When did you and your friends last charter a yacht? Not many Black folks charter yachts, something Sheila Ruffin noticed during her time as a coastal and maritime tourism attorney in the Virgin Islands. She literally never saw one Black person charter a yacht, while vacationing. Ruffin aims to change that with the launch of her new venture, Soca Caribbean Yacht Charters. It’s time for Black folks to reclaim the seas.
Soca Caribbean Yacht Charters (SCYC) is a Black owned travel agency that arranges “personalized, stress-free, all-inclusive yacht vacations in the Caribbean Sea.” SCYC is based in the Washington, DC area and is accredited by the International Airlines Travel Agent Network; it’s also a member of the American Sailing Association. SCYC works with yacht companies in the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and St. Martin/St. Maarten to book travel; SCYC takes care of its clients, too. The company can provide everything from car service to the airport, all the way to your private yacht in the Caribbean. Yachts feature a private chef and captain, for up to 12 people.
SCYC is, according to Ruffin, the first Black owned company of its kind and unique in that it targets millennials and people of color. The company is certainly dynamic, as is its founder. Sheila Ruffin is a graduate of Hampton University and Howard University Law School. She’s originally from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where she was exposed early to the boating life. Her grandfather, in fact, was an avid boater and by age 6 she was helping to plan family vacations. Unbeknownst to Sheila, she was actually learning about the travel industry and would later go on to work as the Tourism Manager for a Caribbean Carnival Company.
As Sheila told the Miami Times, in 2018 Black people “contributed $63 billion to America’s travel and tourism industry and Hispanic Americans contributed $56 billion.” With the launch of Soca Caribbean Yacht Charters, Sheila is doing her part to help the Black community benefit from it all.