Navigationally Challenged?

Rob always jokes that it’s his job to keep the boat running and my job to figure out where to take it. That works really well for me. When we left the Northwest I convinced him that Alaska was truly on the way to Mexico from Seattle. It was a nice trip. Now we’re in the Marshall Islands (7N 172E) and I’ve convinced him that Hong Kong (22N 114E), which is 3,500 miles northwest of here, is indeed on the way home for us. On the way to Hong Kong we’ll stop in Micronesia, Palau, and the Philippines. North of Hong Kong is Taiwan and Japan, where we’ll stop on our way back to Alaska. We’ll close our Pacific loop at Sitka, where we hope to make landfall in late June.

As far as Majuro goes, I’ll keep it on the “if you’ve got nothing good to say, say nothing at all” list. The other cruisers here tell us we really should get out to some of the other Marshall Island atolls, but we’re done here and ready to start on our trip home. The saddest part for us is that Tim got a job at Kwajalein, and Masquerade is on the way here. We last spent time in the same anchorage in Mexico, but actually saw very little of them after parting ways in Vancouver Island in August of ’06. That’s the thing about cruising – plans change for everyone at the most incredible rate. But Tim has got a great gig lined up at Kwaj. We’re really sad we won’t be here when they arrive, but our timing is based on weather, which dictates that we leave as soon as possible.

As we head west we’ll pass through the Federated States of Micronesia, where we’ll get a 30 day visa. We’ll visit Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap in those 30 days. If we’re lucky we’ll get to dive in Chuuk and see the Japanese wrecks on the bottom of the atoll. There have been some challenges lately with the government letting yachties dive in the lagoon, so we’ll see what we get when we get there. Hopefully we’ll get 30 days in Palau and get to do some diving and exploring there. Then it’s on to the Philippines, where we may or may not linger. Likely we’ll just coast hop up the west coast and cross over into Hong Kong. There we’ll stay until the change of seasons. What we think we know is that the northeast trades die down as the southwest monsoon season sets in. We want to sneak out between the two and travel north into Japan. So we’ll leave Hong Kong in late April or early May, to get up into Japan. There we’ll watch the weather locally for typhoons, while keeping an eye on the North Pacific for the storms to settle down for our passage across.

It’s about the same distance across the North Pacific from Japan to Sitka as it was across the South Pacific from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. This passage will be nothing like the other, though. The cold water and cold weather make such a huge difference. It’s definitely a tougher time staying warm at night, and just zaps your energy. But knowing we’ve done that distance before makes it infinitely doable for us.

We’re working on the to-do list now, which is actually pretty short. Our plan is to leave here Sunday or Monday and stay out at Enemonet for a few days finishing up some varnishing. There is a vet clinic this coming weekend in Majuro, with vets flying in from the States to neuter some of the hundreds of animals roaming around the atoll. Our hope is that we find a kitten during the clinic who wants to join us and keep Maya company for the next 9,000 miles as we travel home. Hopefully we find another perfect boat cat who doesn’t get sick on passage and helps entertain Maya.

Today on Yohelah we’re checking things off the list and getting ready to start our last big adventure on this Pacific loop.