Preparing for the Panama Canal and Pacific Ocean

Paul Theroux wrote

“Luxury spoils and infantilizes you and prevents you from knowing the world.”

 Since my 24 day sail from Ascension to the Caribbean I have not been more than a few days from a safe harbor, nice grocery stores, fuel, well charted anchorages, or access to whatever parts I may need.  I have sailed over 8,000 miles in the Atlantic and Caribbean in the last 2 years though all of those miles have within a few days sail from a safe harbor.  Getting myself and Tiama ready for my Pacific run home feels a lot like the first time I prepared for the South Pacific.  After almost 7 years of planning for the next passage, I’m finally starting to smell the finish line. The biggest obstacles appear to be getting the boat compliant with Galapagos regulations, canal fees, and covid restrictions in French Polynesia. The 7,000+ miles at sea and 2 equator crossings seems minor.  

Deciding on what work to do and what food to buy has always been a juggling act with money, time, and necessity. The boat is sound but needs a quick haul out for bottom paint, engine work, fumigation, and a few other things necessary to check into Galapagos. Provisioning and preparing for this last bit of my journey is a bit different than anything before. I have long passages and remote areas ahead yet only about 6 months until I’m planning on being home.  It is no longer a priority buying non perishable food in bulk whenever I see a cheap price though I still need to be prepared for 6 months and 7,000 miles of self reliance. 

Mentally preparing for this is a different story. I really enjoyed sailing the Bahamas and Virgin Islands during covid times. Seeing these places that are usually packed with tourists completely empty was amazing. I think going remote could be lonely though without other sailors. The only times I’ve spent a lot of time alone was through Soloman islands, Papua New Guinea, and eastern Indonesia.  Other than that there have almost always been other yachts following the same weather windows making my sea time my only real time without friends around. Most of the Pacific is closed with covid restrictions so it is unlikely many or any boats will be sailing at the same time as me. I’m really happy I’ll have some friends to come through the canal with me before I start my solo trip home.

I’ve dreamed of going to Galapagos since I was a kid. It is the place that first made me dream of sailing around the world. Without crowdfunding and the OCC challenge grant there is no way I would have been able to afford going there straight after the Panama canal. The Tuamotus and Marquesas also could not be a more perfect last destination on my way home. I guess it is time to stop being spoiled by sailing close to security and let the tradewinds fill Tiamas sails again.

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