The Pacific Puddle Jump

Posted on Posted in Sailing

Baja 040About a month ago, we had over friends-of-friends for dinner.  Andy and Sandy spent 2.5 years cruising the Pacific a few years ago with their daughter.  They sailed from Seattle to Mexico to New Zealand, stopping at all those awesome South Pacific islands along the way.  We wanted their advice on our upcoming journey through similar islands.

Over risotto and grilled deer steaks, Andy said (about 22 times), “But what do you mean you’re FLYING to Tahiti?!  You’d miss the best adventure of all!”

He means crossing the Pacific Ocean by sailboat. An epic voyage.  Any way you slice it, it’s a long, long, LONG way from North America to the next tiny spit of land.  For sailors heading west from northern regions (Vancouver, San Fransisco, Seattle), the nearest island stop is Hawai’i.  If you sail west from southern latitudes like La Paz, Puerto Vallarta, or Panama City, boats usually head toward the Marquesas.  It takes roughly a month, give or take 10 days depending on wind, waves, your hull-speed, and your navigation skills.

Yup, a month.  At sea.  Across the largest ocean on Earth.  In a small vessel the size of your living room.

The Pacific Puddle Jump, as it’s called affectionately in the cruising community, is not usually the very first crossing people undertake.  Most people opt for an overnight passage at first to get their sea legs under them (and to test their proclivity toward sea-sickness).  Next, they might work up to a 3 or 4 night-long passage at sea — this gives folks the chance to learn how sail continuously through day and night, without stopping to anchor or dock.

Rob at the helmWhile Rob and I have spent over a week at a time living on a sailboat, we’ve never done an overnight passage.

After our dinner guests left, I told Rob that I’ve always wanted to cross the Pacific … probably because I remember the stories my dad told about his crossing from Maui to Santa Barbara, full of stars, whales, waves and life-changing ruminations.  And because I like challenges, and the roads less traveled.

Rob said, “Well, hell, if you’ve always wanted to do it, now’s the time.  Let’s buy a one-way ticket to Mexico and hitch a ride.”

So, we’re doing it.  What better way to start a new adventure than with a giant, flying leap across a big, sparkling puddle?

Watch out, Marquesas.  Here we come!

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One thought on “The Pacific Puddle Jump

  1. I do not want to be a nay-sayer — quite the opposite. How cool. Just keep in mind that the captain(s) of the vessel might be nervous about taking someone aboard who haven’t spent 24 hours in ocean swells. I’m sure you’ve thought about this, and perhaps you already have answers for your own bodies, I would be worried myself about taking someone who has no bluewater experience because some people can have such debilitating seasickness that it becomes a serious health concern on a long voyage.

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