A month in the … ocean – part 1
Well, not really. But catchy title right?
So much happened in the past year. For the ones who haven’t followed us on the few social media we post updates to; we’ve crossed an ocean! Or part of it at least.
Now, how one goes from being pretty much stranded in a boatyard to being one of the 2 only boats in one of the most picture perfect anchorage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? I’m not sure. With some hard work, a few mad months of planning and most importantly – an un-healthy dose of determination. But like most things in life, it’s probably just all down to a whole bunch of luck. We certainly do feel lucky right now.
For the small story and continuity sake, let’s try to – very – brief recap the last boatyard months. Between the time we posted an blog update and the time we finally splashed, all my tea leaves predictions turned out right :
There’s still some post-its on the wall…
- Fair the hull
- 6 new coats of barrier coat
- New copper coat paint
- Wrap the rudder with new layers of glass
- New lifelines
- Re-rig the boat
- Raccor by-pass to be able to change active filter while underway
- And there’s some talk about maybe a new swim platform, rework a bit the transom steps, take a closer look at the rudder…
We did get a new swim platform made (probably the best money we’ve ever invested in the boat, since it was for the first time money spent for us instead of Pablo). And short after we had finished applying the CopperCoat, the inspection of the rudder turned, as Cass predicted since the beginning, into a new project. There would be a whole blog serie to be written on this (and I might some day) but suffice to say, we now have one of the most beautiful rudder in the whole ocean under our boat. It might have been an overreaction (it really wasn’t has bad as I thought), but by the time we were surfing 20′ waves in the Pacific, we were sure glad of the decision!
Many more projects happened and even more surprises crept on us. Too many to write about. Plus, a list of things fixed isn’t exactly good story telling. The big point is we did managed to splash! Something even I started doubting. Our month in the boatyard ended up 13 months later. The day we finally managed to splash, all the yard employees and most of the other boats’ owners gathered to cheer and wave goodbye. We had seen come and go so many boats, had seen yard employees retire and even I was even offered a job in the yard. We knew everyone and everything of the town. I had 2 birthdays in that yard! Truly, it was time for us to go.
We splashed in November and spent the next 2 months cruising down the sea of Cortez, hitting a few of our favourite spots along the way but mainly discovering new hidden gems. Our objective at that point was pretty vague; see LaPaz and its world famous tacos, then go south and decide what’s next. Covid was starting to take a setback with more and more countries hinting at relaxing their lockdown restrictions, but it was just that; talks. We had successfully applied to enter French Polynesia a few months earlier, but with only a 3 months visa, the next steps were uncertain. There was no other places to go in the whole Pacific ocean(!), except maybe jump back to Hawaii and then Canada. That was a lot of time at sea in a very short time, only to eventually end up back in the cold…
Then one Christmas evening, while sharing drinks with our very good friends from Pulsar (with whom we had gone through the boatyard ordeal), we decided to apply for a Long Stay Visa in French Polynesia. The process is long (between 8 to 14 weeks), quite expensive (amongst the many fees, we needed to do the application from the French embassy, which meant flying to whole family to Mexico City for a few days), complex (we had to submit so much paperwork, we ended up with a application of 184 pages) and more importantly, uncertain. Every year, people would get rejected because they would be missing a paper in their application, or their insurance policy wouldn’t be good enough, or a whole array of reasons. And to add to the stress, we couldn’t find anyone who had been approved since the beginning of the pandemic. But, a long stay visa would mean a year in French Polynesia. A year in paradise! Versus another year in Mexico, we all decided it was worth the many risks.
So we flew to Mexico City and had a blast. After so many months seeing no one and doing nothing except holding a sander in my hands, it was freeing to see new things, treat ourselves to restaurants without guilt and feel that we were traveling again.
We came back to the boat with a new sense of purpose and started … to work on Pablo again! The South Pacific is truly remote and if something breaks, you’re on your own. So we revisited some systems that were showing sign of age. New water pump, new lines, etc. Our batteries were already on their last leg and we were concerned they wouldn’t be able to handle the strain of the crossing (oh my! Was I right!).
The next months flew by. We were tweaking systems, but also playing a massive Tetris game by reshuffling pretty much everything inside the boat to try to free up as much space as possible for more food. That was yet again an hectic pace. But by the beginning of April, the visas showed up (!!!), the boat was as ready as we could possibly get it and my sister had booked her plane tickets to come and do the crossing with us. We were ready. Armed with a 7 pages list, I spent the last 2 weeks emptying the shelves at La Mega, Walmart, La Comer, Costco and all the other groceries and local fruits market I could find. We literally packed hundred of kgs of food down below and obsessively watched the weather.
Finally on April 22, while the sun was setting over the town of Cabo San Lucas, we lifted anchor and left Mexico.