Departure Checklist

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The administration of leaving the boat in foreign ports is easier than you would think. People email me often and ask…

  1. Where do you leave it
  2. Who looks after it
  3. What about hurricane season
  4. What does it cost

As you know by now we are movers. We know a lot of cruisers who spend several months in a location and although that sounds relaxing we tend to be on the move. Not right or wrong just our style. An anchorage for us is usually a night maybe two. We see what we see and then we want to see the next one. Sometimes we wonder if one day we will find an island that makes us stop and buy a second home and think “we could live here” but so far…. not so much.

Marinas – you get what you pay for

So when we plan our next trip where we move the boat to another port or area the fist priority is finding a safe marina that allows absentee yacht owners. Not all marinas do. We start by using the cruising guides, which in the Caribbean are usually by Chris Doyle. We call around and find a slip that is available, can accommodate a catamaran (not so easy due to the width) and good protection from storms. In the Caribbean there are many islands that have great cruising but no place to leave your boat. For instance in July we will move from the Antigua area and visit Guadeloupe, The Sainte’s and Dominica. But, you have to get all the way to Martinique or St Lucia for the next port where we can leave the boat and fly out. We also advise that if you can swing it stay in the more expensive marinas. Your boat is expensive and the cost of ownership is expensive. I have tried the cheap marina rout when finances required it. I had theft, damage, and lack of protection in storms. Now with that experience I do not shop price. We are not talking huge differences here. If you can afford it leave your boat in the good ones. Once a few years back, we were tied up to a stone wall in Antigua with our anchor holding us off the wall (called med moor) and it was hurricane season. We left the boat and flew home to work and I was panicked. After 2 weeks I told Lennie “we have to go move the boat” She said “we can go back in a couple of weeks” I told her (which has never happened before) “NO we leave tomorrow”. You may think a marina is okay. But picture your boat from your desk 3000 miles away and you might see it differently.

Boat sitters….”they have those…. don’t they”

When you leave your boat the marina wants no responsibility for it. They also need someone local to call in case a line breaks, a storm is approaching, an alarm is sounding etc. This is easier than you think. There are thousands of absentee owners and it’s a cottage industry for people to look after them. You start by asking the marina for a referral. In many marinas the dockhands are allowed to do this for owners on a separate contract. The benefit of this arrangement is they are there most of the time. If you hire someone who lives a 30- minute ride from the marina how will you be so sure they are checking on your boat as agreed. Good ones also have all the service contacts. When you’re on the boat stuff will break and you will have a list. The manager will have all the resources to get your stuff fixed before your next trip. For us we prefer to be on the boat when work is getting done. This is very important because no one looks after your boat better than you. We have settled into a routine where we spend the first day in the marina doing odds and ends and meeting vendors and the last day meeting vendors and doing the departure checklist as outlined in the video below.

Typhoons, Hurricanes and Tsunamis Oh my!

This is a funny one. I have lived in Florida for 33 years. Seen hurricanes, been in the eye more than once, lost a 33000 SF roof on my office, and heck my dads Ericson 35 sailboat sank in Miami right at the dock in Hurricane Andrew. They are no strangers to me. Lennie has lived in Florida all her life so she is even more familiar. Coming from California we had earthquakes, and those suckers are scary because they are without warning. Hurricanes usually have a heat up phase that is somewhat identifiable and predictable. Watch Episode 2 from Bahamas to Turks and Caicos. You will think I have ESP but really its just years of following low pressure. Insurance companies hate hurricanes. Many boats get destroyed. Experienced cruisers find ways to avoid total destruction but they take risk at the same time. I don’t want to be on my boat in a storm. Most insurance policies have a boilerplate language that tells you to be north of Turks or south of St Lucia or your coverage is void. This creates a major yachting migration. When we bought our first boat in the Caribbean we planned on sailing through hurricane season. I simply asked my agent if the company would allow me to cruise the Caribbean during season and they struck out the clause. I have been asked about this countless times and everyone is amazed. Now although we are covered we are going to high tail it south by July just in case. Reason: I don’t want to outfit a new boat. I like the one I have! And lastly when you leave your boat in a marina/country you need to take a picture of it at the dock and fill out an absentee owner form with your insurance company. You email to your agent and they send it to the carrier and your new temporary homeport is recognized. Don’t take any chances. Do this each time.

The bottom line….

  1. Marina Cost for 48 Catamaran on average throughout Caribbean is $1300 per month
  2. Boat sitter on average $200 per month
  3. Boat insurance on new 48 catamaran $8000 and no upcharge for Hurricane season
  4. Overall value of costs associated with leaving your boat…….PRICELESS

Check out our departure video below:



5 Responses

  1. Glenn

    Enjoying your videos as we pick up our own 2016 Leopard in a couple weeks in FLL. You mention changing out your deck storage latches to locks. I would like to do the same on our boat, but I don’t get to the boat until 1 week before “departure”, so trying to order in as much as I can before we get to FLL. Can you say what those locks are, where you got them, any detail at all so I can order them in?

    • happytogether

      Hi Glenn,
      Exciting news about your leopard purchase. I remember the day well! The locks are made by Southco and we bought them at west marine
      This link will take you to the page I believe. Get a measurement off a hatch on one of the leopards in dania to make sure you get the right size. They are great. You need three of them. Also you need a pad lock for the front cockpit lazarette and the battery cover. Let me know if you need anything else!Randy

      • Glenn

        You probably stepped foot on our boat at the Miami show this year. We bought the 44 that was on display. Been having a bunch of upgrades done, same as what I can see on your boat in some of the videos. Turns out my plan pretty closely matches what you guys are doing too… starting in Bahamas!
        In any case, thanks for the tip on the locks!

  2. Capt. Bryce Thomas

    Love, Love, Love your videos. After I sold “Boomerang” a Hunter CC 45′, I have been thinking of more space and a more stable platform. Your “Joie de Vie” is extremely contagious. Great song selection. After you cross the canal, a great marina in Nicaragua is Marina Puesto de Sol should not be missed. I would be glad to give you a tour of my mango plantation and a some authentic Nica food made by my adoptive family. Presently I am relegated to delivering friends vessels to and from the Caribbean. Fair Winds, Captain Bryce

    • happytogether

      HI Bryce, Thanks for watching! I am a hunter fan after having the 49. We really appreciate the kind words about our videos and it motivates us to keep making them. We think we will be in your area around summertime of 2017 We will keep in touch! Randy & Lennie

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