All summer we’ve watched storms. Hurricanes bigger than ever had us checking every weather network daily. And as you all know, the British Virgin Islands (aka BVI) and the US Virgin islands were devastated by a category 5 hurricane named Irma. The BVI is the usual passage south destination for us every year, but after Irma, followed closely by hurricane Maria, many islands would not be ready for a large fleet of boats coming in.
We join the Salty Dawg Rally each year for many reasons, but mostly for safety. Going with a fleet of more than 50 other boats means you are not out there alone out there if anything goes wrong, not to mention the fact that they also provide a great deal of support and education for the open ocean passage.
When the rally board of directors realized the devastation of the BVI’s they knew that they would need to determine if the rally would run this year at all and if it did where it would go. Two weeks after Irma a decision was made to take the rally to Antigua.
We had no issue with this as we had already made the same decision for ourselves. Antigua is our favourite island in the chain (at least from those we’ve been to). We go there every year and we knew it would only be an additional day of sailing to get there. We were thrilled when the rally chose it as the 2017 Fall Rally destination.
Part of getting ready for our trip south is getting our dog Charlie’s vet paperwork complete. Part of that paperwork includes a Rabies titer test. This is the test that tells you that the rabies vaccine took and majority of the islands in the Caribbean require this test as the islands are all rabies free.
Charlie’s last rabies shot prior to the titer test was July 2015 and it was a 3 years rabies shot. We took him for his titer test in September and waited the 3 weeks for the results. The results came in on October 2nd and Charlie didn’t pass which was a shock to us as he’s never failed this test in the past. This means his 3 year vaccine didn’t last the 3 years or it could also mean Charlie’s immunity isn’t as good as it should be, although he seems healthy enough.
We quickly booked him in for another rabies shot that same day and waited a minimum of 3 weeks to get the blood pulled for another test. We had that done on Friday, October 27th. The blood drawn then gets sent to Kansas city. We paid an extra $150 to have the test expedited, which means we should have a result back within 2 weeks. Meanwhile we’ll be on route to the Caribbean (the vet has committed to email us the result as soon as he gets it and the original result will be sent to Antigua).
This really affected us because we couldn’t get the USDA to stamp our dog’s international health certificate without the result. Or so we thought. The vet that came to the Salty Dawg event in Hampton suggested we send along proof that we had given Charlie another rabies vaccine along with proof that we had sent off another titer test to Kansas city.
It worked! We got the USDA stamp so that means that we are heading for Antigua with the rest of the Salty Dawgs.
If we hadn’t got the stamp, we had planned to sail direct to Guadeloupe where they only need proof of the rabies vaccine and proof that your dog is free of parasites. We can still sail to Guadeloupe if something goes wrong with this next titer result, but we are staying positive and heading to Antigua.
Meanwhile we are down to the last few days of preparation.
Weather wise it is looking positive for a November 2nd departure if you carry enough fuel to get you there with approximately 9 days of motoring. This didn’t seem appealing to many of the boats so an alternative date of November 4th was determined which would potentially give us more wind. This is the option we’ve opted for. Besides we still have a few things to get done.
We attended the Salty Dawg Halloween dinner on October 31st. There was a good number of people that dressed up in costume. We buy raffle tickets and I won an Easy Sprout kit. I look forward to sprouting and adding sprouts to smoothies, salads and sandwiches.
We received our sails back from the sail loft late Tuesday and Paul spent the day yesterday putting them back up. I had restitched our sail bag but when we put it up Paul realized that I’d missed a couple of spots where the batons go. Rather than take the bag down again, we took the sewing machine to the sail bag and I stitched it up there.
We have also received our new dinghy, and need to mount our new dinghy motor and take it for a test drive. Paul also needs to sort out how it mounts on the davits off the back of the boat. I’ll make a cover for the new motor as well. We also have several other key tasks still left to do so we’ll be super busy right up to departure.
This will be our last post until we arrive. You can follow our journey through the Ocens tracking system: click here and put in SDR in the “group” area to see all boats on passage or enter “Blue Sky” in the name area to see just us. We generally send an update twice a day, but I believe they only post one entry per day to their site.
We’ll post again as soon as possible after our arrival. Thanks for following us on our journey.