The Plan

 

“What’s the plan?”, “When are you leaving Key West?”, “Where are you going next?”

 

These are all questions that I get asked almost daily from people either through e-mail, Facebook or text. Instead of answering them individually, I thought a post might be in order.

 

Why haven’t we left Key West yet?

Well the answer is simple. BOAT WORK… Our shakedown cruise revealed a bunch of “things” we need to take care of before venturing further out. The fact is, it might be a long time before we get to another location with as easy access as we have here. Although things are very expensive in Key West, this is offset by the fact that we are living “almost free” here. A very nice lady in Robbies boat yard (thanks Cindy) offered us her mooring ball to use for FREE (free is good). The mooring ball is in the Key West harbor with dinghy access to Winn Dixie (think Real Canadian Superstore), K-mart, Home Depot, Napa, West Marine, Ace Hardware, ect. We don’t have to pay for cabs to any of these locations. We can even roll our grocery cart over to our dinghy. Even better, I’m able to pickup free WIFI internet access from the Hyatt about 2 miles away (the long range wireless stuff was a good buy). Our only real “expense” is the $87/month fee to use the dinghy dock and garbage disposal. Can you see why we are hesitant to leave?

 

Back to boat work… You are probably wondering how I could still have boat work after just spending months working on the boat. The only answer I have is “It’s a boat” (other cruisers would just nod their heads)! The amount of work and maintenance required on a boat is absolutely astonishing. The amount of work and maintenance required on a boat that was poorly maintained previously is astronomical. On the positive side, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for MAJOR jobs. For anyone interested, here is a list of jobs we are working on or have completed over the last 2 weeks here in Key West.

1. Replace water pressure pump

2. Troubleshoot starboard side tachometer

3. Replace macerator pump switches (a shitton of aluminum panel filing)

4. Make new instrument panels for motors

5. Rewire starboard motor and install new instrument panel

6. Rewire port motor and install new instrument panel (new parts required, job on hold).

7. Replace raw water inlet line that was leaking

8. Install CO detectors

9. Add more solar panels (waiting for order to arrive).

10. Repair and restring traveler

11. Tighten screws on Lewmar hatches (use thread locker to prevent further issues).

12. Troubleshoot water heater (element is dead, only heats when motors are running).

13. Install new lighting in the cockpit

14. Replace throttle control levers at helm

15. Replace throttle and shift cables on both motors (called Teleflex cables).

16. Install watermaker

 

So, where are we going after all the major jobs are done?

I wish I had a definitive answer for this. At this point, we have a few of options, but are racing against hurricane season.

Option 1

Head directly south from Key West to Havana. Then head back to Cancun and south from there to the “Western Caribbean”. We would need to get to Guatemala or Panama by the beginning of June (hurricane season officially starts June 1st, but hurricanes lack access to calendars). We will have limited access to services and parts with this option.

 

Option 2

Head north, then over to Bahamas. Go south through the Bahamas and continue down the windward island chain (Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, the VIs, ect). We would need to get to Grenada or Trinidad by early June.  This option would offer the most “Kid Boats” of the bunch. I’m sure our kids would appreciate some playmates. We will have some access to parts and services in most of the islands. Trinidad has fairly good access to parts. Import duties and taxes will make things EXPENSIVE!

 

Option 3

Stay in the USA and head north for hurricane season. Hang out in or above the Carolinas for the summer and head back down in the fall. This option will mean we become illegal aliens in the USA and may impact future travel to the USA. I would continue to have access to EVERYTHING as fairly good prices.

 

At this point, we have no idea what option we will choose. I guess we could have worse things to decide on then which paradise we will choose!

 

Contemplating the options!

 

Happy Daph after eating chips (crisps for you other siders)!

 

Kids accosting Mary from our buddy boat MoonRiver

  7 comments for “The Plan

  1. Vangi
    April 12, 2016 at 11:13 am

    What a beautiful smile on Daphne’s face! Looks like everyone is getting a nice tan. My vote would be option 2. :). Continue having fun in paradise!

  2. Byron Doane
    April 12, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Hopefully you also bought a spare freshwater pump. Check on security in Trinidad. I’ve heard its gotten unsafe there. If you are “a vessel in transit” there shouldnt any duties on items you order in. Just vat on shelf items. If you put the boat on the hard anywhere during storm season, make sure its strapped down. Grenada learned from Ivan.

    • travis
      April 12, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      Noonsite has some up to date info on Trinidad. Its definitely not as safe as it used to be, but friends say its not “that bad”.

      As to the “vessel in transit”. I have heard that many customs officers are no longer allowing that. A few cruisers friends have told me to expect about %50 won’t honor that anymore all down the island chain. One friend argued for over a month on water maker parts until they finally just paid the %18 duty in Mexico. They also would not honor it for me when our boat was in Mexico.

  3. Norma Sovka
    April 12, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    My vote is for option 2 (not that you asked).

    In this picture of you relaxing, I really like your beard. It’s the perfect length in my opinion. Enough to be a beard, but not scruffy.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  4. James
    April 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    To explain better the expenses you have the boat model works well. BOAT stands for Bust Out Another Thousand.

    • travis
      April 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      The T does not stand for 1000 on a cruising boat.. It stands for 10!

  5. April 29, 2016 at 6:43 am

    There is no problem shipping anything into Guatemala inexpensively by ocean freight and with very nominal customs fees (<1%). You can order through Marine Warehouse in Panama with excellent easy shipping and no customs fees. You will pay West Marine prices, but the process is dead simple and easy. There are other ways to ship into Panama by arranging purchases and shipping yourself, but the customs can be hit or miss – if it is miss, you will hurt.

    On the other side of the sea, Puerto Rico and the USVI are also cheap because you can ship through US mail system. Grenada has inexpensive ocean freight with reasonable customs fees, although the paper work is a bit more involved. You can probably find everything you need in St. Martin at almost US prices.

    I wouldn't let June 1 be a strict deadline. Hardly any systems form that early, and they usually have ample notice to move out of their way. In the western caribe, the Rio Dulce is a short sail from Belize or the Bay Islands if something rare pops up. There is very rarely any activity in the West Caribbean before August.

    It is getting tough to get to the eastern caribe this time of year because the ESE trades are setting in and you will need to bash into them all the way down. If you want this option at this time, I would suggest skipping the lower Bahamas, TC, etc and heading East offshore at the first chance you get with any remaining cold front with North winds. Get as far East as you can get before the trades set up again, then turn South toward (hopefully) PR.

    I have no advice for the US option because I don't know the immigration laws.

    We will be in the southern Bahamas for the next month or two of you get down this far.

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