We are so glad that we invested the extra effort and expense to ship our boat back to Stuart, Florida to work with the team at Mack Sails. Colin and Travis have built a great company and with a good team capable of rigging and installing anything on yachts. Everyone thinks of them as sails only, but in reality, they are a serious rigging shop and also they do fiberglass, electronics, and millwork. So, anything you need they can take care of and complete the job. If you can’t get it fixed here, then you are in serious trouble. Thank you Team Mack Sails.
Within a day or two after shipping our boat into West Palm Beach, we removed the remaining gear, boom, vang, and loosened all shrouds and prepare for pulling the mast. On Monday, Feb 5 Colin pulled the old mast out at Apex Marine with ease and set it on the ground. Now with the old mast on stands, we could inspect the damages at the spreader even more. Whatever hit the mast was very large, heavy and forceful because it broke the spreader base and tore open the mast, above and below the spreader. The spar company said it could not be repaired, so we are here to refit with a new Charleston Spar section #S622. Here is a photo of the damaged area at the port spreader welds.
Now that the mast was pulled and on the ground, we could strip off items like the VHF, Digital TV, Lightning Protector, Winches, and all spare ropes, etc. The new Sparcraft / Charleston Spar Section #S622 is at Mack Sails and we will next rig the new gear onto that mast. One surprise came up and that is that the new mast is 1″ larger front to back than the old mast! That does not sound like a lot, but it is. The mast is the same width, but being one inch larger front to back means that the deck mast collar now needs to be removed and laser cut and the new deck collar welded onto our plate. Then we will need to cut the deck around the mast hole larger, as well as the headliner underneath. This will all need to be re-fiberglassed and sealed where the deck and headliner gap open. The keel step, at the bottom of the mast, needs to be removed and a new mast shoe, as they are called, needs to be lag screwed into the concrete and lead and fiberglass keel. All of these changes were not noted on the insurance settlement as no one knew the new mast section was so different. So, we are now dealing with these new challenges as we make the repairs. Note: They no longer make our old mast section, it was from 1993.
Here are some photos of the deck collar.
The next challenge turned out to be the Kato Radar mount that we had made in 2002. These cost about $1,200 and we wanted to reuse the mount. Well, from last year when we mounted the new B&G 4G radar antenna, it did not fit properly. So, with this mount off, we wanted to solve this and move the new B&G antenna to the center of the radar guard. This project went thru all kinds of bids to re-weld it and then we even ordered a new Kato Mount which would have cost $,$$$, so we stopped that. Then Radeen and I designed a simple solution of adding two 1/4″ stainless steel bars to the bottom of the B&G radar and simply bolting down these bars. Well, thanks to the best welder in Stuart, Mike at NATIVE WELDING, we will have these bars. Now, all we have to do is remount the B&G onto these bars and bolt it down. EASY.
So the B&G radar / Kato radar mount was a bigger project than expected, but we solved that. Now onto the new VHF and Digital TV antenna and wire. As recommended by Chris and others, we will be using the best coaxial wire, Times Microwave LMR-400 cable and end fittings. With this coaxial cable, loss to the antennas is less than 12% where normal RG-8 and RG-59 are near 30% loss. Yes, the LMR-400 is more expensive, about $1.00 to $2.00/foot in bulk, plus the good end fittings, but we hope to never have to do this again! So we decided to put in the best wire. Thank you, Chris of s/v Temerity for the info. I was not aware!
During this time we also had some Island Packet Fleet fun where Radeen and Terri (IP 38 SAILBATICAL) organized an Island Packet Minivous. We gathered together 19 owners and 10 yachts here at Sunset Bay Marina from 2-4 pm on Feb 10th. We shared stories of cruising plans and yacht systems, enjoyed a few drinks together and really had a fun time. Of course, we hung up the IPY Battle Flag (5′ x 9′) and shared stories, some true and some exaggerated 🙂
Week one of the repair was removing the mast and removing the gear and identifying challenges. Week two is building the new rig and solving these new challenges. Next goal is to finish the rig and step the new mast, that may be week 3 if all goes well. Again, Radeen and I are so happy to be here in Stuart, Florida and to be working with Mack Sails. We made the right call shipping the boat here. This team will solve all these challenges. Imagine this in Puerto Rico…..that would have been a real issue.
Welcome to Florida, West Palm Beach, for that matter! Our Island Packet 35 arrived safely there on Wednesday morning, salty as salty could possibly be. We now can move forward with our mast replacement and new rigging, working with Mack Sails in Stuart, Florida.
We learned a great deal about this process. The most important thing we learned is that it was far easier than anticipated, with the support of great friends who pitched in and supported us! We were homeless from the time we put the boat onto the ship in St. Thomas until 4 days later where we received her at the port of West Palm Beach. Between these days we flew from St. Thomas to Miami, where we were graciously hosted by Reuben and Molli, our good friends and boating buddies of IP 380 PRIORITY. They totally spoiled us…..
While with Reuben and Molli, we enjoyed staying in their high rise condo in North Miami Beach, swimming in the pool, touring Vizcaya and taking in some mighty fine dining experiences with great conversations and fine red wines! This was a 5-star vacation for us, after being on the boat since Dec 5th in the Caribbean. Thank you, Reuben and Molli for the wonderful hospitality and for our dear friendship. We really treasure our times together.
On Tuesday, we learned that we would be the first boat off the ship! To show their ultimate support, we all got up at 0500 and departed for I-95 at 0530 for a 1.5 to 1.75 hour drive to West Palm Beach to meet the ship. Now that is true friendship! THANK YOU, Molli and Reuben!
Arriving in West Palm Beach, we entered the security zone at the shipping terminal where I had to get a guest pass and clearance to enter the port. Meanwhile, Radeen, Reuben, and Molli remained outside the fence until I returned. This part of the shipping is a bit odd. I was required to board the ship and remove the backstays. This allows the crane to place the slings under the boat without hitting the rig. Once this was done, I got off the ship, we left the port and drove around to Riviera Beach Marina, with a minor delay due to a train stopped on the tracks.
Well…..here came our next surprise. As we walked up to the tender, there onboard were our good friends, Ed and Sue of sv ANGEL LOUISE! These are the world sailors who just finished the American Great Loop and also the European Great Loop. They are the first boat in history to have completed these two voyages. Of course, to do this you need to cross the Atlantic twice and also lock up to 1,330 feet in elevation. These guys are amazing boaters. Well, here they were from Stuart to help us receive Island Spirit away from the ship in very windy weather. THANK YOU, Ed and Sue!
Waiting is what we did! After racing to the ship by 0800, boarding the ship around 0830 and removing the back stays, then racing around to meet the tender, we ended up standing off the ship from 0845 until about 1030 hrs. The problem was that Customs did a virtual check out via online, but the US Coast Guard decided to inspect the ship. So, with our boat hanging in the slings up on the crane for over an hour, we waited in the tender wondering when she would ever be lowered over the side. The winds were blowing 20+ knots into the marine terminal while we were bouncing around and waiting.
Now the excitement began as we watched them lower our 17,500 lbs 40 feet LOA sailboat 30 feet down to the water. We were not allowed to approach until the slings were removed and the crane lifted out of the way. So, they splashed her and tied bow and stern straps to the railing of the ship and we simply hoped that the engine intake hose would not come off and sink the yacht. That was the only open thru-hull as we wanted her ready to start up ASAP. If I were doing this again, no thru hulls would be left open until we are onboard. The workers can just wait for us to properly prepare the boat to be started and driven away.
With our unexpected crew of Ed and Sue, we had help loading our two rolling travel bags and two backpacks onto Island Spirit. Then the four of us boarded her and prepared her to drive away from the ship. The wind was blowing 15-20 into the terminal onto our stern. We needed to back away from the ship as they were offloading another yacht right over our heads. They yelled down to us to move on, and get going! We wanted the engine to be running for at least a few minutes, but we backed away quickly. WOW, talk about exciting and lots of crazy action.
From the ship, we had decided to take a dock at the Riviera Beach City Marina. This turned out to be another exciting process as the current runs thru this marina at about 3 to 4 knots. Of course they placed us, a transient, in the far back corner of the marina with a difficult current. Lucky for us, this current was running out of our slip but across the fairway. The slip was to my port. PERFECT. So we planned to back into the slip to port as I turned downstream to starboard. Island Spirit will spin clockwise to starboard in reverse and she did. We hit reverse and powered backward into the current and into the slip. ONE SHOT was all we would get! Miss this and we could do damages to other yachts. Finally, WE WERE DOCKED! Thank you, Ed and Sue, for being onboard to help with the lines and docking.
After docking at 1100 hours, we caught our breath, happy to be back in Florida to begin our repairs. We went out for a quick lunch and then, of course, to a PUBLIX grocery store for some provisions. All this made possible because Ed and Sue drove down from Stuart, Florida to help us out. This entire shipping process has been supported by our dear friends. Radeen and I really appreciate all they did to help out. Big thank yous to Reuben, Molli, Ed and Sue!
We learned that shipping a boat is a very detailed process with many steps along the way. It costs around $10,000 from St. Thomas to Florida for 17,000 lbs and 40 feet LOA. It is fast, only 2.5 days of sea time. Your boat is saltier than ever before when it comes off the ship. The shipping companies are pros at doing this. Overall, it was an exciting process and we may, just may, ship back in March….who knows. But for now, we need to see to our repairs and get this boat sailing again. Then we will decide on how we will get back to the Caribbean Sea. Thanks for following along.
What an interesting experience, shipping your boat has turned out to be! WOW, very exciting, very interesting and challenging working with the salespeople, the local shipping company, local colorful captains, import/export people, and then preparing your yacht for ship transport. All of these components make for a very challenging activity from the customer (us) as we navigated the process from Nov 1 when we wired $10,800 to Amsterdam to Dec 10th when the canceled our ship to Jan 15 when our ship was delayed to Jan 20th, then 25th then 26th then 27th. Finally, on Jan 27th at 1500 hr we placed Island Spirit up alongside the ship Named DIAMANTGRACHT.
Our adventures started when we arrived in Puerto Rico Dec 5 to prep and launch Island Spirit so we could motor here over to St. Thomas to meet the ship Dec 10th. We met that schedule and upon docking at the Crown Bay Marina, we were told that day, that our ship had been canceled and we would be picked up one month later on Jan 10th. At first, we were very disappointed, but then we accepted the new schedule and decided to enjoy our one month stay in the Virgin Islands. Imagine that, one month in the Virgin Islands, how great is that? So, after our USVI and BVIs review tours, we returned to Crown Bay Marina to prepare for shipping.
Once we had Island Spirit stripped down and all items secured for ship transport, we departed the docks at 1400 to stand off the ship and be ready for lifting. One of the most frustrating aspects of this stage was the fact that we were told to be off the ship at 1300, then 1400, then 1500 hrs! With the winds blowing small craft advisory at 25-30 knots and 2-3 foot waves in the harbor, we needed to know EXACTLY when do you want us alongside the ship? So we phoned the ship and spoke with the loadmaster and he asked us to be ready around 1400, so we departed the dock at 1400. We had hired a captain, one who had done this before to guide us and help us, and Radeen would stay back on shore with our bags and backpacks, but that really did not work out well. Long story, but eventually we did it all on our own, no captain for us. Yes, we still got billed for this “said” captain, but it just did not work out. So, off to the ship we motored and we placed Island Spirit right where they needed her. High winds and waves and all.
Now we were tied to the ship, it was rather easy. You pull up to the side of the ship. They toss down 2″ yellow webbing with a loop on the end. Radeen connected this to the bow cleat and I connected on to the stern. With fenders on the port side, we rode there along the side of the ship for 45 minutes until they lowered the crane and the straps. The massive crane, 100-ton limit swings over a cradle and two straps. The loadmaster climbs down a ladder of about 20+ rungs to board our deck. A snorkeler is in the water to verify where the straps go. I explained the keel shape and the fact that the front strap needed to be on the FLAT part of the keel. They placed the forward strap too far forward, the driver did call that out, but they lifted at this point anyway. With the boat lifted to be tested, and inspected by the diver, they then lowered use back down so we could get off our boat and into this Boston Whaler snorkel boat along with our 2 bags and 2 laptop bags.
Well, of course this all was happening during a full our squall of 30 knots and driving rain. Needless to say, we all were soaked, our bags and laptops getting soaked. We grabbed some trash bags from below, closed up and off to the snorkel boat we climbed! From there we could see Island Spirit being lifted to the deck as we were taken back to the dock. HOW EXCITING!
Once we were returned to the docks, we hauled our wet bags around the port to the place where Radeen could wait while I boarded the ship to re-attached the backstays. Climbing up the gangplank to the ship was exciting and then working my way around the ship, alone, climbing ladders and steps to get up onto the deck of the ship was very very interesting. I finally found Island Spirit and there I spoke with the loadmaster about the front strap and the angle of the keel. He understands. I then climbed a ladder up to the stern and secured the backstays. I checked below decks and I made sure the transponder was pinging our position. Closing up and locking the boat, I was then able to stay on deck and watch the loading of another 65-foot sport fishing yacht.
The really interesting aspect is how they weld corner brackets to the deck of the ship to hold our cradle to the deck. Then the 3″ webbing straps are ratcheted down to tie downs on the deck. I was there to see them welding us to the deck! Very cool.
After watching then load the 65 foot sport fish, I then climbed down off the deck to the side walkway, and found my way to the exit and back down to Radeen waiting with our bags. From the docks, we caught a cab to a hotel the closest to the airport, popped a bottle of red wine, and reflected on the excitiment. The winds are blowing 25-30 knots. The seas are up to 15 to 20 to 25 feet. Island Spirit is on one WILD RIDE out there in the ocean.
We are LIVE tacking here, via our Garmin inreach system. It pings the position every 10 minutes! Very cool.
Next step is to fly out of St,. Thomas, Sunday, Jan 28 at 1630 to Miami. There we will meet up with dear friends Reuben and Molli, owners of IP 380 PRIORITY who are spending time in South Beach, Florida. They have an extra bedroom and bath and they have kindly insisted that we stay with them a couple of days until Island Spirit arrives in West Palm Beach Tuesday late. We are told we will be able to receive her Wed morning. So, upon arriving in South Beach, our mission #1 is ICE CREAM, as Reuben and I LOVE ice cream more than anyone. Then it will be some relaxation and visiting and some fine fine meals out and about South Beach, Florida. We are really looking forward to this time. Thank you, Reuben and Molli.
After we receive the boat in West Palm Beach, we will motor north up the ICW to Stuart Florida and base at SUNSET BAY MARINA, our #1 marina in the USA. There we will be working with Mack Sails and they will pull out this mast, replace it with our new one that is waiting for us, and install new rigging. We plan to spend all of Feb in Stuart because we LOVE IT THERE. Then, back to the Caribbean starting in March. Shipping??? Maybe….Sailing back??? Maybe…yet to be decided.
We wrapped up our USVI, St. Thomas and St. Johns travels as we await the arrival of mv DIAMANTGRACHT, the Sevenstar ship that will transport Island Spirit back to Florida for our new mast and rigging at Mack Sails. Departing the BVIs last week, we spent 4 days in the Red Hook area and Great St. James Island (aka Christmas Cove) where the Pizza-PI boat is moored. What a fantastic area with lots of services in Red Hook and with plenty of protection from the east tradewinds at Christmas Cove. We can see how cruisers make this a base of operations because it is so nice with crystal clear blue/teal waters, free moorings, and room to anchor. Here is a map of the islands of St. Thomas and St. Johns:
Let’s back up to St. Johns for a minute, and you will notice how close this is to West End,Tortola, BVI. The tradewinds blow from the east and this funnels the winds between Tortola and St. Johns along with a 1 -2 knot tidal current, so the winds curl around and into the bays on the north side of St. Johns. This fact makes one of our favorite spots very rolly unless the winds are light, which is rare. That spot is first bay on the NE corner of St. Johns, Leinster Bay, where we love to snorkel Waterlemon Cay and hike the trails to the Annenberg Sugar Mill Plantation. This is one of our favorite spots on St. Johns. The next bay, where we spent many nights is Francis Bay, which wraps far back around the point and then deep into the east making for a great anchorage. Deserted sandy beaches line this bay and every day we hit the beach and had it to ourselves. St. Johns has National Park mooring balls in every harbor, making it even easier to spend the night. These photos below show the beauty of these harbors.
Life onboard while waiting for the ship has been peaceful. We have been working on boat services like waxing, and spotless stainless removing rust, and the endless varnish service. The day breaks around 0600, we listen to weather on the SSB with Chris Parker at 0700, then we have breakfast of egg whites and toast or oatmeal and cottage cheese along with french pressed coffee, of course! Then we do some boat jobs until midday, and then it is off for a swim, a snorkel or a beach walk or hike around town or a trail. By midday 1400, the sun is so intense that we return to the shade of the boat and make our main meal of the day, pasta, fish or stir fry with a salad. We relax, read, use the internet until late afternoon, 1630 and it is back to more boat chores as the sun goes down. We watch the sunset around 1800 and check into the Crusieheimers SSB network. Next, we enjoy some wine, cheese and crackers and read, write, and talk. We hit the showers every night around 2000 and then read and surf until bedtime 2200. Notice, no TV in this mix, maybe the news if we feel like it, but we can get that off the internet, our cells or satellite radio. With the nighttime temps around 75F and the hatch open over our bunk, we need a sheet to be comfortable. Imagine that. Wake at daybreak 0600, and repeat. Welcome to Team Island Spirit days….or should I call these Island Spirit Daze?….
Anchored back in St. Thomas off the cruise ship docks near Havensight, we just received word that we will be loading onto the ship this Saturday at 1500, Jan 27, 2018, at Crown Bay Marina. Our ship, mv DIAMANTGRACHT, is arriving from Italy, it will offload 9 yachts, then it will load us onto the deck of the ship. Sometime on Sunday or Monday, the ship will depart St. Thomas and in3 days we need to meet the ship in West Palm Beach Florida. There, our dear friends Reuben and Molli of IP380 PRIORITY have offered us the guestroom in their Miami Beach condo and a ride from Miami up to West Palm to meet our ship. This is so kind, and this is one more example of our well connected and worldwide Island Packet Fleet of owners. Thank you Reuben and Molli, this is all so very kind of you. See you soon!
We will create a full ship blog post about the loading process next,. For now, this is what the ship looks like. Three massive cranes that will load us from the water!
So, for now, with 3 days before shipping, we will finally move over to Crown Bay Marina and down-rig Island Spirit once again. We need to prepare the boat to take 50-60 MPH winds as the ship travels at 15 to 20 knots and ocean storms and squalls can be 30-40 knots, so Island Spirit is in for another another wild windy event. She took 200 mph winds from hurricane MARIA so this 50 mph winds should be nothing. (she rode 70 mph down I-75 in Florida on a truck back to the Island Packet Factory, this will be easy) Knowing this, we will take off all the canvas, our only sail, the staysail, strap the dinghy down on the bow upside down again, and remove all gear from the deck. Then for loading, we will drive our boat to the side of the ship. The straps are lowered via cranes, these go under our boat from the stern, we get off onto a tender, and they lift Island Spirit 30+ feet to the deck where she will be placed in jack stands welded to the deck or a cradle. Then hurricane straps are added to hold her down to the deck. We must board the ship and then reattach the backstays. She will have her mast up and we hope she arrives the same way. Then in Florida, the process will be reversed. She will be lowered to the water, we get onboard via a tender and start her up and drive away. 1,000 nm in 3 days, at a cost of $10,800. Remember, this is all part of our insurance settlement, as the shipping price for our mast was $9,500, so we paid a little more and we are shipping the boat back to Mack Sails in Florida. Below is a picture of Island Spirit on the anchor, St. Thomas.
St. Johns and St. Thomas have been a fun place to wait for this ship. We learned the harbors, the towns, and the busses to get around. We met up with our Island Packet Dealer, Skip and Andrea owners of Island Yachts and we met Island Packet 38, Salty Shores, owners Jim and Anechy who drove us around the island and showed us the Independent Boat Yard where they rode out the hurricane at the dock! It really has been peaceful and a very enjoyable time. We still feel that returning to Mack Sails is our best option as we will be positive the rig will be properly set up and we will have zero worries about the repairs. It has taken time, but we have plenty of time.
Here are a few more photos of our time in the USVI. Enjoy:
We sailed (actually motored as we have a damaged mast) from St. Thomas to Christmas Cove on St. John’s, with free, new park mooring balls. There we met the lively girls who run the Pizza PI boat on Opening Day of Season #4. After sharing a pie with Sea Star, we continued to the BVIs. We always check into the country at Jost van Dyke, home of the world-famous FOXY’S. We made it there a day ahead of the famous New Year’s Eve Party (locally called Old Year’s Night) and secured a mooring ball. Let the fun begin. This was a wonderful way to kick off our 2018 BVI return tour. We even were so lucky as to snap a selfie with Foxy. What an icon and what an accomplished man he is. In 2018, Foxy will turn 80 and the restaurant will celebrate its 40th anniversary….sounds like another epic party on the horizon. It was interesting to learn that in his 20’s, Foxy raised cattle and took them by sailboat to Sopers Hole on Tortola. After inspection, he would sail them to St. Thomas to be sold. Thank you, Foxy, for checking off one of our bucket list items – a very memorable New Year’s Eve!
After recovering from the wonderful party at Foxy’s we motored to North Sound to see for ourselves the destruction caused by hurricane IRMA at the Bitter End Yacht Club.We posted a full photo essay on our facebook page here. It is really heartbreaking to see the power of this storm and all that is destroyed. One cannot fully grasp this until you see it for yourself.
After the tour around North Sound, we moved down to Leverick Bay where we enjoyed the Michael Beans pirate show, after all its a PARrrrrrr-Tay and really a good time. Michael lost his beautiful boat in Spanish Town and he is now working on repairing another boat so he can move back aboard. For now, he is performing his outstanding show from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mon, Tue, Wed at Leverick Bay, and we feel it is a must-attend event.
From there we motored past Spanish Town and observed the many yachts laid over on their sides, still 4 months after the storm. We hear that the insurance adjusters and insurance companies are not moving too fast on all these damages and people are still waiting to hear about settlements. Onward to THE BATHS where we have been 10 times before, but this was the first time we ever saw a RED flag hoisted. There was a large north swell running of maybe 3 to 4 feet and that was enough to make it nearly impossible to swim into the beach. The waves were crashing onto the rock and running 20 feet up the beach and into the trees. We decided not to body surf those conditions and sadly we moved.
Next up was Peter Island, one of our favorite places to simply hang out in beautiful blue, blue water. Then to Norman Island where we really enjoyed PIRATES BIGHT beach and happy hour. This owner really went out of his way to rebuild and make the place even better than it was last year. Well, guess what? The boats were there. Many many charter boats filled the harbor and the bar and the restaurant because so many other places are still closed. Cooper Island Beach Club shows nearly zero damages to their buildings with damages to their boardwalks. Yes, their docks are gone, but the site looks like it could be opened. It is closed until April. So, Norman Island and PIRATES BIGHT is THE PLACE to go.
With the many snorkeling sites around Norman’s Island ,we enjoyed a couple of days here. Yes, the poor WILLY T ended up on the beach and she will RIP there forever more. (We fondly remember the first Willy T, a wooden sailboat which sank in the harbor years ago. In 1984, we sat at the bar, with our feet dangling over the hold and ate warm chocolate cake under the stars.) I wish the owners were required to remove it, but who knows how that works. Imagine if someone crashed their car or truck onto your front lawn and then just walked away, leaving it there. Oh, sorry, it crashed here, and here it will stay. I have a problem with that. So many boats are wrecked on the beaches and their owners seem to be absent. Who should pay for this clean up is the question? Maybe, it just takes time.
From Norman’s Island, we motored over to Sopers Hole because we heard that OMARS Coffee shop cafe was open. YES, IT WAS, but everything else around it was destroyed and/or gone. The Dive Shop is gone. The Latitude 18 boutique is gone. Gone, as in the buildings no longer exist. Pussers bar is obliterated, they are open upstairs. The customs building is leveled and replaced with an open tent. The marina and charter docks are gone. This was one of the hardest hit areas we toured. With the customs building gone, the ferries from the US no long stop here. Only private yachts can check in here. No water, no fuel, no Pusser’s Landing. But, I will say, OMARS IS GREAT, and it is well worth the stop for coffee or for breakfast or lunch. Congrats to them for opening up and serving great food. I also posted a photo essay of Sopers Hole on our Facebook Page here
With one loop now completed around the British Virgin Islands, it was time to loop again and see places we missed. No trip to the BVIs would be complete without a Painkiller at the SOGGY DOLLAR BAR on Jost van Dyke. Here we go again, let’s motor over there and swim into the beach and enjoy some painkillers. Why not? WOW, does this place ever look different. no more trees and a new Soggy Dollar Bar was built. The only thing left was the sign and the bar and the concrete slabs, Everything else was leveled! The good news is the beach is still spectacular and the drinks are great. Thank you, SOGGY DOLLAR BAR, you and your ring toss game are legendary!
From Jost van Dyke, we wanted to head up to Trellis Bay and see the LAST RESORT. When motoring on the north side of Tortola, you are mostly in the lee of the island. Even when you round (aptly named) “Rough Point” and head east, you are still protected by GUANA Island. Passing thru MONKEY POINT (where there is great snorkeling) you head towards the Beef Island Airport and into Trellis Bay. We have spent many, many vacations at this spot, including New Year’s Eve 1986 at The Last Resort. The harbor is very protected and with the wind 25 gusting 30, we decided to stay here 3 days until it settled down. Sadly, Hurricane IRMA hammered this harbor with a 20-foot tidal surge along with the high winds. People on Great Camanoe reported seeing this single massive wave/surge going over The Last Resort and into the bay. This wave took every boat in the harbor and drove them all up high and dry onto the beach. Some are 10 feet above the normal tide line and into the trees.I posted a full photo essay of the 35+ boats up on the beach and the scene on Trellis Bay and the Last Resort HERE.
While in Trellis, we took a taxi to Fat Hogs Bay to see the East End area. We enjoyed meeting the manager of Penn’s Landing Marina and shopping at a great marine chandlery and a small Rite-way market. The fabulous smell led us to a wonderful bakery, where we tried a coconut tart and a rock bun….it looks like a rock and is full of coconut and raisins. The next day, we took a taxi to Nanny Cay for lunch on the beach and to find our friends’ boat IP40 Bonavista, nearly unscathed amidst the terrible destruction.
After the high winds returned to normal, 15-20, we motored out of Trellis and around the corner to Road Town, as we needed to fill a propane tank. Taking one of the free town moorings in 3-foot waves, 20 feet off a rock wall to leeward always is a challenge. Then lowering the dinghy into the water with the bow going up and down 4 to 5 feet will nearly rip the dinghy right off the davits. This is always a problem at Road Town, but with the harbor full of sunken yachts it is about the only option. We waited for a calm in the wave train and got the dinghy unhooked and free without damages. Needless to say, it was NOT going back on the davits in this sea state, so we planned to tow her to Peter Island. Into the Moorings docks we tendered, where we were shocked at the number of damaged yachts, all with insurance claim numbers on their port bows. Hundreds of damaged yachts on every dock. Piles of masts and rigging stacked up at the entrance to The Moorings. With no trees and piles of debris, the entrance is nearly unrecognizable. Skids of new pulpits and ladders and rigging stacked up. I cannot imagine the amount of work it will take to rebuild this Moorings Fleet of yachts. OH MY GOSH! Simply heartbreaking. It was surreal to see.
Departing Road Town ASAP, we towed the dinghy across Sir Francis Drake Channel in 3-foot beam seas. That was NOT fun. It is not a good ride running a 17,000 lb sailboat with an 8,000 lb keel and NO SAILS hoisted. The boat swings like a large pendulum and rolls from side to side so strongly that most dishes and pots and pans and books go flying off the shelves and out of the cabinets. So after a simple 1 hr crossing of the channel, the boat is a wreck because we cannot put up a sail. This is what we have been doing as we wait for our ship to arrive Jan 26 to ship back to Mack Sails for a new mast and rigging. Yes, we could have motored home, but imagine 1,000 nm under motor with no sails, then imagine running into a Bahamian cut without sails. NO WAY. we will not take that risk. If all goes well, we will be offloaded in West Palm Beach on Jan 30 and at Mack Sails being fixed the beginning of February.
Back at Peter Island in Buttonwood Bay, Great Harbour we once again enjoyed the peace of a flat calm anchorage, 20 knots of wind and no worries. Life is good on a sailboat…..when all is working well….
From Peter Island, we departed the BVIs after 2 weeks of motoring around to review all the great places. We headed downwind back to Francis Bay on St. John’s where we have high-speed 4G internet (to post a blog like this) and we even receive NBC HD from St. Thomas on the TV. We shot thousands of photos and processed the best ones which we are sharing in this collection below. Each photo will blow up to a larger photo, but then you must back up to select another one.
We continue our motoring around the BVIs including a run to North Sound to see first-hand the power and destruction of Hurricane IRMA and MARIA to our favorite place in the entire world, The Bitter End Yacht Club. First, we stopped into Road Town on Tortola to pick up CCT sim cards for data and cell services and for a few supplies. Taking a free town mooring right off the Moorings stone seawall, we could see into the harbor where there were sunken yachts and flipped over 50-foot catamarans. With total shock and disbelief, we dinghied thru the harbor looking at the destruction. Right on the fuel dock, there is a 60-foot cat upside down! OH MY GOSH! These people have been thru hell and back and are still suffering the damages of a CAT 5 hurricane 4 months ago.
The people we talk to are trying to get back to normal, whatever this new normal will be, and they express pride in their progress. There is so much more work to be done. At the CCT cell store, all the windows were blown out and plywood with temporary windows covered the 3 story office building. Construction workers were offloading more windows and more plywood. In the midst of this destruction, we witnessed kindness and optimism. Everyone we talk to about the storm and damages to their homes simply says, “We are ALIVE, we are still here, Thank GOD!” To hear their stories and the horror that they endured is really heartbreaking. One waitress described losing the roof on her house, moving during the eye to a friend’s house and losing that roof. She and her children went into a closet and she held the door against the wind. It makes our simple little damages to our mast so trivial. We count our blessings!
4 Months After
After getting fuel and a few provisions and a sim card in Road Town, we headed off to North Sound to see the remains of the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock. Motoring into North Sound, where we have gone 10 times before since 1986, was a bittersweet trip. We already knew what we would find, but we had to see this for ourselves. Out of all the places we have traveled, this place, The Bitter End Yacht Club, has always been our #1 happy place. We have many, many happy memories from here, of birthdays, Christmases and even a wedding. As we motored past looking at the total destruction, tears streamed down our faces. Everything is destroyed….the clubhouse, restaurant, marina, sailing center, gift shop, conference center and wedding cabana. The homes on the hills are blown apart. The Estate House we rented during our friends’ wedding is blown off the face of the earth. Nothing is left. We simply cannot believe the destruction. The eye of this hurricane came right over the entire BVIs and that meant they had 200 mph winds from one direction, then a clearing during the eye and then 200 mph winds from the opposite direction. It is this reversing of the winds that will destroy buildings and do total destruction!
After motoring past Saba Rock and looking at the destruction there, we turned south towards Leverick Bay and realized that this may be the last time we ever sail to the Bitter End. Thirty one years of happy times spent here and then one hurricane levels the entire resort. The family that owns this property will keep this closed for one year as they graciously work on rebuilding the homes of their many employees who have lost it all. They started a donation fund to which we donated right away. You can read about that in the Bitter End’s website here: http://BEYC.com You can also go directly to the donation page here: https://www.youcaring.com/bitterendyachtclubemployeesthevirgingordacommunity-944198
We ended our North Sound tour with a night at Leverick Bay to see Michael Beans Pirate show. This is the best show in the islands and he gets everyone involved in the show. Michael is a great man and even though he lost his home/boat in Spanish Town in the hurricane, he has restarted his show. Of course, he had to totally rebuild his stage and set and sound system and is back up and running. He is a one-man show and he is very very popular. We always enjoy his show. Leverick Bay Marina is rebuilding and they are open with the beach bar and pool and docks. The market is open and stocked, but the Pussers Store is closed for rebuilding. Overall they were hit hard also, and they are rebuilding fast.
From Leverick Bay, we motored south past Spanish Town, another location where many boaters store their yachts for the offseason. As we motored past we could see many yachts on their sides and leaning over. Several of our friends lost their yachts in this location. We hear the harbor is closed due to sunken yachts. Again, there is so much destruction and it is heart breaking.
From here, we pulled into the Baths, where we have been at least 10 times. Today there was a north swell running due to the large storm off the USA east coast. We have never been here when there is a RED flag hoisted. This means that it is very dangerous to swim into the Baths. The swell was causing large waves crashing up onto the beaches and then pushing 20+ feet up into the trees! WHAT? I have never seen this. So, we decide to not swim in. The park has roped off the beaches and you have to take your dinghy to the perimeter rope, tie off then jump in and swim into the beach or the rock. With these waves crashing on the beach it would have been dangerous to body surf in, so we sadly motored past.
We motored back to Peter Island, Great Harbor where there is lots of protection and then move down to Norman Island for Pirate’s Bight as we meet our Team Six Knots, Fezywig and Sea Star. Then we will move over to Soper’s Hole and base there as that too is very protected. We hear that Omar’s coffee shop is open!
One last topic:
OUR SHIP to SHIP to FLORIDA!
We are watching the ship we are assigned to, and it is still in ITALY! What? Yup, Italy, that is 4,500 nm away, it is to be in St. Thomas Jan 18-20 loading us. At 15 knots of speed this ship needs 13-14 days to make it here. That means it needs to depart Italy in the next few days. If it does not, then I am betting this ship will cancel as well. If that happens, then we will need another new plan. Oh well, so it is. At least our motor is running great!
Happy New Year everyone, Radeen and I wish you all, happiness, good health, and adventure in the upcoming 2018 year. We enjoyed celebrating new years eve on Jost van Dyke, at Foxy’s in the British Virgin Islands. It was an amazing and enjoyable party that lasted well into the new year. We were proud to have made it to 1:30 am. This party is considered one of the best places to celebrate the new year and it really will be one to remember. We had this on our bucket list for many many years!
From Jost, we moved over to Road Town, Tortola and then on to Peter Island. But, while anchored off St. Johns, we captured these amazing moonrise photos in the valley at the same time while the sunset to the west was creating a show of its own as well. What a special scene to enjoy from our boat. Remember, we are motoring around between St. Thomas and the BVIs waiting for our ship to arrive (Jan 20th) where we will be loaded onto the deck and shipped back to Florida for our mast repair and new rigging. We thought this was the best solution, and we still think it is the best solution, we just did not count on a one month delay of the ship. With that said, we are happy for the delay as we can now return to the places we saw last year and assess the damages from the hurricanes. More on that sad news in another post, for now, I just wanted to share these great photos of the moonrise and wish you all a Happy New Year.
Moonrise over St. Johns, USVI Click images for full-screen picture
We arrived in Puerto Rico on Dec 3, 2017 to begin the preparation for launch and for motoring our boat over to St. Thomas for shipping back to Florida for our repairs and mast replacement. Today, it is Dec 31, 2017, Happy New Year as we are sitting off of Foxy’s at Jost van Dyke. We have been dealing with many situations few weeks and add in the fact that our ship has been delayed one month really threw us off our plan. But, as with most cruising situations, you need to learn to monitor and adjust and deal with whatever is handed to you as you cruise. After busting our tails to launch, and prep the boat for travel, we found out the day we arrived at the shipping dock that our ship was delayed one month because none of the other 22 yachts could make it on time,. We were the only yacht ready for shipping, so they delayed the ship. At first, we were really frustrated and we wanted to cancel our deal. Guess what? You can’t, all you can do is wait for the ship. So, after a few seconds of disappointment we realized HEY, we are “Stuck” in the United States Virgin Islands, the USVI, and that is really not so bad. So we began our partial commissioning of our boat making it livable for the next month. This required getting a dinghy launched and rigged so we could get off the $100/day dock. Then we added canvas and the enclosure for shade and rain protection. Then we moved off the dock and anchored out in St. Thomas. NOW WHAT? Live the Island Life, that’s what.
What a life it has been. First off our buddy boats are here so we all gathered up for a swim off Honeymoon Beach, the site of our first Caribbean swim last year when we arrived. Next, we moved into town and dropped the hook right off the cruise ship docks because the Christmas Winds were kicking in at 25 knots, gusting 30. The great aspect of being on anchor in the Caribbean Sea is that the Tradewinds are ALWAYS from the East or NE or SE, always, always EAST. The fronts and squalls are always from the East. There are no fronts that spin you around to the SE, S, SW, W, NW, N and then NE like in the entire East Coast and the Bahamas. WOW, what a joy to be on anchor here in the Caribbean. So the stage was set, we will stay here in STT, St. Thomas until the winds die down and enjoy Christmas on the hook and tour town and the island with our buddies. That is exactly what we did and it was wonderful.
When the winds calmed down, we made a motor run out to Buck Island and then to St. James Island to Christmas Cove where the famous Pizza Pi Boat serves great homemade pizza for $20. We took the $1 bus (was actually $2) to Red Hook to see Island Yacht Charters and Skip and Andrea, the Island Packet Dealer. Their fleet of 15 Island Packet Yachts all have damages with 5 needing new masts and with every boat in need of fiberglass hull repair. They have full support from the Island Packet Yachts factory who will be sending a team of 3 people down from Largo, Florida to repair all the yachts. It will take most of the season to make repairs and they hope to have their fleet back up and running by April/May timeframe. This was difficult to see as we toured the area and saw just how destructive the hurricane was to so many places. This makes our damages very minor as we still have a boat that floats and we still have a full mast, just with damages. We are so lucky.
Now, after a few weeks in STT, we have cleared into the British Virgin Islands, the BVIs as we all call them. We motored over to Jost van Dyke where we cleared into the country and we are on a mooring ball off the world famous FOXYS where we will take in the wild fun New Year’s Eve party. We hear it is THE PLACE to be. As the new year begins, we will motor up to Leverick Bay in North Sound and reconnect with Michael Beans and his fun Pirate Show. We have helped him with some website work and we want to see the area and maybe even the Bitter End Yacht Club.
As for our nonprofit work, we have been giving away LUCI solar lights to many people in Puerto Rico who are without power. We have 5 left and we plan to give them away here on Jost. We can see so much damage to the structures and the landscaping, and we see yachts up on the rocks and beaches. These storms IRMA and MARIA have done so much damage, but the people are so strong and so positive that we are reminded of just how kind and wonderful the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are. They are rebuilding and they are survivors and the tourists are coming back. It will simply take years to rebuild all that was damaged.
Enjoy this photo essay of our time from Puerto Rico to BVIs. CLICK IMAGE for screen size image.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Radeen and I are soon heading back to Puerto Rico to begin the process of launching and working on mast repair of our Island Packet 35, Island Spirit. In May 2017, we stored the boat at Marina Puerto Del Rey, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. This location on the eastern end of the island was only about 20 miles from where Hurricane Marina came ashore. We were first told that we had minor damages to the bimini frame, the solar panels and all antennas. We felt very lucky.
When talking with Colin Mack at the Annapolis Boat Show, he wisely advised that we have a full rig inspection. On October 20, we received the report of mast damage at the port spreader, a crack in the mast at the masthead port side, and damaged standing rigging. Evidently, when the building behind us blew apart during the storm, the temporary sheet metal roofing flew off which hit our port side rigging and spreader so hard that it separated and broke the welded-on spreader base. The force pushed on the port side rigging enough to flex the upper shroud into the masthead slot, causing a crack the top of the mast.
The estimate to repair these damages, along with the bimini, antennas, and rigging was estimated at $29,136. In any named storm, our deductible is raised to 10% so with our policy of $125,000 value that means the company subtracts $12,500 from the damage estimate. This left an insurance settlement of $16,636 to fix our boat. Now the challenges are how and where do we fix the boat? Hurricane Maria will cost us a minimum of this deductible and most likely much more.
As shown in our previous video, we looked at 4 options:
#1. Pull the mast, patch it, replace the standing rigging in Puerto Rico, and sail to Florida or to Antigua and replace the mast there.
#2. Order a new mast and rigging and ship it in to Puerto Rico.
#3. Launch the boat “as is” and motor it 1,000 nm NW to Florida or 238 nm ESE to Antigua to replace the mast.
#4. Ship the boat to Florida and have it repaired at Mack Sails in Stuart, Florida.
Each of these options was fully explored and evaluated. Here are the numbers and the facts.
#1. Patching the mast and sailing under jury rig would NOT be covered by our insurance for any rig failure if a failure occurred. The cost to patch $2,000, the cost of new rigging $3,000, shipping rigging $500, total $5,500 to sail to a new location and then start over and rebuild. Because our mast is not made anymore, we would have the need to order NEW standing rigging again to match the new mast. We finally decided we will not sail uninsured.
#2. Shipping a mast into Puerto Rico costs $7,500 plus trucking of another $1,000, making this option $8,500. Shipping new OEM Seco South rigging into Puerto Rico was a cost of $500. So, just the shipping in of the parts needed equaled $9,000. The timeframe would be 12 to 14 weeks due to FEMA using all the shipping capacity. No one could give us a definite timeframe to receive a mast. This option would have us repaired and sailing, at best, in mid March/April. And, the ultimate “what if?” is…. what if June 1 comes and we are still without a mast? We would have wasted a winter of sailing and be facing another hurricane season in Puerto Rico! Add in the cost of dockage at $1,200/month, plus a rental car, and this option was not looking good.
#3. Launch the boat and motor NW 1,000 nm to Florida or SE 238 nm to Antigua. (Note: Motoring without sails is not comfortable.) If we went to Antigua, we still have the shipping issue of getting a mast and rigging in a timely way, so motoring to Florida seemed to be the only choice. Our fuel range is 500 nm, so we would pull in and fuel up. Fuel cost to Florida would be 1,000 nm at 5.5 knots equals 182 hours motoring. Our burn rate is 0.75 gal/hr, so 182 x 0.75 equals 135.75 gallons. Diesel fuel costs about $4.00/gal, so 135.75 x $4 equals $543 dollars of fuel. This is by far the most cost-effective way to go. However, we still did not want to risk an uninsured rig failure, so we eliminated this option.
#4 Shipping the boat back to Florida is a cost of $10,800! YIKES, that sounds crazy and we did not seriously consider it at first. However, when we compared this option to shipping the new mast and rigging to Puerto Rico at a cost of $9,000, we realized that $1,800 is the true net cost to put Island Spirit on a ship and send her back to Florida.
Since we do not want to have an uninsured rig failure, going to sea really was not a choice. This left us with two options. Stay in Puerto Rico and wait 12 to 14 weeks or longer for a mast OR spend $1,800 more and ship the boat to Florida.
Our Decision to Ship
After much deliberation, we have decided to ship the boat and to work with our trusted friends and the quality team atMack Sails. We know their work, we know they know the job. We have zero concerns about the quality of the materials and the work, so to us, this was the best option. Yes, it will cost us $1,800 more, but the extra cost is worth it to us. The only downside is that after the mast is replaced, we have to bash our way back down The Thorny Path 1,000 nm into the wind AGAIN. We did it once and we were not planning on doing it ever again. We figure that by the first of February Mack Sails will have Island Spirit ready to sail. This is the fastest way to repair our boat, with the least amount of uncertainty and potential frustration.
So, stay tuned, we hope to take drone photos of Island Spirit on the ship! We will motor 44 miles to St. Thomas where we will meet the ship between December 10-20, the timeframe given by the shipping company. Once off-loaded in West Palm Beach, we will motor north to our favorite town in the USA, Stuart, Florida. We are looking forward to seeing many friends while at Sunset Bay Marina. And that will be the silver lining to our cloud!
Island Spirit’s wild ride will continue….
If all goes as planned, we should be repaired by February 1 at the latest. We hope to blast back to USVI and BVIs ASAP. There we will resume our planned project to help those in need. We hope to help at Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke and at Cane Garden Bay on Tortola and in Virgin Gorda in March. Then we will move south as we plan to store in Grenada by the end of May.
Dec 2, 2017: Mack Sails HAS OUR MAST! See what I am talking about. Colin Mack placed out order immediately with Spar Craft, Charleston, SC as he wanted to get ahead of all the spar orders coming in from the Caribbean hurricane damages. These spar companies are backed up. Here we are, Colin Mack, has it, and now all we need to do is GET THERE, and we WILL.
While working on our first week of boat repairs after Hurricane Maria, Hertz gave us this 2017 Ford Mustang because they ran out of “normal” cars. Fine with us, we will take it! With 1,200 miles on it, very low cowlings and only getting 13 miles per gallon, this might not have been the best car for driving on an island with roads in truly terrible shape. But, we made the best of it! Please enjoy our two-minute video.
If you enjoyed that video, maybe you want to watch our other videos. We even have some SAILING videos! Imagine that. Check out all our videos here….