Friday, January 4, 2019

The Voyage


Today I flew back to La Paz to join Intermezzo and prepare to resume The Voyage to the US eastern seaboard.  I summarized the multi-leg plan for The Voyage in a previous blog promising to provide more details. Here they are, a synopsis of Intermezzo’s planned itinerary over the upcoming months:

Leg 1: La Paz to Ixtapa

Originally I planned on sailing from La Paz to Huatulco, the jumping off port for crossing the Golfo de Tehauntepec, a 1,000 nm non-stop passage. However, tropical storm Vincente silted in the marina in Huatulco, which won’t be dredged until the end of February at the earliest. So we’re sailing to Ixtapa instead, about 350 nm less distance south which will take us about six days. Ixtapa has a good marina and is right next door to Bahia Zihuatanejo, a pretty spot popular with cruisers. I’ll leave the boat there for the month of February, which not a good month for crossing the notorious Tehauntepec.

Leg 2: Ixtapa to Puerto Chiapas

The worst of the high winds blowing overland from the Gulf of Mexico into the Tehauntepec will be over in March but we may need to still wait a few days in Huatulco to catch a good weather window for the passage. We’ll cross the Tehauantepec (my third time) with “one foot on the beach” to avoid any big seas the get whipped up by the frequent high winds. Huatulco has several pretty little bays in which to anchor if the marina there is still silted up. The 600 nm passage from Ixtapa to Puerto Chiapas should take about six days, but we’ll need to allow for a few more days to wait for our weather window. I plan on hauling out Intermezzo in Puerto Chiapas for a bottom paint job and some minor fiberglass repairs done, a last chance for low-cost, decent quality work and powerful Mexican anti-fouling paint (don’t ask what’s in it).

Leg 3: Puerto Chiapas to The Panama Canal

With a clean, fresh bottom, Intermezzo will sail on to the Caribbean end of the Panama Canal. This is planned as a non-stop 1,000 nm passage to the Pacific entrance of the canal, though we might need to duck into Golfito, Costa Rica to pick up fuel if winds are light or adverse to sailing. We should be able to complete the main passage within two weeks. We might need to wait a week to clear in and process paperwork for our canal transit, which normally takes two days going south to north. During that wait, crew will be encouraged to serve as line handlers on other boats transiting the canal to gain knowledge for our own transit. Intermezzo will then wait out the end of the seasonal tradewinds in Shelter Bay Marina before heading north on the next leg of the voyage.

Leg 4: Panama to Isla Mujeres

We’ll sail from Panama to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, an island lying about 6 miles off the coast from Cancun, a total distance of about 1,000 nm. We’ll  make two brief stops along the way, the first at the Columbian island of Providencia and the second at the Cayman Islands. Hopefully, prevailing winds will have shifted eastward by the time we make this passage, but we could well be sailing and/or motoring “uphill” a good portion of the trip, not the most pleasant sailing experience on a cruising catamaran. This will mostly offshore sailing and in new territory for me, which will add to the adventure. I’m hoping to get a day of SCUBA diving in during out stop in the Caymans.

Leg 5: Isla Mujeres to Florida

This passage is 400 nm bash across the Gulf of Mexico from Isla Mujeres and Florida (port TBD) to clear into the USA. Winds and seas will likely be against us, so we will likely be motor-sailing or motoring most of the way.  But maybe we’ll get lucky and catch some favorable land breezes off Cuba. If paperwork and insurance for the boat can be arranged, we may stop in Cuba for a brief rest and visit.

Leg 6: Florida to Long Island, NY

This leg will be a multi-stop passage mostly up the Intercoastal Waterway from Florida to the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY, the ultimate destination of The Voyage, the waters on which my father and I learned to sail together, one of the most formative experiences of my life. The details and schedule for this passage are yet to be determined. I expect that this will be mostly daytime sailing/motoring with stops most nights along the way.

I’m feeling very excited about resuming this voyage, confidence in myself, the boat and the sailing mixed with a bit of healthy apprehension over the uncertainties of new crew, logistics of a canal transit, and the more dynamic weather and waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic. I'm also feeling a little sadness over leaving those I love behind on shore.  I am looking forward to keeping the boat moving while I’m on it, rather than living on it while stationery in an anchorage or a marina. I’m curious about how it will be back on land during my breaks from the sailing, how I’ll handle the to and fro.  I have a strong feeling of purpose for this voyage, though I have yet to articulate it beyond myself in language…an upcoming post for my personal blog, I’m thinking.

This Voyage is a very, very big deal for me.  It’s clearly part of a Path that lies as memories behind me in the past and extends into discoveries ahead of me into the future. Intermezzo on the sea is my place to be present in the here and now, open to experiencing and accepting what truly is.

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