Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Captain on the move....

This was our back yard in January, unusual for Victoria....lasted less than a week when the rains returned!
This blog has been quiet for a while....transition stage I guess!  Sorry to all the emails I have not gotten back to since Xmas.  Been a busy time and the months are flying by.
The Captain will fly back to Toketie in Australia in April while the First Mate keeps the home fires burning back in Victoria.  It is a big change for us but for now the full time cruising lifestyle is on hold.
We never set out to prove anything to ourselves or anyone else.  Since we left in 2006, we have lived the experience a day at a time and made our decisions according to the seasons.  All along we maintained that we would continue cruising as long as we were healthy, we could afford it and we were enjoying it.  Well, a lot of water has passed under the keel and a lifetime of experiences that few people will ever have.  But those who have followed this blog will have shared in the difficult times as well.  From the knockdown out of Tonga to a cyclone and close encounter with a reef in Fiji, we picked ourselves up and kept going.  The flood in Australia was very hard and we could have lost the boat or more in that one.  The power of the river was incredible but we survived, unlike some, and after a brief period of land travel, decided to give it another chance.  The plan was to continue to Darwin, then Cocos Keeling and on to Thailand and Malaysia, but part way up the Queensland coast the old diesel engine packed it in.  So we spent two months and all our cruising kitty replacing it and would have had to hurry not to miss the cruising window going West.  So one day as we were sailing past Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday Islands, we decided to slow down and enjoy the fabulous Barrier Reef area and hung around for another two months exploring the islands.  With another cyclone season approaching, we lifted the boat on to land in Townsville and flew home to family and friends in BC.
We had decided not to continue West to Indonesia and Thailand.   Days of motoring in calms to get there was not appealing and our land travel there gave us the impression that the violent tropical weather patterns would keep us looking over our shoulders and never completely relaxing.  That combined with the increasing levels of piracy in the Indian Ocean and global terrorism seemed to take the romance out of the adventure.  There are few alternative destinations once you reach Australia.  The trade winds that carried us across the South Pacific Ocean were now a barrier to returning.  The Southern Ocean is an option used by some.  Here the Westerlies continue their relentless journey around the globe, raising huge seas and cold air.  Toketie could handle it, no doubt, but for us it would be an ordeal.  North to the Louisiades, the Solomons, the Marshall Islands, all remote isolated areas, was the only feasible route if we wished to bring Toketie back to Vancouver Island.  But this 6000+ mile voyage with only two stops for fuel and provisions would not be an easy task.  High import duties and a slow market made selling in Australia a desperate option.
I have not cast the net wide for crew at this time.  There are a few people interested but it is a major undertaking and would require experience and commitment.  I am still open to attempting it this year but realistically it looks like next season before I am ready.  There is roughly a three month window, June-August, where a boat could leave the cyclones in the Western Pacific and arrive on the West coast of British Columbia before the winter storms set in.  There is the famous 'island of floating plastic' as well as the debris from the Tsunami in Japan last year that lie on the route, as well as an equator crossing and the infamous Tropical Convergence Zone, an area of unpredictable weather patterns, from thunderstorms to calms.  And it is unclear how far North a sailboat would have to travel before catching the Westerlies that blow from Tokyo to Vancouver.  Anyone with experience, knowledge or an interest in this passage is welcome to contact me through the comments field on the blog or directly if you have our email.
So the Captain will return to see how Toketie has weathered the wind, rain, and humidity of the season and make sure all systems are still functional.  I will post an update on what I find when I arrive and keep this site up to date on any ongoing plans.
Thanks to everyone who has shared this amazing experience with us.  Comments are always welcome (except from those robots trying to sell us jewelry).......
Fair winds and calm seas!