We had such a nice trip back from the Corrotoman that we decided not to ruin our (possibly) last memory of charging along under full sail by going out in less than perfect weather or having to motor. It was also less emotional not to have known it might be the last sail at the time!
The weather didn’t oblige so we didn’t leave the marina dock again once we started on the task of clearing the boat for the broker to take photos. We just continued taking things to the lockup, marvelling at what we’d not used over the past 20,000 miles, spent time cleaning the cockpit teak and generally accepting that our lives had changed. Rob went up the mast to strip off the pipe lagging we’d put up in Las Palmas in the autumn of 2011. As the Atlantic crossing was a downwind passage, the mainsail can be pressed against the mast spreaders and constant movement will wear the sailcloth, so we put up the protection, taped around the spreaders. It stayed up well, hence the old glue took a bit of work to remove but we put up new lazyjacks at the same time. If Beyzano doesn’t sell by April, we’ll launch again and explore the rest of the Chesapeake and perhaps sail north to Maine, not a bad option as I’m still keen to anchor by the Statue of Liberty.
We tentatively took off the old mattress covers from the starboard stern cabin, aka ‘the garage’, hoping the new ones we had made in Guatemala last year would fit and they did. Both cabins look really nice now, all empty, huge and clean. The lockup is virtually full, despite it being 10 feet by 5 feet. Poor Beyzy had all that ‘stuff’ in the one cabin, fortunately balanced by all the food tins and generator on the port side. The logistics aren’t simple. We need to leave items on the boat that are included in the asking price and these range from the satellite phone to champagne glasses. She also needs to be clear for viewings and survey. We will create 2 sections in the lockup, 1 for our own personal gear, most of which will be dumped if she sells and a second huge section consisting of sails, BBQs, spares, a printer/scanner and right down to our hammock, Christmas decorations, fishing gear and cruising guides. We simply don’t see the value in shipping home lots of things we won’t need in the future, so are happy to leave them onboard. I don’t really want to contemplate how much all these cost but we will try to sell the very expensive portable freezer and diving gear separately.
Nearing our booked hauling date, 5 September, Hurricane Irma was rearing her ugly head as she approached the Leeward Islands. As you will know, she devastated so many beautiful islands, fragile, tourist dependant islands that now have nothing. Social media makes it all too real, too immediate and horrifying to see and we hope life can return to some sort of normality soon. Many of our friends had boats in her path and somehow they have all survived intact. The photo of Soper’s Hole just shows the supermarket to the very right. It was badly damaged and looted. Anguilla always holds a special place in our hearts, with the British-loving Anguillans giving us such a warm welcome. They were badly hit. True to form, by the time our troops arrived, they had already started rebuilding their island. These places are British Territories and really need our help. Barbuda was another favourite, with the pink sand beaches and crystal clear water. Everyone had to be evacuated to sister island Antigua, as Jose threatened them again within a week but thankfully veered away in the end. St Martin was in chaos, as were the British and US Virgin Islands. Cuba’s north coast got a battering, with the area we stayed in being flooded despite being several blocks from the sea wall and then came Florida. Having visited all these locations, we found it especially sad to think of so much damage and loss of life. Bars, hotels, restaurants, docks, boats and marinas have all been swept away. Happily Brunswick Landing Marina survived but the photos of the dock ramps actually going up to the water rather than down was disconcerting. The water came to within 2 feet of the top of the pilings holding all the docks in place. None of our friends lost their boats.
So many remote islands were hit this time, damaging winds of the Category 5 hurricane destroying so many homes, livelihoods and lives. With all their neighbours similarly affected, help is harder to come by but the response has been amazing. Puerto Rico and Cuba, despite being in the warzone, sent aid straight away. For the first time, 3 major hurricanes were roaming the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico at the same time; Irma, Jose and Katia. Morbidly fascinating in one respect, with such unstoppable power and strength. Makes me realise how insignificant we all are in relation to natural forces.
Living in a hurricane zone is unavoidable for most of the islanders but we have the option of getting south or north each June 1st to November 30th and do so by mid August when it really kicks off. Nevertheless, some metrological models put the Chesapeake in the firing line for Jose, later changing but we keep watch daily at this time of year. Being ashore means there is not much we can do if we get a hurricane warning. We strip off all the canvas and remove all small items inside the boat, tying everything else down as well as we can. Many boats just get blown over in yards and there’s nothing we can do about that. We would then evacuate and have been offered many homes here to shelter in by people we barely know. It is good to find people pulling together in times of crisis and awful to see videos of the lootings and lawlessness in some of the islands. Desperation leads to desperate acts by some but on a small island with limited resources, stealing food and water from the vulnerable wouldn’t get you far for long.
Haul out was interesting this time. We first filled our tanks with diesel to combat condensation over the winter. It cost 55.5 pence a litre. Next we moved the boat to the dock just ahead of the lifting bay and let the yard guys take over from there. As we stepped off the floating boat there were some pangs of emotion and a few tears from me. It’s going to be hard to sell her when the time comes. The lift is quite small and I did wonder how they were going to get Beyzy out. Lee and his crew are experienced but even they had a problem with her. The normal way for her to go into the lifting bay is stern first so the machine can trundle along the sides up to her backstay. This time there just wasn’t enough space between the lift, the backstay and the solar panels and they had her at a bit of an angle as they worked that out. Rob and I were watching from the office and I was trying to remember what we’d left out on the slippery wood surfaces. Things like the glass fruit bowl and candleholders. I wasn’t expecting her to tilt at all but they were OK.
In the end they dropped her stern level again and she went back into the water. Then they manhandled her out of the lifting bay and back in bows first. Next they took 3 hours to get the forestay off (luckily we’d already taken the genoa down) before a successful lift. We went off to town for a coffee rather than make them nervous watching. By the time we returned she was washed off and making her way to the yard. This is a small but tidy yard, about 15 feet above the water level, so great in storm surges. It only costs 150 dollars a month to store her and our lockup is 50 dollars. Even if we do come back we’ll keep the lockup as its great not having all that weight in the boat. More room for guests as well.
We have water and electricity nearby although we had to use a special plug for the 110 supply, as we need 220. I bought a long extension lead and a sander so I could plug straight into power and get the hull sanded in preparation for painting. If you remember, we had to be dragged and tipped over the sandbar in Guatemala last December and it took off all the paint on the bottom of the keel again. The yard will redo this soon so I can get the antifouling done. We have a long list of work to complete by October 16, including cleaning and sealing all the teak so it is golden again, washing off 2000 miles worth of salt, polishing the topsides and winterising the systems, pumps, engines etc. It’s a very long time since Beyzano was cold and in the UK we didn’t leave her for more than 2 weeks. This time we don’t intend returning until April, so she’s in for a long, lonely and cold winter unless someone buys her.
I’m concentrating on the maintenance that will be most obvious to potential buyers should we get any viewings soon. I used the wonderful ‘On Off’ liquid gel to get the ICW ‘tea stain’ off our wide white stripe, all 94 feet of it and have painted the part of our stern that sits in the water with hard white antifouling again. This really helps keep the weed off and is a more attractive option than a metal plate or blue paint, I think. The anchor has had the usual day-glo orange paint sprayed on as this helps us see it when we are dropping the hook. All of this work we do whenever we are hauled and if she doesn’t sell we’ll be making use of it anyway.
It’s not all work though. ‘Charlie II’ is in the yard and we last saw them in Trinidad in late 2014. 6 of us meet each night to use the BBQs by the swimming pool and chat after a long day. Our friends Monica and Phil on ‘Miss Molly’ are in the sister yard and we hadn’t seen them since Grenada during the summer of 2014. You never know who will sail into a bay when you are cruising, that’s one of the lovely aspects. The hospitality of the Americans continues to amaze us and this week we’ve had the luxury of a car, lent by Laurie and John. They were going on holiday and just thought we could use their second car whilst they were away. Very thoughtful and kind. We escaped the yard one evening, picked up our friends from Stingray Yard and went over to Kilmarnock to the NN Burger joint. Then we took advantage of the car by stocking up at the huge Walmart where they sold guns alongside the cheese! Although the marina here lends out a courtesy car, it is limited to half an hour (or an hour if it is quiet like now) and only between 0800-1700 so we can’t go out at night. We also enjoyed our third Wednesday night meal at the Fishing Bay Yacht Club, with a nice group of people.
Last Thursday we drove to Richmond, about 90 minutes away, to the airport to find Paul Amiss, the Customs Officer who could import the boat for a fee of 1.5% of the valuation our broker gave us. It was easy to find the CBP offices and Paul was very efficient, no questions asked. Annapolis Yacht Sales gave us a cheque (we did give them the cash) as we don’t have an American bank account. He also told us we could get a refund if the boat doesn’t sell or we change our minds. This was news to us but great if correct.
We were here for the Marina’s annual BBQ, with a pig roast and lots of food and beer. As it was a wet and horrible day, not that many people turned up so we had plenty to eat. It has turned cooler, a lovely temperature for working after so many years in the heat of Trinidad and Guatemala. We even dug out our brand new duvet, bought in 2011 and it’s nice and cosy snuggling down under it instead of just the thin cover. I’ve missed that!
After the Labor Day holiday on September 4th places here seemed to quieten down, so we 3 boats have the yard and marina facilities to ourselves. The laundry only has 1 washer and 1 dryer, so I’m glad it is quiet. It is easy to work here, we have lots of space around the boat for scaffolding and the town has several canvas, sail, mattress, engine and other boat related businesses, as well as the huge West Marine chandlery, so there is no excuse to stop work. The hardware shop is our first choice if possible as they have lots of boat items, including antifouling and the metric screws and bolts we need as well as the imperial ones. We’ve bought 3 gallons of paint but left them at the store until we are ready to use it as they suggested they should stir it all for us in their machine first. Nice service.
So, apart from a few social gatherings, lunches and the most incredible chocolate brownies from ‘The Table’ in town, we are working through our long list of minor tasks. Everything was working when we left the water and I hope it will do so when she launches. This Friday Bill and Lydia are picking us up to spend the night at their home in Richmond and taking us to our first American football game in Charlottesville on Saturday. We have to wear orange and navy as that represents UVA, the University of Virginia. Should be an interesting experience and a chance to see more of the State. On Tuesday Rob turns 63 and we might take a day off the work schedule to celebrate.