About this time of year numerous sailing folks begin the journey to the Caribbean for the winter. Some head off the safety of the US coastline for open water to distant shores, while others, like us prepare for the flight to where our boat was left for hurricane season. As the time closes in on our return, we begin the job of procuring supplies and parts that we cannot obtain easily, getting flights and making arrangements for housing until we can get Lost Loon in the condition where we stay aboard. This is not as easy as it may sound. We have made AirBNB reservations and found that the car rental situation is a bit of a problem. We can rent a car near the marina, but it means a $120-150 ride one way via taxi or Uber. If we rent at the airport, we cannot return to alternate location without an additional $200 dollar charge. So, after many phone calls, internet searches, and otherwise hair-brained scenarios, we will rent from the airport for 3 days and then, pick up a car close to the marina for another day, while we return the car to the airport. We hope it works! We also need to obtain a survey and rigging check done for the insurance company by January 1. We found out that the surveyor, does not do a rigging check, so we have to hire another person for that task, and get it done during the busiest time of the year, we are told. Before we left our dear boat, we removed much of our anchor chain due to rust. A task that became a near feat, breaking up yards of rusted-together chain.
Our intention was to pick up our needed 250 ft upon return. Guess what? Yes, chain is a premium, and in Puerto Rico we are looking at 11.5% sales tax! WE even looked into shipping a barrel of chain ot PR, but shipping was going to cost nearly twice the price of the chain! We likely have enough chain to anchor in shallow waters to get us back to the USVI where there is no sales tax, (a full day’s sail realistically), but prices are still twice that of those in the US. Finally, we dropped canvas for repair off in May with the understanding that it would be done by our return. We have received an email that the work has not been started. We are not sure if it will be done. If not, we collect it and take it somehwere else along the way. These are the issues that make leaving a boat so far away, and in foreign ports so difficult. We both realize that our decision to leave the boat in distant waters makes life difficult and so we must go with the flow as they say. We will have a list of duties a mile long to keep us busy for 4 days upon our arrival, but know that the payoff is warm gentle breezes, clear blue water, and bright starlit nights.
“What are your sailing plans this year?” we are asked. Our answer is uncertain. With the advent of Covid many things have changed. For 5 years, we became used to being able to take off from an anchorage and decide on the fly where we were going to end up. It mostly depended on how many days we wanted to be sailing, and what the weather was going to be in that direction. Now in addition to the weather and our preferences, we have to take into account the rigid requirements for entering customs and immigrations at the islands. It looks like most of the islands will require vaccines in order to avoid lengthy quarantines, but they also require testing prior to leaving a port and upon arrival (and sometimes 4 days later!!) We will pick and chose very carefully where we will go, mostly depending on those requirements. We will likely stay in the Virgin Islands until the first of the year, and then go with the flow. We would like to get back to Antigua as well as some of the French islands like St Barths, Guadeloupe and Martinique. If we can make it far enough south to Bequia in St Vincent and Grenadine islands it would be a bonus. We have left Lost Loon in the “hurricane box” during that dreaded season for the last 2 years. We are ready to get her out of there, and back to Grenada for the next summer.
Where have we been since leaving Lake Vermilion and the cooler weather?
We are presently staying in warm Florida… learning to play pickleball better (until we have to relearn it in the Spring) and how to catch bait and fish for snook…reading…writing…enjoying unlimited internet, warm showers… biding our time until we will pack up our parts along with other belongings and leave November 21 for Puerto Rico.
For our friends who left the US last night for Bermuda, Bahamas and Antigua, and for friends who will be leaving in the near future we wish you fair winds and following seas. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers!!