To be more specific, we are the new owner/operators of Aristocat Charters, a top tier day charter company based here on the beautiful island of Tortola in the incredible British Virgin Islands (BVI). Gulp. This is happening, and it's a pretty big deal for our family. We take people sailing for a living now, and it. is. awesome.
The back story is worth noting, as this was not a decision made in haste. We have, for a couple years now, been keeping our feelers out for a great opportunity that would allow us the freedom to live the lifestyle we love, allow Scott to utilize his captain's license without being away for weeks on end (as he did before), and give our family some financial stability. We've always known that we'd have to go back to work and that we couldn't keep aimlessly floating, filling the cruising kitty here and there forever. After spontaneously super-sizing our family, reality hit - and we knew we needed something more. When sailed through the BVI's back when Isla was a baby, both Scott and I fell in love with the islands and agreed that we could see ourselves actually living here. It was so much more appealing than any of the other places we had been for a whole bunch of reasons (more on this in a later post!), and we began to dream up ideas... Little did we know, we set a plan into motion with that simple thought...
When we decided to bring the whole family back down here last January, the undisclosed goal was to seek out an opportunity that might work for us in the long term. The Universe has always been good to us and I had a crazy gut feeling that something would present itself. After not even a month of being back aboard, Scott came home and said, "I saw an ad for a day charter business that's for sale, I called the number and I am going to meet the owner tonight." This was last February. The process has been limping along ever since that fateful meeting almost a year ago. Patience has been a virtue during this process, for sure. From negotiating price, to boat surveys, from solidifying funding to arranging a long-term slip to live at, we remained vigilant. We had to leave the island while we applied for work permits (the "real" reason we had to go back to the States this summer) and that process was....long and arduous. While that was happening, we re-designed the company website and hired our awesome co-workers, the incredible duo behind Where the Coconuts Grow and our best buddies, The Sunkissed Soeters. We have an amazing team and the excitement we all feel at starting this new endeavor is hard to match. We're all in it together, learning and growing as we go and there's a definite feeling of being on the verge of something big and awesome. We've been at it for over a month now and business is booming.
So what does this mean? Well, for one - it means we've signed up for island life for the foreseeable future. While moving to a tropical island paradise seems ideal in many ways, there are definitely down sides and this was not an easy decision. It means that the bulk of our girls' childhoods will be down here, which - at first - seems idyllic and wonderful (and, in many ways, it is), but many things had to be considered from socialization to schools. It means being away from our families and all missing out on many holidays and milestones. It means we will be living on a very small island as outsiders and all that implies. It means we will be running a small business in a foreign place and the struggles associated with that. It means living in the 'hurricane belt' and all the added stress and maintenance of owning not one, but three boats here. It also means we'll be living on our boat at a marina full-time, which is has it's own unique set of perks and challenges. Luckily, we are now in the business of sailing and we have vowed that when we get a long weekend or a few days off, we'll sail across the way and drop the hook on any one of the other amazing islands that make up this incredible island chain. Living here makes island hopping on a whim very easy, which is a large reason we selected this place as our new home because we don't want to give up living aboard and sailing when we can.
Scott and I had many serious conversations about what our life would look like, what our future might be and if we were willing to take on the considerable risk associated with running a business on a small island... After much deliberation, we decided to go for it. Jumping in head first is kind of our thing. And, believe me, this type of endeavor is not for the faint of heart. If you don't believe me, just read the incredible classic novel, "Don't Stop the Carnival" - it's one of my most favorite books (I've read it three times) and I made it "required reading" before Scott and I signed on the dotted line. We're both better for it. It paints a very accurate (and hilarious) picture of what doing business as a foreigner on a tropical island looks like and, believe me when I say, it's not always pretty. But it is a non-stop adventure, and there is something to be said for that.
We are SO excited and we've come out of the gate hot. We'd love it if you'd give our company some love by liking our Facebook Page and sharing our website with anyone you know coming down to Tortola for a visit. If you are a blogger or have a travel website, you might be entitled to a free day sail in return for a review on your site (email aristocatcharters (at) gmail.com for more info). We are currently the number one day charter company on Tortola and we're only going to get better. We have a great team, an amazing "back yard" and big plans for this company in the coming years and we're really excited about it. And, by all means, if you want to come on down and sail with us, we'd love to have you. We'll have a rum punch and a killer view waiting ;)