Our time in the Galapagos is rapidly coming to a close. I can tell,
because I have a monstrous headache, and wake up in the night
wondering if we have enough onions.
First, pictures. Well, there should be pictures, but Blogger isn't
being my friend right now. So you'll have to imagine a giant sea
turtle swimming about four feet away. Now, a giant tortoise in the
grass. You're in the Galapagos!
Second, The Big Passage is upon us! The maybe-twenty- maybe-forty-day
passage across the Pacific to the Marquesas. Oooooh!!!
I know some of you are wondering about that. Some with a raised
eyebrow, some with a shaking drink in your hand.
Passage-curious sailors, I am here to help. Below you will find
instructions for the Home Passage Simulator 1.0. Experience the
thrills and chills of a long passage from the comfort of your own
home, and see what Papillon is forever going on about.
Simulate the Boat
Before you leave, you have to get ready, and as any passagemaker will
tell you, good preparations lead to a happy voyage.
1. Move everyone into kitchen/living room. Welcome to your new living
space! (Yes, that's all you get.)
2. Disable your telephone, internet, television – all of it. And
don't cry; you'll be okay. Even Erik, the Blackberry addict,
eventually got over the shakes when we moved aboard.
3. It is time to provision. Break out your folding dock cart and get
walking. To accurately simulate your choices, you may either a) do
all of your shopping at your local convenience store, or b) visit your
local supermarket, but you may only buy things from aisles 2,5 and 10,
and you have only 39 seconds to grab what you can in the fruit and
vegetable section. Be sure to take a good list with you, because once
you are aboard, you have what is there. That's it.
Simulate the Passage
All this preparation is well and good, but what does it really feel
like on passage?
4. Prop up the side of your house about 10-15 degrees. Now you're
heeled over. Tip the house gently forwards and backwards, making sure
to add in some random shaking or corkscrewing once in a while.
Doesn't that feel nice? Now try to cook something, or even open a
cupboard. Oh, didn't you lash everything down before you left? Tut,
tut. If you want to avoid getting brained by jugs of olive oil every
time you open the pantry, you will need a strategy to hold it all in
place. Bubble wrap and old fishing nets work well.
5. Paint your ceilings black. Add many tiny white dots. These are
called "stars", and they appear at night. If you live in the city,
you've probably never seen more than three at a time. Don't be alarmed
– they are perfectly normal, and the sky is full of them offshore.
Along with phosphorescence and the sound of dolphins, they are one of
the best parts of doing a night watch.
6. And speaking of watches, you need to set a watch schedule. Someone
needs to be stationed at the window at all times to make sure you
aren't going to get flattened by a car carrier. Watch trajectory of
every car (freighter) or pedestrian (sailboat) going by to make sure
they won't collide with your house.
7. Make a list of every system and moving part you have in your house
and car. Furnace, alternator, toilets, even door latches – anything
that serves a purpose and can conceivably fail in some manner. Cut
the list into individual strips and drop them all on a jar. Set some
alarms on a random timer (preferably set to go off between 11pm and
4am). Whenever an alarm sounds, grab a piece of paper out of the jar.
That is what just failed on your boat. Go fix it.
8. Realize you are eating your fifth uninterrupted meal with your
family, with none of the distractions from point 2. And no one can
leave! Mwahaha! But really, do you see how relaxed you all look?
And how everyone is laughing? You may feel like you are all on top of
each other sometimes, and that can lead to friction, but, for the most
part, passages are relaxed and delightful.
9. Try out seasickness. Drink 18 cups of coffee within 30 minutes,
then spin around as fast as you can. When you come to, you will want
to end it all. Welcome to seasickness. It is horrible, but keep in
mind that even a hard-core mal de mer sufferer such as myself, locked
in a migraine hell and resistant to all treatment, appears to come out
of it by day 4. (I'm trying to keep that firmly in mind right now.)
10. Plan a party. Every long passage descends into tedium at some
point; a party is the perfect way to break up the routine. On the way
to the Galapagos, we had an equator party. It was fun, it involved
planning (read: killed time), was different from our regular day, and
everyone got involved. And any excuse will do.
11. You're in the groove now. Keep going for a month.
Wasn't that fun? No? Well, the real thing is better, I assure you.
Now, for some housekeeping. That is going to shock you, but we're not
going to have email for a month. I know, it's tragic. I'll use the
ham radio to write posts when I can, but that will about do it.
However! Do not view that as a chance to stop writing to us. We love
your notes. They make us feel warm and fuzzy. I expect to hit the
Marquesas and open my inbox to an overflowing heap of mail from you
people. You can also follow our progress on the tracker (we'll put up
a GPS point every day). And we'll see you on the other side…