With everything packed up, stored, shipped, rented out or sold we left our home of 15 years and headed for St Martin at the end of March for the final stage of our 6 year plan - Final inspection and acceptance of Paw Paw. We also got the opportunity to spruce her up with new sails, stackpack, dingy, outboard, colours, logos and upgraded electronics.
Our shipping arrived as planned with only a pair of swimming goggles and a coat hanger broken - surprising, considering the distance the goods travelled. After unloading, unpacking and vacating the apartment we had rented, we became permanent liveaboards on the 14th April. The following day, after completing provisioning and collecting our laundry, we set sail for Simpson Bay, in preparation for our early morning crossing to the BVI. The day started with a beautiful full moonlit sail and good winds, shortly followed with a wonderful sunrise. We decided this was the ideal time to toast Neptune with rum for safe travels. Although the wind direction (SE) was not ideal to get to the BVI, we were making good progress until mid morning when the winds became really light. This forced us to turn on the motors and motorsail the remaining distance in order to make our North Sound anchorage before sunset. No complaints though, as it was a beautiful, clear, sunny day and land was spotted a little after noon. We both managed to catch a nap on the new "dog beds" I made - in lieu of cockpit cushions that will be made once we're in Bonaire. We arrived safe and sound around 1730, with Keenan there to greet us. All in all, the perfect ending to a perfect day!
The past few weeks in the BVI have been hectic to say the least. Besides a few bumps in the road in settling into our new life as well as accommodating visitors, we did manage to get the new solar panels, the solar controllers and a bigger battery charger / inverter fitted. At the writing of this article we were anchored in North Sound awaiting the arrival of our "crew" (friends - Justine, Paul, Karen and Dave) on Saturday, 10th May, following which we set sail for Bonaire for hurricane season, as well as to complete the offshore outfitting of Paw Paw.
After 2.5 years in charter, it’s time to say goodbye to Moorings. Since arriving in St. Martin, Paw Paw has been configured for charter use, managed by Moorings. For her trouble, we received a few dollars each month and the usage of other Moorings yachts worldwide. Somewhat misleading at times, like for instance in Greece, we could only reserve a boat 7 days out. We made a paid reservation 9 months out and were lucky to get one of only a few remaining boats. Anyway, it’s all history, and time for a new beginning.
The boat was hauled out in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island, after a short motor sail from Oyster Pond, on the French side. We nudged our way to the front of the queue and waited for about 15 minutes to enter the lagoon from Simpson Bay. At exactly 11:35 the bridge operator entered his cubicle for the 11:30 opening, on time by island standards. We motored across the lagoon, preparing fenders and dock lines along the way, until we reached a yard with a big enough crane to lift the boat, considering it’s 25 feet wide.
Once out the water, the excess sea growth with be cleaned with a jet wash. Thereafter the boat will be blocked in the yard and inspected for damage. We are expecting the sail drives to be serviced, the bottom to be sanded and repainted with 2 coats of anti-fouling and finally the entire deck and top sides waxed and polished.
The boat is expected to be out of the water for a week and then return to Oyster Pond for routine maintenance and minor repairs. Moorings have 90 days to completed the work before we do final sea trials and take delivery. During this period we’ll be shipping new sails for fitment and keep the existing sails as spare.