April 15, 2011

Sail to the south Pacific-Day 6: Safety Net

Last night Evan caught sight of a boat. It was lit up like a fishing boat but seemed to be drifting slowly along. Though the wind had dropped, the seas were still sub-alpine--but the bright moon made the whole scene seem friendly. He pondered the boat on radar and wondered if someone in our mini-fleet had pulled ahead during the day's high winds. When he called out on the VHF he discovered it was a sailboat on it's way to the South Pacific, but it was one we hadn't heard of yet. Passing within two-miles we wondered at the odds of encountering another boat out here...

One of the questions people (parents) frequently ask us is if we are buddy boating across the Pacific. 'Safety in numbers,' is the thought people have,'It's good to have someone nearby--just in case'.
The fact we left La Cruz with such a large fleet was a lovely fluke--it's an amazing thing to know that in our little 100-mile patch of the sea there are about seven boats, all heading the same direction. But we're all moving at different speeds and each handle the conditions in a different way and at this point we're probably a few hours sail from our closest neighbour.
We do still give each other an element of comfort--and our twice-daily informal radio nets (we haven't joined the main nets because the two-week gap in departures means there are no boats mid-fleet to pass on relays) give us the chance to give our positions, compare weather notes, ponder mechanical problems and crack a few jokes.
Essentially though we are on our own. And other than last night, we haven't had visual contact with another boat since the day after leaving. And even our VHF range (which allows us to talk when we like and not on a pre-arranged schedule) is only good up to 20-25 miles (at best).

The thing is--there really are no safety nets out here. It's up to each boat to plan for its own wellbeing. We have to assume that if something goes wrong there is no one who can come help. Every boat is its own little universe. And while we'd go help any boat that needs assistance--we really prefer knowing that we're out here with a bunch of smart, well-prepared people who won't need rescuing, because rescues can really mess up cruises.

But if you are our parents, and you're reading this, of course we're buddy boating.

Had a fantastically fast run of 178 miles yesterday--which is a new record for us. Won't be anywhere near that quick today because the wind dropped last night. Still haven't hit the NE trades and wondering if we ever will. We're not to concerned though. Conditions continue to be lovely.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

No comments: