Puddle Jump

02 Apr 2010

 I thought I would share with all of you an event that Liz and I experienced yesterday.

As you may know, Puerto Vallarta is a popular place for people to prepare for the "puddle jump" to the South Pacific.  Latitude 38 Magazine tries to keep track of people heading over - this year over 200 boats signed up with them, leaving from all over the Pacific Coast.  A large number of them are leaving from here.

We made good friends with the owners of a Nordhavn 64 called Oso Blanco (White Bear, after their 7 year old son, Bear).  They've been planning this trip for years, and after all that time, they were able to start yesterday.  If you ever met Eric, the owner, you would know that starting on April 1 sort of matches his sensibilities.  Eric has logged 25000 miles in Nordhavn cruisers, but even with all that, Lloyds of London was reluctant to give him insurance without people on board who had actually done the puddle jump previously.  He was able to convince the underwriter that he would buddy-cruise with another Nordhavn that had people on board with experience of that passage, and Eric would take three extra friends onboard with experience of long-distance cruising.

Nordhavns are known as expedition cruisers - powerboats with enough fuel and standby systems to give them incredible range.  Oso has a range of around 3500 miles, and is equipped with an entirely separate get-home engine system that they can use in case the main engine packs it in during the trip.  For this trip, Eric bought an extra flexible fuel bladder for another 300 gallons of fuel.  When you get going, there's really nothing out there as a stopping point until you reach the Marquesas, which is their first destination, only 2700 miles away.

The whole Puddle Jump thing has been a real eye opener for Liz and I. When you go to the marina, there are crowds of kids running around. Whole families are making these trips, many with pretty small children on board.  Obviously, the vessel of choice is a sailboat, but these days  there are a few long distance trawlers who are making the trip.  What an amazing thing for a kid to be involved in.  It reminds us of the kids we met while we were living internationally: a little smarter, a little more worldly, and a lot more self sufficient.  The parents are different too:  They don't freak out when their kids are jumping from the dock to boats or driving their scooters down the docks at high speed in imminent danger of going into the water. 

For us, as our new friends head over the horizon, it has been a mixture of happiness and sadness.  We're obviously happy for them to be following their dreams, but sad to be the people standing on the dock, tears in the eyes, waving goodbye to such good friends.  Casting off their lines and watching them cruise out of the marina, with Bear and his mother standing on the back deck waving, us knowing it would be months or years before we have a chance to see them again.  Then turning and walking back down the dock with other friends, all of us in tears, joking about how one of those "Left Behind" books ought to be written about us.

It was a special moment that Liz and I will never forget.