August 3rd, 2020
So much has transpired since the last time I wrote. It tends to happen like that. A spell of time will come where there’s just too much happening to even take a moment to reflect on it and share what I can. The days and weeks can slide past between a single breath.
Zach made it back to J. Henry on the 21st of July, after nearly four months back stateside. We were unsure if he’d make it back to French Polynesia up until I met him at the ferry terminal in Moorea. Zach had already had one return flight canceled. On his next attempt, his departure depended on a COVID test, which had to be taken within 72 hours of departing the United States and provide negative results. Meanwhile, it was well known that the United States was running rampant with the virus. Would French Polynesia let him in? There were several more hurtles, but in the end, he made it. For a week, Antonia Zach and I stayed in Moorea aboard J. Henry while Antonia was finishing an apprenticeship. Life already was changing quickly with three on board.
Antonia had decided to take a flight back to Paris, so that she could try and begin her new career. She had been in French Polynesia for over a year and she was becoming restless. There was a time, when we didn’t know if Zach would be able to make it back and I would need Antonia to keep sailing. Now that Zach had returned, Antonia was set to depart. After 4 months of quarantine, sailing and exploring together, we had become attached. We had spent most hours of every day together and somehow, we had managed not to drive each other crazy…at least not often. No, we really had an incredible time. I have often thought that these past four months may have been some of the best days I have lived so far. Antonia’s departure was a melancholy affair, but we both still had sparks of excitement for the future. She is going to start a new life. I was finally planning to sail on. We both hope we will have a chance to sail together again, perhaps when J. Henry crosses the Atlantic in May of 2021 (assuming the EU is open).
Now that Zach and I are reunited, we can plan our steps forward together. Many boats here are still trying to make their way West to Fiji and then hopefully on to New Zealand. We have come to a point where we can’t afford to wait and leave things to chance. There is still no certainty of getting in. Even if we could, we would still miss our window to complete our circumnavigation within our two-year window. So, we have been studying routes back East. Hawaii to California seemed like the obvious route, but it’s already getting too late in the season for the passage, and we do not want to push the envelope. The last thing we need to do is rush.
We have decided on a route that is passable throughout the year. Beginning at the end of August, we will begin set sail from Papeete and crisscross the Tuamotus and possibly the Marquesas, as we move south and east towards the Gambier Archipelago. From Gambier, we will sail to or past both Pitcarin Island and Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Once past Rapa Nui we will turn east towards Chile. We will then sail with the Humbolt current and prevailing winds up the coast of Chile. We’ll likely work our way to Panama via Ecuador, and Colombia. Landing in all of these places will be dictated by the local COVID 19 restrictions. We can only hope for the best and hope that things will begin to improve with time. Our second crossing of the Pacific will begin from Gambier in October. We expect we will be in Panama by January. From there we will transit the canal and move back into the Caribbean Sea. We will likely not backtrack to any country we have already visited. This means a route that takes us North East from the Canal Zone.
My sights are set on sailing from the Caribbean back up to Bermuda and crossing the Atlantic ocean for the Mediterranean Sea in May of 2021. I am optimistic that we will have a hold on the current health crisis by then and that I will be allowed to travel within the European Union from Late May, until September or October. From there, the final passages will be made towards home, Charleston, SC.
Navigating in these times has been challenging and interesting. I have had to keep in mind, that we can’t make guaranteed plans for our lives. We can try our best, but things change. I won’t be sailing a circle around the world on this particular trip, but in many ways, the experience has already been so much more than I had expected.
Thank you for keeping up with us.