The time and date has been set for Adina to be loaded onto a big red ship to be taken back to England. Well, in theory it is set. 7pm Caribbean time, Thursday 11th May. That surprised us as it will be just after sunset which adds another dimension to our loading. We will be the fifth of twenty-five boats to be loaded. We have been warned things may be delayed and she may get bumped to load first thing on Friday morning. And the rules state you should not book hotels or flights until you are loaded, or incur the costs yourselves, so that will be us wandering the streets of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands knocking on doors at 9pm at night.
Of course rules are made to be broken and knowing we are the fifth yacht to load we should hopefully be loaded by Friday lunchtime so have worked out our flights to New York where we will be stopping to visit Susie’s cousin and her family. We will only book them on Thursday night though! And then a week after Adina has been loaded we will be on a big silver bird bound for London – that we have booked.
We’ve kept up our bouncing around the islands of the USVI as two yachts we know from crossing the Indian Ocean, Antares II and Solstice, turned up. Antares II has Ken and Eiloo on board and Solstice has Don and Phylis – all lovely, lovely people. It was a real surprise to hear from them as we thought we had said our goodbyes already. Of course when friends are ‘in town’ you gather to meet up.
With Adina’s supplies being run down we couldn’t host so we opted for some sundowners ashore. We’ve enjoyed Solstice and Antares II’s company many times and have fun memories of travelling in South Africa with Don who never quite took to South African coffees and was always asking for extra espresso shots. The Caribbean is famous for assorted rum punches with colourful names like Painkiller, Bushwhacker etc. Don duly ordered a rum cocktail and promptly decided it needed another shot! Off he went to the bar and back he came with his extra shot on the house. Don is a gentleman and always gets his way. This started a game that every time a cocktail arrived off you went to the bar where the barmaid greeted you with “Another shot of rum?” The consequences were inevitable.
So now we sit and track the MV Schippersgracht (you can find any vessel fitted with AIS on www.marinetraffic.com) and hope she is on time. We’ve moved to one of our favourite spots in the USVI to get ready and enjoy the last moments of our trip. Adina has to be prepared as though she is going through a storm so we have a day-by-day plan of what needs to happen. Today we are doing things like removing the sails, taking the solar panels off and finalising packing everything below, turning the fridge off and cleaning it out etc. We will also make sure we take time for a walk on the beach and get in the water to enjoy a final snorkel. Our friends are coming round to join us and we will have sundowners on the beach together and then head to bed.
Tomorrow morning we will rise early and head to St. Thomas to make the final final preparations and pack our dinghy away. We’re keen to watch the yachts before us being loaded. Adina has to arrive in the vicinity of the aft crane of the ship at 1830. Asking whether we will be contacted via VHF or phone got us the answer that they will just shout at us from the ship! We’re quite intrigued as to how it all happens. We know a man will be in the water to help position the slings from the crane. We then have a choice of staying on Adina as she is lifted or climbing the ship’s ladder. Either option has got to involve some adrenalin.
Then we get to close everything down once she’s settled in her cradle on deck, we will hit the YellowBrick tracker for the very last time, bid her a safe journey and take our bags and become landlubbers once more. You get awfully attached to a boat so there’s bound to be a tear or two involved.