Which Way is Up?

We have two units in the cockpit we can see while driving the boat that display electronic charts. We left Seattle with just one – a trusty little Garmin plotter – but it failed us before our last trip across the equator when we discovered they didn’t have detailed charts for Micronesia (obviously not many people go this way). So we bought a chart chip for the Raymarine display that we use for radar and AIS. There are three ways you can orient the charts to display as you move – course up (planned), heading up (actual), or north up. I definitely prefer heading up, keeping the graphic of the boat always pointing to the top of the display.

When we left Majuro in February we had a route planned to head across Micronesia, into Asia, up through Japan and back to the Pacific Northwest. Three days ago we were stopped by another cruiser here who knows of our intention to sail north from here, and also knows that we have a cat onboard. Who would have guessed that Japan is rabies free and has strict rules about importing animals? Suddenly I’m in the internet cafe scrambling to find documentation and contact information for the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service folks. Just pondering the notion of a direct 5,500 mile trip home if we’re unable to stop in Japan was too painful to consider, so I started surfing a little bit. And what should appear on my browser? That Oracle job in Kwajalein that I had seen the posting for so many times before we were in the neighborhood. It had been reopened and posted two days earlier, so I emailed some folks in Kwajalein.

Now here we sit today with three options, only the worst of which is a sure deal. Will the hiring manager give me a shot at the Kwajalein job, and if so, will the timing work out for a job for Rob also? The course back to the Marshall Islands is east. Will the Japanese allow us to keep Maya onboard while we sail through Japanese waters (New Zealand will with very strict limitations – Hawaii will not)? The course to Japan is north. Or do we make the direct passage 5,500 mile trip home – the first 2,500 sailing to weather and the last 3,000 sailing in the very cold and contrary high latitudes of the North Pacific? The course home is northeast.

Which way is up?
Which way is up?

The good news is we’ve got time here to figure it out. Besides the fact that we love Palau, as US citizens we can stay for a year with no questions asked (that has something to do the the millions of dollars the US gives them every year). And the weather in Japan is still way too stormy to even consider sailing that way for probably another month. We’ll wait for emails from Japan and Kwajalein and hopefully hear something this week. And then we’ll plot a course on our charts and figure out which direction to point the boat, because today I have no idea which way is up.