Yesterday was a sad day for our beauty of a boat. She was plucked from the water and is now sitting on jack stands where she will say for the next twelve to eighteen months (give or take) while we focus on "operation twinsanity". Scott and my father worked around the clock the past few days removing sails, halyards, all loose deck hardware, fresh water flushing all systems and - in general - working to decommission our boat which, let me tell you, is not an easy job (huge "thank you" to my dad for his help. Words cannot express our gratitude). Scott and I have been down this road before and we are incredibly meticulous about the way we put a boat to bed, particularly if it's going to be for an extended period of time. Doing things the right way now ensures that we will return to our boat just as we left her later. That's the idea, anyway.
We had many, many discussions about what we would do with our boat when we made the decision to come home for more than a few months (which was our original plan when we thought it was only one baby). There was talk about storing her in Trinidad as we did with Rasmus - it is outside the hurricane zone, and we already have a great relationship with a top notch facility there. Ultimately, though - we didn't want to start sailing from that point again. Then we thought that maybe delivering her to Ft. Lauderdale would better; we know the area well, have good relationships there and it would be an ideal place to get some work done. The other benefit is that it would provide a great jumping off point to cruise the Bahamas again which would be an ideal place to begin cruising with three small kids (no long passages, easy sailing, beautiful and familiar to us...etc) - but we scrapped that idea too. We even discussed delivering her back to the Great Lakes so that we could do work and sail/cruise with our kids starting much earlier here in Chicago. But that was a logistical nightmare and we weren't sure the costs associated with doing this would be worth it based on how much we'd actually be able to use her (see: "operation twinsanity"), not to mention the fact that my parents have a sailboat in the city that they have said we can use and cruise whenever we please (as long as they're not, of course)....so where did that leave us?
Up until a few days before I left, we were going to store our boat in St. Maarten, but after looking further into it - Scott wasn't too impressed with the facilities there so we looked across the Anegada passage to the British Virgin Islands. Ultimately, we decided to store our boat at Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola which is a top rate facility and a natural "hurricane hole" (a big deal as we will be in the "zone" this coming hurricane season). We heard from one blog follower whose boat endured five hurricanes on the hard at Nanny Cay with zero damage. That's not a bad track record. The fact that there are a TON of excellent services (chandlery, sail loft, shipwright, boat guardianage, riggers, fiberglass repair services and custom woodworkers...etc) right on the premises was the icing on the cake. It's not cheap, but thankfully because we will not be paying rent for a house while we are landlubbing, we can afford it.
Asante will be on the hard in a cradle and will be further secured to the ground with hurricane screws. Her sails have been removed and will be properly stored in a sail loft. Scott has commissioned for more hatch covers to be made to keep sun out and he purchased some very small solar panels to trickle charge our batteries (we remove our flexible solar panels and store them) so that our bilge pump keeps running. A humidifier will be kept inside to keep mold at bay and we have employed someone to do monthly checks on her to make sure everything is as it should be. Because we might have some custom work done while we are away, we have opened communication with a project management company that can oversee any work we want done. Overall, we are very happy with our decision.
Another big consideration for us was where we wanted to begin cruising again as a family of five. We have no disillusions about the fact that this is going to be a huge challenge for us and, in our opinion, spending a month or two in the BVI's to "get our feet wet" when we return in 2015 will tell us what we need to know about cruising with three tots in tow. We think it will be a perfect training ground to practice living afloat with our three girls without having to do any long passages (hard enough with ONE baby!) and staying close to modern facilities (BVI's are very well developed), but still getting a nice dose of islands, sun and sand.
That's the plan for now. But as we all know, plans are written in sand around here so who knows what the future holds for us...we're excited to find out. One thing is for sure, Scott comes back to us on Friday after six weeks apart. We can't wait to have our family back together again! Time to hunker down and get ready for our girls to be born....and come up with some names for them (aye, aye, aye).