Island Windjammer Cruises

Vela Refit Stage Two: St Vincent


After transiting the Panama canal, Vela paused briefly to prepare for the ocean journey to

Panama CanalSt Vincent. Did you know that a Pacific-to-Atlantic/Caribbean canal transit is actually from southeast to northwest, rather than west to east?

The 1600 nautical mile trip from Colòn to St. Vincent took eleven [blessedly uneventful] days. Vela is a true ocean going vessel, and loved stretching her sails in the wind. She arrived in St Vincent at the end of May, and took up residence in the St Vincent Shipyard.

Vela St Vincent Shipyard July 2015


By this time, a full team of welders and carpenters was assembled and ready to get seriously to work. A somewhat neglected building in the shipyard was cleaned out and converted into bunkhouse style accommodations.


The most budget-friendly bunk beds available to be sent to St Vincent were “Stork Craft” brand. After opening the cartons, the guys were relieved to find out that they wouldn’t have to sleep in cribs! A resourceful carpenter built kitchen shelves and counters out of old pallets, and the stove and refrigerator were hauled off the ship and into the new kitchen. The “Hotel California”, as it was soon known, was ready to feed and house the workers.

St Vincent presented a new set of challenges. With no car and dozens of errands needing to be run daily, a blessing by the name of Jimmy Grecia came to our aid. Jimmy and his dad own and operate Charlie Tango Taxi . Jimmy GreciaJimmy can do it all, from giving an amazing island tour or boat tour, to renting out guesthouse accommodations and vehicles. Jimmy has been IWJ’s connection to everyone and everything in St Vincent. Need groceries, parts, fuel, a yacht mooring, the best street food on the island, a party organized, a ride somewhere, or even a phone card top-up? Call Jimmy—he will get it done!

During the three months that Vela has been in St Vincent, she has undergone some exciting changes. Her fore and aft deckhouses were removed to allow a 15 foot expansion of the main saloon. This roomy indoor area will have ample space for 30 guests to dine, dance, and hang out. In addition to table seating, a very cool bar is being built around the main mast. All guest cabins are framed and being built out.

In early July, Vela was dry docked for ten days. An extensive hull inspection proved her to be every bit as strong and seaworthy as we already knew she was. Her hull was sandblasted and painted. Propulsion and steering assemblies were inspected and given routine maintenance.

Vela sandblasting July 2015 Vela dry dock July 2015New engine

Vela’s brand new John Deere main engine is almost ready to be started for the first time this weekend. After a sea trial to ensure that everything is working as it should, the engine will be broken in on a short repositioning cruise to Grenada. Once there, Vela will be docked at the Clarkes Court Boatyard and Marina for the final three months of her refit.

Next stop, Grenada!

Vela Shipyard Sunset Aug 2015

Island Windjammers


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