Shall we to-the-Ba-HA-mas go?
If she squeals (and changes her mind then back again, and again, and again …)
Let it go,
Easy decision, surely? Who wouldn’t want to cruise the Bahamas? Wide open endless white sand beaches, undeveloped low-lying islands surrounded by idyllic turquoise waters abundant with fish, coral and reef habitats. We would want to spend at least a month there. What decision?
This proved to be our toughest decision of the trip by far. Let me explain ….
Our original intent was to sail the trade winds westerly until the money ran out, provided the family adjusted well to life on board, and if not, then just enjoy a year on a family adventure away from rain, cold, school, mortgage, job ….
Said proviso inferred a milestone set for “a few months” into cruising the Caribbean – the idea being that the children would have recovered from the trauma of the transatlantic, and settled into the rhythm of sandy beaches, snorkeling, swimming and exploring.
It proved an easy decision not to sail on this year through the Panama Canal. Sailing long distances, schooling three children in three different academic years with their three different respective syllabuses, day-to-day survival was tough, regardless of how well-adjusted we feel as a family on board, and if this trip is anything it should be enjoyable.
This meant either 1) hanging around like some of the other sailing gypsy families in the Caribbean, and possibly heading on to the Pacific next year (or possibly not), or 2) coming home after a 1-year sabbatical.
We chose the latter, Plan B, intending to finish on a high with the Bahamas and then Florida, a stretching but attainable target.
As we explored the cruising wonderland that is the British Virgin Islands, time was running short on the 1-year, and most sailing to the US were weeks ahead of us (or also running out of time): hurricane season starts 1st June.
If we didn’t want to sail back across the Atlantic – we don’t! (Or at least, most of us do not), then we had to organise shipping back to the UK (or the Med). Most of said ships leave in April / May (see hurricane season above!). So, as I said, time running out.
Option 1 – stick with Plan B
Sail hard for Turks & Caicos from San Juan, Puerto Rico (we’ve more or less missed whale migration season in Dom Rep).
Then on to the main attraction, the Bahamas, for a fortnight or so, weather allowing.
Then Florida, mothball the boat for shipping, enjoy a couple of weeks in Orlando and perhaps New York to finish our trip off in style, and then fly home to the UK to pick up the boat.
Option 2 – extend Plan B by a month
Take our time with Option 1 and have the boat shipped back to Holland – no schedule for ships returning to Southampton later than May.
Giving us the time to explore the Bahamas but complicated for insurance (see hurricanes, above), queering our return to the UK, where housing / work considerations don’t fit well with a trip to pick up the boat in the Netherlands in July.
Option 3 – Plan C
Stay in current latitudes, return to the Virgin Islands and explore destinations as yet unvisited (Vieques, White Bay, … there’s plenty for us still to discover).
Easy, safe, friendly, most sailing is line of sight or relatively short, so plenty of time for schooling AND beach / other activities, and convenient with scheduled ships from St. Thomas to Southampton.
If the children had had a vote – which they do NOT – it would have been a 3-2 split. As it is it’s been 1-1, with the admiral’s deciding (of course!) vote going back and forth like a metronome as decision deadline day approached. We have chosen (to change to) Plan C.