The Money Shot

Everybody I know who sails into Belize’s famous Blue Hole ends up posting some dramatic drone footage. So why should we be any different? Thanks to Alsino, we got some great footage and I’ve finally got around to editing it.

Last year in November, Dee, Alsino and I left the Rio Dulce and headed up to Belize. After a couple of weeks of cruising and land travel, we headed out to Lighthouse Reef, one of only a few coral atolls in the Caribbean (you have to head to the South Pacific to get a good dose of coral atolls), and dropped anchor at Half Moon Caye, after spending most of the day sailing out from Cucumber Marina (Belize City). Next morning, we picked our way across shallow water to the Blue Hole, 5nm away. And there we stayed until the next morning, secured to a marine park mooring ball.

The Blue Hole was first made famous by Jacques Cousteau, who declared it one of the top five scuba diving sites in the world. In 1971 he brought his ship, the Calypso, to the hole to chart its depths – 124m for the record.

The Money Shot – La Mischief in the Blue Hole.

Flying the Flag

But which flag?

Now that its not an option to have an Australian Flag with the name of my Footy team (Fremantle) on the back on the boat, we need to have a good think about where to register our new Saba 50. Australia is not an option as Dee and I will be jointly owning the boat and for it to be an Australian boat it needs to be majority owned by an Australian. 

So we need to look around for an alternative. And there are a few that spring to mind. 

But there’s a few factors to consider: 

  • Cost – Initial and Ongoing Year to Year
  • Risk – Can we use a US Limited Lability Company or do we need to set up a Company in Country. And how much does that cost?
  • Radio License and EPIRB Registration
  • Insurance options for the various flags. 
  • Reputation and Coverage.  
  • And finally….Do we like the actual flag? Does it have an annoying Union Jack in the corner?

USA Flag out of Delaware is the easiest and cheapest solution – we can set up a jointly owned Limited Liability Company in Delaware and have Wilmington as our home port all for $947USD (using http://www.boatandyachtregistration.com). However, I’m not so sure I want people to think I’m from the USA. 

As far as a homeport goes, Bikini from the Marshall Islands sounds rather cool. However, we would need to set up a Marshall Islands company. Every Marshall Islands LLC must appoint a registered agent and maintain a local office address. Not 100% sold on either an LLC in a far-off land; or the flag for that matter, but at least it doesn’t have that annoying little Union Jack in the corner.  Interestingly, the Marshall Islands Registry permits private yachts to be chartered out for up to 84 days per calendar year, provided that some additional requirements are satisfied. Fees are: $2800.00 Year 1 (Company setup and Boat Registration) and then $1800.00 (Year 2 and onward – Company and boat renewal).

A good looking flag is important and we really like the Maltese Flag. However a Maltese flag means we cannot get VAT exemption if we are in the EU. So that rules it out in the short term whilst we are in Europe. Registration Fees are 115 Euros, plus an annual fee of 425 Euros plus VAT. To this we need to add costs for a Radio license and an MMSI number. Plus the cost of local representation. 

Multihulls Solutions are very experienced with registering boats in the Cook Islands and Captain Cook is pretty much up there when it comes to sailors. Fees are $800 for one year, $2100 for 3 years. The easiest way to register a boat in the Cook Islands is to join The Cook Islands Yacht Squadron (CIYS).  Members of the Cook Islands Yacht Squadron (CIYS) are eligible to have their yacht registered in the Cook Islands without having to register a company. The definition of person includes companies and trusts as well as individuals or partnerships of individuals. In this way foreign corporation can become a member of CIYS without having to register that corporation in the Cook Islands. However the Cook Islands flag has that annoying little Union Jack in the corner. Cook Islands is the only option that my current insurer, Topsail Australia (who I am very comfortable with) will cover, however interestingly they can’t provide cover when we actually sail into the Cook Islands because of some strange licensing quirk.   

We saw a lot of boats with Jamaican flags and again Montego Bay has an air of the exotic as a home port. Jamaica also has a Private Limited Charter option where the yacht may charter up to 84 days per calendar year where permitted. Ownership can be with any legal entity in good standing or an individual.  There is no requirement to create a new owning entity in Jamaica. Fees are The Private Yacht Only (PYO) option is $1950.  The Private with Limited Charter (PYLC) option is $2500 (plus $4100 for a survey).  Ongoing annual fees are $750, and if chartering an annual charter survey is $3,575.   These fees include vessel registration, radio license, tonnage, registered agent, all documentation, and a flag.

Quest, a fellow Saba 50, went with a Cayman Islands flag and that’s not a bad choice (except for that annoying little Union Jack in the corner once again).   A USA LLC can own a Cayman Islands Registered Vessel so that’s a tick. However, a foreign LLC must appoint a representative in the Cayman Islands (at an additional annual cost no doubt). Like the Marshall Islands, the Caymans also have a Yacht Engaged in Trade (YET) program for yacht operated privately that provides the option to charter their yacht for up to 84 days per year. Costs are $1200USD for initial registration and $530USD for each year after that (according to https://www.cishipping.com/feesandcalculators).

Having digested all this, I’m not sure there is a clear cut option for us, so some more thought is required. Once again, all suggestions and further information will be gratefully received. 

Its a Wrap

Now that we are reduced to watching sailing videos on Youtube, Delos pointed out that there are 50 people who called Delos home; and that got me thinking about how many people stayed on board La Mischief during her time on the high seas.

So I started to count them up….

  • 2013 (Sables D’Olonne to Marmaris, Turkey)

Countries/Islands Visited: France; Spain; Gibraltar; Balearic Islands, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey

Total On Board: 16

  • 2014 (Marmaris to Leros)

Countries Visited: Greece, Turkey

Total On Board: 14 (New 11)

  • 2015 (Leros to Cyprus)

Countries Visited: Greece Turkey Cyprus (South and north)

Total Persons on Board : 11 (New 9)

  • 2016 (Cyprus to Barbados)

Countries/Islands Visited:Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, Balearics, Spanish Morocco, Gibraltar, Canaries, Cape Verdes, Atlantic Crossing, Barbados

Total People on Board: 16 (new 9)

  • 2017 Barbados to Florida

Countries/Islands Visited: Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Monserrat, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin, St Barts, St Eustatius, St Martin, Saba, St Barts, Anguilla, BVIs, Bermuda, USA (Newport, RI to Maine to Florida)

Total People on Board: 16 (New 9)

  • 2018 (Florida to Colombia)

Countries/Islands Visited: USA, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Culebra, USVI, BVI, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, Bequia, Mustique, Mayreau, Tobago Keys, Union Island, Petit St Vincent, Carriacou, Grenada, Tobago, Guyana, Trinidad, Bonaire, Curracao, Aruba, Columbia.

Total People on Board : 13 (New 6)

  • 2019 (Colombia to Rio Dulce to Mexico)

Countries/Islands Visited: Colombia, San Blas Islands, Panama, Panama Canal, San Andres, Providencia, Guanaja, Roatan, Rio Dulce, Belize, Mexico

Total Persons On Board: 7 (New 2)

  • 2020 (Mexico to Florida)

Persons on Board : 3

Grand total 73

  • 34 Aussies
  • 22 US
  • 1 Slovenian
  • 3 Germans
  • 4 Canadians
  • 1 Polish
  • 1 Curacao
  • 1 Cypriot
  • 4 Poms
  • 1 Vietnamese
  • 1 Uruguayan
  • 1 kiwi

Music to Our Ears

Listening to music is a really important part of our boat life. On our old boat we used to download music to our phones or tablets using Google Play Music so that we could access it offline …internet or no internet. We also had an old iPod with music downloaded on it that was connected to our Fusion Stereo. But most of the time we would connect up our phones or tablets and play the downloaded Google Play music.

The biggest problem with this was bluetooth’s short range and one user at a time restriction. Quite often we would sit out the back and suffer poor or no bluetooth connectivity. With the Saba being a lot bigger this was going to be even more of a problem.

Enter Sonos with its capacity to play music over a much better (than bluetooth) Wifi connection (provided by our Pepwave router). Our Saba comes with the same Fusion Marine Stereo as before and our plan is to hook up a Sonos Port unit to the Fusion and voila…we can use Sonos to play all our Google Youtube music over Wifi from ANYWHERE on the boat. Likewise our guests will also be able to download the Sonos app and hook into our system so we can listen to their music as well. And finally, we can download all our music that sits on our hard drives (and in Google Play Music) to our DS118 NAS that sits on our boat network so we can access this from Sonos as well.

I loved my previous Sonos system from my time as a dirt dweller, and I’m keen to use it once again.

The Sonos Port is an upgrade from the Sonos Connect and I should now be able to turn the Fusion Stereo on and off from the Sonos system – how cool is that. And it will also control the volume of the Fusion as a whole, but I don’t think it will control the volumes of the individual Fusion Zones.

The other purchase will be a Sonos Move, the new Sonos outdoor battery powered speaker, that has got rave reviews. We have gone ahead and purchased one Move (we plan to get a second in France) and are loving it. The Fusion System that comes with the boat only comes with speakers in the saloon and the cockpit and the Sonos Moves will fill in the sound gaps – the upstairs lounge and the front deck in particular. And we won’t have to drill holes in the boat to provide for additional wired speakers. As the Sonos Move uses both Wifi and Bluetooth we can also take it to the beach where there is usually no Wifi.

The final piece of the puzzle is a Sonos soundbar for the TV downstairs. Upstairs in the saloon, we will have a Bose system (same as before) and I need to think about whether I hook this into the Sonos system via another Sonos Port or just leave the Bose as a standalone movie and TV system. Kim suggested that Music sounds so much better with a subwoofer, which the Bose system has, or is our money better spent just buying a Sonos Sub? And do I need a Sonos Playbar upstairs with the Bose system for watching movies? Ummm. A little bit more to think about. Especially since I need to consider battery draw in the equation.

Even with the Bose System upstairs, TV sound was always a problem downstairs and a good soundbar will make movies much more enjoyable. Plus we can use Google Assistant or Alexa for voice controls.

The beauty of using an all Sonos solution is that we can play the same music throughout the boat across both the Fusion stereo, the Sonos Playbar and Sonos Moves.

I’ve just ordered a Sonos Move to use at home so it will be interesting to see how the first piece of the puzzle goes. The rest of the Sonos components will be sourced from the Sonos dealer in La Rochelle.