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adventures

preparing for an ocean passage

There’s so much to say about this adventure! The first portion covers all of the preparation, and the second portion is bits from the journal that I did my best to keep up on daily. There is so much I want to cover! Since I’m still slacking on getting the photos together, I’ll just post the first portion for now. SO SORRY this isn’t the whole enchilada.

About my 18 days at sea… How can I convey how beautiful watching the sunrise is? How can I get across how scary it was seeing a bright light straight ahead on my early morning watch only to find out it was Venus rising in the sky with the sun? How can words ever describe how soothing the swells of the ocean are? I tried reading books several times, but because of the heat and the swells I usually ended up falling asleep. And why did nobody ever tell me about sail jellies?!?!? A lot of this, for me, can’t be put into words. The whole trip, it was simply perfect. I would do it again in a heart beat. How do you end up doing an ocean crossing? There is a decent amount of preparation for the crew that I have tried to detail below. Surprisingly, you don’t have to know everything to cross an ocean. Just don’t do it by yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing!

The Preparation

Getting time off work can be difficult, because these trips never go as planned. You never know what the weather is going to be doing, you never know if equipment is going to fail and need to get repaired, etc. Giving yourself an additional week or two on top of how long the journey should take would be a safe bet.

Talk to people! I never used to see myself as a social butterfly, I was painfully shy for many years. The tables have turned, and I really do enjoy talking to people and hearing about other peoples boats, sailing stories, racing mishaps, etc. I put the word out to a few key people that I was available to do a delivery and I was contacted by several people almost immediately. Between that and volunteering at the racing events, the only way you will get on a crew would be to talk to people and put yourself out there! If you are confident in your abilities, you will be seen as a competent crew member.

Having the right gear will make your trip much more enjoyable. Thankfully, the first boat I was supposed to cross on had given me an extensive list of gear they suggested I buy. I used *almost* everything. If anyone is ever interested in seeing this list, I can definitely post it or email it to you.

Seasickness medication is also a big deal. I’ve never experienced any kind of motion sickness or sea sickness, so I was confident that I wouldn’t experience anything at sea either. I was right. I’d put on the scopolamine patch (pictured below) when Blue Crush set out, and I was the only person who wasn’t ill. Unfortunately, we had to come back to land after experiencing some problems and by the time I got out on Knopkierrie I was on the tail end of the patch (it only lasts three days). Again, I experienced no sea sickness. On the third day at sea, the winds picked up to 23 knots for an hour or two and I got a bit queasy then but nowhere near actually throwing up. All I had to do was get up and move. And burp. For some reason I burped at sea a lot…

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The scopolamine patch wouldn’t stay on, so I went to my go-to solution: duct tape!

Having clothing that covers you but breathes is imperative! It’s hot out there, and being fair skinned there’s only so much sunblock I can put on before I just need to get out of the sun or cover up. Unfortunately, on Blue Crush I tried to be all cute and it backfired (below).

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What I did…

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…and what I should have done.

I got very sunburnt in the first picture. We were only out for a couple of hours! I wore my Buff like the above photo for the rest of the first day on Knopkierrie. I looked like I was going to rob a bank, but whatever. My lips were incredibly tender for several days as was the rest of my face. I eventually lost this hat too, it didn’t have straps to keep it on my big ol’ head. Sorry Captain Ron.

Make sure you get along with the crew! It’s really funny how I ended up switching boats so quickly, and it turns out I got along much better with the random boat I had no idea I’d be spending 2 1/2 weeks on than the boat I’d planned on being on for almost a month. Our crew on Knopkierrie didn’t have any issues getting along. We all pulled our watches, cooked, helped each other try to catch sail jellies, we all watched the sunsets together, looked for trash together, etc. The conversation never really ran dry in my opinion. I was perfectly content just staring out into the distance, but that’s what we were all there for… right guys?

It’s good to get mentally prepared too! I’d spoken to several people through out the past couple of years about what it’s like to cross an ocean. I’d heard all kinds of experiences, but in general the gist of the trip I was about to have went something like this “You’re doing the delivery back from Hawaii? That’s the one nobody wants to do because you’re beating north so far for the first few days that you’re just cold and wet the entire time, and then you get into the high and there’s no wind and you have to motor for several hundred miles. It gets really boring. Good luck!” I was also warned that I’d hate a certain type of food after eating so much of it. “You’ll never want XYZ again!” they all said.

Keep an open mind, tough!! What one boat experiences, even if they leave just a few hours after you do from the same location it can be completely different from what you experience.

Bring goodies to keep entertained. I had a Kindle, but it broke a few days into the trip. I also had music on my phone, but honestly I only needed it a couple of times during night watches to keep awake. Some people really rely on these materials to keep busy, although I didn’t necessarily need them on a daily basis. This is what I typically brought with me on watch.

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Sunblock, long sleeved shirt, water, books, GoPro, journal

I kept a detailed log of the fun happenings, so the below portion is going to be my day-to-day meanderings around the boat. The boat, again, is a 37′ Pacific Seacraft. I really loved the way it sailed. It was so smooth, it handled the swells beautifully, and didn’t need to be reefed until 20 knots of wind. I’d say this would be my dream boat, but my boat is eerily similar to this boat and it *might* handle just as beautifully!

UP NEXT… A Sailor’s Log! Journal entries from the 18 day passage.