened the yacht charter company July 4, 1969, in the British Virgin Islands with six 35-foot Pearson Yachts, according to friends and an official company biography.

Cary came to chartering from a career as an industrial engineer with Freeport & McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., a large metals producer. Nearing his 50th birthday, Cary had been working for the company in New Orleans when he was promoted and reassigned to New York. It was while looking out the window of his New York hotel as a blizzard settled in that he decided to pass on the promotion and make a big change.

“He decided to get his priorities straight, as he told me,” says Scott Simon, who became The Moorings CEO when Cary retired in 1992.

The Carys’ first priority was to cruise the Caribbean on their 44-foot yawl, Flying Ginny, and then look for opportunities to open a yacht charter business, which led them to the BVI. Over the next decade the Carys collaborated with such Florida yacht builders as Charley Morgan of Morgan Yachts, Vince Lazarra of Gulfstar Yachts and, in the 1980s, with the French builder Beneteau, to design and build yachts for charter. Eventually they purchased a prime piece of waterfront in Tortola’s RoadHarbour, which remains The Moorings’ flagship base.

“Charley was the consummate entrepreneur,” Scott says. “He was a team with his wife Ginny. While he was busy buying things and growing things, she was going around cleaning up the details.

“They were a wonderful team.”

Scott credits Cary with bringing to chartering the wide cockpit, walk-through transom, and open and well- ventilated cabin. He also introduced the on-site hotel (FortBurt) where charterers could stay at the start and end of their charter, and grew the company from bases in Tortola and St. Lucia to 850 yachts at 30 locations in 20 countries.

“There is no way to tell how many people and families were introduced to the pleasures of sailing and ultimately to yacht ownership through his visionary leadership within the charter boat industry,” says Morgan, whose company supplied many of Cary’s charter boats. “The boost Charley’s entry, together with his charming late wife Ginny, gave to the burgeoning production sailing yacht industry was huge.”

He credits their advertising program and their promotion of the tax advantages of charter yacht ownership with helping grow yacht ownership, especially among retirees.

“Words alone cannot do justice to the impact that Charlie has had on so many lives all over the sailing world and particularly for us at The Moorings,” agrees The Moorings current CEO Lex Raas. “His genuine love and caring for people from Tonga to St Lucia and particularly the BVIs is unmatched. His love of the ocean, his incredible wit, but above all his easy demeanor is what we will always remember.”

Cary earned a degree in industrial engineering at the University of Maryland and a graduate degree from HarvardBusinessSchool, then went to work for Freeport & McMoRan Copper and Gold. He joined the Navy in 1943, by which time he had married his junior high school sweetheart, Ginny, who accompanied him when he deployed to Bermuda. There, he started sailing for recreation, laying the foundation for his lifelong love of boats and the water.

After the war he re-joined Freeport, moving up the corporate ladder while owning a succession of boats — a 28-foot Gulf one-design, a 40-foot Knarr wooden yawl and an Alberg 35, the first of the Flying Ginnys.

“We are deeply indebted to his vision and leadership and he will be greatly missed,” says Raas.