A Personal Account: My Crewed Charter Adventure

 In British Virgin Islands, Family Vacations, The Caribbean

Our friend and fellow charterer, Matt Guthrie, wrote this great summary of a crewed charter he enjoyed through Owner Time Charters. Take a look and read all about the adventure he had sailing on a Lagoon 52 with friends!

The trip came together in May 2015 and we knew we would be headed to Martinique via Puerto Rico in August of that year.  Of course, we knew that hurricane season would be upon us at that time and we were not disappointed entirely as we experienced and weathered two big storms. 

Our Lagoon 52

Figure I’d keep you interested by not telling you the outcome other than that you know I made it through to write this piece.

I joined Dan Spiner, his son Corey, daughter Ava and Isaac a friend of the family.  We also had a sailing couple from Atlanta joining us in San Juan and this is where things got interesting.  We all arrived at SJU aside from the couple.  We soon found out that a mild hurricane Danny was wreaking havoc in the area.  Made plans to wait an extra night while the storm got out of the area. The couple at this point decided to postpone their Atlanta flight and join us at another location.  We were prepared to sail and meet them wherever they decided to fly to.  One of the many great things about the Caribbean is that most of the major islands have airports that you can always catch a flight to, even with short notice.

We bedded down in a hotel not far from the airport, got up the next morning and were excited to find that the coast was clear.  We headed to the airport and borded our flight to Martinique.  Arrived effortless and Owner Time Charters had a driver waiting for us.  We were on the boat in less than two hours.  On the way I took a few pictures, not your beautiful picturesque tropical island pictures but ones that were interesting from on the road.

My queen-sized bed

Going from the airport to the boat is always exciting.  Exciting to know you have a whole adventure ahead of you with many places, people and things to see that you never have before.  Arriving at the marina in Martinique was wonderful and seeing the boat for the first time was fantastic.  Waiting for us fully provisioned was a Lagoon 52’.  Satisfaction set in.

I was happy to see my own double bed berth and shower/head.  So pleasant it included shelves and stowing, windows both side and skylight that opened.  The window on the side below the gunwale proved a for little interesting occurrence to come.

The head

While Dan and the boys went through the ship with the Owner Time Charter captain, covering engine, electronics, equipment and provisions, Ava and I decided to have a game of catch, we brought our gloves and Ava proved to be the all around athlete that she is, she rarely had an errant throw and didn’t miss mine.

All was set and we decided to have a meal near the harbor.  Soon thereafter we were shoving off and on our way to Antigua approximately 180 miles / 300 kilometers north by northwest.  We planned our shifts and I had the first one with Isaac for 8 hours.  The shift was uneventful and serene.

Dan and Corey came out about half-way through and I retired to my berth.  I opened the side windows for airflow and went to sleep.  At some point in the evening there was thumping and a little water in the air, so I go up to close the windows.  The next morning I found out what the thumping was, I flying fish flew into my window and in the dark, I didn’t know what it was.

Freddie the Flying Fish!

Sad to see him go this way but what an interesting specimen!  After setting aside this surprise offering I took in the where we had arrived.  I slept well during the trip and was completely refreshed and smelling the lush sea air.  I went up on top and looked out, we had moored in Freeman’s Bay at historic old English Harbour.  The area is rich in history, the Dockyard was named after Captain Horatio Nelson, who really didn’t like the harbour much at all and referred to it as an “infernal hole.”  He was there post American Revolution, and the area was rife with American leaning islanders as well as US colonialists.  Must have been an interesting time to be there!

We did take a trip to what remains of Fort Berkeley which protected the harbour at the time, interesting little hike. Took a few swims and relaxed.  Stayed the night and had dinner on board.  Through the course of the night we learned another tropical storm was headed our way – Tropical Storm Erika.  We decided to head out in the morning and take refuge on the lee side of the island at Jolly Harbour and wait out the storm.  We arrived late in the day and were able to moor to one of the main docks.

The rain kicked in and lasted all night and all the next day.  A lot of wind but Erika stayed a tropical storm and out to sea.  -And also ended our last bout of rough weather during the hurricane season of 2015.

The following morning was sunny and beautiful out and we went ashore to get provisions. Spent the morning stocking and getting ready for a 335 Kilometer journey from Antigua to the British Virgin Islands.  At 8 knots this will take a full day. We set out mid afternoon knowing that we had clear sailing ahead and a full moon at night.  Passed by St. Kitts & Nevis on our portside, then Oranjestad, a tiny island Saba, and then on to open waters. 

Leaving Antigua

This night journey was fantastic under the moon and bright stars.  The sailing was smooth as we were on a broad reach most of the time, just rolling with the waves.  It was an all-night sail over 200km distance, one that I will never forget.

We all took our shifts, rose in the morning and before long we were passing Round Rock, sort of an entry way into the British Virgin Islands

from the south.  It was a mixed day of clouds and sun, breezy.  And now we had a few days to enjoy the BVI with its great inlets, easy moorings and shoreline restaurants and clubs.  We even got to celebrate a full moon party in Trellis bay.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) coming in from the south.

Freddie the Crab at the dance party.

One of the nights we had a crustacean visitor Freddie.  The crab just walked into the party like he belonged there.  He even did a side jig dance.

The week came to an end and we returned the boat to Owner Time Charters.  All simple and we had our ride to the airport and back to San Juan then New York.  It was a great week with so many experiences and so much to remember.

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