Shipping our Yacht STT to FL

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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.


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15 Replies to “Shipping our Yacht STT to FL”

  1. Fascinating account. I read it aloud to Tammy, and we wete both on the edge of our seats! Well, done, and best of luck on the the next stage.

  2. Maybe one of my favorite posts! So intense! No doubt that you two could pull it alongside and be there for the lift. So happy she is in transit and on her way to repairs. KEEP POSTING!

  3. Wow! What an ordeal! Congratulations on getting her safely onboard the ship and headed back to FL. Best of luck in the repairs.

  4. Wow, what an exciting and interesting experience. If the weather had cooperated, it might actually have been fun. Glad you are all loaded and ready for the second leg of IS’s journey. Enjoy that ice cream!!!

  5. Kathy and I wish you both a relaxing stay on terra firma with your friends. You guys definitely deserve some TLC after what you have endured! We wish you smooth sailing — literally and figuratively — when you are back on board your well-loved ISLAND SPIRIT. As you raise your ice cream in a toast: “salute”!

  6. Great account of your adventure! I know it’s been expensive and time-consuming but what an experience you have had. These are the stories you will tell to anyone with ears when you are 94! Thankfully all has worked out well, that you and IS are safe. Hello to Reuben & Molli. You deserve a triple scoop of ice cream!

  7. Looking forward to seeing you in Stuart and helping in anyway possible to get team Island Spirit back to the islands.

  8. Wow. What can I say. It’s been great traveling along with you on this wild and crazy adventure but part 1 is done, she’s on her way to Stuart and you’ll be able to embrace her again soon. Glad all went well, later than expected, but behind you now. Loretta and Jim s/v Plan Sea

  9. This is exciting news – what a relief for you to have this process finally in motion.
    Hopefully we will see you in Largo AND Clearwater, K&A

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