Saturday, April 25, 2009
It all started in the BVI
On May 1, 2006, Bill and I moved aboard our sailboat to begin a new chapter in our lives. Who wants to sit on a couch and watch TV until they die -- we wanted to do something different and sailing was IT. At that time we had not even formed the thoughts of circumnavigating; we were just going to live on the boat and sail around until either we got tired of it or the lifestyle became too expensive. We previously had owned a 46-foot Beneteau named Dot Com that we had placed into The Moorings charter fleet in the British Virgin Islands. Dot Com was phasing out of the charter fleet in July 2006 and we planned to sail her around the Caribbean for a few years. The Beneteau was perfectly fine for sailing around the Caribbean but we felt that it would cost too much to beef her up to cross oceans, so our cruising plans were strictly for the Caribbean.
In March 2005 we anchored in St. Martin. We were there to put a deposit down on a dinghy and outboard so that these would be held until Dot Com left the charter fleet in a few months. Soon after we anchored an Amel Super Maramu 2000 ketch sailed in and anchored right next to us. Well, Bill and I had been looking at Amels for 4 years and knew without a doubt that this was our dream boat -- if we ever won the lottery, that is. Bill went over and introduced himself to the owner of this Amel named S/V Carol Ann. A few minutes later Bill returned to Dot Com and insisted that I come meet the owners of Carol Ann. We ended up staying on the Amel visiting with owners Rich and Carol for hours. When we left Bill and Rich had a handshake agreement that if Rich and Carol ever wanted to sell their Amel that they would contact us first before listing with a broker. Rich and Carol live on Cape Cod and have a sailboat there; this Amel was their second boat and they rarely used it. The interior of the boat still smelled like a new car. The Amel was normally berthed in the British Virgin Islands and would return there after their visit to St. Martin.
Imagine our total surprise when a few weeks later Rich sent us an email offering to sell the boat. We reviewed our finances and took the plunge and bought this almost new Amel that we considered the perfect boat for us. The boat was docked in the British Virgin Islands and we wanted to leave her there with the same caretaker until we moved aboard. Bill submitted a full year's notice to his employer that his final day at work would be April 28, 2006. We sold the house at full asking price to 2 doctors who didn't want to occupy it for another year and then rented it back from the new owners for a pittance. So we didn't even have to move into a temporary place. I started cleaning out the house; holding garage sales; donating items to charities; passing things to family members; and arranging with several family members living in Houston to store a few things in their attics or closets. We flew to the BVI 3 times during that year to sail on our new Amel and get to know her. Bill worked his final day on Friday, April 28, and we flew to the BVI and moved aboard on May 1, 2006. We renamed the boat S/V Security but many people (namely Americans) didn't seem to understand the pronunciation difference between Security and Securite on the VHF radio hails. We got tired of the radio hassle and changed the name to S/V BeBe in March 2007 -- our granddaughter's nickname is BeBe.
We had shipped 23 boxes of stuff to a mailing service in St. John, USVI; so our first stop was to pick up all our stuff and get it stowed away. Then we hauled out at a boatyard in St. Thomas for a standard anti-foul bottom job and service the bow thruster and Auto-prop. We wanted to start off with absolutely everything in tip-top condition. Before we moved aboard I had the fuel tank cleaned and the diesel polished since the boat had been basically sitting a slip for more than 2 years. Also had a rigging inspection and added another spinnaker halyard. We did a major food provisioning in St. Thomas (expensive place for food!!) and headed south.
The trip south in the Eastern Caribbean at that time of year is almost entirely straight into the wind. This meant motoring most of the time. We spent the month of June at a marina in Grenada, Stayed in Trinidad July through mid-Sept (broken up with flights to Houston and Peru). Next were several ports in Venezuela and on to Bonaire, where we decided on the spur-of-the-moment to sail straight back to the Virgin Islands and start all over again and do it more slowly this time. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US Virgin Islands. Bill's brother Theo and his wife Teresa and college-aged daughters Lauren and Kristin flew down to visit and we alternated between the USVI and the BVI until mid-January 2007.
The British Virgin Islands are our "home sailing grounds." We chartered and sailed annually (or several times annually) in the BVI from 1984 until moving aboard our Amel in May 2006.
We know the BVI like the backs of our hands. Bill could have stayed there forever and been quite happy, but I got bitten by the wanderlust bug and felt compelled to move on. Bill has been a good sport about it. So moving on is what we are doing for a few years.