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: