About a year of planning and dreaming and scheming, and I figured out a way to do RTIA properly when the race boat is too small for the entire crew to live aboard. When a race goes from one island to the next, the crew needs to have it's 'hotel' get there also, and I mean, without all of our gear and weight aboard the race boat. So I decided to charter a "condo-moran" and bring a captain along to bring the hotel to all the finish lines for us! I told the rest of the Magic crew, that if any wanted to join me, they would only have to pay the difference to upsize the boat to accomodate however many were coming. As long as we were going first class on the boat, we decided that a charter flight was also a great plan. No worries about the flight originating in Nassau or somewhere that the weather was bad and no worries about being 5 mins late and so not being allowed to board the plane (which I have experienced in the past)!!
When 3 of the crew(Michael, Brenda and Lara) were lined up to go over on Magic, and 3 more of us, (Tom, Dave and I) decided to chip in to fly over and live on the Catamaran, I chartered Lagoon 420. It had 4 cabins and 4 heads/showers so each person or couple would have their own space and be comfortable including our Captain (Michael and his wife). I thought everything was working out perfectly! I had shirts printed, and tattoos as well to get the team spirit going.
The day finally came for our departure and the news was not good. A call from Tropic Air the day before, warned that there could be a flight delay. One look at this will tell you why:
As you can see, the nasty storm which would become TS and then Hurricane Arthur was parked right in the airspace we needed! I was pretty worried that it was all going to fall apart and we'd be late to get our boat, but we did luck out and the storm finally started to move slowly to the North so we got out almost at the original planned time! Unfortunately, when loading the plane we were 100lbs over weight so we had to offload the cases of water, the apple juice and some of the other stuff we had wanted to bring. Finally off the ground, We celebrated with champagne. In flight 'self service'.
So the flight was uneventful and the view always stunning, untill just about time to land in Marsh Harbour when we came right into one of the 'bands' of pouring rain from Arthur. It made for a tricky landing on a runway that appeared to be about 4 inches deep in water. But the pilot did a GREAT job landing us safely. A quick dash through Customs/Immigration and all of us piled into a cab and off to Maxwell's for a provision run. We were unsure how much refrigeration space we had on the boat so were careful not to buy too much that required being kept cold.
Now off to the boat charter base to pick up our Floating Hotel. Now, I was advised by someone to only write the 'good stuff' that happened but I don't feel the story will be complete without the rest of it, so I've decided to leave out the name of the charter company. We were supposed to be scheduled for 'early departure' but the boat was not ready. They brought us a cooler and we bought ice to keep the cold food cold and about 2 hours went by before they told us there was a problem with the generator that they were working on. They actually told us that this boat has had a 'generator problem' ever since they got it into charter service (about 2 years ago) and so all I could do was wonder why on earth they would charter it to me if they knew there was trouble??? They did know that we intended to anchor out and that having a/c functional was a priority. Finally, they declared it was 'fixed' and we could do the walk through and chart briefing and be on our way. I told the base manager that if the generator did not work, we would be going to a dock every night that we could get one and that they would be paying. He told me to keep the receipts. He probably figured everything was sold out due to RTIA.
Well, to make a long story short, the generator never ran for more than 10 minutes at a time and so we were trying to find dockage for every night. The first night we went to Orchid Bay and were lucky to get a 'face dock' for the night. Whenever I had a wifi connection, I was sending email updates to my charter Agent. Karen really saved our trip! She worked really hard for us to get things sorted as best she could under the circumstances.
The next morning we headed over to the Stranded Naked Party and anchored the boat and launched the dinghy. We made it ALMOST to the beach (smelling gasoline all the way) when the engine quit on it. It was pretty shallow by then so I jumped out and walked it in to the beach where we tied it to a tree, along with a bunch of others. If you've never seen what the Stranded Naked Party looks like, the photo below tells it all. This has grown into a party of epic proportions. Really TOO big for my liking but we managed to find the rest of Team Magic and we hung out for about an hour before heading back to t/t Magic.
We were unable to secure a dock at Bluff House or Green Turtle Club but were able to get a reservation for 2 nights at the Leeward Yacht Club which is in Black Sound. Only problem was, that harbor was forbidden during our chart briefing. I talked to the marina manager by VHF and described the boat and asked if we would have any problem getting in/out of there. She assured me that the entrance is 4' at low water so we made sure to come in at more than half tide. The scary part was that it was also an OUTGOING tide but that was one reason we left the party so early. We made it in safely. LYC is a nice spot with a pool and tiki bar and restaurant and that's a good thing since there was not a golf cart to be had and no taxis on the island and our dink would never make it over to Settlement Point for the skipper's meeting. We skipped it, but had the next problem to solve, of getting the crew out to Magic for the morning race. The tide would be wrong for us. I called Donny's Boat Rental and rented a 19' Whaler for 24 hours. This turned out to be a great move, as it gave us the mobility we needed to get to and from Magic and also to the awards party that night, which was also at Settlement Point.
So it was time for Race 1 and our Capt. ferried us out on the Whaler to go racing.
Our results were less than impressive, 4th out of 7. I had hoped to get back to the 'tender' to find the mechanic telling us the generator was fixed and that we had a new dink engine. Well, I was close. He had been there but it still wasn't working and the dink had a new engine which also would not start!!
They took the new dink engine back and left us. At some point, I then had an email from Karen saying they had a 'proposal' for us. They would switch us the next day to a brand new boat. It was a Lagoon 450 built in 2014, so larger, but also an 'Owner's version' so only 3 cabins and 3 heads/showers. So we had a decision to make. It didn't take long, as Dave kindly volunteered to give up his cabin and sleep in the main salon. I shared my head/shower with him but he was certainly inconvenienced and was a real trooper about it!
So the next day was a Lay Day and we moved to Treasure Cay with the old boat and grabbed a mooring ball and waited... and waited. We had been told the switch would be about 2pm so we didn't go ashore or anything and the new ride finally arrived about 5pm.
My new cabin was one whole side of the boat so tons of room and storage and comfort!
We switched all our gear and food over and did the 'briefing' and got settled as quickly as we could so we could go ashore for the party. We still had Mt. Gay hats to catch and collect. So far, we had only one, which Capt. Michael caught and kindly gave to me. I wanted to be sure everyone who wanted one would have one.
The next day, July 6th, was race 2. The Treasure to Guana race. And the party was at Guana Grabbers. Still no trophy for Magic... 6th of 7, but the hat collection was growing, at least. We went to a dock again, as the anchoring didn't seem all that good.
July 7th the fleet moved to Marsh Harbour and we followed Magic over to an uninhabited island for some snorkeling and relaxing before going back to the base, where the dockage was free.
The party was at Mangoes and we had dinner there as well and caught more hats ;)
Full crew breakfast on t/t Magic was a treat.
July 8th was race 3, from Marsh Harbour to Hopetown. We woke to very ugly stormy skies and though we did go out to try to race, the lightening was bad enough that team Magic decided to take the day off.
I realized that of the entire crew, I was the only one who had ever been down to Little Harbour to the foundry and Pete's Pub, so I asked the crew if they were interested and we called a cab on VHF and did the half hour drive down there, spent an hour, and then back. Amazing to recall that my first time there, the road was just a very badly potholed dirt road and now it's a lovely paved highway that is suitable for a taxi ride. We had a drink at Pete's Pub and toured the gallery and foundry and said "hi" to Pete, who was in the water under the dock house fixing a plumbing problem! How many artists do you know that do their own plumbing??
The next day, July 9th, was much nicer weather and t/t Magic went over to Hopetown to meet us for the finish. Unfortunately, Magic went back to the Jib Room after the race and didn't stay, as they had left all their 'stuff' on the dock there. So Magic dropped us off on t/t Magic in the Harbour where she was on a mooring and Lara stayed with us. She and I did the trip to the lighthouse and then the whole crew went to the party at Abaco Inn, by dink. It was rather a long trip with all of us so as the party was slowing down, some of us took the free shuttle back and grabbed a local pontoon ferry back out to the boat. Once we were all gathered together again, we went ashore for a nice dinner. Magic was 7th of 8.
July 10th was the final race and party and Magic had a good day on the water, though we still only finished 5th of 7. I guess racing a boat with a 220 rating agains boats starting at 78, is just not Magic's strong point. The same problem occured in the Multihull Fleet. Racing a Catana 57 against a Sprint Corsair trimeran, is also a mis-match. We need MORE BOATS to fill in the gaps and make the competition more fun!
All good things must end.. time to fly home! Thank you to Larry and Plush Toy for taking a good deal of our gear home so we didn't have any weight issues on the plane with the extra passenger!