Monday, March 26, 2012

The Puddle Jumpers
By Michael

Hugging goodbye in Marina de La Paz
A final hug, a minute before
Wondertime's departure from
Marina de La Paz.
Hours spent aboard a boat under sail can be mesmerizing. Idly watching water flow past the hull or the turbulence of the wake that emerges from beneath the transom, is like staring at a camp fire. Acquiring your sea legs means your limbs begin to move magically in concert with the pitch and roll of the vessel under way. As hours turn into days at sea, your entire body is completely in tune with the vessel. If there is even a slight change to any of the myriad harmonizing forces that propel the boat, you will sense it immediately—even in a dead sleep.

But what of longer periods of time spent at sea, under sail? Unfortunately, I can’t offer my perspective on what it is like to be underway for longer than eight days (that is the longest period Windy and I experienced).
But our friends are out there now, two families aboard two boats, near the start of journeys expected to last weeks. Wondertime and Convivia are at the same time crossing the largest body of water in the world, bound for a South Pacific island. In fact, for folks completing a circumnavigation of the world, the leg between the west coast of the Americas and the South Pacific is the largest body of water that must be crossed. These two families are sailing over 3,000 miles to their destination, a relatively uncommon feat in the world of cruising families.
The Convivia crew:
Ruby, Tucker, Miles, and
Victoria (left to right), as we
remember them from La Cruz.
Are you curious to know what it is like to be at sea for nearly a month? Never stopping, just moving along, all the forces in balance, hour after hour, day after day, week after week? People who don’t live like we do often marvel that a family of four can live happily in such a relatively small space. Of course, it's no great feat. But consider not leaving that space for a month, the Big Blue your only view.

It may be easier to imagine it if you follow along: Sara on Wondertime and Tucker on Convivia are each chronicling their crossings as they unfold, on their blogs (connecting to the Internet via their on board, single sideband radios). They departed within a day of one other, but from cities hundreds of miles apart; their trips are independent.

Wondertime and Convivia are both about a week into their voyages and I eagerly await each new post. So far, fresh fruit and vegetable stores are dwindling fast. Convivia is slowed significantly by the loss of their light-air sail on day two.

So while you sleep tonight, while you’re at work tomorrow, while you make that dentist appointment for two weeks from now, and after that appointment has passed, two families on two small boats continue moving across a vast, empty ocean, nonstop, day and night. Aboard each boat, the trade winds are pushing, keel ballast is resisting, and they are making steady progress across the Pacific Ocean—at about the speed of a marathon runner.

On the beach at San Gabriel anchorage on Espiritu Santo
Good times at the islands with Michael and Sara of Wondertime (gaggle of kids
not pictured). It is a strange and accepted aspect of the cruising life that you form
fast friendships and then separate. The only similar experience in land-based life is
befriending folks while on vacation. But this is our life, not a two-week period
after which we return to lives intertwined with friends close at hand and planning
to stay that way. We'll stay in touch with the Johnsons as they start their new
lives in New Zealand, but we'll likely not see them again for a few years.

Windy and the girls watch from the end of the dock as Wondertime departs.


  1. So awesome! And now we are here! It was magical, and ordinary and something I wish everyone could experience! Great post!


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