Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pacific Ocean Crossing Preparation


The Terrapin crew is less than `10 days away from setting sail across the Pacific towards French Polynesia. For the past two years we've extended our arms to give hugs to friends who've left us dockside as they've sailed west.  Finally, it's our turn. Just as important as it is to have your boat in what one conceives as "ready" condition for such as a passage, it is important that all crew is mentally ready.

For us getting ready meant spending more money on the boat in the past two months than the past two years; 500 watts of new solar, new  stainless steel davits and solar array, new handheld satellite tracking device, back up auto pilot, MPPT charge controller, back up chart plotters, international health insurance, bottom paint,  etc. etc. etc. 

We brought with us from the States most of what we needed in order to get Terrapin ocean ready. The tricky part was tracking down a welder who could actually deliver on what was being promised. After 4 weeks, several threats, demanding our money back and a different welder, we were able to get all of our welding accomplished. 

If you are considering crossing the Pacific Ocean towards French Polynesia here are some of our suggestions.

Join the Pacific Puddle Jump (a phrase coined by the editors of Latitude 38 magazine editors) sponsored by Latitude 38 magazine. Due to the presence of this magazine primarily on the west coast of the US, roughly only 30% of all boats making the passage are signed up to do the "Pacific Puddle Jump". Each year approximately 300+ boats leave from the west coast of the States, Mexico, Central America and Galapagos.  Signing up for this free event will provide a tremendous amount of information, support, resources and the ability to join others in receiving a bond exemption upon entering French Polynesia. 


Find a "Puddle Jump" friendly area to prepare. We chose Banderas Bay, Mexico as our stagging area to get ready and will have spent 7 weeks in La Cruz preparing. Other "Puddle Jump" friendly areas include the Panama City on the Pacific side of Panama as well as Shelter Bay Marina located at the Caribbean entrance to the Panama  Canal. 

Many of the boat anchored in La Cruz will be crossing the Pacific 

Banderas Bay offers a variety of ongoing seminars all designed for those who are planning to sail across the Pacific. We had started attending the seminars a year before our planned departure as a way to better prepare our boat and our minds. Some of the seminar topics (mostly held in La Cruz) include:
Rigging
Weather and Navigation
Fiberglass Repair Workshop
When big things break
Provisioning
Losing a rudder

Fiberglass repair workshop

In addition to stocking up on food needed for the 3 week passage, load up on food you care not to spend an arm and a leg for once you've made landfall. Food in French Polynesia is expensive....especially after living in Mexico! Our loot includes 70+ cans of chicken, 50+ can of chili, 10+ pounds of masa to make tortillas,  more than 3000 liquid ounces of beer, 100+ packets of oatmeal and enough granola bars to orbit the Earth. $900 USD food + adult libations.


In La Cruz, charts are provided by Cruiser's Comfort (near the marina) to be borrowed and copied at Office Depot in Puerto Vallarta. $18 USD to make copies.

Solar panels in Bucerias were a score! Less than a $1 USD a watt. 
Pondering how to get the new solar on the new davits.

The most exciting part of preparing to cross and ocean besides watching your money evaporate is playing Tetris with all the food purchased. Thankfully the family before us complete refit the settee area to store enough food for approximately 4/5 months. When exactly is a good time to stop purchasing food? We figured when the girls started complaining they could no longer find their clothes through the bags of beans and canned food stored in their closets maybe we should pump the breaks. 


And the most important piece of preparation for us.....finding crew! Adding another adult into the mix was essential for our family. Allowing each adult a full 8 hours off in between manageable 4 hour shifts and an extra adult in the event something were to happen to either myself or the Captain was a non-negotiable.  The Terrapin tribe is looking at a April 1st or thereabouts as a set sail date.