As true wanderers, we haven’t had much of an itinerary for this trip. We expected do be gone for something like a year, that we would spend time in interesting places, and that we would try to avoid bad weather.
Starting off in February, we thought about following the “coconut Milk Run” of Marquesas-Tuamotus-Societies-Cook Islands-Tonga-Fiji then going to New Zealand in November before cyclone season.
But then what? Some people take another year or two and continue to follow the trade winds around the world. We don’t want to commit that kind of time. Some people sell their boats and fly home. After fixing up Akela and spending 20 years aboard, we would really like to keep her. Also, the market for such old boats isn’t very good and we may have to wait years before taking a big loss with the sale. In the meantime, we would be back in US with no boat! Some people ship their boats home. We got quotes for this, and it would cost more than the value of the boat for us!
We plan to sail Akela home to San Carlos.
This is much easier said than done. The trade winds blow year round from East to West, so it’s not possible to reverse our path. We didn’t go further West to leave open the option to sail North to Hawaii. From there, we can sail even further north to pick up the westerlies that will take us to Vancouver. This sounds nice, allowing us to spend time along the way in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest.
Timing is constrained by weather. We want to avoid the North Pacific hurricane season that goes from August to October. We don’t want to make the Hawaii-Vancouver passage in winter because it’s cold and stormy. We were hoping to go to Hawaii in December, store the boat until May, and spend the winter in Tucson. Although, we’ve tried pretty hard, we haven’t been able to find a place in Hawaii to keep the boat.
Cyclone season in the South Pacific goes from December to February, but storms in Polynesia are pretty rare. It is much more common to have a hurricane hit San Carlos than Tahiti and we have lived with those odds for years, and have already survived 3 hurricanes in Mexico. So we’re going to stay in Polynesia a few months more.
So this is a great time to take a vacation from our trip. We bought tickets to fly to San Francisco December 3 ($280 apiece on French Bee!)) and will take a bus from there to Tucson. The timing works out well for my work, and we’ll be home for the holidays.
We’ll leave the boat in Papeete harbor, which is open to the swell from the North that often comes in January and could be dangerous. So we want to minimize this risk and return in early 2019. Then we’ll watch weather closely and stay within a day’s sail from a “hurricane hole,” which is a well protected bay, and make plans to sail to Hawaii.