Monday, July 2, 2012

Owning a Boat in the Virgin Islands

If you are going to live in the Virgin Islands, you may want to have a boat. Why? Because of all the different islands and beaches you can go to, not to mention the fishing. I have posted before we bought a boat. It is a 2002 Twin Vee, 26 foot, twin cat, with 2010 Suzuki 115 motors. This is a good all around center console, twin hull boat, perfect for snorkeling and great for the dogs. This boat was in the rental fleet at Awesome Boats and the owner is the Suzuki dealer here on St Thomas. Part of buying the boat was that we were to have new bottom paint put on and some other issues repaired. We bought the boat May 1st and it was at a slip in Red Hook. While waiting for the boat to come out of the water, we used the boat almost every weekend.

In the meantime, were the boat was docked, if a tropical storm or hurricane comes, you have to get the boat out of the marina and put it on a trailer or in the mangroves. Even if we had a trailer, I couldn't imagine the line of panic to have a boat out of the water, nor do I want to mess with a mangrove. So we called around the various marinas and found that the one, Compass Point, that was already in the mangroves, therefore you do not have to move the boat. They just do a system of chains and ropes with all the docks and boats. The marina is about 5 minutes further from Red Hook or 15-20 minutes from our house. There was only one slip available and it was for 30+ foot boats, so we have to pay for a 30 foot and the cost is $16/ft. Not bad, $490/month. Yes we could have found a mooring for less, but with two dogs and the ability to walk right on board, priceless!

With a little coaching and pushing we finally got the former owner to get the boat out of the water. Well I get a call at 10 AM, "Ken, can you take the boat over to the boat yard in an hour?" Of course I could, so we ran over and drove the boat around the point to Independent Boat yard, which happens to be right behind our new marina.

Now Independent is essentially a dirt parking lot were a lift takes your boat out and places it on a stand. The place is HOT with no breeze and no shade, not to mention all the dust from the other boats being sanded down. While we had the boat out, we had to have a survey done for the insurance company. The survey revealed some minor issues, but as I was going over the boat I found some fiberglass damage on the leading edge of the hull. Also, the aluminnum weld on the t-top had a hairline crack, but the entire unit could lift up. So scrambling in the boat yard we found the fiberglass repair guy and the welder, they both kindly fit us in.

After more prodding, the boat got painted. I think we must had lost 10 pounds each from hanging around that boat yard, it was HOT! Not to mention the constant darting from yard to boat store to the owner's shop.

Now it was time to get the boat back in the water and bring it to the new slip. It right around the corner. As I am pulling into our row, there is my old room mate in Boulder, CO 19 years ago, Lance, who is a sailboat captain for a cruise ship excursion company. He asks me where I was putting the boat, I said the one next to the green boat over there, he was like, no way that is my brother in law's boat and he is moving it to St Maarten and will be moving his boat next to mine! Small world to go from old room mates to slip neighbors?

We had all the dock lines made at Budget Marine, the boat store at the boat yard. It was a challenge getting all the lines just right, but I have to give Shannon all the credit for doing such a great job of getting it perfect.

After dripping in sweat, it was time for a cold refreshment, and we were thankful there is a little bar which is a one man show by a nice guy named Chris, called MooMoo's. I don't think that first cold Presidente ever tasted so good!

One of the things we found out was that at this marina, they have a fuel service called Caribbean Patroleum. They come with a fuel truck and fill your boat during the week or you can make a special order for $30. The gas is about 10 to 15 cents a gallon cheaper than the docks (about $5.10/gallon) and I don't have to mess with the fuel dock ever again!

We both slept great that night, with the next day going to the former owners shop and getting the title and registration card. In the US Virgin Islands, all boat registrations are due at the end of June. We had to get the title notarized and off we went to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to register the boat. Their office is located upstairs at the airport (don't forget to bring your parking ticket with you to get stamped so you don't have to pay for parking) Since we didn't plan of going to the other side of the island, we stopped at the little restaurant that is behind where the taxis park and before you go through the gate to the airport parking. The place is called Atlantis Seafood House and is a little outdoor eatery. We both had the curry chicken with fungi, plantain and potato. For $10, it was delicious and I ended up with left overs for another 2 lunches! We also got two chicken stuffed pates for lunch the next day.

Registration was pretty easy, you go to one office, fill out the paperwork (don't forget to bring the old registration card and the notarized title/bill of sale), then it is off to the seperate cashier (I don't get why the first clerk can't take money and do paperwork, job creation at its best. We were the only two people in the office) to pay. It was only $55, and here is the catch, our boat is only 25 feet, 8 inches. The price goes up at 26 ft to $100, so if you are boderline like our boat, make sure you put feet inches on the form. Once you pay, you go back to the other office and they give your registration and sticker. We were done!

I have to share another episode of the St Thomas, you can't make this shit up. This picture came as I was walking down the hallway at DPNR and saw this sign hanging.


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  2. Thanks for the post! I really did appreciate your post about boating in the Virgin Islands!


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