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We’re On Our Way To French Polynesia!

Dear Family and Friends,

 

By the time most of you read this, we will be underway, our first day at sea, in a month-long journey to Hiva Oa, French Polynesia. It’s surreal to even write those words and really difficult to explain all that we have done to prepare for a passage of this magnitude. We are VERY ready to transition from passage planning and preparation to the actual passage.

 

Let’s talk about the passage for a minute. We anticipate being at sea for 27-30 days, moving continuously and not making any stops. Someone will be on duty 24-7. We have a detailed “Float Plan” that has been shared with several trustees who will manage communications with the US Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.

 

We hope that you will follow our journey across the Pacific Ocean through our boat tracker (see link below). Every day at noon (FYI - boat noon will change as we cross FIVE time zones), we will post a daily update at this tracker link: https://www.sailingblownaway.com/where-are-we

 

For those of you on No Foreign Land, we will post the same update here: https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/sailingblownaway/journey

 

Communication with us remains the same (though please don’t send videos/photos or big files) UNLESS Starlink breaks down. In that case, we will convert to Satellite communications. If that happens, you will not get weekly emails, but videos will still post to YouTube on Saturday morning, as they are in a queue.

 

Back to what happened this week…Since returning to Panama City over a week ago, we worked tirelessly to be ready to depart for French Polynesia today. And, we were rewarded for our week-long sprint. Everything is done, and our weather router said “Go now or you won’t have wind for weeks.” The bad news is that we won’t have a lot of wind on our journey to Galapagos (just passing it, not stopping), but the prospect of sitting and waiting for a month until wind does come (if it does) is not something we could stomach! The reason for the lack of wind is that the strong North winds have subsided so once we get out of the wind tongue from Panama City towards Malpelo, the wind dies. That means 5-6 days of motoring to get to Galapagos (vs. 2-3 days), in hopes that we catch the current and the trade winds. Our friends and crew, Franceso and Yuka arrived yesterday with bad colds so we are trying our best to stay upwind from them. They are troopers and ready to help us in every way.

 

On top of all the other things we had to do, we found a weevil infestation on board. In our 3.5 years of sailing, we have been really fortunate not to lose much of anything to weevils and bugs. But, given how much we stockpiled here in tropical Panama and Colombia, we thought it would be a good idea to vacuum all grains with a food saver. I started pulling the bags of rice, pasta, beans, and flour out of their locker and quickly noticed a lot of bugs moving about. Ugh. It was a mess! It took me about 6 hours to shake all the bags of rice, lentils, and beans through a sieve to remove the dead and live weevils. Then, I went to the next locker in the other hull and found a whole new community of their relatives. Yikes. After another 6 hours of cleaning, shaking rice/beans/flour through a sieve and vacuum sealing, I was finally done. Removing the oxygen will prevent new bugs from hatching and hopefully kill the remaining. We are thankful for a little extra FREE protein in our future meals! But, I am not naïve enough to think the problem is gone…it will be a battle to rid the boat of these pests!

 

One of the best adventures of this week was returning to the French Embassy to have our long stay visa sticker inserted in our passports. It felt like a huge moment, a milestone. It’s the one thing that prevents cruisers from leaving Panama and with an 8 week back up now, our friends in waiting are getting anxious. We are so glad the process is complete and we are legally ready to leave Panama and arrive in French Polynesia. This document gives us a year to explore the country and then decide if we want to extend the visa and stay longer. Time will tell.

 

Our anchorage outside of Panama City is filling up with boats, transiting the canal and preparing to cross the Pacific. We met with a couple of them this week to talk about wind and weather. It’s so nice to have others in the “same boat”, but in their own boat doing the same thing. And, for one of the couples, this will be the third time crossing so we have learned a lot from them. They also informed us about their parasail tearing issues, which is the primary sail we will use for the crossing. Tearing has been an issue with many of our friend’s parasails and now we think we know why. Thankfully, we were able to contact our sail repair guy, the one who sewed our genoa, and give him our parasail to make some quick changes. We just got it back and we are really hoping this makes all the difference. Again, time will tell.

 

Our final day in Panama was busy. We took an Uber up to the fresh fruits and veggies market to buy enough eggs and freshies for 4 people for one month. All of it has to stay out of the fridge since we literally have NO room in the fridge or freezer. Then we picked up our crew and after getting them settled on the boat, we all walked straight over to customs and immigration to clear out of Panama. Then we oriented Francesco and Yuka to our boat and prepped it for an ocean passage! In the evening, we were taken to dinner (and interviewed) by one of the owners of the marina we stayed in on the Caribbean side. He wanted direct customer feedback to improve services for cruisers. It was nice to be treated to dinner on our final night in Panama!

 

Don’t miss our photos this week as we had a very sweet encounter with one of the resident sloths! While we are at sea, we will continue our Saturday morning blogs including the weekly video, but we will not include photos due to the cost of uploads. We have to pay $2/GB, and that will add up quickly.

 

 

VIDEO (Real Date: December 2023): This video showcases our stop in the historic cove and town of Portobello, founded in the late 1500s. Amazingly, four of the forts are still standing with canons overlooking the deep water harbor.  

 

Here is the link to the 14-minute video: https://youtu.be/FS4BG5Lvncc

 

Lots of love,

E&B

 

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