Ryan and I recently realized that we are now officially 6 months into our yearlong adventure (4 months living on board and 2 months preparing for departure) and more than halfway through. Cliche it may be, but time has certainly flown by! During our time in Mazatlan we have, by necessity, spent several late nights discussing and researching what we should do and where we should go to complete our journey. The cruiser’s dilemma on this side of the Pacific is one that we have wrangled with, off and on, for at least the last month. The dilemma is this: the cruising season on the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America is limited to November to April/May (one must be mindful of hurricane season and either get the boat to a safer weather area or take the boat out of the water and put it in dry storage, aka “put it on the hard.”) So, if you are cruising the West Coast south, you must choose to (1) go through the Panama Canal, preferably by December, and get to a safe part of Western/Northern Caribbean and out of hurricane zone by April/May; (2) sail the boat north into the Sea of Cortez and far out of hurricane danger; or (3) go out to the South Pacific–which coincidentally has their safe season (i.e., no cyclones) from April-November.
We have grappled with what to do for some time–weighing the risks and rewards, the readiness of the boat and her crew, discussing logistics, finance and all other sorts of issues in attempts to figure out what to do. And after leaning heavily towards biting off the *big* risks of making the passage out to the South Pacific and extending our journey to end up in New Zealand or Australia….we have decided to keep it simple and stay in Mexico–and therefore go home in time for the boys to start school with their friends. We’ve also decided how we will spend the “hurricane season” months (April, May, June 2017), which necessarily impacts where we sail in Mexico (i.e., how far south) and where we hope to take the boat out of the water for the trip back to the states.
From a personal perspective, this year was to be a year of travel and adventure as a family, and more importantly to me,realizing our collective dreams. And it has certainly been adventuresome! Ryan’s dream was to live aboard and sail the world with his family. And while we are living aboard and sailing (as much as we can, when winds are fair), we both knew that circumnavigation was not going to be possible in the timeframe we have. My dream was the travel part and getting to do that with my boys. Yet, I have learned over the course of the last 4 months that travel by sailboat is not exactly what I thought I signed up for and perhaps not 100% aligned with the way I think about, and dream about, travel. See, it kiinndda takes a suupppeeerrr long time to get places by sailboat. Like 6 nautical miles per hour, which is roughly 6.9 statute miles PER HOUR. Per hour people! When one is used to driving in a car or flying in a plane to travel, 7 miles traveled in one hour seems *really* slow. And it’s even slower (generally speaking) when we are under sail. (I know, I know… I tried adjusting my mindset to the pace…. fail!) So getting to places further away from home than Mexico is clearly no small undertaking. Further, when we started seriously looking at the passages to and between the hundreds of islands that make up the South Pacific–specifically our route through French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tahiti, Tonga Fiji, New Caledonia), we realized that typical 450-1100 nautical mile passages were going to be a B.F.D. Our longest passage to date is 250 nms and after that, we are exhausted and need a day to recover. Thus, going from a 2-day/night passage reality to a 5-10 day/night passage reality would be a massive adjustment and we cannot predict how any of us would fare. (to be fair, it *could* be totally fine!)
All told, we have been working together to honor both versions of “the dream.” And I’m happy to report that “negotiations” have gone really smooth and we found that we agree on almost everything with regard to how to spend our remaining 6 months. In the end, we decided that if we are “only” going to cruise in Mexico, then we will spend the remainder of our available time on this adventure (Spring, 2017) doing land & air-based travel elsewhere on the globe. And after most recent discussions and early-stage research, we have set our sights on Europe!
So, this mama has lots to be excited about and I’ll be getting my party-planning hat on right quick! And the boys, primarily Elliott, are excited to continue our travels in a manner they are comfortable with, while also very much looking forward to moving back home and being with friends, whom they miss dearly. (we all do!) And last, but not least, the Captain is happy to (1) have a happy crew; (2) continue sailing for the next few months; and (3) be settled in a decision that doesn’t require frantic and stressful boat projects and preparations for an ocean crossing.
Needless to say, we are very much looking to what 2017 brings! We continue to look forward to traveling together, exploring new places, absorbing more culture and undoubtedly partaking in yummy local cuisine, as well as continuing to practice our Spanish.
p.s. If you think you’ll be in Western Europe next Spring, ping us! We’d love to meet up. And yes, Leah & Jamey–we plan to hit Berlin!