Going West…(Dec 2019)

ALWAYS is sitting in Brunswick, GA as hurricane season finishes on the east coast of the US. Since life events have brought us to the west coast, we’ve decided to bring ALWAYS west also.

We could make time available to sail through the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, then north up Central America and the Mexican coast…but we know we’d be tempted to delay because there are so many wonderful places that deserve a more in-depth exploration. We weigh the expense in outfitting food stocks, checking in/out of countries, crossing through the Canal, wear and tear on the boat and time versus the expense of putting ALWAYS on a container ship and they come out nearly equal. Due to time constraints, mainly in getting the boat to an accessible location for warranty repairs, we opt to ship ALWAYS.

Brunswick, GA

We contract with Seven Seas Yacht Transport. Our shipping date was delayed multiple times making it difficult to plan travel from the west coast to GA with sufficient time to move the boat to Port Everglades, a two day transit. The date moved from early November (hurricane season complete-insurance coverage available for the transit) to the second week of Dec. With an assigned ship and date, we arrive in GA, do a mini-outfit of food, get a quick night’s sleep and leave early the next morning.

The GOLDEN RAY trapped in the sands by the strong tides in St Simeon Sound.

We usually use Navionics on an iPad to back up our B&G displays. Through extensive comparison during our time in the Bahamas, we’ve come to trust the charts pretty well. We continue to verify position with lights and buoys, but the Navionics allowed for a full dark, uneventful departure from Brunswick Landing Marina so we arrived at the Atlantic Ocean inlet as dawn approached.

Sunrise

The most eventful occurrence was the whispering provided by my wonderful husband. As we had properly prepared for hurricane season, every sail had been removed from topsides. Part of his argument FOR shipping the boat was that it couldn’t be better prepared for getting lifted onto a cargo ship. The screecher and jib were bagged and on the bunk in the guest stateroom while the main was a bagged footrest in the salon. The battens were rolled into the lazy jack canvas and stretched nearly the full length of the starboard hull (making work in the galley an interesting ballet of foot placement). Then we hit the ocean, the breeze filled and he began advocating for the sails.

An easy, comfortable transit (even without sails…)

First, he was suggesting just the screecher. “We would go so much faster…”, then as the wind rose to above screecher limits, “the main would balance the motion of the boat and we’d be a lot more comfortable”. Don’t get me wrong; I love to sail, but our timeline was pretty tight and hadn’t included washing the salt off the sails again and drying them (in muggy FL) prior to wrapping, removing, rebagging and storing them for the two week journey around to Ensenada, Mexico. We ended up motoring all the way despite the mutinous looks sent my way.

Moon set
I love the early watch and seeing sunrise.

We arrived on time, offloaded trash, buttoned everything up and headed alongside our assigned ship. We really appreciated the time spent by the crew to ensure that all the straps underneath were appropriately placed. We were also allowed to go onboard the ship after ALWAYS was placed on deck to re-tention halyards and stays that were eased out of the way of the crane. Seven Seas provided a launch ride back to shore, we changed clothes and caught our flights back to CA that same day.

Loading onboard in Port Everglades, FL

Transit time from Port Everglades to Ensenada, Mexico was estimated to be 2 weeks. We plan for a Dec. 20th arrival but delays happen and our ship carrying ALWAYS arrives on Dec 26th. Because of the holiday and because we need to do the Mexican import paperwork, we travel to San Diego on the 23rd, catch a shuttle to Ensenada’s Coral Hotel and Marina early on the 24th, complete our paperwork and wait, mostly patiently and mostly in the hotel bar with new friends, for the ship’s arrival and offload.

Lots of rain flood Tijuana

We are a later offload, again are allowed onboard to ease halyards and stays for the crane, and finally ALWAYS touches the Pacific Ocean. We spend a night in the marina because the harbor master closed the harbor due to high winds and sea state. We leave early the next morning for the 10 hour drive to San Diego. More mutinous looks and mutters from the skipper occur as we drive north under a bare mast.

I feel Seven Seas Yacht Transport did a really good job bringing our boat around. The boat was clean (either a pressure wash by the crew before we arrived or a good rain on the way into Ensenada) and was carefully handled. The crane did tap and damage the Windex at the top of the mast but a replacement was reimbursed eventually. We were initially flexible on the transit date but finally had to be persistent about being scheduled because we had arranged for the warranty work to begin January 2020. In hindsight, we were so fortunate to get the boat delivered when we did prior to the virus shutdowns between countries.

Author: Sailing Always

Sailor, pilot, wife, mom, live aboard, traveler