People don’t share their dreams often enough. Dreams are what fuel our adventures. They’re what make all the work to get there worth it. We’re happy to share now that in one week we’re quitting our jobs and taking off for a year or more of travel, both sailing and land/air travel.
We’ve had this dream in the works for a while now but weren’t able to share it until we had told our teams at work. The idea is to sail for 6 months, April thru September, and then in October take a Transpacific repositioning cruise on Royal Caribbean (we’ll be taking a boat across the Pacific, just one much larger than ours!) to Sydney, Australia. From Sydney we’ll explore for a while, hopping over to New Zealand and then most likely either SE Asia or South America, getting back to the Seattle area or San Juans in January or February of 2019.
In 2019 spring/summer, we’ll probably do another extended season of Pacific Northwest cruising. To say we’re excited currently would be an understatement – this is such a big life change that we’re a confusing mess of anticipation and anxiety.
Our Sailing Plans / Route
In early April we’ll leave on a relaxed, slow schedule through the San Juans, Gulf Islands, Johnstone, Desolation Sound, Broughtons, and Haida Gwaii (at least 2 weeks there), and then sail down the west coast of Vancouver Island to get back in the San Juans area by late July. Our plan is to finish major passages by August because it typically has little wind, and we’d rather hang out and paddleboard in the San Juans than do a lot of motoring. In early September we may head up to Desolation Sound for a couple weeks.
There are a few things we’re excited about with this plan:
- We think leaving early is the way to go. If you want to sail, and don’t mind a little cold and rain, the months of April, May and June provide some great winds for getting north. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from S/V Yahtzee, who started north in late March last year.
- Heading north early also means we’ll be ahead of most of the crowds – many empty or uncrowded anchorages.
- We’ll finally get to do the full west coast of Vancouver Island, southbound the whole way. Our two prior trips there involved both northbound and southbound travel, and didn’t take us past Nootka Sound. We’re excited to visit the even more remote northern sounds of Van Isle.
- We’re really excited about Haida Gwaii – it’s a remote island chain north of Vancouver Island and across Hecate Strait, known for a rich history of traditional First Nations settlements (the Haida people).
Although we have rough plans, we know not to get too set on any of this – our cruise has no agenda and plans can change. Even if we don’t reach Haida Gwaii, it won’t really matter because cruising is more about the journey to us.
Getting to Haida Gwaii
We’ve started doing some planning of how to get to Haida Gwaii, because it’s potentially the most challenging part of our route. We’re considering doing an overnight sail from the northern end of Vancouver Island to the southern end of Haida Gwaii, if conditions are right. We already have a mailed orientation packet for Gwaii Haanas national park, so we don’t need to head to the middle of Haida Gwaii before visiting the park.
We’ve never done an overnight sail though, and so there are some concerns about how to do shifts, whether there might be logs in the water, and crossings with fishing vessels or ships, particularly if we had a very dark night or fog.
The other option is going further up the mainland coast and then crossing Hecate Strait as a longish day trip (~60 miles). If we don’t have wind from the south or southeast, that’s what we’ll do.
Travel – The Second Half
As I mentioned, in October we’ll be taking a Transpacific cruise to Australia. It’s a 3-week long cruise with 2 stops in Hawaii and several in French Polynesia (Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia). You can see the route here. We’re really excited about the French Polynesia stops because we’ve always wanted to visit there, having read about the islands in many cruisers’ books. It won’t be the same experience as sailing there and visiting the less touristy islands, but we’ll get a taste of it (and maybe a couple tattoos!).
This cruise isn’t for the easily bored though – there are a lot of sea days, including one 6-7 day stretch. Fortunately we’re already pretty good at patience, having had a lot of training through sailing, and we love the sea.
We’ll spend 2-4 weeks in Australia and then hop over to New Zealand. We’re particularly excited about NZ because we’ve heard it’s like the Pacific Northwest (mountains, water, outdoors activities) but with hobbits and funny accents. We might do a camper-van rental to explore the more remote areas of the islands.
From there we’re not sure where we’ll go but most likely South America, depending on flights, with SE Asia as our next most likely option.
Update on Social Media
You may have noticed a few months ago I decided to step up our social media game – but didn’t really announce it except for adding some links to the site. I figured it’d give people more ways to stay connected. So we have an Instagram and a Facebook page:
One unexpected benefit I found is we reach more people and different audiences through different channels. Instagram especially has been a good choice – it has a lot of people who like good photography, and photographing our sailing adventures is my main passion. So Instagram feels more rewarding in some ways.
Preparing Our Lives for Long-Term Travel
There’s a lot to do in wrapping up our jobs and preparing to be away for a year or more. We’ve been quite busy these past few months, working through a seemingly never-ending task list. Happily, the boat project list is dwindling and everything is coming together amazingly well there.
Some other things we’ve been busy with are just logistics that you might not think of. A lot of “Internety” things – since we don’t have (or want) as much Internet while cruising, we’re trying to wrap up a lot of that now: making sure bills are on auto-pay, credit cards we don’t need are cancelled, taxes are filed, tablets + laptops are up-to-date with apps and media, etc.
Some of the things you might not think of are:
- Boat registration – renewal is due in June, but we’re doing it early so we don’t have to deal with forwarding of decals given we won’t have easy mail access after April.
- Mail – we use Dockside Solutions, which is super helpful. We’re setting things up with them now so that we can get important mail scanned and emailed or forwarded. And also monitoring our mail to make sure we stop junk or unneeded items.
- Health insurance on the WA health exchange.
- Cleaning and donating or selling stuff we don’t need.
- Provisioning – buying our local favorites from Trader Joe’s and other places.
- Getting permits in advance – for Gwaii Haanas park in Haida Gwaii.
- Loading tablets, laptops and phones with our marine charts, apps (weather, wind, AIS), useful files (anchorage guides, cooking recipes) and entertainment media (music, tv / movies, podcasts).
Cast Off Date: March 29
We’ve cancelled our moorage at Shilshole and will be casting off dock on March 29. It’s bittersweet because we’ve found a great community here on O dock, and we don’t know if we’ll be back.
Overall we’re really excited but have some trepidation as well. We know sailing is a lifestyle we love, but will we love it for 6 months? On our 3 month cruise two years ago we hit some cruising fatigue after month two. We’ll also face bigger weather and conditions this year, as we’ll be going more remote than ever before, and in the early season (April + May) we may hit weather rougher than the typical June, July, August conditions we experienced before.
But the boat is ready, and we’re ready. And we’re definitely eager for a break from the traffic and crowdedness of Seattle. We love the city, but it sure has changed a lot in the last few years. Or maybe it’s us that have changed. We’re ready to reconnect with nature, step out of cell phone culture, and live life at a slower pace, appreciating what truly matters. As the saying goes, the sea is calling and we must go.