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Elusive was stuck in St Vincent for more than a year due to Covid-19 and the eruption of La Soufrière. The 44ft catamaran will be available for hire through Sail Bermuda this summer (Photograph supplied)Elusive, a 44ft catamaran, will be available for hire this summer (Photograph supplied)Caleb and Marilyn Zuill bought Elusive in 2019. The 44ft catamaran’s arrival was delayed by the pandemic and the eruption of La Soufrière in St Vincent (Photograph supplied)Marilyn and Caleb Zuill of Sail Bermuda (Photograph supplied)Marilyn and Caleb Zuill of Sail Bermuda (Photograph supplied)Elusive was covered in ash from La Soufrière (Photograph supplied)Elusive covered in volcanic ash in St Vincent (Photograph supplied)Just in time for boating season, Sail Bermuda has a new catamaran.Caleb and Marilyn Zuill only wish she hadn’t taken such a roundabout route.The couple bought Elusive in Grenada in November, 2019. Their idea was to use her to expand their boat charter company into the Caribbean during Bermuda’s off-season.“We thought we were making a great business move,” said Mrs Zuill, whose plan had been to get the catamaran here by April 2020. “We were trying to start something in St Vincent. We didn’t know what was around the corner.”Once the pandemic hit it seemed a smart move to keep the 44ft catamaran in the Grenadines with their Vincentian captain, Dale Mascoll, and his wife Lisa.“The four of us decided for them to stay in St Vincent last year because we could not guarantee a tourism season in Bermuda,” Mrs Zuill said.The Mascolls lived on the boat but were unable to work because of the pandemic. At the end of 2020, they took Elusive back to Grenada for a refit."The sellers were from Canada," Mrs Zuill said. "They had been cruising through the Caribbean and Grenada was their last stop.“Unfortunately we weren’t aware of the need for a refit until she was in St Vincent and Dale had operated her for a while. With boats, things tend to appear over time. It was not in the plan at all and it was not revealed in the survey at the time of the purchase."In Grenada Elusive got a new engine and generator and white cushions and caulking to match Wyuna, the 47ft catamaran the Zuills bought in 2016.“We love the Wyuna, so we were looking for something else similar,” Mrs Zuill said.“But by then we were chomping at the bit to get Elusive back to Bermuda.”The Mascolls sailed Elusive back to St Vincent expecting it would be a pitstop for provisions and a chance to say goodbye to family.But just as they prepared to leave in April La Soufrière erupted. Lava flows, mud slides and ash fell thickly across parts of the island. More than 20,000 people were displaced by the crisis.“So we were scrambling,” Mrs Zuill said. “Lisa was sending us videos of the volcano erupting. It was raining ash and the boat was completely covered in it. The videos were pretty horrific.”Mr Mascoll moved the boat further south, out of the danger zone but by then, the new caulking was stained.“It was becoming really serious with water shortages on St Vincent,” Mrs Zuill said. “Dale and Lisa’s family was safe, so they managed to get out.”The Mascolls sailed to Antigua as islands closer to St Vincent were overwhelmed with requests from people displaced by the eruption, Mrs Zuill said.Concerned for family, the crew member the couple had hired to make the crossing with them to Bermuda decided to stay put. To ensure they met insurance requirements, Mr Zuill flew to Antigua and journeyed with the Mascolls here.“It was a pretty easy trip up,” Mrs Zuill said of the six-day voyage. “They only had two days of rough weather.”Almost as soon as they made land however, Mr Mascoll was offered a job captaining a 70ft luxury yacht in Dubai.“He could not pass up an opportunity like that,” Mrs Zuill said. “He has now left.”In the meantime, the Zuills have been deep cleaning Elusive to get her ready for summer.According to Mrs Zuill, there was a silver lining to last year’s dismal tourist season.“Last season, we were so encouraged because a lot of locals and residents really stepped up,” she said. “They decided not to travel and came out with us on the boat instead. That was a huge surprise. Normally, our clientele are tourists. But last year the majority was locals, which is great. People were not going away for vacations so they could afford to book with us – and some people booked us several times.”The business came partly through the marketing campaigns Sail Bermuda put in place to drum up business. This year, Mrs Zuill does not think they will have to do that.“The bookings are coming in, which is a huge blessing,” she said. “We are getting bookings from tourists as well as locals.”But she said, like a lot of people in the charter boat industry, they felt left behind by government.“We are always the last ones to find out what the restrictions are for our industry,” she said. “Communication is not very streamlined.”For more information: 737-2993; sailbermuda.com
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