It can all be traced back to a helpful one-armed man in La Paz. Andy was raising the jib and this friendly dock neighbor came over to help him with the halyard. He leaned over on our dodger and the fabric caved in. Massive tear. He felt awful, we felt awful, Bravo felt awful, the hand stitch repair looked awful. Nobody won. About two weeks later, Andy leaned on the opposite side of the dodger, briefly resting his hand as we worked to lower the one-ton that is our outboard engine. Briefly because in an instant the 18-year old fabric gave in, leading to another massive unrepairable tear.
“We used to make wallets out of duct tape” Andy muttered, hoping to justify the new trend we were seeking to revive with our thoroughly duct taped dodger.
We blasted down Baja, across the Sea of Cortez and down the mainland of Mexico as efficiently as we could, hoping to make it across to the Caribbean with enough time before the end of the sailing season. As we got closer to La Cruz, we knew this would be one of our last stops south where we could get our hands on skilled dodger repairs. We reluctantly set our anchor and began making phone calls. Numerous online resources and kind strangers recommended Camelia from FullSail, she was willing but busy, our dodger would be complete in 17 days. Just like that our blast south came to a screeching stop. To add insult to injury, we then caught the flu! Quarantined and deflated at anchorage, we began to explore our next moves.
Our initial days in La Cruz were frustrating –it represented a barrier to our progress. But as we accepted our fate, we began to uncover La Cruz for what it was: a tiny town with a vibrant and supporting community of sailors. We were given a calendar of events which included yoga, free movies and concerts, seminars on provisioning, weather, rigging, and a weekly puddle jumper meeting. Sailors here are of all age ranges, with different types of boats, home ports and experiences, but many have one mission in mind: the aggressive, exciting and usually once in a lifetime cross from the Americas to the South Pacific. A 2800 nautical mile (or so) traverse across open ocean until you hit you first tiny mass of spectacular land.
We knew all along we had to decide how Bravo would return to the US and now the decision was upon us. New friends encouraged us to narrow our focus so we could have a successful season. We attended a number of free seminars, met our new neighbors and heard their stories. One seminar led by PV Sailing dealt with the intricacies of weather models and how to pick a puddle jump window. Back at anchorage, slowly of sound mind and able body we pulled out Jimmy Cornell’s book and began re-reading it. Our frequent nightstand companion in the bay, we were familiar with the hurricane and cyclone seasons, prevailing winds and recommended routes. This day though, it became blatantly clear: we were too far up the coast and too late in the season to successfully circumnavigate the Caribbean. Sadly, it also became obvious that with our delay a puddle jump further south was not in our best interest. If we continued to Costa Rica, Panamá and the Galapagos, our crossing window would be too short, the inter tropical conversion zone much wider, we would be adding an extra 3000 miles to our journey, tack on the extra wear-and-tear and face off to the much-to-be-respected Tehuantepec and Papagayo winds. Doable, but once again we were too late (too far north) to make it there in time for this year’s optimal jumping window adding an extra risk we didn’t want to take on. This decision had to be made with our brain and not our hearts. If we were jumping to the South Pacific, we had to do it from here.
Our focus narrowed, we’ve begun taking steps and precautions for the jump. Most of what we’ve accomplished to date supports us in crossing the Pacific Ocean, but with a 2800-mile open ocean crossing, a few things need to be reinforced. We are getting our hands on new charts, guidebooks, practicing celestial navigation, doing safety drills, re-evaluating long term provisioning and supplies and re-checking our systems. We’ve enlisted the help of an equally willing traveling friend, also on sabbatical. Having three onboard will exponentially improve our night watches and we are certain the 20 or so days at sea will be full of humor. We began attending the puddle jump meetings in La Cruz, and have leaned into this network of helpful sailors, and new friends. Officially registered, there’s a couple hundred boats that will cross along with us this year, about 40 or so from Banderas Bay. We are each doing it on our own, but are in this together. We are walking into this as strangers but once this feat is behind us, we will sail away with a huge accomplishment and a new extended family seeing us through.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to work harder towards preparing for a successful journey. It’s a lot of work but well worth it.
As we head down to Zihuatanejo to meet up with Colorado friends, family and boat parts, we wish some of our new friends farewell, since they are scheduled to cross before we get back. Fair winds and following seas!
Flags for the South Pacific now in hand. :):)