Admiralís Version of The Coconut Milk Run
version gives you all the technical stuff about our upcoming passage. Now
Iím going to tell you whatís really going on.
Ever since Zihuatanejo,
where the Southbound cruisers parted from the Westbound cruisers, everyone
has been just a trifle on edge. You can see it in their faces. Most of the
women are feeling a little more emotional than usual, what with saying
goodbye to friends who left for the Canal, plus preparing for the voyage
ahead. ďWhat is it really going to be like out there?Ē We are all leaving
at different times and travel at different speeds, so itís not as if we
can pull up along side our friends to borrow the Grey Poupon.
Back with the
that we are back in Puerto Vallarta, itís like coming back from a vacation
to face all the bills, the emails and the work. We jumped right into
twice-weekly Pacific Puddle Jump meetings covering such topics as medical
care, charts and routing, radio networks, and provisioning. Most of the
meetings are led by cruisers who have returned from circumnavigations and
who are happy to share their knowledge. Members of the group who have done
lots of research on one subject lead other sessions. Jan led the meeting
on charts and guides. There are about fifty boats on the roster that Jan
is publishing, so thatís a lot of folks, all with very different levels of
planning, preparedness, expertise, and boat equipment. Raven is at one
extreme, having planned for many years for this trip with a Major Type A
as Captain. (Finally, a good use for a Type A!) The other extreme are
people who still arenít sure where they are going to go in the Pacific and
have no charts or guides, so are copying some of ours.
There is so much information
being passed around that it is hard to keep up with all the handouts.
Everyone has an opinion about the best way to do things, favorite places
to see, what
is essential, etc. It is quite overwhelming and only adds to the feeling
of disorganization, even though Jan and I know we really are organized.
The other issue is that with the countdown to departure going on, we feel
like we dare not take even an hour out to enjoy the beach. Gotta get over
38, the west coast cruisersí magazine, gave a party for all of us one
afternoon, followed by a group photo. There were lots of fun and games. We
all were interviewed for the magazine and had our photographs taken. So if
you want to check it all out, go to your nearest West Marine store and get
a copy of the April Latitude 38.
I made the first of many provisioning runs. Imagine buying everything you
will need to live on for three weeks, including toothpaste, TP, food,
drinks, fruit and vegetables, meat etc. Ė without a car! - And where you
donít really know which store will have which item in stock. At the moment
the boat is docked about a mile from the entry gate, so yesterday, a
friend with a dinghy (mounded over with my purchases!) took me back to
Raven. It took me the rest of the day to log each itemís amount and
location into my inventory, divide the large packages into smaller ones
and vacuum pack them. I microwaved all the flour, sugar, pasta and rice to
kill any roach and weevil eggs that might be lurking waiting to surprise
me. (Arenít the tropics wonderful?) And this was the first of about five
trips. Not that Iím whining, mind you, but itís not all margaritas and
sunsets here at the moment.
there are the continuing questions about whether it is better to buy
vegetables, fruits and eggs that have not been refrigerated, so they will
last longer on the boat. Bet you didnít even know you could keep eggs for
weeks that way, just by turning them every day. We will reach Tahiti in
July before we get another chance to provision again properly, so these
are key decisions.
The Empty Locker
know we are really into heavy-duty prep work because I had ďThe Empty
Locker DreamĒ last night. We learned about this common cruiser dream from
friends on Felicity, who left last year and are now in New Zealand. They
are on a 30-foot boat, so storage is a real issue. About midway through
the passage prep, Ken dreamed that he discovered a big, new, empty storage
locker on the boat, that he hadnít filled yet ó and it turned out to be as
big as a garage! My dream was that the storage area under our berth,
instead of being totally jam-packed as it is now, miraculously became four
times as big! Is that pathetic or what?!
We are also hoarding items
to trade for food in the islands. Some of the areas have nowhere to spend
money (no shops), so trading is the way to go. There are also rumors that
you can trade for black pearls in the Tuamotus, but I think good old hard
cash is going to work well there. Weíll see. So we have kidsí toys and
clothing, pads of paper, pencils, crayons, batteries, sewing fabric,
lipsticks, perfumes, and fish hooks.
Staying in Touch
past decades, when cruisers left on long passages, they were largely alone
and few were able to contact their families except by rare letters and
phone calls. A few had ham radio aboard, but that was about it. These
days, almost all of us have long-distance radio transceivers, not to
mention radio email, and some boats even have satellite phones. Itís the
radio email systems that have really changed our lives. Now we can quickly
and easily keep in touch with our family and friends back home, and share
the adventures directly with them.
The Puddle Jump fleet is
even organizing its own radio net that each boat will check into daily ó
or not, as the spirit moves. The idea of a radio net is to trade wind and
wave conditions and to reassure each other that, even though we never see
any other boats, they are out there and can help in an emergency. Some
boats have no radios other than VHF, which covers about a 50-mile radius.
Most of us will be spread out much farther than that, so we have ham radio
and single sideband radio. There seem to be a half-dozen nets of various
kinds that operate at different times of the day, and Iím afraid Jan will
spend his whole time on one radio net or another. We will surely be
checking into the ham-operated Pacific Seafarerís net. The land-based
folks who run it live to help sailors communicate, and weíre really glad
they are there. They act as a lifeline for vessels in trouble and for
anyone having medical or mechanical difficulties. They even set up phone
calls with folks back home, all for free.
One easy part of this trip
for us is that we will spend almost six months in French Polynesia, where
most people speak . . . French! We expect to be called on to translate for
lots of our friends. The reality is that we will probably be mixing our
Spanish and French for the first month or so, even as we try to learn some
are planning to leave Puerto Vallarta about March 31st. Unfortunately,
this adds a bit of complication since it is Easter weekend. We will be
working with an agent to handle the rather complicated paperwork necessary
for leaving the country.
Give us a thought or prayer
between March 31st and about the 16th of April. Weíll need all the help
and encouragement we can get.
In spite of all we have to do, we still managed to compete in the
three-race Banderas Bay Regatta. The attractions were: wonderful, sunny,
breezy weather; four parties and only three races; and lots of friends to
enjoy it all with. We had a dozen crew aboard for each race, and all had
terrific time. We came in fifth of six boats in our fleet, which is just
fine because all the other boats are deep-keel racing-type designs, in
contrast to Ravenís cruising style. Our crew work was impeccable, and
unlike most other boats we had no spinnakers wrapped around the headstay
or other catastrophes. Iíve added a couple of photos to give you an idea.
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