Greetings from the Virgin Islands! Juliet has been exploring the gorgeous US and British VIs over the past few weeks and taking advantage of some truly stellar weather to treat recent passengers to a preview of St. Croix where we’ll be based next winter. The feedback from guests and our reception at the island have been incredible and we can’t wait to spend our 2016-17 winter season exploring the water around this friendly and stunningly picturesque island. See our facebook page for some teaser photos!
Juliet heads back to the Bahamas at the end of the month (there is still room on the Repositioning trip if you’re interested!) and our Spring is filling up. See the bottom of this newsletter for updated availability this spring and summer.
We’re also excited to announce an update from John on his Timshel Sailing project and her transit through the Panama Canal as well as an exciting opportunity in Cuba this Spring!
I am pleased to announce two very exciting events! The dates for the Panama Canal transit on Timshel are set. Before that adventure though, we are going to Cuba! Timshel has made her first leg of the journey from Miami to Key West, and all systems checked out well. We have had to push back the timeline from our original plan but are scheduling the Panama Canal trip for May 1-7, 2016. There is more work to be done onboard to make Timshel more comfortable for the trip, but the critical mechanical systems are in place and tested.
Wait, did somebody say Cuba? I received a call from my friend Joe Weatherby today. Joe is the man principally responsible for the sinking of the Vandenberg artificial reef in Key West. He and his company are fully permitted to bring boats to Cuba in a cultural exchange program. He invited Timshel to participate in a regatta of schooners that will travel from Key West to Havana March 29-April 2. Check out their website at http://www.havanachallenge.com/ We will travel in a flotilla across the Gulfstream to Havana Harbor where we will take part in a boat parade. Then we will tie up at Hemmingway Marina and spend a few days exploring Havana, smoking cigars and drinking Mojitos! From Havana we will set sail for Isla Mujeres in Mexico. Join us for that trip and stay a few days to dive the Cenotes or possibly fly out of Cuba. I need to find out the exact itinerary and travel parameters that are allowed, but will pass that information on to anyone who is interested. I do know that everyone will be required to have a passport with at least 6 months remaining before its expiration and at least two blank pages. We will need to submit information for everyone about a month ahead of time.
The Panama Canal transit will be a 7-day event. The transit itself can be done in one or two days, but it is impossible to schedule in advance. We need to allow enough time to make sure that we can go through during the allotted time. Once the vessel is inspected and our paperwork is complete, we have to wait for the Transit Authority to notify us of our transit time. This can happen right away or can take a few days. The following will be our schedule:
Sunday May 1st: Board Timshel any time at Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side of the Canal Zone. The website for the marina is
Book your flights in and out of Panama City (airport code PTY). From the airport in Panama City, you can take a taxi or shuttle to the marina. We will get everyone settled in and brief you on the boat and the schedule.
Monday May 2nd: Our paperwork will be submitted by this point with a request to transit as soon as possible starting the morning of the 3rd. Monday will be devoted to an educational tour to prepare you for the transit. The Panama Canal has an incredible history, and being familiar with that history will greatly enrich the experience. We will charter a van to take everyone into Casco Viejo, Panama City to visit the Panama Canal Museum. After our visit to the museum, we will visit the viewing station at Miraflores Locks. At this stop we will learn more about the canal history and get to watch a ship transiting the locks. From there we head back to Timshel.
Tuesday-Friday: At this point our schedule will need to be flexible. We will transit at some point but do not know exactly when. While we wait there are options for excursions and activities, or just hang out by the pool at the marina. Once we transit, we will tie up to a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club in Panama City on the Pacific side. There is a free 24-hour water taxi service that can take us to and from the dock. Again there are activities and excursions that we can take advantage of here. If we make it through the canal in time, we may be able to take Timshel out to some of the nearby islands for some sightseeing.
Saturday May 7th: Disembark Timshel at your convenience and head to the airport.
What to expect onboard:
Timshel is an unfinished boat. You will see a lot of painted steel and bare plywood! The mechanical systems are installed. We have two marine toilets, one shower with hot and cold water, a basic galley and most importantly air conditioning! We will have the bunks built out with mattresses and bedding, but it is rustic! Expect a twin sized mattress and not a lot of privacy. There are lights and 110 volt electrical receptacles spaced throughout the boat, so you can charge your cell phone. Some of the bunks will have individual lights but probably not all of them, so bringing a personal headlamp is not a bad idea.
Because the galley is small and unfinished, we will not be able to provide full meal service throughout your stay. We will provide a basic breakfast and lunch onboard but dinners will not be provided other than the evening of our canal transit. The marinas have restaurants, or you can head into town for dinner. Snacks and drinks will be available onboard.
These two excursions will be our first major fundraisers to help cover the cost of getting Timshel to the San Francisco Bay Area. We are asking for a suggested $2000 tax deductable donation to Timshel Sailing Expeditions to reserve a spot on either of these fun and informal bucket list experiences! We can accommodate 12 passengers on each of these trips. Our website is www.sailtimshel.org if you would like more information on this 501.c.3 non-profit corporation. We look forward to having you aboard!