Sailing the Exumas

Day 1:

We arrived to Nassua on a Sunday afternoon and after waiting in line at customs for over an hour we found our driver waiting for us outside ready to head to Compass Cay Marina (Navtours base). We pre-paid for our transportation to and from the airport and a trip to the local grocery store, which was very convenient. After about a 45 minute drive we arrived to a beautiful marina on the East end of Nassau. The check-in was not as seamless as we had hoped as they originally thought we were going to be on a monohull rather than the catamaran we had booked for the week. After everything was sorted out and provisions were purchased we went for our walk-through of Carpe Diem (2014 Lagoon 39), or as we liked to call her “Crape Diem.” Although the marina facilities were fantastic the boat was not well-maintained considering her age. She looked at least five years old when compared to other boats we have chartered. The staff was very nice, but definitely understaffed with only one person completing check-outs and unfortunately none of the equipment we had rented was on the boat. This meant we were not able to complete our check-out until 9pm at night and were sorting through a pile of old, broken, and moldy equipment (snorkel gear, fishing pole, Hawaiian sling, etc). and left hauling it back to the boat ourselves. Thankfully the restaurant at the marina was open until 10pm so we managed to enjoy a cocktail and a delicious grouper sandwich before calling it a night.

Day 2:

We planned to leave the docks at 8am, but had to wait for the staff to find equipment we identified missing from the boat. We finally cast off the lines around 9am and were the first one out of the harbor, despite four other boats who had been stuck due to weather for the last two days and were still trying to rectify equipment issues on their boats. We had a five hour sail from Nassau to Highborne Cay and decided our hand at fishing along the way (no discernable bites, but our lure was missing when we went to pull the line in). We spent a night in a small anchorage along with two other boats and spent a few hours snorkeling and checking out the resident nurse sharks near the dock. We had hoped to grab dinner on shore, but they were closed for the evening. We fired up the grill and enjoyed our first meal on board watching the sunset.

 

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Sailing the USVI’s

Day 1: After we land we grab a taxi amidst the chaos at the aiport and head to Compass Point Marina where Chris and Calla start organizing the boat and I head to the store for provisions ($750 later and we are set)! It is almost 1730 so we cast off the lines and motor around the corner to Secret Harbor beach for the evening and enjoy our first dinner on the boat. After just a few prompts Calla used the facilities (AKA: astro turf pee pad) we bought her on the back of the boat. The next morning we are up bright and early excited to start our day.

 

Day 2: The winds are howling (30 knots) as we head to Water Island and Honeymoon beach. It was a spirited sail as Chris would say as we had 10-12 foot waves and we were beating into the wind for the entire 1-1.5 hours to St. Thomas. Once we arrived we found a crowded anchorage with live music playing. We headed into shore for some playtime on the beach with Calla and shared a pain killer and a bushwacker drink (very boozy) before heading back to the boat for dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Calla’s First Sailing Adventure

 

My husband’s lifelong dream was to have our labradoodle (Calla) join us on a sailing vacation on our new boat. This sounded like a daunting task given my countless hours of research and the lack of clear guidance available, which is why I wanted to take the time to share the intricacies of importing your furry friend. The BVI vet was very responsive from the get-go and was probably tired of my emails by the time we arrived in the islands.

The number one thing I would recommend is to plan in advance as you will need to complete FAVN testing prior to your arrival (the results are sent directly to the BVI and your vet will receive a copy of the results). You will also need to make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date to include not just Lyme disease testing, but a two part vaccination (something we were not aware of until the last minute). The biggest hassle was having to mail the health certificate overnight to a USDA veterinarian along with all of your ORIGINAL proof of vaccinations for endorsement and ensure you have it back prior to travel. The USDA takes 24-48 hours from time of receipt, so plan on at least three days minimum before it arrives back to you. Also, don’t forget to include a pre-paid overnight envelope in the package you send or else it will be sent back “snail mail” and you could end up missing your trip after spending a lot of time and money. 

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Our Itinerary and Experience

Day1:

Left DC early in the morning and had a layover in the Orlando airport… Arrived in Marsh Harbor around 1330 and asked the taxi driver to stop at the grocery store and were happy with the wide selection of provisions (over an hour later we were finally ready to head to the liquor stConch Cowderore). The power was out at the liquor store and we had groceries in the back of the taxi so we quickly grabbed a few bottles of wine and a case of Kalik. Chris was encouraged by our taxi driver to try a beer so he grabbed one for the road and I was not a huge fan so on to the next liquor store for a case of Sands for me… We arrived at the boat and were greeted by Angie from Cruise Abacos who helped us unload our luggage and provisions onto the boat and we all agreed to meet back up at 0900 for our check out. Next stop the Abacos Beach Bar for our first vacation libation (I ordered a goombay smash and Chris had a rum punch). Shortly thereafter we headed down the road to Snappas for our first taste of Bahamian food and my love affair with conch began! We had conch fritters to start and I tried the special minced fish (amazing grouper chopped up with peppers, onions and a spicy sauce), while Chris had a grouper sandwich.

Calla (our labradoodle) trying to decide what to pack for her next trip!

Packing Tips For Charter

The initial consideration is not what to pack, but what to pack it in… Because storage space is at a premium the best idea if you are planning to take a charter is to use a duffel bag. I love the hard bottom duffel I bought from Eddie Bauer a few years ago.

Also, make sure to pack your travel documents if you plan to visit the British Virgin Islands you will want to have your passport. The currency that is used in the BVI is the US Dollar. Most businesses are equipped to handle credit card transactions, just be sure to notify your credit card company in advance so they do not place a hold on your account. Due to the high bank charges in the BVI most establishments will charge a 3% to 5% fee on all card transactions. Always have some cash with you to pay for moorings, or to use in some of the smaller bars and restaurants.

There is less access to medical care in the islands so I would also make sure not to forget any of your prescription medications and I usually pack ear drops because I am prone to developing ear infections. There will be a basic first aid kit available on the yacht.

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Highfield CL340Things that matter for a Dinghy:

Size: Contrary to the proverbial saying “it’s not the size that counts it’s how you use it,” when it comes to Dinghies size does matter. A Dinghy is your water-based car equivalent and you will want that extra size for anything from groceries to dive gear. 

Engine size: You have to have the horsepower necessary to move all that fun stuff and your friends to and from the boat.

Weight: Nobody likes trying to pull an elephant onto the beach or lifting it onto your davits…so make sure your dinghy is slim and trim, if not, better put it on a diet.

Cost: Everybody likes a deal and for most of us, this becomes the overarching factor that determines Dinghy selection.

What we chose and why

We compared multiple vendors and narrowed things down to Highfield and AB mainly for their construction, reliability, and cost. Like many people we went back and forth on the material selection: aluminum or fiberglass. Both have pros and cons but in the end we went with aluminum for that oh so important weight savings. (a comparable aluminum RIB is about 70-100lbs lighter than its fiberglass sibling). Ultimately we chose the Highfield (Classic 340) mainly due to the reviews from others, cost compared to AB, and some of its features.

As for engine size, well to us that was a no brainer. We went with a 20HP 4 stroke outboard. Why? Simply because we want to have enough HP to move 6 people and gear with no problems. Most likely we could have gotten by with a 15HP but the reality is a 15HP and 20 HP outboard have the same motor and weight, they’re just tuned differently so for a small amount of $$$ you might as well get the stronger motor! Oh and why a 4 stroke you might ask, simply put it’s better for the environment and more fuel efficient. Bonus, no mixing oil and gas like in a 2 stroke.

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Moxie has finally splashed in La Rochelle, France.

She was a little delayed at the factory but is now sitting comfortably in the water and has had her initial commissioning.  Moxie is getting prepared for her big Trans-Atlantic Ocean crossing. Hopefully she  will set sail soon and have a speedy journey to Annapolis where she will continue with some additional commissioning and upgrades.  Then its off for the Virgin Islands and her first Charter guest.

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