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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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.