Motu Atua: aiming for Panama

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We were approaching San Juan, Puerto Rico. After having tried several times to contact the marina, then the authorities, to report our arrival at San Juan ‘illegally’, we anchored next to the ferry quay. The next day, we reported to the customs, to explain our situation. Drama: What, you dare to arrive in the United States without a visa? Er…yes, sir. OK, you will have to pay the various costs and taxes for the visas – we didn’t understand everything, just the price to be paid, 2,500 dollars! What? Luckily, we were dealing with a customs officer who spoke French, and we carried out the best negotiation of our lives. We explained to him that we just wanted to take on fuel and we’d leave again, even if we had to do it on just one engine. And therefore after a lot of prevarication, we paid nothing and got a 6-month visa! We actually stayed for two days, and noted that our port engine had just got a bit hot. After doing a bit of shopping and having a look at San Juan’s very attractive old town, we set off again, with full tanks of diesel of course, heading for the British Virgin Islands, and more precisely Jost Van Dyke. It was already the beginning of July, and the tropical depressions were starting; we really had to head south before we tempted fate. But at the beginning of September, while we were back in France to attend a marriage, hurricane Irma passed right over St Martin, we were stunned, the island was more than 95% destroyed, especially as Hurricane Jose followed very soon afterwards. As we were feasting and spending a super day at the wedding, Hurricane Maria was heading straight for Martinique, where we had left our Motu in the anchorage at St Anne. Greg flew back early to make sure the boat was safe. We then left Martinique for good, yes, it was time to head south, then to Panama, and in January we’ll be in the Pacific.

Who: Greg, Céline, Lilou and Tom

Boat: Nautitech 435

Where: West Indies, Atlantic Ocean


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