We are not alone out here, not that we can see these boats.
Thanks to Starlink, we can do regular facetime calls with family and friends back home.
I would love to say that things have fallen into a routine. Lol, they haven’t. Each leg of this passage has had its challenges whether it has been too much wind, not enough wind, swell is big or lumpy, equipment challenges and lately the squalls.
There is just no “taking a break”. Sleep, meals, radio, navigation, wind/weather all yield to keeping the boat moving safely and comfortably. Sometimes sitting in one place and not sliding across the cockpit can be quite challenging. Round the clock watch for squalls, marine traffic or boat maintenance sets the pace. We prepared well and this is very close to what we expected other than enduring the marathon……and we kinda expected that too.
The boat has been great.
There will be some improvements made when we are in Tahiti including a new whisker pole. The Aluminum one I purchased in San Diego is a joke. That piece of equipment as well as a few others need an upgrades before we make our next 2000 mile trek. Sail changes and equipment need to be quick, safe and robust. All good stuff really and only lessons that can be learned over miles and events. In a much repeated famous quote by cruisers in a highly revered movie Captain Ron, our favorite Captain Ron hurry’s the new owners onto the boat and away from the dock. He says “If it’s gunna happen, it’s gunna happen out there”. So true. Very little happens at the dock…..or even in the very placid Mexican cruising grounds.
A couple of facts
-Sea Bella has covered over 2100 miles.
-800 miles remaining to Hiva Oa
-our daily miles have averaged 140 (high 177, low 75)
-our average speed has been 6 knots.
-some days/nights we get 6 hours of sleep and last night we got 2
-Cheeseburger in Paradise is taking on a whole new meaning.
-12’ following seas behind a boat down wind can challenge the best of boat cooks.
-sunsets and sunrises are the best time of day
-still loving every moment……
We are not alone…Over the last year of planning we have gotten to know many boats that are doing the same thing we are. Some of the folk are your typical sailors next door and some are sailing royalty that many Youtubers or sailing junkies would know. What we all have in common is that we most want to be seen and heard …if necessary.
We keep up in multiple ways over these journeys. Basically we have 3 methods:
-Satellite phones (Iridium, Garmin) coupled with PredictWind.
-SSB Radio Marine and Ham Frequencies.
-New this year is Starlink
VHF is almost useless as soon as you are offshore as it has a range of +/- 35 miles. NOBODY is that close. Ha
Our Satellite option is a Iridium Go. This medium seems to be antiquated tech for sure if you compare it to modern apps and tech. It’s hard to use, very clunky and not intuitive.
But….there really is nothing else that can compete yet for the space. Iridium Go’s link with PredictWind gives us real time weather and is fast one on one communication and simple email service. If you are following us on our tracking page that is a feature of the Iridium/PredictWind partnership.
Starlink is is one example of tech coming for this space but mariners are nowhere near ready to switch to a service that by contract, we are not supposed to be using. Beside, if sh!¥ happens you can’t take the Starlink in the liferaft with you. Maybe someday when it is linked to our phones….
The SSB Radio is to some a piece of the past and collects dust with the sextent. But…..this piece of equipment is free, proven and works. As an Electrical Engineer said in Banderas Bay (Grey), the SSB is anything but irrelevant. We can send emails, download weather and talk to someone almost 24 hours a day. We don’t need $100s of dollars of paid accounts, and we don’t depend on a satellite passing by. The Pacific Voyagers group that worked together this season were 10 people that were Net Controllers that talked daily on multiple Marine frequencies and kept track of a huge fleet. This is non-Ham and a Ham license is not necessary. There is sailing Royalty in these ranks and some that have sailed around the world multiple times and only have the SSB. It has been a privilege for me to share radio and communication with this group and has expanded my knowledge of an international community.
Daily we are on at 0200 utc. Last night I was Net Controller and talked over 2000 miles to multiple people to help identify locations for people underway. We also helped coordinate help for a vessel in distress last month. An hour later, I checked into the Pacific Sea Farers Network on 14,300 Ham network. This channel is monitored 24/7. I talked to Hawaii and Greenville Alabama. This group tracks all who want to be tracked in the Pacific and coordinates help when needed. Super fun.
Starlink is fun. It helps us keep in touch with you and the family sure enjoys the phone calls. But, there is so much we don’t know about the development and costs of this emerging product. It’s nice to know there are competitive products coming only to insure there is a cost effective product for us. Currently all of us expect to be cut off or geo-fenced out of the oceans at anytime. So….we wait and enjoy this very cheap network while it lasts…..blip…..blip…?