What to Look for When Buying a Cruising Sailboat

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Even though we’re back in the mountains of Montana for now, we are already dreaming of the next voyage … when we will take our very own boat!  This post has been in the works for the past year, during our up-close research as volunteer crew aboard a variety of private yachts.  We hope these specifics will help readers who are planning their own sailing adventure.  

One of the best parts about crewing on and living aboard 7 boats last year (and visiting dozens more) is that we exponentially increased our knowledge about what we personally like in a sailboat. Here’s our checklist of what we will look for when we buy our own bluewater boat someday.  It’s fair to say that we wouldn’t have known 90% of the specifics listed below a year ago. Nothing beats first-hand experience!

1.) Windvane or bust. A self-steering device is pivotal for long passages. Many people have auto-pilots, which basically use a motor and a compass to turn the wheel on a set course. This frees up the crew to move about the boat, eat, sleep, read, and pee. But they use electricity. A windvane steers your boat for you simply by using the wind. It’s basically a mini-sail off your stern that uses the wind to push your rudder. Just trim the mini-sail (called a paddle) to adjust course, and voila: days of no-power and no-hands-needed steering. I wouldn’t leave shore without a windvane and an auto-pilot, because hand-steering is boring and exhausting.

2.) Less is more. We’ve watched captains fix problem after problem on boats — it’s the nature of owning one. But the less do-dads and gadgets you have aboard, the less you have to fix. We don’t want electric toilet flushers — we’ll just hand pump. Pressurized water pipes leak and burst — give us a foot pump for the sink, please. Electric winches seem like cheating, as do bow thrusters. No chartplotter for us — iPhone or iPad and Navionics are much less temperamental. The list of gadgets goes on, but you get the drift.

3.) Screw the canoe stern. “Double-enders,” as they’re known, are good for bluewater cruising because they track down waves quite well. The pointy back end surfs better than wide loads, which means there’s less chance of taking a wave in the cockpit. Unfortunately, they feel just like a really heavy canoe: tippy, rocky, butt-clenchingly slippery. In fact, we often pitched so hard to starboard that my pen flew into the sea while I was writing on watch. Give me a fat stern any day, along with the big cockpit they provide. Since we don’t plan on sailing below 25 degrees N or S where the big waves live, I’ll take my chances.

4.) The more passive energy production, the better. Just like houses and offices, boats need electrical juice. How much you need depends on the amount of gadgets (see #2). Even minimalists like Rob and me need running lights and an anchor light, reading lights, computer charging, and music for sanity. Yet we both abhor the sound of the generator or diesel engine, which is what you have to do for at least an hour each day to charge your boat’s batteries — unless you have alternative sources of energy. We’d prefer a wind generator on the stern and solar panels on the top of the dodger. That way, you can make plenty of energy when its cloudy and windy or when its calm and sunny.

5.) Baking makes Bri happy. An oven is essential in a boat galley for us. Cookies, fresh bread, pizza and cakes: need I say more?

6.) She better point into the wind. Most bluewater sailboats are heavy, slow and stable. That’s good, for safety reasons. And it typically makes them good down-wind sailboats. Sadly, that often means they can’t sail close to the wind. This is a major problem if the place you want to go is anywhere in the general direction the wind is coming from — which happens quite often. We don’t need a racing boat, but would hope to find something that can move well and efficiently in a wide range of conditions. Plus, the faster the sailboat moves, the less pitching and rolling you feel, which is REALLY helpful for avoiding seasickness and cranky crew.

7.) Short but tall. Again, less is more in the size of the sailboat — especially if you’re trying to keep costs down. Every foot you add to a sailboat exponentially increases the cost of upkeep and repairs. Hell, I used to think a 30-foot boat would be perfect, but have since realized that Rob and I would probably kill each other in anything less than 35 feet. For us, 40 feet is a perfect length, especially if the beam (width) is over 10 feet. We also need to make sure a boat has plenty of headroom below decks, since Rob is 6’3″, and is already pocked with scars on his scalp from too-short cabins.

8.) Take advantage of some modern electronics. As mentioned in #2 and #4, we’d go light on the do-dads. But there are a few amazing inventions we would sure love to have aboard, namely an SSB radio and a Pactor modem. These would allow us to get weather updates, check in with nearby cruisers while on passages, and keep in touch with friends and family back home. If used moderately, they don’t drain the batteries much.

9.) Roller furler, for shizzle. Running up to the bow to pull down a giant headsail in 30-knot winds and 15-foot seas just plain sucks. Furlers let you easily and safely trim the genoa to the correct size and shape for the at hand.

10.) Playing with our dinghy is paramount. A sailboat without a solid dinghy is like an island without a beach: you can’t access the coolest stuff. We’re out here to explore, and that often happens from a dinghy, since sailboats are too deep to explore shallow waters. We often take 2+ mile runs in a dinghy to access dive and fishing spots, a distant shore, or even other sailboats anchored far away from us. Rob has said over and over again (only half serious) that we might well put more money into a good dinghy with a dependable 15+ horsepower 2-stroke outboard motor than the actual sailboat.

And there you have it. A work in progress, for sure, but a solid starting point to shop for our own version of the perfect cruising sailboat.

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bora bora beaches travel

Raping Coconuts

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Food and Drink, Traveling

bora bora beaches travel

I know, I know. What a totally alarming and inappropriate title, right? And way too close on the heels of the “Killing Coconuts” post. Don’t worry, though: we’re not psychopath fruit slayers. I’m simply referring to the word “rape” in French, not English. We still think coconuts are one of the best inventions on earth: tasty, nutritious, and useful for everything from curries to daquiris.

First, a funny story about how I learned the meaning of this French word (bringing my Fench vocabulary up to a grand total of 26 words). During a potluck on Bora Bora, Isabel asked Daniel what cheese he used in his delicious pasta dish. “I’m embarrassed to say it aloud,” said Daniel, the Aussie owner of 39-foot Beneteau called Red Sky Night. “I suppose you’ve probably seen the cheese in the markets anyway, though. It’s called ‘rape’ cheese.”

Isabel, a native French speaker from Canada who sails on Caribe, burst out laughing. “That means grated cheese, silly! It’s not a brand, it’s an adjective.” After she caught her breath, she patted his arm. “Don’t worry. When I first moved to Vancouver and was learning English, I used to ask my friends if they wanted me to ‘rape the cheese’ when I went for dinner, figuring it was the same verb.”

bora bora beaches travel

From then on, we made constant jokes about raping food. Nowhere was it more accurate a description than when we shredded a dozen coconuts on Compass Rose(y). Isabel’s partner, Gabriel, wanted to try out his nifty new coconut grater, which is what all the local Polynesians use to scrape the rich, nutty, delicious coconut meat from inside the shell. (The word for the grater here in Tonga is “hakalo.”)  Once it’s shredded, you add some water and squeeze the meat through a cloth to make coconut milk. Like all new tools, the grater elicited the rapt interest of all the nearby males in the anchorage.

First, the men brainstormed a creative way to husk the nuts: a dinghy anchor wedged into a cleat so that the spokes impale the tough fibrous outer later. Next, they took turns raping the nuts into a fluffy white pile. Last, they cleaned up the big mess they made. The grater tool left oily residue, white flakes, and brown nut-dust all over the deck. The upshot, though: we made lots of politically incorrect jokes and we stocked up on coconut milk for the passage to the Cooks. We also had some killer rum daiquiris with fresh coco juice that night (which only served to make the jokes worse).

bora bora beaches travel

bora bora beaches travel blog

BYO Everything

Posted on Posted in Community and Culture, Sailing

bora bora beaches travel blogI pick up the VHF. It’s set to channel 67, the “private” channel we’re using to chat with our friends at this anchorage in Bora Bora. In reality, no radio channel is private. Eavesdropping is a way of life while cruising, especially when you know the people talking over the VHF. But having our own station means we can avoid the protocols associated with using the international maritime channel 16. VHF is awesome: it’s like a telephone that calls all your friends at once.

I key the mic to call our neighboring boats. “Kiapa, Caribe, Nyon, Red Sky, Vision: this is Compass R

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

The Glamour of Toilets in Paradise

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sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

“It’s not quite as glamorous as I’d thought, this lifestyle,” said our new friend, Lionel of Kiapa. “There’s a lot more sitting around, reading, fixing things. I’d pictured surfing or kite boarding every day, and swimming with big fish off the bow.” He was shuttling us back to Compass Rose(y), since our dinghy was under repair on deck. All of us were hunkered down to stay dry as 30-knot gusts whipped chop and seaspray across the anchorage in Huahine Iti.

I laughed to myself, because I both agreed and disagreed with Lionel. At first glance, the “yachtie” lifestyle is totally glamorous. After all, we’d just come from a two-hour yoga session that I’d led on a grassy field overlooking turquoise water. Rob had popped open a few coconuts to share with the seven cruisers on shore, and we had a stalk of free ripe bananas to bring back to the boat. No one was wearing shoes, since we beached the dingy on white sand, and only half of us had shirts. Post-yoga, Lionel and his wife, Irene, invited us to Kiapa for coffee and cake, where we’d chatted about places we’ve been and places we plan to visit. We made plans to have “sundowners” (happy hour cocktails) with them later on. A fabulous life, right?

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

But check out what the rest of the afternoon held in store: a chore list as long as my arm. I cleaned the layers of hair, silt, and unidentifiable muck from the cockpit floor, and “dressed” the toilet pipes with vinegar and oil to clear out saltwater scum. Rob patched the hole in the dinghy and tightened the lifeline bolts. Mark changed the alternator belt on the engine, and tried to diagnose the leak in our water pump. And all of these somewhat simple fixes for the sailboat led to more problems: the cockpit drain was clogged and I had to find a new hose to connect the lazarette to the bilge pump. The patch on the dinghy didn’t hold. Scraping the rust off the water pump accidentally made another hole in it. Sounds icky, right?

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Just like all life, cruising has its ups and downs. It’s a shitload of work to maintain a boat, and not very comfortable to sail one for a long time, either. You get sick of your crewmates and the cramped spaces, of carting water and fuel in 20-gallon jerry cans, of always having to coordinate how to get to solid ground. The glamour comes from what sailing provides: access to coconuts, outdoor yoga sessions, impromptu social gatherings, and all the beauty and wonder in the blue-green world that stretches toward the horizon. There might not be surfing, diving, kite boarding or fishing every day. But there’s a helluva lot more of it than we’d get working 9 to 5 in landlocked Montana.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

This lifestyle is certainly not for everybody. In fact, that’s why the three of us are aboard Compass Rosey. The owner didn’t enjoy the long Pacific Ocean crossings and the neverending sailboat maintenance, and hired Mark to get his boat back to Australia. The vast majority of cruisers only sail for a few years before heading home to land. Rob and I are still on the fence about how long we’ll stay in the ranks of yachties, and whether we’ll buy our own boat. One thing’s for sure — we certainly respect the people who make sailboats their home for the long term.

bora bora beaches travel blog

So, you’ve heard of Bora Bora?

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Hiking, Traveling

bora bora beaches travel blog

We sure had. After all, it does have the reputation of being the most beautiful island in the world. Bora Bora was another one of those lagoons fringed by coral islands that Rob and I had fondled virtually via Google Earth before we ever set sail, and a definite “must see” on our list of tropical ports. A local told us that the original Tahitian name is actually “po po ra,” which means island of applause. It’s worth applauding, for sure.

But Bora Bora also has a reputation for being hoity-toity, a playground for rich people who fly in, jet around in power boats, and spend $1,000 per night for over-water bungalows and luxurious spas. Rob and I are about as far from hoity-toity as dog poop, especially after four months at sea. For example, I just finished my monthly leg shave from a metal bucket full of sea water on the bow (and enjoyed it). The resort guests would gasp.

bora bora beaches travel blog

We’d heard from a few cruisers that Bora Bora wasn’t anything to write home about, unless you could afford one of the exclusive resorts on a private island. Several said the town was their least favorite. “It’s a dump,” said one friend, eloquently. We went anyway. And ended up staying two weeks. You know how some places just feel a little more magical than others? A little older or wiser or just plain more mystical? We felt that magic in Bora.

Part of the magic is the setting. The other part is the people. We’ll start with the backdrop: Bora is distinct from other Society Islands because it has a big mountain on the island in the middle of the lagoon, which is surrounded by a chain of smaller islands, called “motus.” We climbed to the peak alongside 14 friends from other boats, using old ropes tied to rocks and roots to ascend 700 meters (2,100 feet for those non-metric readers). As you can see, Rob wore his safety headwear even though he also climbed the whole thing barefoot — it’s important to prioritize which end of your body deserves protection.

Oddly, a fire broke out at the heiva fairgrounds as we descended the hike. We heard explosions, and watched from above as cars exploded and mushroom clouds of fire soared off thatched roofs about a football-field length from where our boat was anchored. Crazy. After hurrying down the last of the trail, we joined the crowds of locals to watch the firefighters put out the last of the flames. The local dive instructor, who we met in Fakarava, told us dismissively, “This happens all the time during heiva.” Huh. I guess if you build a party venue with sticks and dried-out palm fronds to host all-night dance fests for a month, fires are to be expected.

bora bora beaches travel blog

In addition to the mountain, Bora Bora is famous for its clear turquoise waters, which we explored happily with our caravan of friends. We swam with eagle rays and manta rays, marveling at their grace flying between coral. We splashed and dove and did somersaults and headstands in the glowing green “swimming pool” at anchor.

I had an intimate experience with my first octopus. She and I watched each other for about 20 minutes, playing hide and seek in coral. I’ve never seen anything more magical than an octopus. She changed color faster than I could blink, stretching and contracting to swim, leading an entourage of curious fish who also watched her curious color changes. Her big eyes blinked, tracking me as I hovered 15 feet above on the surface. I fell in love, but couldn’t find her the next few days.

We met Patrick, a local who opened up his lovely property and invited us to use his lawn for yoga. He guided us on a trek along the motu’s ridge, pointing out fruits, beehives, and — randomly — 10 WWII bunkers built by U.S. soldiers. Turns out the U.S. had thousands of soldiers stationed in Bora, expecting the Japanese to push into Polynesia.

bora bora beaches travel blog

On the way back to our sailboats, we walked through the Hilton’s resort. It was kind of like going to a zoo, since the creatures who were sweating on treadmills, driving in golf carts, and walking around in makeup and high heels seemed as foreign from our cruising lifestyle as a pack of wild baboons. Ok, maybe more foreign than a pack of wild baboons! Lovely resort, though.  A few days later, we took a girls’ trip in to the St. Regis resort on its own private motu.  We snuck in to lounge by the pool, and used their hot water showers.  Pure bliss, I tell you.

The weather window to head out on our 5-day passage to the Cook Islands kept getting pushed later, as light winds and rainstorms circled overhead. We didn’t mind, though. Bora is a wonderful place to wait, made more wonderful by all the fun friends who congregated here the past couple of weeks. We met new cruisers our age, and hung out with people we hadn’t seen in weeks — enough friends to warrant using our own VHF channel to coordinate all of the social events. Yoga every morning, afternoon tea chats, game nights, potlucks, a jam session, spearfishing expeditions.

bora bora beaches travel blog

Bora was our last stop in French Polynesia, after visiting eight islands that were all special in their own way. We’re heading to the Cook Islands next.  Bora felt like a crossroads, a place to launch new beginnings and a gathering place for people from all points of the globe. We left feeling full to the brim of Polynesian magic, open and ready to find the next adventure, the next country, the next crossroads in this vast blue sea.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Morning Jagermeister and Other Tales of Leadership

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

“Do you do Jager?” Lionel asked me in his South African/Australian accent. I had just met Lionel and his wife, Irene, during happy hour at the one bar in Fare, the largest town on the island of Huahine.

“Not since college,” I replied with a startled laugh, remembering the licorice-flavored taste of shots of Jagermeister at San Diego bars. Gross.

“But you really look like you do Jager,” Lionel said stubbornly.

“Wait a minute … what do you think ‘yeagher‘ is?” I asked cautiously, wondering if I’d become so relaxed that I looked perpetually pumped full of alcohol.

“You know, stretching and bending and stuff,” he replied.

“Oh, yoga! Yeah, I do a lot of yoga,” I said in relief, and then explained my miscommunication. Rob was laughing hysterically beside me.

Next up, Lionel asked if I’d lead morning yoga sessions on the lawn in the southern anchorage. He was an avid yogi, and had organized a few morning stretch sessions at different spots in Polynesia. Lionel hadn’t ever taught before, and was excited to have a new “yoga queen,” as he later nicknamed me. I, on the other hand, felt a strange reluctance to lead. I’ve found a new passion for yoga the past few months at sea, and it felt like a private passion. I wanted to selfishly guard my morning yoga energy rather than spread it out across unknown people.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Other people we’ve shared sailboats with had asked if they could follow my yoga routine. I’d led a few half-assed sessions on the bow for whoever else could fit alongside, or follow along from a neighboring boat’s deck. But yoga on a boat isn’t the same as yoga on land, and I was hesitant to be in charge of “real” yoga for people with various ability levels (not to mention various English comprehension!). That smacked of a job, which I want no part of.

But then I kicked my selfish self, and told Lionel “of course I’d lead Jager.” After a rusty first few minutes, I sunk quickly back into a leadership role. My mind churned quickly through the potential flow of poses. My eyes scanned the different participants for their comfort level. My hands made adjustments to their bodies. My mouth called out instructions on how to move, and variations to make sure everyone felt confident and safe in each pose.

It was great. Every morning at 8:30am, a fleet of dinghys would land on the white sand beach, and 5 to 10 cruisers would walk up to a grassy spot surrounded by palm trees. We’d lay out towels or mats in a circle, and I’d start the practice. I especially had fun watching the progression of the participants: Jim from Ireland who could almost touch the ground on Day 4. Mark, our shipmate, who could easily get into a headstand alone on Day 2. Jan from Slovenia whose hips opened like flowers in triangle pose. The German woman who had never tried yoga in her life, succeeding in crow pose. Moana, a local breakdancer from Huahine, who joined in to learn our balancing poses.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Like you probably already guessed, I received just as much energy from the group practice as I did from my private practice. It was a different type of energy, for sure, but just as potent. I liked the confidence boost it gave me, especially after being the follower and novice onboard so many boats the past few months. And I really enjoyed making people feel better in their bodies and their hearts, too. Next time someone asks me to lead yoga (or Jager, for that matter), I won’t hesitate to say yes.

sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

Off To See The Wizard

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Sailing, Traveling

sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

The blue-green waters surrounding French Polynesia just turned into a yellow brick road. Rob gets to be the Scarecrow, and I’m gonna try my hand at Dorothy. We’ve nominated a blacktip shark to be Toto, and the thousands of coral heads lurking just beneath the surface play the Wicked Witches and flying monkey things.

I know. You’re asking if I’m writing this while on some weird island mushroom, right? Or assuming I got a tad too much sun, maybe? Nope. I’m just letting you know that Rob and I have joined a new sailboat. It’s motto? “Off to see the Wizard.” Check out the boat’s blog if you don’t believe me. John and Sue Campbell, a semi-retired couple from Sonoma County, California, have generously offered to share their floating home with us for a bit.

sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

Wizard is a Choate 40 racer-cruiser, very similar in layout (and speed!) to Kayanos, our last ride. We like her, and we really like John and Sue. The four of us all have a similar sense of humor, which is basically the most important ingredient for successfully sailing around in the largest ocean on earth. Sue’s learning to play the ukelele, and doesn’t mind that Rob and I belt out tunes at all hours. John is a laid-back, mostly-Buddhist captain (unless someone tries to anchor too close) who misses microbrews as much as I do.

We met Wizard and her crew our first day on land in Nuku Hiva after the big passage, and hit it off immediately. A month later, John and Sue offered to take us on a day sail to north Fakarava so we could “look for another ride” when Kayanos sailed to Tahiti. Well, we didn’t look very long … the day sail turned into many days as we sailed north to Toau. We’ll likely make the 2-day passage to Tahiti aboard Wizard, as well. In fact, John keeps mentioning that we should just go ahead and buy Wizard when they finish their sailing adventure this November.

Guess we’ll see where our yellow brick road ends up. Meanwhile, Rob and I will make sure to keep our bare feet from clicking together, since we’re not definitely not ready to go home.

sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

galapagos brianna randall on the horizon line blog turtle

48 Dreamy Hours in the Galapagos

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Ocean Tales, Outdoor Adventures, Traveling

on the horizon line sailing blog cruising galapagos islands in pacific

We never thought we’d get to see the Galapagos on this journey. It wasn’t in the plan, mostly because it was so far out of everyone’s budget. Tourism fees are steep, and Llyr’s crew doesn’t have the time or money to fully explore these protected equatorial islands. In a twist of fate, though, our skipper decided to stop to refuel in the Galapagos and our boat was granted 48 hours in San Cristobal without having to clear in and pay the traditional fees. (Apparently, it’s usually only a 12-hour window, but the bureaucrats were taking a siesta when we arrived.)

galapagos brianna randall on the horizon line blog turtle

Rob and I made the most of those 48 hours. We wandered the quaint seaside town, ate really good food like cheese-stuffed plantains and fish stews, hung out on park benches with sea lions, swam with giant sea turtles, chased big iguanas over volcanic rocks, and poked around shrubs looking at birds. While we’d love to spend a solid week or two exploring the amazing wildlife here, we both feel blessed to have been given this unexpected window to experience the Galapagos. Plus, the 2 solid nights of sleep without watches were almost as cool as the turtles. Check out some of the pictures of from our stop below.

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on the horizon line sailing blog cruising galapagos islands in pacific


sailing at sea at sunset in schooner

My New Surreal World – On Night Watch

Posted on Posted in Ocean Tales, Sailing

Standing watch alone tonight, my new world looks surreal. The moon isn’t up yet, and dark cloudy skies blanket the dark roily ocean. All I can see is the splash of white foam over the bowsprit, lit greenish-pink by our navigation lights as we pitch and roll up, over, down, sideways. Two white birds circle our bow, flirting with the foam.

These birds give me peace in the dark seas at 1:00am. They’re masked boobies (yes, that’s the techincal name) 400 miles from the nearest land. The pair show no signs of tiring as they ride the wind wave our bow creates. What the hell are they doing here? What the hell am I doing here? Who’s idea was this, anyway? Oh, wait…it was mine. I stifle a yawn, trying to take a cue from the tireless birds keeping me company.

My watch partner, Rob, is passed out in the forward berth, calming his seasick. The rest of the crew is below, asleep or trying to be. The creak of the sails hard against the wind and the moon rising through rain clouds makes me feel like I’m in a movie. Is this really my reality? It sure is. We’re one week into a 4-5 week ocean corssing. And this week is the toughest part — not just mentally and physically as crew members adjust to the demands of the sea, but sailing-wise, too.

From Panama to the Galapagos, we had to traverse the dreaded ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone), an unstable lightening and storm-prone area where northern and southern hemisphere weather patterns collide at the equator. And the wind and waves aren’t really in our favor, which means motor-sailing, rolly-queasy seas, and nights like this one with salty waves breaking over the bow as we point our nose hard against the wind. It’s not the kick-back-with-a-cocktail tradewind sailing many people associate with crossing the Pacific.

We hope to hit those easier tradewinds tomorrow, the magical and fabled winds that smooth the ride and push us 3,330 more miles across the Pacific. But the wind is a fickle mistress, no matter how much we beg, praise, cajole, threaten. She’s got her own agenda, and ours doesn’t factor in. Luckily my agenda is pretty loose: get to some cool islands sometime soon.

So far? It’s been interesting. No seasickness for me, though Rob’s been feeling not-so-hot about half the time. Not as scary as I’d thought, either: I love the waves, the ocean, the rain, the clouds. And not as sedentary as I was worried about it, since my muscles are constantly firing to adjust to the perpetual motion and keep me from falling off the boat.

But the voyage is also a little more frustrating than I’d thought, in terms of having to make constant decisions on course, sail trim, or whether to use the motor. Luckily, all of our week-long backpacks and river trips in the wilderness taught Rob and me how to live with little water, cook creatively with odd provisions, live communally with others 24/7, and deal with fluctuating emotions in demanding circumstances. The key phrase in that last sentence is “week-long,” though.

The next couple of weeks at sea will be where the rubber meets the road. Where we settle into routines, responsibilities, the roll of the boat. Where the fresh produce runs out and we start on the canned peas. Where the novelty of surreal night watches wears thin. Where the birds stop visiting our bow as we lose all scent of land. Where the salt crystals start to layer in epic proportions, crusting our clothes, pillows, eyes, senses.

I sure can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

NOTE: We’re currently stopped in the Galapagos for a brief provisioning stop.  It took 8 days to sail from Panama to San Cristobal Island here, and we expect it will take 25-35 days to reach the Marquesas when we leave here tomorrow.

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