Borrowing from the Serenity Prayer and Alfredo Calimlim’s eulogy message yesterday at Kim’s memorial service, as we attempt to set off on our journey, may we begin to have the wisdom to recognize the things we can change from those we cannot. With that disclaimer, I present our latest stab at Kandu’s starting itinerary.
2014 Nov. 30: Leave Ventura West Marina, a week from today. The Ventura Yacht Club across the way is ready to take us for a week to 10 days. During this coming two week period, my focus will be to continue loading and to finish purchasing spare parts and maintenance supplies from our West Marine store in Ventura, managed by Jen, a formidable ally in our search for boat parts and solutions. And prepare our anchor rodes.
2014 Dec. 9: Appointments (each crew member is required to have his or her own) with the French Consulate’s office in Los Angeles. Between now and then, Leslie, among other tasks, will focus on compiling and translating the multiple documents necessary to properly submit a request for an extended stay visa in French Polynesia (FP). The visa will provide us the option to stay for up to one year within its five archipelagos instead of the automatic 90 day visitor visa granted to us as North Americans, 30 days of which would simply be travel time between island groups. One of the required documents is a police report/criminal history, supposedly insuring we’re not fleeing or a threat. Once we’ve successfully submitted our requests, the visa process takes 6-8 weeks to complete. Our application gets sent to Papeete for review and then their government’s response is sent back to the French Consulate’s office. We’re hoping the timing of this occurring over the holiday period won’t delay the process. Presumably, we have to land in French Polynesia within 120 days of our extended stay visa submission.
Dec. 10+: After four years of Kandu’s being worked on in her marina, the first good weather day following our appointments with the Consulate’s office, we’ll sail Kandu from Ventura, potentially not returning until after the completion of our circumnavigation (if ever).
As of this writing, we plan to spend several days unplugged and off the grid in the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, perhaps just Santa Cruz Island, but maybe we’ll venture further to San Miguel Island with her breeding elephant seals, or Santa Rosa with her new State park facilities, or all of them. We’ll check with our live aboard neighbors, Leilani and Mike of Lanikai, a surfing couple with extensive cruising experience in Channel Islands, Mexico, and Central America, about potential surfing spots for Bryce and Trent to try. We hope this remote experience at the islands will help us break-in further our systems and crew, and provide us feedback as to what other tweaks we will feel necessary to make at our next big stop. From the islands, we plan to head over to Malibu’s Paradise Cove and spend a day or two, weather permitting. There are supposedly some good surf spots there, and for various reasons, difficult to reach by land. Bryce wants to add Malibu to his surfing history. This just gave me an idea—have Bryce and Trent make a surfing passport, noting the various places they will have surfed around the world, gluing a sprinkle of commemorative sand next to each entry . . . “totally sick, dude!”
From Malibu, it’s off to Marina Del Rey (MDR), or depending on weather and preference, we may wish to spend a day on Catalina Island before pulling into MDR, Kandu’s documented homeport, where we’ve pre-arranged a live-aboard slip for 2-3 weeks. MDR, with a West Marine store managed by our good friend, Jose Barocio, is where we plan to finish up any remaining projects for Kandu’s preparations and get our “production” equipment and processes finalized (webpage architecture, social media foundation, video and audio production software and equipment, and amateur radio email). We’ll visit with our Angelino friends and neighbors, showing them Kandu and spend Christmas with Leslie’s parents in Palm Springs.
When we’re ready, we’ll leave MDR and sail down the Southern California coast, visiting whichever marinas we fancy, hopefully spending some reciprocal time at other yacht clubs (yacht clubs will often host members of other yacht clubs, allowing a boat stay 2-3 days free of charge at their guest dock or a vacant slip). Eventually we’ll find our way to San Diego where we’ll tie up any loose ends–boat, production, or visa–before selling our last car and untying Kandu’s dock lines from her last U.S. port for a while, entering into international waters. The long, arduous, sometimes torturous, phase of transitioning from land to boat life, of planning and preparing for a five-year voyage, will be replaced by the much anticipated processes surrounding cruising: course plotting and navigation, weather, maintenance, boat life, and foreign bureaucracies; seeking safe harbor, food, fuel, and adventure. In short, the fun part of the process begins.
2015 Mid to late January: If time remaining on the FP visa allows, we plan to first clear into Mexico in Ensenada, Baja California; a day sail from San Diego. Then sail down the rugged Baja coast to whatever surf spots and bays we think may be of interest to us, weather permitting.
At some point, we’ll wind up in Cabo San Lucas, with its marine chandlery, Home Depot, and Costco stores. We’ll pick up any last minute items, provision for two months of travel, and take our last hot North American shower.
Then it’s off to the Galapagos Islands (~18-day sail) where I think we get 10 days to visit.
Then off to Rapa Nui aka “Easter Island” (~18-day sail) where we hope weather will allow us to visit for a week or more.
Then off to Pitcairn Island (~9-day sail) the last of our long sails for awhile and where anchoring and visiting shore can only be supported if weather is ideal.
Then off to the Gambier Islands (~3-day sail) where we enter the crystal clear lagoon waters of FP and our visa clock (assuming we get it) starts running.
Four days before Thanksgiving, while moored in Ventura, our transitional home for the past 18 months, this is the current outline of our intended itinerary. May that ‘serenity’ wisdom come soon.