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The Admiralís Version of The Coconut Milk Run

March 2002

Raven hard on the wind at Banderas Bay Regatta 2002 - 106KJanís version gives you all the technical stuff about our upcoming passage. Now Iím going to tell you whatís really going on.

Emotions

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 Puddle Jumpers

Jan & Signe at Puddle Jump party - 108KNow 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 Suzy & Clark of Final Straw - 509Kequipment 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 that!

John & Ariana of By Chance on Puddle Jump - 113KLatitude 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.

Provisioning

Signe in mounded-over dinghy 576KYesterday 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.

Susan & Keith of C'est La Vie - 416KThen 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 Dream

Signe the songstress - 78KI 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

Blair & Joan of Capricorn Cat - 155KIn 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.

La polynťsie franÁaise

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 Polynesian phrases.

Team Raven at Jungle party - 159KWe 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.

Love,

Signe

Raven's crew on the rail in Banderas Bay Regatta 2002 - 83KPS: 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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This page was last updated on 04/13/04.

    

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