Saturday, March 15, 2014

We Leave In the Morning! Where are we going???

It was a VERY busy few days as we said goodbye to friends, provisioned the boat, went through ALL the boats systems, changed ALL the fuel filters, checked for leaks in the transmission, changed the oil etc...  Having just arrived back from such a long trip on an old, tired boat, and having just watched the ocean find each and every weakness in that boat, motivated me further to diligently look at all of our systems.  Don't get me wrong, Although Wandering Dolphin is not as old as Dulcinea, 1989 -vs- 1981, and she has just gone through an extensive and complete refit, I am not naive enough to think she will arrive at our first, let alone, final destination, without having plenty of things to fix.

So the time has arrived to let you all know our final destination and all of the legs in between.  We have kept this a pretty closely guarded secret, with only a few close friends and families knowing the details.  We did this for a few reasons but the main one was that with this gypsy lifestyle and our own tendency to change our minds we were afraid to give a destination and then.... not get there.

I am actually a little worried about telling everyone our plans in detail now, even though we are actually setting sail tomorrow morning, for the very same reason.   The trip that we now set out on is really a little mind blowing and I know from experience that there are so many things that can happen to cause a voyage of this magnitude to fail.  I do think that sharing it all with you now will, in the end, show the twists and turns and changes in plans as the ocean takes her toll on both the vessel and the crew.  You can share all of this with us from the very beginning.


Leg #1
St Thomas to Panama and a transit of the Panama Canal

Tomorrow morning we will drop the mooring, fuel and water the boat, and with light wind from the ENE expected, pop the spinnaker for the 1200 mile, 8 to 10 day sail to Panama.  We have an agent booked who will take care of all of the paper work for both clearing in and out of Panama and for the measurement of the boat and transit of the canal.  Our total fees for this service, including the actual canal fees is $2500. Thanks to our agent, we also have a slip reserved on the caribbean side of the canal for one week prior to our transit.  During that time we will provision the boat for our Pacific voyage.  The cost of food in Panama is WAY less than here in St Thomas so right now the boat is only provisioned for our first 10-day leg.  I have recently read, "The Path Between the Seas" by David McCullough.  If you are interested in the history of the canal I HIGHLY recommend this book.  I will be teaching the kids about the history of the canal while we are in Panama.

Leg #2
Panama to Galapagos

Once we transit the canal we will sail to the Las Perlas to decompress for a couple of days before we set sail for the Galapagos.

The voyage from Panama to Galapagos is about 1100 miles as well.

The situation with the Galapagos is that you are not actually allowed to clear out with the Galapagos as your destination and to get an actual Visa to visit is very expensive and difficult when arriving on a private vessel.  There is a little loophole though that allows you to stop for repairs and you are then issued a visa for 10 days to 3 months at the discretion of the person checking you in.

All boats need repairs of some sort after a 1000 mile voyage so this should work for us.  Once we are cleared in we are not allowed to take the boat to any of the other islands so unless we can afford to take a tour or something our experience of the Galapagos will really only be on one island.

Leg #3
Galapagos to Hawaii

This leg is BY FAR the longest leg of our voyage.  The difficulty in sailing to Hawaii is that we have to cross the ITCZ (Inter-tropical-convergence-zone), which is an area of unsettled weather, usually very little wind and a lot of squalls.  It is better known as "The Doldrums."  There are two ways to sail from Galapagos to Hawaii.  The shortest route is a straight shot and it is about 4000 miles.  The route recommended for sailing vessels is actually to sail east, using the trade winds and only turn north crossing the ITCZ after gaining a lot of your east.  The disadvantage of this second route is that it adds almost 1000 miles to an already VERY long voyage.

We are fortunate to have a great weather forecaster in Bob Cook of Ocean Pro Weather.  Our friend and former Boss, Bob Thomas, the owner of Sweetest Thing has generously agreed to pay Ocean Pro for almost 2/3 of the weather forecasts we need for our entire voyage!  With Bob Cooks advice and real time forecasting we will be able to make choices on routing depending on what the weather is actually doing.  Bob is our "Ace-in-the-hole"  for this HUGE passage and we will be relying on him heavily to keep us sailing.

We will be at sea for more than a month on this leg of the trip and our plan is to make landfall in Hilo on the Big Island.  We plan to stay in Hawaii for a month or so and make our way to Honolulu where we will meet up with our son Jimmy who will be flying in to meet us.  His plan is to join us for the summer and for the final two legs of our Voyage.

Leg #4
Hawaii to ..... wait for it..... ALASKA

Yep... that's the plan.  We will set sail from Hawaii for the 2600 mile passage to Sitka, Alaska.  From there we will spend the summer slowly working our way down the inside passage to Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

We are all super excited to spend some time in a whole new latitude and to see wildlife that my younger kids can only imagine having grown up in the tropics.

Leg #5  Final Destination

Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Bellingham, Washington

At the end of August we will do an offshore leap down the coast to Washington State and our final destination, Rebecca's hometown, and the town we met in and were married in 25 years ago, Bellingham.  All of Beck's family lives here and we are really looking forward to spending a couple of years reconnecting and even doing some land travels while we are there.  The plan is to stay on the boat at a marina but we also know how cold it gets there so we will see how that goes.

Wow... Yeah when it's written out is sure looks crazy.

I will be sending out a blog to my buddy Mike Hanson who will be updating the blog for us while we are gone.  We will also be using our Delorme "In-Reach" again.  There was a little confusing during the delivery of Dulcinea because it showed Wandering Dolphin on the map.  That was only because I was using Wandering Dolphin's "In-reach" locator.  This time it really will be Wandering Dolphin on the move.  Let me share with you how that thing works.  The "In-reach" allows us to post REAL-TIME posts from anywhere in the world, while we are on the passage.  We can tell you when the dolphins are playing with the boat, or the kids catch a tuna as it actually happens.  The other VERY cool thing is that anyone can go to our Mapshare page and by clicking on any one of the little Wandering Dolphin positions it will bring up a little box with "Locate" as one of the options.  Anyone anywhere can just click "locate" and it will show you our actual position and course/speed in real time.  We have already paid for this service and we hope people will use it.

The other thing you can do, and we like it when you do, is to send us FREE messages to our Iridium SAT phone which is always on.  The phone gives a little double "beep" when we get a new message and the whole crew jumps up to see who is sending us a message.

To send us a message

Go to
Enter this number in the first box:  881632521786
Where it says email, just put in your name because we cannot send emails out anyway.

enter your message # (example 2/3).  You can only enter 160 characters per message so you might need to split your messages into several parts.  Put your name somewhere in the message so the crew
knows who is sending the message.

Tonight we would like to say Thank You to St Thomas and especially to Water Island and Honeymoon Bay!  You will always live in our hearts.


  1. Rocking Dude! So awesome that your taking the leap! Cant wait to hear about your trip and watch your progress! Fair winds!

  2. Well that is quite a plan. You may get to see us again, because our plan is to retire from the cruising life after this season and become land cruisers. We bought a 40' RV last summer, and that will be home. The NW is definitely on our short list of destinations.

    Safe travels. We'll be following.