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
Friday, February 17, 2017
Our year at a glance, 2016
OK, so I'm at a little behind this year, but as I did last year, I'm taking a page from Totem's (one of the boats we follow) play book and documenting some of our highs and lows for the year 2016. One year ago we were nestled between Alcoutim and San Lucar on the Guadiana River between Spain and Portugal. We were running our heater every day, having regular tea times and wearing every piece of fabric we owned. It was lovely in Spain, but when you literally live on the water even 40 and 50 degree weather feels cold. After leaving Spain and Portugal we traveled through 16 other countries including; Gibraltar, Morocco, Cape Verde, French Guiana, Guyana, Trinidad, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, Venezuela, Bonaire, Curacao, Columbia and finally Panama. We covered about 6000 nautical miles and if you consider that most of those miles were at about 6 knots of speed, you can appreciate how much time we were sailing. On all our major crossings we sailed almost the entire way, but we aren't purists and more than a few of our shorter crossings were assisted by the diesel. We crossed one ocean, one canal and traveled through 4 continents. By all counts we had a great year: everyone stayed healthy, the boat didn't require any major refit and we ended the year still liking to be together (mostly). That said it isn't always giggles and rainbows, and I'll include a little reality as well in my summary. Here is how our year stacked up:
Best sail: Probably up the coast of South America when we had good winds and a 2-3 knot current with us.
Worst sail: We had one nail biting shift when we had a boat either follow us off the coast of Venezuela or very coincidentally have the same zig zagging course. We still aren't sure what happened there, but there are probably some very plausible scenarios that don't include piracy. Although at the time we were more than a little concerned. Actually, the sailing conditions have been mostly good with the only notable exceptions of coming into both the Canaries and Cape Verde with gale force conditions and bow into heavy, oncoming seas. Fortunately we don't have many days like that.
Nicest People: everywhere people are nice, but I have to give props to Trinidad/Tobago and Guyana. Once you get into the Caribbean, while people are pleasant, we felt like the experience of having people go out of their way to help you or just genuinely want to get to know you was inversely proportionate to the number of boats in the harbor. That said, the people in Grenada were also very welcoming, and for an island with as many cruisers as they have, the locals were really generous in sharing their island.
Highlights: Too many to count, but we loved the Medina's of Morocco, Devils Island was a fantastic landfall after two weeks at sea crossing the Atlantic, and Tobago had great fishing and Zander perfected his spear fishing amongst the coral heads there. In Bonaire we had unparalleled water clarity and the diving was fantastic, visiting Los Roques, Venezuela was an unknown and the lagoons and beaches surpassed our expectations. We also loved the hashes in Grenada and we sang the praises of the Chagres River, Panama our first trip through and we still love it there. I also have to say that our three months in Spain were life changing. We met some fantastic people, the kids got to experience a new culture in a very up close and personal way and we got a little slice of European living that at least 4 of the five us have never experienced before. I also have to say that the people we meet along the way are by far one of the best reasons to cruise. Sometimes it is other cruisers and sometimes it is locals, but both enrich our lives in so many ways.
Experiences We could have done without: Paying $130 for lunch in Venezuela (those decimals do make a difference when converting a new currency), and basically getting robbed in the San Blas and being made to pay a bogus fine. Popping the dinghy was a low point and the aft toilet blowing up was one of experiences I could have lived without experiencing. I know cleaning human poo off hoses in the engine compartment was not in the brochure (I know TMI, but I'm keeping it real). I recently read in a magazine article a quote that seemed quite apropos at the time "The difference between the dreamers and the cruisers is that the cruisers does what needs to be done, no matter how onerous the task". I can now say I am a real cruiser!
Best food: Tagines in Morocco and Roti's in Trinidad. I also have to admit that the $130 meal we had in Los Roques was pretty amazing.
Worst Food: San Blas. The only place to eat, on any of the islands we visited in the San Blas, was a little run down shack that cooked up overly fried chicken. It didn't look all that appetizing, but they had a monkey and the kids desperately wanted to hang out with him. Where that monkey had been in the restaurant was also a worry. The owners threw all their leftovers into a little walled pool where they kept sea turtles, fish and lobsters as future menu items. We contemplated offering them money for the sea turtles so we could release them, but we didn't want the owners to have a reason for capturing more. In Grenada we got friendly with a family that gave $50 to a fisherman to release a huge Hawksbill sea turtle. My gut really wanted to do the same thing, but I was afraid our altruistic intentions may only create a market of more turtle capture? It was a hard call and in the end we didn't make the offer. In this case, the monkey was a highlight, but dragging his ass along the table tops was probably not! I'm not normally a clean freak and I believe in pushing the immune system a little but believe me we used a lot of hand sanitizer in that joint!
Approximate nights at sea: 37
Approximate days in a marina (not including our time in Spain on and off the dock): 33
Highlights for the crew:
Anakena : Swimming off the boat, making friends, and buying shoes in Morocco (she is definitely a girl).
Porter : Living in Sanlucar de Guadiana, meeting all the kid boats in Grenada and watching snake charmers in Morocco.
Zander : Hashes in Grenada, getting introduced to free diving, diving in Bonaire, building our subwing, and exploring forts in Panama and the prison in Devils Island.
Amy : Swimming off the boat, waking with the sun, quiet night passages with a full moon, never knowing what adventures the day has in store for us and lastly, but maybe most importantly, meeting new people. Specific bests include diving again in Bonaire, buying fresh fruit in Morocco, a great hike in Cape Verde and having family come visit and share this incredible lifestyle with us.
Mike : Living in Spain again, a Devil's Island arrival after 13 days at sea, exploring Los Roques, Venezuela and hiking to the Lost City in Colombia.
Anakena : Nothing I love the boat!
Porter : Leaving Sanlucar and Grenada, long passages and missing friends at home.
Zander : Rough sea days.
Amy : If you know me you know my one giant worry on this trip is that one of my kids will get really sick on a long passage. That keeps me up at night! Bring on the storms and the pirates (no not really), just don't let my kids get an appendicitis mid crossing.
Mike : I will not miss the constant stress of keeping the boat afloat and forever fixing things that break (I've only rebuilt the carburetor on our outboard at least a dozen times, which is just one among many other usual suspects that need constant TLC).
It is a big lovely world out there and although we are only seeing a small corner of it, we are grateful for this time.