Samuel Barnard was the first of The Barnards to seek adventure in the wilds of the Caribbean back in 1797. Many colorful characters following the 1902 eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano located in the north of ST Vincent. Walter Barnard, grandson of Samuel took a huge gamble and bought some of the devastated tracks of land around the volcano and started what would become the Orange Hills Estate. Walter would be the first of the Barnards to make regular sailing trips down the Grenadines almost two hundred and fifty years ago! Back in his day it really was sailing and later generations were brought up on stories of him being stuck for days, becalmed, only miles from shore or battling raging storms in a day when weather forecasting was more myth than science in the islands. Walter’s son Cyril would become an avid yachtsman who enjoyed both racing and cruising. He read any and everything he could get his hands on on the topic of sailing and through that, and practice on the water on his own boat Nyala, became a very solid offshore sailor.
His son Martin would be the next Barnard to sail, having spent most of his holidays as a boy on Nyala with his farther Cyril. Martin developed an intimate knowledge of the islands, its anchorages and the local weather conditions and also enjoyed his holidays with his wife Mary sailing the Grenadines and beyond to the wider Caribbean. Martin and Mary then passed that all onto their son Philip who also grew up sailing the Grenadines. Philip went on to become an RYA Yachtmaster offshore at age 19 and later was selected for the VI Americas Cup Challenge headed by the then world match racing champion Peter Holmberg from the United Stated. He represented the United States in Americas cup regattas in New Zealand for the 2000 Americas Cup. He continued to race professionally and was part of many very successful racing programs before returning to ST Vincent to join Barefoot.
While Philip was in high school, Martin and Mary Barnard were asked to open a base in ST Vincent for the Canadian company Bimini Yacht Charters. Bimini opened its doors in St Vincent in 1984 and was very successful for many years. Bimini sold and eventually started to fail under the new owners. Mary, recognizing that the outstanding accounts left by the company when it closed were attached to the Barnard family name bargained with the boat owners to stay on so she could work off the company’s debt. It was a struggle, but she eventually succeeded. After careful thought and with an absolute love for sharing the Grenadines with fellow sailors from around the world Martin and Mary started Barefoot Yacht Charters in 1992. Mary was the driving force, owner and manager of the new sailing venture while Martin started his own company SVG air, a small air charter service catering to the rich and famous who frequent the Grenadines.
Barefoot has since grown into one of the premier boutique yacht charter companies in the world. The only charter company in the entire Caribbean which is 100% owned by Caribbean nationals. They take great pride in the fact that every dollar earned by the company stays in the local economy, benefiting the islands and its people.
Philip Barnard took over from Mary in 2017 as managing director of what has now grown into “The Barefoot Companies” which comprises of Barefoot Yacht Charters, Barefoot Offshore Sailing School, Barefoot Performance Sailing and Five Oceans Luxury Yacht Charters. Moving away from the second tear business model and becoming a first tear charter company with yachts in our fleet now ranging in age from new to 5 years old. Barefoot does plan to continue to operate a fleet of boats which are over 5 years old primarily for use in the sailing school but also available for charter.