Shipping our Yacht STT to FL

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.

Diamantgracht with 3 cranes, each one can lift 100 tons!

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.

Island Spirit prepared 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.

We did it! We tied her up to the ship OURSELVES. 25-30 knots, small craft advisories. Very EXCITING…

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!

Island Spirit being lifted to the deck via the crane. Rainwater running off the ship decks after squall.
Here you can see the front strap is too far forward! All was fine as this strap angles aft to the crane
That is deck rainwater pouring off the ship’s deck after the squall

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.

Welding brackets to the deck to prevent cradle from moving.
Welding to the deck, so interesting
There she is, Island Spirit on the deck of a ship, taking her first cruise !

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.

Live Tracking Map

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.

Here are all the photos of this process.


USVI St Thomas St Johns

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:

St. Thomas and St. Johns, USVI…(click image for larger picture)

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.

Radeen strikes a pose in Francis Bay, St. Johns
Heading to the beach at Maho Bay, St. Johns

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?….

Selfie walking the beaches on St. John
Motoring around the islands
Radeen, a happy GrL in the galley

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!

Motor Vessel DIAMANTGRACHT will load Island Spirit to the deck!

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.

Island Spirit needs to be stripped for shipping

In conclusion:
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.

Hayden, Radeen, Andrea and Skip, IPY Dealers and Island Yacht Charter company owners
Hayden, Radeen, Anechy and Jim, IP38 SALTY SHORES, we WILL spend more time together when we return in March/April!       Thank you ALL….

Here are a few more photos of our time in the USVI. Enjoy: