We stored RS on the hard at Jolly Harbour, Antigua, beginning in January of last year. We had the good fortune to get across the Atlantic before Covid-19 really got going. Jolly has a few concrete ‘hurricane pits’ that are about 5 feet deep, so RS at least wasn’t teetering on her exceptionally long keel for the season.
But, after the ’20 season and the record number of named storms, I wasn’t keen to roll the dice and leave her down there for another summer. Besides, there is just about nothing worse for a boat than to sit unused in the tropics. Between humidity and the intense UV, it’s just terribly hard on everything.
With things still shut down in the islands, and reopening not in the cards prior to the hurricane season, we decided that it was the best course of action to just bite the bullet and ship her to her new home base of Anacortes, WA.
The logistics were a bit tricky with quarantine and closed borders, and we ended up having to hire crew to move the boat from Antigua to her loading port in St. Thomas, and another to deliver her from Victoria, BC to Anacortes. The only part that we played in the whole journey was running the boat about 100 yards from the marina to the ship in St. Thomas. That and a little shuffle between marinas prior to being stored on the hard in WA.
We had a bit of excitement while we were laying alongside the ship waiting to get picked out of the water. From a long way off, I spied a 50′ or so powerboat, blasting along at the precise speed at which these things make the biggest possible wake. I could see the breaking water behind them for a long way. This is right through the western approach to the harbor, with at least 50 boats at anchor as well as all the dockside vessels.
Any powerboaters reading this, a friendly reminder that you are legally responsible for damage your wake causes. And, anyway, operating your boat like an ass is just out of order in any case.
We didn’t have time to untie and get away from the ship, but I did get out the boat hook and push us as far away from the side of the ship as I could manage. Good thing. The wake came in at about 5′ tall, rocking the hell out of us. We came out of it more or less ok (pending inspection), having just hit the V1 shroud against the ship once or twice.
The boat behind us wasn’t so lucky. It was a smaller boat, and their mast hit several times against the ship, breaking both port spreaders.
I sent the divers that were on site to position the slings over to identify the offender, and they were supposed to be held in the marina. However, the coast guard wasn’t interested, calling it a ‘civil matter’. We waited for the port police to show up for the longest time, and they also didn’t appear. While the USVI is in the US, it’s still very much in the Caribbean.
In the end, we left the shipping agent to handle the paperwork, and I filed an insurance claim for the inspection. ‘Rig inspection’ sounds pretty simple, but on a carbon stick with rod rigging-it’s a BIG job. I really hope that these bastards get held to account for it. We shall see.
Happily, RS’s designer, Paul Bieker, is based in Anacortes. He was nice enough to take the helm for the last little bit, as I was in Alaska. We’ve become friendly with Paul over the years, and he was quite happy to see his creation again. RS was Paul’s first big keel boat design. Amazingly, she’s 25 years old now, and still looks pretty cutting edge. WAY ahead of her time. Our lovely new neighbors John and Robin also lent a hand.
So, we’ll have our ride close to home for a while. There are some bigger maintenance/refit projects planned, and having Paul and some proper tradespeople to help out with things we don’t have the time or skill to undertake will help greatly.
We’re also looking forward to cruising the spectacular waters between WA and Alaska. It’s been better than a decade since we first sailed away from the area on Western Explorer. It’s high time for another cruise north.