Tuesday, January 29, 2008


So, everyone has heard this: we're leaving next Monday, I mean Thursday, make that the following Tuesday...Christmas, New Years Eve, Birthday....sometime next week....and so on. Can we say: circumstances conspired? And now we're tapping our feet, waiting for the weather to look "typical Southern California." These days it has been one storm after the next, with landslide warnings inland, and gale warnings at sea. In contrast, Baja has seen calm weather, ie no wind. But, if the weather forecast is correct, we're there!! Tonight, in the wee hours, we're saying our farewells in San Diego.

We're timing our departure for a daytime arrival in Ensenada, Mexico, and we'll stay there a day or two to check in to the country. From there on out we're officially cruising! By now we have left ourselvs ~ 1 month in Mexico - not what we had planned but it will suffice. We'll hop down Baja, but won't have much time to explore the Sea of Cortez on the opposite coast of Baja. That's a shame, as it's famously pristine and teeming with marine life. Another day....

Puerto Vallarta will be a home base for awhile, then on to Acapulco, maybe Zihuatenejo just north of there. We aim to leave that coast ~ March 1st for a bee-line to the Galapagos! What a dream come true for any student of biology. Finches, giant tortoises and marine iguanas await. A recent book I read explains that, it isn't what's unique about the Galapagos that is so intriguing, but rather the way in which it so typifies the story of evolution. The process of evolution is somehow amplified on island groups, leading to vast speciation, but also suffering high rates of extinction. Regardless, it gives me goose bumps in anticipation. And the wildlife just go about their business.

We have been sifting through tips, warnings and recommendations from other on-line cruisers about obtaining proper permits for the Galapagos. It appears Ecuador changes its mind twice a year. This has left a meddled confusion, but this we will need to get used to - customs and immigration beauracracies add a little spice to the experience (and the US is no exception as any of our foreign friends would report).

The trip to the Galapagos is ~ 1200 nautical miles (as the crow flies), which we expect to take ~ 10 days. But, we're at the weather's mercy so, we get there when we get there..... We'll request a 2-week permit which should allow us time in two ports, on two different islands in the archipelago. We'll join naturalist-guided tours to explore the islands in more detail than we can from our boat. Lots of opportunities exist, like hiking, swimming with sea turtles, visiting tortoise breeding centers, spelunking, diving and snorkeling. My dad and step-mom Kristin will join us for our last week there, and will stay to accompany us on the next, and longest, passage, from the Galapagos to the Marquesas in French Polynesia. That's about 3400 miles, and roughly 3 weeks at sea. That's when the island hopping begins! The rest of the spring and summer (oops....fall and winter) we'll hop from the Marquesas (+/- Tuamotus), Society Islands, Cook Islands, Kingdom of Tonga and Fiji. We'll point our bow toward the North Island of New Zealand by October of 2008 and we'll wait out the Christmas and New Year holidays there. What then? You'll just have to tune in and see...... But, really, if any of you might like a little tropical adventure, send us an email and we'll get the details worked out. We would love to have visitors!

I'm sure you will all rest easy in knowing that Ben and I watched a reality survival show from a tropical island on the Discovery Channel, so we now know how to open coconuts on the beach without the benefit of a tool. And, the oils make a good sun block! We may need a little work honing our spear-fishing skills though.

Peruse through this latest set of photos of our now fully put-together sailing vessel. It has taken us awhile to get here, but look at what has been accomplished! Ben has done such an amazing job installing and wiring pretty complex systems (every last one of them!) and even completed construction of the refrigeration box with his new and handy fiberglassing skills. You'll notice we've got food crammed in every nook and cranny. Enjoy the tour.....

....and, please, keep in touch! (updates, chit chat and gossip are welcome. You don't want us to go stir-crazy with only each other for company, do you?)

Westward Ho!!