Some people like to make plans. We used to like to make plans. Then we bought a boat and realized plans and boats go together like gravy and strawberry jam.
When ever anyone would ask Mark what his plans were, he would say "I hope to get out of Galveston Bay". He was hesitant to commit to anything more concrete because there seemed to be no end in sight for the refit of the boat. Now that we are making some progress on the check list (we now have a functional toilet. THIS IS BIG!) its time to start thinking about where we want to go with this soon to be sea worthy boat of ours. Mark has left the route planning to me which is great but also a bit daunting. You want bureaucracy and red tape? Start trying to make an itinerary which involves multiple countries, a boat, a crew of varying citizenship/passports and ages and then throw in treaties, Visa requirements, weather patterns, etc and you see why I now have a project to keep me busy for quite some time.
Originally, we thought we would tool around the Caribbean for a bit, then head across the Pacific. Now we are not so sure that this the best route for us. I know its what we are "supposed" to do. A run from the west coast of Mexico to the Marquesas is kind of like a sailing requirement. By looking at other options we know we are going to lose all of our sail cred. Wait a minute. We never had any sail cred so let's drag that map out again...
Mark has always wanted to sail to French Polynesia. Always as in from the time he first learned to sail almost 30 years ago. I am sort of an "okay, let's do it" kind of gal so I always assumed that would be the case. Now, we aren't so certain this is what we want to do. I know a Pacific crossing is de rigeur for cruising boats but we have a couple of reasons to reconsider at this point.
The first reason is that when pressed, Mark admitted his desire to do the South Pacfic has less to do with an interest in anthropology and more to do with the idea of being in an utterly gorgeous tropical location. The crossing would take the better part of a month to make landfall on said gorgeous tropical location. Meanwhile, the Caribbean is definitely happening and while it might not be quite so exotic and doesn't have the tropical mountain majesty of French Polynesia, it does have the advantage of requiring a heck of a lot less time in crossing. Heck of a lot as in you can hit a new island every other day or so.
The second reason? The big draw for a Pacific crossing for me was the lure of India. I have been seriously in love with the culture, art, religions and history of India since I was a little girl. India is my bucket list destination to be sure. I have heard from expat Indian friends over and over that I need to rethink visiting India with a teen aged daughter. The reasons why I need to rethink this are pretty well documented. Just Google "Eve teasing" and you see this is not a silly concern. Its something to seriously consider. I want to go to India more than anything, but this isn't just about me. I have two young daughters to consider and one would be 17 by the time we reach India.The prime target for Eve teasing- young, foreign and female. Everything could be fine but if luck is not on our side, it could be a seriously bad experience for my daughter. Since the area I want most to explore is inland and would require frequent use of public transportation and since public transit is ground zero for some really heinous behavior towards women, ts losing its appeal.
The third reason? After getting to India we would be faced with a whole bunch of suck. Heading through the upper Red Sea area and hoping its a quiet pirate season from the Somalis? Suck. Making it through the Red Sea up to the Suez canal? I am thinking that being on an American flagged vessel in Egypt right now might also be full of suck. The other option is to sail around the Cape and while I would love to see South Africa, the Cape is for serious sailors. That is certainly not me at this point in time. I might consider rounding the Cape after a few years of blue water sailing but today, where I sit just now with 2 young girls its sounding like something better left off the itinerary for now.
So. What are we thinking? Currently we are planning to have a 6 month shakedown in the Caribbean. We will figure out what equipment we really need to add, what changes we need to make to the boat and whether or not we need additional crew for a big passage. We are thinking of then returning to the US during hurricane season to make those changes and adjustments. After that, hopefully an abbreviated run through the upper Caribbean before heading for Bermuda, the Azores, Europe and the Mediterranean.
We are thinking of Europe for a few reasons. First of all, we want Maura to get a good feel for it before she leaves for University. There is a very good likelihood we will go back to work in Europe after our sabbatical and we want her to have a feel for it so she can make an informed decision after University as to whether she wants to live in the US or the UK as an adult. Another reason is that there are opportunities for Mark to pick up some consulting work in the UK or Norway which would help to replenish the coffers a bit. After looking at prices in Europe, this might be more important than any other! Then there is the added bonus of being in close proximity to our family in Scotland. The thought of them being able to just hop over and meet us is a very enticing thought indeed.
So there ya have it. Not really a "plan" but an idea we are seriously looking into and as close to a plan as we can get right now. I am in the midst of not only figuring out routing and weather patterns, but digging into VAT laws and Schengen treaty issues. (So far what I have learned is that the EU really, really loves paperwork and forms) Nothing is written in stone and we are just beginning to really firm up our "ideas" and at this point we refuse to use the P word. Stay tuned...