When one owns a sailboat capable of cruising the world, the thought naturally arises to cast off and see the world from aboard her. We had always planned on seeing some of the world from aboard Wings: it was the driving force for our retirement in 2008. My retirement cost-of-living-adjustment requires that I not be out of AK for more than 90 consecutive days, or 180 total days. That fact determines the duration of each leg, at least until the COLA ceases to pay for airfare.
Our current plans, while extending to many years and many oceans, are in stages, or legs, with each leg being somewhat independent of the others. We could return from any of these locations back to Alaska.
Leg 1: Prepare the boat for cruising. Leave Seward and move the boat as close to Canada as reasonable. See as much of the Alaskan Inside Passage as time allowed. Done.
Leg 2: Take the boat across Dixon Entrance and our first international border crossing into Canada. Continue south into the Seattle area, stopping for visits with friends on Orcas Island and the Seattle area. Harbor-hop along the coast into San Francisco Bay/Oakland. Find a harbor for three month layover. Complete several repair/installation projects. Done.
Leg 4: Fly back to La Paz and continue north to explore the Gulf of California, AKA the Sea of Cortez. Leave the boat in San Carlos, on the Mexican mainland. Done.
Leg 5: Sail Wings from San Carlos, northwest and re-cross the Sea of Cortez. Visit the islands off the Baja peninsula. Head south along the peninsula and leave Wings in the Atalanta yard in La Paz for the winter. Done.
Leg 6: Take the boat to Puerto Vallarta, MX. Head southwest with the Pacific Puddle Jump to French Polynesia and beyond. Yikes! We'll leave the boat in the South Pacific, somewhere out of typhoon reach, and return to AK. Done.
Leg 7: We'll return to Raiatea, in French Polynesia, in early Spring, 2014. After boat preparation, we'll be forced by French Polynesian Customs laws to depart the country. We've chosen to leave Wings in Fiji over the typhoon season, then return to French Polynesia the following year. There are thousands of islands to explore and reaching the South Pacific was too much work to leave quickly! Done.
Leg 8: We'll return to French Polynesia. The plan is to leave Wings in French Polynesia for typhoon season. We will take the scenic route from Fiji where Wings now lies, re-visiting Fiji, Tonga, Niue, and the Cook Islands prior to arriving in French Polynesia. Conni hates upwind sailing (they don't call it "beating" for nothing!), so this part of the trip is up to Bill. Done
Leg 9: We will finally be able to just relax and see the sights! Hurray! Hauling our boxes and gear from home, we'll fly to Papeete, then on to Raiatea where Wings awaits us. With luck we'll have her prepared and in the water in two weeks, and start our 12-week cruise. We may be joined by company or we may not, but Conni and I will have no difficulty filling the time. Done.
We are not sure how long we'll keep Wings in the South Pacific. Now that French Polynesia has relaxed its customs policy that allows us to store Wings for up to 3 years, we might leave her there for that full time. The two following legs might be delayed by another 3-year stint in French Polynesia. Now THATS cruising!
Leg 10: We'll return to Wings, resting in her cradle on Raiatea, and continue our exploration of French Polynesia. As for Leg 9, we have no specific goals in mind. We were joined by family and friends during this leg. Done
Leg 11: During this leg, in 2018, we will be forced to depart French Polynesia because of customs restrictions that limit us to 36 months, but we've decided that we love the area and have decided to stay. This decision requires that we depart French Polynesia by 6 June, 2018, check into another country, and can then return for another 36 months. Our choice is the Cook Isands, as the closest country. We'll sail to Raratonga in the Cook Islands, a 537nm downwind sail, and then return for our next 3-year stint in French Polynesia. We have crew for the upwind return to FP. Done.
Leg 12: Explore French Polynesia. We have plans to re-power the boat, replacing our old and difficult to maintain Nanni with a new, 50HP Beta diesel. The Beta is a marinized Kubota tractor engine. Difficulties may cause some re-thinking.
Leg 13: Explore French Polynesia.
Leg 14: We'll have to decide on whether to stay for another 3 years in French Polynesia (or part of that 3 years), or start the long trip to the US. Our guess is that we'll return to the US.
Our return: With crew, we'll sail northwest up the Line Islands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_Islands). Leaving from Palmyra Island (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmyra_Atoll), we'll sail the 1200 nm to Hawai'i. As a point of interest, Amelia Earhart is presumed to have crashed landed and died on Nikumororo in the Line Islands.
We think that we might stay in the Hawaiian Islands for a season or two, but at some point we must return to the US mainland. From Hawai'i, we'll sail around the North Pacific High (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Pacific_High) and our Wings will brings us back to North America. As a sailboat, Wings must travel with the wind and wind rotates clockwise around a high pressure located in the Northern Hemisphere.
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