Manutea – Our Floating Home for the Week

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Frank and I have chartered boats in a lot of places, and I have to say, the BVIs is one of the nicest. I packed our recycled grocery bags because we are usually hauling provisions in from who-knows-where. And if we are lucky they have a bench close to the base where we can wait with all our luggage and groceries surrounding us until our boat is ready. Then, invariably, something big is missing – like the charts or canvas bimini – so we have to beg and plead for assistance, usually in another language.

But the BVIs is a magical place to charter. I could tell it was different when I perused their online provisioning list. You could order almost anything – you could even have Omaha Steaks delivered right to the boat. And they had pages of wine for delivery – with prices for South American wine that are half that in the United States, I guess because South America is closer.

The last time we chartered was in Sicily – and when our taxi pulled up to the base, our driver thought we might have gone to the wrong place. It was literally a tent on a long concrete pier with a port-o-potty – although it had its own charm. The owners called their friends, who picked us up and took us to their local restaurant for lunch while we waited for the boat. A different kind of personal touch. There were a handful of boats, and we got to know a large group of Polish men (including the Chief Justice of the Polish Supreme Court) while we all waited for our boats to be ready.

In the BVI, the Moorings/Sunsail base is a whole compound that looks like a luxury hotel.  They whisked us in, knew exactly who we were, actually walked us to the boat (among hundreds), and even helped us on with our luggage. Our boat – a 38-foot Beneteau – was ready with nothing missing, only 6 months old, and had the air-conditioning running! (I don’t think we have EVER chartered a boat with air-conditioning.) Wow!

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We got checked out on the boat (you can see Frank learning the tricks of the dinghy) – and off we went.

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It was very windy and right on our nose, so we mainly motored and got beat up a little on our way up the Drake Passage. We ducked into a charming area called Marina Cay and picked up a mooring. Our plan had been to go ashore for suppers out, but I always have one “back-up” meal tucked away – just in case. We were so relaxed we decided to just stay onboard – so we have already eaten our back-up meal on the first night!

And maybe old Italian traditions die hard – on our first day, we used up our supply of pasta, garlic, olive oil, and lemon – and we have yet to turn on the air-conditioning. We kind of miss those zany, unpredictable days of Sicily – although we did enjoy a stunning Caribbean sunset with our half-priced South American wine.

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