Oh god today is one mad rush after another.
We’re up with the sun per normal and find Greg and Rob enjoying their morning coffee. We know today is going to be a little bit of a rush. After a quick breakfast we close up all of the hatches (waking up Pam, Tammy and Jana in the process), turn on the motors, and drop our mooring.
We’re determined to get one last sail out of this so we hoist the main to the first reef and unfurl the jib in 20 knots of wind on a beam reach. The swell is exceptionally flat for what it’s been and we’re flying along. It’s a great sail, but at 4 miles it takes us about 30 minutes to cover the distance and then we’re dropping sail. We were told to call 30 minutes before we arrive and someone would come bring us in since the marina is so packed. We don’t have a whole lot of luck getting them on the phone, and when we do its a “yea we’ll get you soon”. We drop sails right outside of the marina breakwater pretty expertly, and now we wait. Rob starts organizing ropes while we wait. Then we get a callback just asking us to bring it into the fuel dock. So I guess we’re bringing the boat in ourselves. That’s ok. We can do this.
I call for Rob, but he’s occupied, so I just call to get others to untie the docking lines and grab the fenders out of the forward storage compartments. Luckily we have so many people on board. While I’m steering us through the the narrow passage I’m yelling out instructions on what to do with the bumpers, which is really just keep them between the boat and the dock and toss lines when they ask for them. I look behind and we have another catamaran coming in quicker than me, so I can’t really slow things up. All this makes me anxious. But everyone is doing their part and I don’t have that much trouble gently bringing Einstein in to the fuel dock, the benefit of an engine in each hull. And then we’re docked! We’re finished our cruise without damaging anything, yay!
Now we begin the check out process refueling Einstein and it’s tender. They need help running the hoses so Jenn and I fill up the tank we drew from and we’re good to go. I think Einstein has more fuel in than when we left, and the whole thing cost us $70. And believe me their price on diesel was not cheap. They need to move our boat back to it’s normal spot before doing the final check, so I tell them I’ll meet them there, I’m going to walk to the office with a quick stop at the dive shop at the end of this dock.
We have a bunch of scuba gear needing returning too so I grab some of it and start walking down the dock only to find that Sail Caribbean knows we’re here already and are sending 4 people and a cart for our stuff. I hand them the stuff I’m carrying and head for the office. I’d kind of like a t-shirt to remember the trip by, and dive shirts I feel like I’ve earned a little. Sail Caribbean has some of the best designs I’ve seen the entire trip too. I find a nice anchor motif shirt and make sure they don’t need anything else from us. We’re all good to go.
From there I go to the main Dream Yacht Charters office to check out with them too. All we need is our final inspection, so I tell them to have the inspection person meet us at the boat, and I head to Einstein. I see a Catana 47 also at the dock, and I kind of wish we’d rented that. One lesson learned was that while a 42 would probably suit a couple fine, 7 people find it a little cramped. The cabin is just a bit low for me. I have a feeling looking at it, the 47 is just that little bit larger all around
During our check out I list out all of the things we found didn’t work on the boat. Everything from cabin fans and speakers, to the oven and GPS. The boat has a lot of things needing fixed, and a few of them probably needed reporting from previous users of the boat. We tried to soften the blow by telling her the box of food on the table was stuff we thought people might still want, and in there was a full bottle of Fireball, which she picked out.
Greg in the meantime had called us a taxi.
Finishing checking out, I got my deposit back in full, and then took a quick shower joining back with the group right as they were loading up the taxi, great timing.
At the ferry pier we purchased our tickets. Rob and Jana had already bought their tickets for the noon ferry. There was one that left sooner but arrived only 10 minutes before because it runs slower and makes a stop at West End. We decided to just stick with our group, which turned out to not be the right decision. More on that later.
Anyway, we had some time until our ferry, so we set out for some food. Our first place was a no go, but we were also told the Maria’s Hotel has a restaurant that should be open. Turns out we just barely made their breakfast service. First of many near misses.
We all head back to the ferry dock and watch the earlier ferry leave and wait for ours. The Roadtown FastFerry is kind of an interesting boat. It’s named Providence II, and is filled with pictures and advertising for New England like maps of Cape Cod, and the boat is registered in Boston Massachusetts. All of the crew is American as well. The ferry is pretty comfortable too, with working AC, and cold drinks. It’s smooth and fast.
The problem though is that ferry that arrives 10 minutes before we do? Yea it’s late and still unloading when we arrive so we’re standing off waiting for them to finish unloading. And then once we do, customs has to go over our baggage before we’re allowed off the ferry for some reason, so we’re stuck forever waiting. We have a flight at 2:30, we arrive in St. Thomas at 1, but have to wait 30 minutes, so now it’s 1:30. We clear customs at the dock and grab our things and take the last seats on a taxi telling him we’re late and when our flight is. He reassures us but takes our worries seriously, and we’re off.
At the airport we tip the driver well, and rush off. We say a hurried goodbye to Pam who has to check her bags, we’re carrying on, and I think it saves our bacon. That and we get into the security line and a mother with a kid in a stroller is asking for cuts, and we just follow her through the line with the same excuse, that our flight is already boarding. It’s true after all, but we’re happy to get the same sympathy they show the mother. And thanks to those people letting us cut the security line, we make it through security (and another layer of customs?!), and right to our gate as they’re boarding our group, the last group.
Luckily as well we didn’t have to check our bags either, and found space. This flight we did not have premium economy and its larger legroom, so we had to make it work.
At our exchange in Atlanta we had just enough time to grab food, and change into more appropriate clothing. We were both still wearing flipflops and shorts, and the weather here in Atlanta and home in Los Angeles was much colder. It was nice to put on some clear pants, normal shoes with socks, and a clean shirt.
Jenn wanted a sandwich for the plane, but ended up not having enough time to get the sandwich she ordered, and by the time we got on the plane, it was full enough they made her check her bag. This would turn out to cost us time in LA when Delta took 45 minutes to get us our bags, which came out right as the Flyaway bus pulled away leaving us to wait for the next one 30 minutes later. Jenn was really upset with herself for not boarding with me, but you just couldn’t predict that they would have her check her bag and not me, or that her sandwich would take 15 minutes to make.
We’re finally home with the puppies and happy to be sleeping in a full size bed again. The world still feels like it’s moving though, like I’m at anchor.
This trip was quite the success. Everyone got along wonderfully. Jenn enjoyed not only the things we did at each island, but the sailing itself. Which I think means cruising in 10-15 years isn’t off the board, nor doing some cruising in the meantime with my parents on their new boat. At the end everyone was joking “so where are we going next year?!” and seriously talking about chartering in Greece or Tahiti.
I also felt very comfortable when all was said and done. I had been worried I was getting myself in over my head, but now I feel confident handling a boat of this size. So much just came back to me, even stuff I never did myself, but learned from watching my parents do time after time.