The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 25, Porter's second birthday afloat, Carnival and a trip to Lisbon

Porter got a camera for his birthday, so the following are mostly his photos


Porter's 11th Birthday party

Porter celebrated his second birthday afloat.  This time he was lucky enough to have a class of kids to invite.  Birthdays are quite generic in Spain, everything is very uniform, so we shook things up a bit.  We reserved a few tables at the local bar, organized a huge scavenger hunt (which was a brilliant move because while the kids were busy running across town the parents had a relaxing time with cake and coffee) and had rationed box cake and frosting from the states (there are so many ingredients I can't get here including good flour, and powdered sugar, so for important events we dig into our stash of imported goodies).  
We also celebrated Carnival in Sanlucar.  Yup, it is about two weeks late, but the neighboring villages in the area alternate celebrating Carnival on different weekends so everyone in the area can celebrate with each other.  In school they had to dress up as a ringmaster, a smurf and a mariachi singer.  As you can imagine, Ana had fun, Porter had a blast and Zander was mortified.  
Lastly, we had a to make a run to Lisbon, three hours away, to renew Ana’s passport.  It is news to me that you cannot travel on a passport that is less than 6 months from expiration.  Anyway, her passport expires in November, but considering we don’t know where we will be and how easy it will be to renew it elsewhere, we headed to the nearest American Consulate in Lisbon.  You know your kids are getting older when you can leave a 10 year old and a 13 year old in a separate country on their own for the day.  They boys were in school and we had several other boats in the area checking on them in the evening, so we felt comfortable leaving them.  It is nice to be in a place long enough to make some really fantastic friends, friends that will look in on your kids if need be.  

We will have hard time leaving this place, we still have another month here, but I’m already getting weepy with the thought of leaving.  Such is the nature of cruising, you meet wonderful people that touch your life, and then move on and they move back to their separate corner of the globe, leaving you only with memories.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 14, Schengen Issues

I’ve mentioned Schengen treaty issues in some of my blogs.  Who or what is Schengen?  Let my enlighten you with my very rudimentary understanding of what the treaty entails.  In order to make it easier for Europeans to cross borders within the continent, many of the European nations got together and signed a treaty creating the Schengen Area. There were various drafts and several countries joined later, but most of this happened in the early 90’s. The treaty area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes. There are external border controls for travelers entering and exiting the area, and common visas, but no internal border controls. It currently consists of 26 European countries covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 1,664,911 square miles.  Of the 26 participating countries several are outside of the EU (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland), while several EU countries (UK, Turkey, Croatia) have chosen not to participate in the treaty.  This treaty is in no way related to the Euro zone or the EU. It was purely set up to deal with borders. Now that I’ve given you a political science lesson, how does that affect cruisers?  The treaty allows other members to cross borders without limits, but those nationals not part of the treaty area are limited in the Schengen area for 90 days at a time and after that time they need to be out of the Schengen area for an additional 90 days before heading back in.  It is hard on cruisers because three months is not very long to get through most of the continent.  You can get long term visas to stay more than 3 months, yet those are still difficult to get, and they limit a traveler to only one country per visa.  We looked into long term visas and the first obstacle to overcome was we would have to apply for them from our own country at the desired foreign consulate.  Impossible if you are already abroad. Less impossible, but more of a pain is you have to prove financially that you can stay in the country for the extended time and you have to provide a medical report from a physician.   Anyway, they don’t make it easy for the cruiser and it is obviously aimed at limiting the movement of North Africans or other immigrants, but they have yet to make allowances for true long stay travelers.  The penalty for violating the treaty is banishment for life from any Schengen country!  Seriously, it is not to be taken lightly. Although, that said, there is talk about abolishing Schengen in response to the immigration crisis Europe is now faced with.  As it relates to us, we aren’t sure if they rely on the honor system or if they are tracking passport movement. With our time in Morocco and the UK (including Gibraltar) and our slight delay in checking into Schengen areas on time, we are still officially in compliance, but rapidly approaching being out of compliance.  While we are here in the river between Portugal and Spain, we are officially in International waters, but we aren’t really sure how they are keeping track of us.  When the Portuguese police come up the river we quickly go over to the Spanish side and vice versa! There’s quite a bit of chatter about Schengen issues on US sailing forums, but here in Europe it doesn’t really affect many cruisers.  
Anyway, this is a little bit of what we are up against.  Again we are taking the beg for forgiveness rather than ask permission approach to cruising in the Schengen area. 

Pictures aren't that exciting these days.  Mike doing a little diving in 2 inch visibility to help a friend pull up a fouled anchor.  Rainy day project for Porter and Baking with Ana.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Routing, February 5, 2016

The world is a big place, if you haven’t noticed.  How did we pick our particular route?  Well, our first choice on where to cruise has always been the South Pacific.  The aquamarine water of the Society Islands, the towering granite cliffs of the Marquesas, the whales in Tonga, the pristine diving and the great islanders to meet as you cross the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean just call.  That trip is considered the milk run, but it is not for the faint of heart.  The first leg is a doozy with a 2700nm stretch between North America and the closest islands of the Marquesas.  This is the cruise every sailor dreams of, as our friends termed it “the land of the screensaver”, that said after you complete the Pacific crossing you have the teensey little problem of being half a world away with your boat. This is what we kept hitting our heads against.  Yes, we would like to cross the Pacific, but we will have to wait for another cruise when we can do a full circumnavigation, which by our reckoning would require a minimum of at least 4 years, maybe a retirement run. Why can’t you just turn around and sail back?  You could, if you were a masochist!  It would all be upwind sailing and certainly doable, but not easy.  The first rule of sailing is go where the winds blow you, don’t try to fight it.  OK, the first rule is don’t have a plan or a timeline, but arguable the second rule should be take the path of least resistance.  Most people that cross the Pacific keep sailing and do a full lap around the globe, some may sell their boat down under, but most keep going.  One day we will do that, but this time around, we didn’t have that kind of time.  Various other variables also played into our decision, but timing was the most pertinent.  Second choice was simply to explore as far as we could in our limited time, somewhere between 2-3 years.  
Deciding where you want to go is important, but equally important is deciding where you cannot go......meaning when and where is the hurricane season.  Generally if you are sailing between the latitudes of N30 and N10 in the northern hemisphere (June 1 - Nov. 1) and the mirror imagine in the southern hemisphere (Nov. 1- June 1) during the hurricane season you are asking for trouble.  There are a few exceptions and hurricane holes, but, in general, this is a band around the planet you want to miss.  We timed our departure from the US for Nov. 1st and made sure we were heading north away from Florida by June of the following year. 
We weren’t sure we wanted to go to Europe, but we also didn’t think we wanted to spend a whole year in the Caribbean.  Don’t get me wrong, the Caribbean is paradise, but there are too damn many other cruisers in paradise.  We love our time on the beaches, but we also wanted to see some of the less trodden areas of the world.  Kids love the tropics, what’s not to love, but we wanted to balance the tropics with some other culturally rich opportunities.  Family commitments pointed us to Maine for a stint in the summer, so the most logical thing would be to see some of maritime Canada and while we are there, what the heck, let’s go to Europe.  Teach the kids some history about the old world, from..... the old world.  Europe as a whole was a great classroom for our three kids who until our trip knew very little about European politics, European culture or European geography.  They won’t be writing dissertations any time soon, but you can ask them about the Syrian refugee crisis, NATO, the Euro and EU geography and you will not be met with blank stares.    A sail boat may not be the only way to experience Europe, but we are happy we made the decision to sail here.  
From Europe we need to be able to get home.  We can’t go back the way we came, the winds circle around the North Atlantic in a clockwise direction.  We will need to sail far enough south to get in the Easterly winds that will blow us to either the North part of South America or the Caribbean.  From there we need to work our way east, it is very hard to make westerly progress once you are in the Caribbean.  That will suit us fine and we can island hop back towards the Panama Canal.  
Once through the canal we will have to pick our weather window as we travel north through historically fickle winds.  Our original plan was to go from the Canal to the Galapagos, out to the Marquesas, north to Hawaii and finally across the North Pacific to Oregon.  Oh, and did I mention we were going to do that in one season? Yup, that is a crazy amount of sea miles in open ocean to cross with three kids. I don’t know what planet we were on when we thought that idea up.  Planet Crazy to be sure!  We would be some salty mofo’s if we took that route.   That most definitely would be the best route to take advantage of the predominant winds.  Screw the predominant winds (yes, I just violated my first rule of sailing, or was it second), we are instead going to battle the contrary winds up the Pacific coast of Mexico, up the Baja Peninsula and back home.  The route is lovingly called the Baha Bash for good reason.  That said, we had such crappy winds coming down that section, if those conditions remain, it shouldn’t be too bad.  Either way, 1500 miles of bashing beats 8,000 miles of open ocean with three kids any day.  Maybe we can ride the tail of an early season hurricane to make northerly progress!

Anyway, the above outlines our thought process as we decided our path.  Cruising is about flexibility though and plans have a way of changing as you cruise along.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Foraging in Spain

OK, those that know me, know I love to garden and forage. In fact besides my family and friends, gardening is the thing I miss most and one of the things that would keep me from being a full time cruiser (lack of funds may be the real reason, but lets assume that pesky little variable was not a factor).  I don't know if it is my Alaska roots, but fruit trees comprise my idea of Eden.  On our latest foraging trip we brought back wild asparagus and later we picked Oranges and clementines from a friend's farm.  I'm not sure if you can OD on citrus or vitamin C, but we are certainly getting our daily requirement.

he will forage for anything providing he can bring a weapon