Saturday, 1 September 2012

what next?

Nyon in her element

There is a time to be, and then, there is a time to make decisions.  Or at least, there is a time to think about making decisions. We often hear: “What next?”, or “Where are you going after this?”, or “What are you going to do?” Our answers have varied, yet have remained mostly non-committal. One thing we’ve learned about voyaging is you cannot plan too far in advance. There are just too many variables that can up-end your plans in the wink of an eye; it’s not worth the stress.

Yes, you have to choose wisely when it comes to a passage or when to remain in a certain region. You are, after all, dependent on weather patterns. There is a time of year that is safer to undertake a passage to the Marquesas from North America. You don’t want to be in the middle of the Pacific during cyclone season. That kind of planning is important. Do you head north into the Sea of Cortez for hurricane season, or do you take your chances further south? That kind of planning is about safety and weighing the risks you are willing to live with.

Then there is the kind of decision that is more about personal preferences, or in response to circumstances: How long do you stay somewhere? Should you stay or should you go? And in what direction do you go? South? Across the Pacific? Through the Canal? What kind of experience do you want? This is when it is important to turn inward, forget everyone else’s opinions. (Let me tell you, sailors have opinions about everything. And they’re not afraid to tell you.)

I have been dreaming of going to the South Pacific. That is my voyaging aspiration – French Polynesia, Tonga, Fiji. I still fervently want to go there. It’s not surprising then, that I balked when Rick brought up the possibility of staying for another year in the Sea of Cortez. I don’t want to get stuck here. I want a different kind of adventure, cross vast oceans; discover atolls for the first time. Then, I began to think what that might look like, feel like – another year, in the Sea.

One of our goals was and still is, to make meaningful connections with locals wherever we go. We have found that increasingly challenging as we’ve headed north into the wilds of the Sea. While we have made many attempts with relative success, we wish for more. We can blame it on a mix of language limits, somewhat remote anchorages, or simply – missed opportunities. Or maybe, we just need more time.

We have been so busy catching our breath, from the time spent figuring out the complexities of life abroad, life at sea, and life without our loved ones nearby – it took us a while, to really be here. With this realization, I revisit Beth Leonard’s words, regarding long-term cruising: Most people take a year or more […] to slow down and live life.1

The clouds are coming, the clouds are coming!
On September 6, 2011, we sailed away from Canada. A whole year has gone by. And only now, I see what she means. I figured I had understood that statement, but like anything life-altering, it takes time to absorb your experiences, enough to gain some insight. As a result, slowing down and not rushing to the South Pacific might be okay.

There are many unanswered questions. Where will we spend that time? How do we keep from getting trapped in the “suburbia of the seas” vibe that can overtake a sailor here? How do we immerse ourselves more completely in the culture? Do we work for a while (if we can get the right papers)? How do we seek more adventure and fewer sundowners? Don’t get me wrong, we love a cold beer when the sun is over the yardarm, but we want our experience to be much more than that. For now, we have learned to get comfortable with the questions, until the answers come to us.

And yes, we will likely change our minds more than once in the coming months.  We may be speaking French by next spring. Or we may still be stumbling with our Spanish. Just saying.

1 Beth Leonard, The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Bluewater Cruising.(New York: International Marine – McGraw-Hill Companies, 2007), xv


  1. Your readers will anxiously await the answers to your question. Can't wait to see a photo of Tonga on your blog. (or you know, more Mexican graffiti art in some little city someplace) =)

    1. Ah thanks Tate, we're curious ourselves! Definitely undecided as of yet, we'll have a better idea in a couple months, me thinks... :)

  2. I read this post with bated breath. We are going through the same turmoil right now. Mike wants to head to the South Pacific ASAP, I wouldn't mind staying here another year and learn to slow down. So, maybe it'll be pina coladas on the SUP again soon!?!?!? (Today I was thinking about swimming in the phosphorescence with you guys - how awesome was that!?!) Hope to see you soon!

    1. Aw, good memories!! And yes, the turmoil of decision-making - we're going with the flow, trying to anyhow! ;)



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