Sunday, April 23, 2017

Crossing the South Pacific-La Paz, México to Marquesas Islands

It's not an everyday experience to cross the Pacific. It is generally a dream. Some people say they want to do it but only a small percentage actually do. Some people say it's crazy! I am proud to be part of an elite club that faced the unknown and went for it! 

This was my view most of the time.  The blue water was so mesmerizing for me.  I have always been a water person but I felt grateful every day for the rich and intense blueness of the sea.  I never got tired of it. I looked forward to seeing it in different light, with varying seas. I took a lot of photos of the dynamic sea, attempting to capture its energy in a still moment. 

As you may have gathered from Mike's log, cooking was an important way for me to show my crew love and gratefulness.  I believed that if I cooked delicious, healthy meals along the way it would provide a consistent, predictable positive for all of us to count on independent of what was happening with sailing.   I didn't have any way to test this hypothesis, but I believe the smiles on their faces were proof enough. 

Another favorite part of the journey was seeing the sunset every night. We had some spectacular shows! Here were some of my favorites:

This was an unusually light wind year for the Puddle Jump. However, we still encountered some squalls that had 20-25 knots of wind in them. That's just enough wind to cause havoc if you got caught unawares.

Most of the time we had sunny or partly sunny weather.  Because of the light wind, we had to be creative with sails. 

And there were exciting moments like being exactly halfway there...

and...crossing the Equator.

This was the highlight of our trip (for me). We crossed the equator at sunset with the near full moon rising. 

We stopped the boat and I performed a little ceremony playing the role of Sea Goddess (naturally) and Mike and Al were dressed as King Neptune/ Pasaedon. 

King Neptune

 We popped open a bottle of  champagne and gave Neptune the first drink along with coin from the US and Mexico. We asked for the blessing of King Neptune, sea creatures and shellbacks to cross into the Southern Hemisphere and for a safe remaining passage. 

Just as I finished the formalities, Al noticed that our main halyard was loose and swinging.  So, both of them scurried on deck to secure it. In costume. Hilarious!

We jumped in for a swim across the equator a few times.  Then Mike took the helm and steered us into the Southern Hemisphere.

We are now all Shellbacks!

I really loved watching Mike and Al work together. They came up with amazing ideas about sail configuration or easier ways to do something. (Including not shaving) They were a fabulous duo on deck while I was the main helmsman. 

After we crossed the Equator, I had a strange dream about waking up to Sean Penn. 

Was it just Sean Miguel? Ah, yes.

Heidi and Terry on s/v Cetus gave us their WonderWash. I had to convince Mike that we needed to make room on Pangaea for it. Boy, am I glad I did!  It made laundry underway much simpler.

Al was able to wash all of his clothes!!

Of course there was singing and music making along the way.  I wrote a few songs on the ukulele.

Stay tuned for music videos!

Al celebrated his birthday along the pasage.  His main wish was to catch a fish.  He did!! Just as a pod of dolphins visited the boat.

I think all of us were relieved that none of our deepest and darkest fears played out during the crossing. We had a few things break (lines, preventer, and auto pilot) but all were manageable. The weather was mostly tame but we managed to sail all but the last three days of our passage. 

We tested ourselves and the boat and we all proved strong and prepared/capable for an ocean crossing.

The most challenging part of the passage for me was the confused sea state. Almost the entire way there were two directions of waves. That made for a rocky and sometimes dangerous passage for cooking. 

The most unpredictable/unnerving part was crossing the ITCZ.  It was squall alley and we were right in the middle of it.  At one point Al asked me if we were in the eye of the storm.  It wasn't so bad during the day but at night when you couldn't see what was coming made for some particularly anxious night watches.

The most consistently gratifying time for me (other than cooking) was my night watches. I meditated, sang, wrote songs, thanked the universe, prayed for wind, stretched and exercised and took in the amazing stars and bioluminescence.
This was particularly captivating at the beginning of the trip when the moon was new.  As the moon grew full, that stole my attention. My second favorite part was the dolphin visits. We had four!

The thing that surprised me the most was the sweet and floral smell of the island as we entered the Bay.  

I loved our crossing.  I would even do it again!

First Mate Kate


  1. Wow! You guys are our heroes! We thought of you guys the whole way, living vicariously, and missing you tons. Sail on, sailors! Until we meet again!

  2. LOVE! Love, love LOVE this. Congratulations. Never knew before, but learned of the meaning of your boat recently.

  3. Fun read! Looks like an amazing trip. Loved the costumes & sea ritual!

  4. Amazing!!! You have set of a spark of inapiration in never give up on your dreams and to live each day to the fullest. A challenge besutifully accomplished. I am beyond words! All my love to you and the crew. MaryAnn

  5. Outstanding accomplishment! Good for you!! We hope to follow in your wake, all going well. Thanks for the terrific pics - the Marquesas look amazing. Best wishes for sunny skies, fair winds and a following sea. Nello.