From the Isle of Wight to the Virgin Islands:
When I first saw the 34-foot powerboat Maywatch in Yarmouth Harbour in the UK, I said “Miami Vice,” but Richard, my boyfriend who was on the brink of buying it from his dad, said, “No. James Bond.”
Every guy wants to be James Bond—a superspy known for his intelligence, wit, strength, patriotism and sexual prowess. Maybe Richard thought that ownership of Maywatch would prove his possession of these qualities, and that’s why he decided to purchase this custom-made beauty and ship it from the UK to the BVI.
Maywatch rests at her new home at Nanny Cay Marina. Photo by Dan O'Connor.
Maywatch’s former life, Richard told me, was as a Class 1 racing powerboat operating out of the UK—The Spirit of J&B (as in the whiskey) that had three outboard engines. Its pedigree definitely gave it more James Bond credibility. After its run as a race boat, the hull “sat in a boatyard in Poole until my dad found it when I was about 20.” Richard’s dad took the boat to the River Yar Boat Yard on the Isle of Wight which Richard’s stepdad ran. The boat was then fitted with two inboard diesel engines, a radar arch and a cruising cabin with an electric blue and white suede interior. Definitely more Miami Vice than James Bond. “It was the coolest motorboat in the south coast by a country mile—unique, beautiful and had a habit of overtaking anything vaguely similar.”
Richard moved to the BVI six years ago and has been trying to convince his dad to let him buy the boat ever since. “He’s been taking it out less and less,” Richard said and mentioned that he’s already used the boat more in the past month in the BVI than his dad had in the past year in the UK.
Maywatch being loaded in Southampton. Photos courtesy of Graham Benton.
Once he had swayed his dad to let him purchase Maywatch, the importing process moved fairly quickly. First, “various things were done to the boat in the UK to make it ready for the BVI,” he said, such as “refitting the electrics so it operated on the US instead of UK voltage system, sourcing a new type of anti-fouling that works in the Caribbean and sticks to the outdrives, sourcing two years’ worth of service parts for the engine to keep costs down if I need things that aren’t always available in the BVI.”
The next step in the process was organizing how to get it to the BVI. It only has a five-hour range, so it had to be shipped over—a boat on a boat. “The only motorboats that could make that journey would be superyachts,” he said. “I called Chris Haycraft, and he put me in touch with a number of different shippers, and once one was selected, the paperwork—which covered delivery and insurance—was very simple to organize.” The boat journeyed from Yarmouth to Southampton then to St Thomas via Miami. “Going through St Thomas seemed to be the most cost-effective, though I could’ve had it delivered directly to Tortola ,” he said. “When it arrived in St Thomas, I wasn’t able to retrieve it myself, so Chris’s company, Island Yacht Management, picked it up and cleared it, so it was waiting for me on the dock on Nanny Cay after work one day.”
Richard navigates Maywatch through a different channel. Photo by Traci O'Dea.
When I asked Richard if he’d had any hiccups or speedbumps along the way, he said no but indicated that the only thing he would’ve done differently would’ve been to get a few more refurbishments done in the UK (like the electric blue zebra-striped upholstery I’m lobbying for to complement its Miami Vice appearance), and he also would’ve taken the opportunity to fill up the boat with “anything I wanted to import from the UK,” using the boat as a shipping container.
As far as differences between locations, Richard finds the boat easier to navigate in the BVI than in the UK “where there are extremely fast tides, and weather conditions are generally a bit more severe. Here, you don’t have to think about those things.” He added, “If you can dock Maywatch up the River Yar, then the dock at Nanny Cay is pretty simple.”
So far, our excursions have been fairly limited—Peter Island, Norman, Cooper. I just finished my powerboating course with the BVI Watersports Centre to ensure that I can be competent crew, and I’m getting accustomed to the speed of Maywatch—she can reach 50 knots flat out. Richard is looking forward to “staying on the boat in Anegada or Eustatia Sound, just north of Prickly Pear, on a calm, quiet night” and “finding spots to stay that are off the beaten track” as well as “going on kite surfing sessions for the weekend with all the kit on board.” Hmmm…wasn't there a kite surfing scene in Die Another Day? Sigh. As if I needed to encourage the James Bond parallels.
The sunset view across the Channel from Norman Island. Photo by Traci O'Dea.