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Shipping Home by Lisa Borre
stepped off Gyatso onto the cement pier of the marina in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and was whisked away by taxi to catch my flight home. We zoomed past the towering, Gothic-style cathedral built atop the old Roman city, the main landmark when approaching by sea. I was thinking about how much I was going to miss the ancient architecture, the colorful local markets, and friendly people we’d met while cruising in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. My husband David and I had said our goodbyes dockside. He stayed behind to ## Gyatso alongside the ship that carried her home.
46 December 2013 SpinSheet
arrange shipment of our boat to the U.S. It was not how I envisioned bringing an end to our time in the Mediterranean, but after six great years, shipping Gyatso home turned out to be the best option for us. We struggled with the decision of how to get our boat home after circumstances in our lives changed at the end of the 2010 cruising season. We put Gyatso into storage in Turkey and returned to the boat in 2012 with the hope that we would be able to sail or ship the boat home. In the end, we simply didn’t have the time that was needed to sail all the way back to the Chesapeake. Shipment of boats from one cruising ground to the next is still uncommon for long-distance cruisers. We have a few friends who’ve done it, and sadly, with the ongoing threat of pirates in the waters south of the Suez Canal, it’s currently one of the only safe ways for circumnavigators headed west from Southeast Asia, unless they want to sail around the Cape of Good Hope. A friend asked me whether we considered hiring a delivery skipper to bring our boat home, but this option didn’t appeal to us for several reasons. One was the cost. By the time we outfitted the boat for another ocean passage, hired crew, paid expenses, and factored in wear and tear on equipment and gear, the cost approached, or could potentially exceed, the cost of shipping. But for me, it’s about more than these practical considerations. Sailing from one port to the next and crossing oceans is all part of the adventure for us. While cruis-
ing, our boat is our home. It becomes part of our team. After so many adventures, we get emotionally attached. Perhaps I’m overly sentimental, but I couldn’t imagine turning over command of our vessel to someone else until the day comes that we have to sell. And I can’t think of any of our cruising friends who hire delivery crews. It’s just not something long-distance cruisers do. We toyed with the idea of finding friends or hiring crew to join David for segments of the trip that I couldn’t make, and in fact, this is how we’re moving the boat north from Florida as I write. Although we really appreciated the offers of help from some very capable and experienced sailing friends, we came to the conclusion that this wasn’t a good option for us. Having me and other crew commuting back and forth to the boat would significantly increase the cost and complexity of this alternative, but again, the main drawback was emotional in nature. If we couldn’t have the experience of sailing back together, we’d rather not do it. Others have asked us why we didn’t just try to sell our boat in the Med. We fully considered this option, but it has drawbacks, too. Other than our strong desire to cruise with Gyatso closer to home, there’s not a good market for our kind of boat over there. Europeans prefer the European makes they know. And for us to sell a U.S.-registered boat in Europe, we would either have to pay the value added tax (VAT), which is over 20 percent, in order to market the boat as “VAT paid” or drop