Road Town to North Sound and more

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Our travels around the USVI and BVIs, last year spring and this year

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 fuel dock at Road Town 

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

Road Town, Tortola

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!

The Sailing Center, my happy place, with the main dock up on landd
The Bitter End Yacht Club Main Building May 2017
After the hurricanes of 2017

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.

The Michael Beans Pirate Show at Leverick Bay

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.

Spanish Town as seen from the water

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.

North Swell running into the Baths = RED FLAG

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!

Pirates Radeen and Hayden at the Michael Beans show

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!

Thank you all for following along.

 

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Moon Rise over St Johns

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Moonrise over St. Johns

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!

Beautiful St. Johns

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

St. Johns Moonrise
Amazing moonrise over St. Johns
Island Spirit on a mooring, St. Johns
Sunset at the same time as the moon rise, beautiful.
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Puerto Rico to STT to BVIs

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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!

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Our Mast Repair Decision

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Our bimini frame blew apart, all antennas were broken, and the solar panels were ripped off by the 200 mph winds.

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.

Looks like a small issue, but the spar company says it can not be repaired and it cannot be sailed due to the dent and damages!

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.

Post-hurricane photo. The sheet metal roofing blew into our mast and did all the damage. This roof mentioned as a concern of mine before Hurricane Irma, but…

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.

This is the type of ship used by Sevenstar Yacht Transportation. Boats are lifted up with a crane and placed on the deck of the ship. Transit time between St. Thomas and  Florida is only3 days! Click the image to see the Sevenstar company website.

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 at Mack 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….

NOTE 1:
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.

Note 2:
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.

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Mustang in Puerto Rico

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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….

https://www.youtube.com/user/IslandSpirit35/videos

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Nonprofit Logo

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Radeen and I are very excited to announce that our new nonprofit logo has been completed. Following the advice of another IPYOA member, we used the website Hatchwise.com and entered our logo ideas into their service. We elected the least expensive option and quickly received many renditions of our ideas.  We continued with one designer who eventually understood our goals. It became clear we were working with someone who did not speak English fluently. Explaining the idea of stick figures and also the words “Can Help” turned out to be a big challenge. The designer turned our ideas into this great logo and we are happy with it.

We have built our nonprofit idea a new website of its own. It has grown quickly and we felt it might get lost or confused in our sailing blog, svIslandSpirit.com. The new nonprofit website is hosted on our own server here:

http://EveryoneCanHelpSomeone.com

We have completed nonprofit corporation filing and have been awarded an EIN, a federal tax number. We have opened a business checking account and a business PayPal account. All the donations received have been transferred to the new bank account or new PayPal account. Our Patreon account is also connected to the nonprofit. Every dollar donated goes directly to the nonprofit corporation and is fully tax-deductible. All donations and purchases are listed here:

http://EveryoneCanHelpSomeone.com/donations

Thank you to all who have already donated, we really appreciate your support.

On December 3, we will return to Puerto Rico, taking with us 30 Luci Solar Lights to give to people who still do not have power in their homes. Our goal is to simply help one person at a time and so these 30 lights will help 30 people and their families. We are doing what we can with your help. As we sail into the USVI’s and the BVI’s and further south this winter, we will continue to help people affected by the hurricanes. As our logo presents:  Everyone = a family. Can Help = hammering, shoveling, painting. Someone = giving a simple gift. That is what our mission is all about. Helping One Person at a Time.

 

 

 

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2018 IPYOA Calendar Released

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Today we have released our 15th annual Island Packet Yacht Owners Association Calendar. The diversity of the photos are interesting and the images are beautiful. This project takes me 3 days to create and about 20 hours of work and Radeen and I are really proud of this edition. The calendar is created and sold via our simple online store at www.Cafepress.com/IPphotos The calendar has a margin of $5 and this is used to offset the costs and the software subscriptions paid to run the serves at www.IPYOA.com. Our Island Packet Yacht Owners Association website is very active with nearly 3,000 members and the site serves nearly 20,000 web pages a month! Enjoy the site and enjoy the calendar.

Here are the images for this 2018 IPYOA Calendar

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Video: Hurricane Repair Options

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We created this 4-minute video outlining our options to repair our mast and rigging in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Please have a look here:

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