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.