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.
After a delayed departure out of San Juan and a two hour taxi ride from Sint Maarten airport to Oyster Pond, the mad rush was on to catch the favorable weather window for a night sail to Bitter End. The plan was to leave from Simpson Bay at sunset on Saturday, however the ever worsening weather forced a hastily decision - leave tonight or spend Christmas in St Martin. There was one caveat, the customs computer in Oyster Pond was broken, thus forcing us to stop at customs in Simpson Bay. $47 later (for a piece of paper) and a mad dash to load up on essential supplies, away we go just before 5:30 pm with favorable winds to make the BVI all too soon.
From midnight onwards we slowed down, but the more we trimmed, the harder it blew, and so it went on until 3 am when we decided to heave to and wait for sunrise, about 9 miles offshore. We were welcomed to the BVI with 3 squalls reaching 36 knots, torrential downpours and 3 to 4 meter swells. Did the bad weather arrive early or was the forecast as accurate as it always is? We got what we paid for.
At first light, we continued the last few miles to Virgin Gorda, cleared customs again and burnt more money for a slip of paper and now sit comfortably at anchor, albeit with a 20 knot wind to keep things interesting. So what time is happy hour? any time for us as it's still day time.
We also had live entertainment for part of the voyage. A yacht "Faraway" hailed the US Coast Guard reporting that they were taking on water and requested assistance. Five hours later the 5 sailors were rescued from their life raft by a passing cruise ship. A happy end to a potential tragic situation, the up side, an all you can eat hot breakfast.