So what in the world are you doing, anyway?
It’s what everyone is thinking, we know. But to be honest, we’re not quite sure. While we have a general idea of what our plan is and why we’re doing this, we don’t really know very many specifics yet. But we are getting a whole lot of questions, so I’ll tell you what we know at this point.
After years of learning to sail, searching for a boat, saving our pennies, researching gear and weather and routes, upgrading systems, fixing broken boat parts, and dreaming; we pulled the trigger. That, by the way, can be the hardest part. We pulled the trigger on leaving Seattle and exploring some of the world via sailboat. We don’t know what parts of the world we will explore, and we don’t know how long we will do it.
We are establishing a new nomadic pattern for our life, in which our boat is both our home and our primary form of transportation. It is not a vacation, as a vacation is a break from “normal life” in which you generally only do pleasing things and at least try to relax. This is our new “normal life”. Certainly there will be plenty of times when we get to do pleasing things and relax, but there will also be stress, huge challenges to overcome, discomfort, and monotony.
There is some irony in us leaving our home waters to go cruising. We live at the edge of some of the most beautiful, intricate and diverse cruising waters in the world. It would be easy to spend a lifetime cruising from the San Juan Islands to Alaska – in fact, we know plenty of people who have. There are a few disadvantages to this area for me, however: the water is cold, the wind is fluky and the winters are brutal. To pay homage to this remarkable place before our route pulls us south, we are spending the first month exploring Vancouver Island.
From there, we will slowly make our way down the coast of North America. When I say slowly, I’m not kidding. We average about 6 mph (motoring or sailing in good conditions), which means many of you could slowly jog to Mexico faster than we will travel. This drives home the concept that the destination is not the point.
Our intention on the coast is to stay fairly close and tuck in various anchorages and bays along the way. There will be some passages that take less than a day, and some that require several days at sea. When that is the case, one of us will always stand watch while the other sleeps, reads, cooks, etc. Our wind vane steers the boat (provided it continues its reputation as being dependable) so being on watch is about staying alert for traffic, crab pots, weather changes, wind shifts and boat performance.
While it may seem like we have no schedule at all, our route will always be driven by weather windows. These are the ideal times to be traveling through a certain area. The close of our first weather window is approaching – it is prudent for us to get down the coast of Washington and Oregon before October, when the winds shift to the south, heralding the start of a wet and windy season. And so while we are soaking up our time in the Gulf Islands right now, our eyes are drawn north, eager to allow plenty of time on the west coast of Vancouver Island before the season draws to a close.
The next window ushers us into Mexico in November, after the pacific hurricane season ends. We will likely make this jump with dozens of other boats, all of our agendas synchronized by the seasons.
But there’s no need to get carried away with cruising in Mexico, we still have months on the coast yet to enjoy. So there you have it – our plan, as best we know it. We will certainly keep you posted as it transforms and matures.