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post #33 of Old 02-07-2008 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
Well, you seem to have your sailorly priorities in order.

I think this brings up a fairly interesting debating point. Vega is evidently an experienced sailor, as is his wife, as not to be so doing a Hawa'ii to Vancouver trip in a 27-footer would be the height of folly.

But it does bring to the fore the need to "stay in touch" via satphones, SSBs and other wonders of the 21st century. A well-found small boat can make all sorts of trips with a handheld VHF, a sextant, an almanac and a compass.

Our distant ancestors were doing this sort of thing in the misty past of 1985 or thereabouts. Legend has it that virgins set out so equipped in vessels of possibly stone construction called Kon-Tes-sas or some no doubt native moniker, and said virgins, relying only on ancient scrolls called "almanacs" and the mysterious force called "WWV" and their innate, incorruptible virtue crossed seas and broad oceans, possibly ramming dragons in the process.

But because you can reach out and touch someone from the middle of an ocean passage (assuming, naturally, that your wallet is thicker than your hull lay-up), does this mean you should, or more to the point, that you must?

I am surprised to hear that a 27 footer could carry enough solar panels to run a watermaker off the house batteries, because I'm pretty sure that the fuel carried would be well under 100 hours of engine run time (plus a likely maximum alt output of 55 amps). Throw in a 150 watt SSB so you can say "still here!" to lubbers? You might be able to report dying of thirst!

There are many reasons to go to sea, and one of them is to "get away". The hazards are known, and the consequences of poor decision-making, indifferent attention to maintenance or sheer dumb luck (a bow ornament on a container ship, or the dinner of a rogue wave) are largely final and not fixable by any amount of SAR heroics, worthy though they might be.

The wife had it right: She provisioned for 90 days in anticipation of 30 days, and insisted on throwing in a little watermaker. 55 days was a longer passage, not a *bad* passage nor one that would elicit much comment before our modern world insisted on shrinking the globe to a set of time zones and due dates. The sea, magnificent in its indifference, has the last word.
I could't have said it better myself Valiente. I wouldn't say that we are Master Mariners but we have made Pacific crossings before, together and independently.

The solar panels worked fine until we reached lat 35 or so. After that we had to run the engine a few hours every four or five days. bear in mind that we do not have a lot of electronics on board. Our three GPS units are all handheld. We did not run any electric lights while more than 200 miles from land or unless we sighted a ship (We didn't see another vessel for over a month). The radio was kept off unless a ship was in view until we checked in with Tofino Traffic at the entrance to the strait of Juan de Fuca. In short, just about the only thing electrical that we did use was the watermaker.

As for our families; We told them that the trip would probably be about thirty days but that it might take forty five or more. It wasn't the family that reported us overdue - It was the American Vega Association Rendezvous organizers when we didn't show up for the party. No doubt, knowing us, they figured it had to be serious if we missed a party.

(By the way, click here for information about the 2008 Pacific Northwest Vega Rendezvous)

We were just overdue, not missing. There was no search although we were warmly welcomed by the US Coast Guard at Neah Bay. Two Coasties took our lines as we docked and one of them handed Laura his cell phone and said "Call your mother"

At the risk of provoking the handwringers: When did it become such a necessity to be able to call someone from anywhere on the planet? Where did this idea come from that you must have the ability to call and tell everyone you're alright, or if not call for the helicopter to come zooming in over the horizon to rescue you if the weather gets too bad or the ice maker goes on the fritz. More to the point, why undertake a sea voyage if you can't bear to be off the leash?

If you have the money and don't mind spending a lot of time fixing or worrying about electronic gadgets, by all means, knock youself out. Pore over catalogs and debate the relative merits of this or that satelite phone or personal gps locator beacon but you would do well to bear in mind that you cannot buy safety at any price. If you want to be safe, remain securely tied to the dock at all times. Because a thousand miles from land, chances are if you really need it, help will not get there in time even if you can call. Furthermore, if you think you have a right to expect a taxpayer funded government agency to come bail you out of a situation you are not prepared to deal with you shouldn't be out there in the first place.

That's my opinion. I'm sure you have yours. Everyone does.

I shall speak of this no more.

Malie ke kai
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