I dare you to come up with a group of people more superstitious than sailors. Centuries of relying on something as temperamental and ever-changing as the wind as a primary means of power meant the creation of many, many superstitions: some logical, others inexplicable. Old sailors would get chickens and pigs tattooed on their feet, figuring if they kept the chickens and pigs beneath them, like they would be in the hold of a big ship, then they would never drown. Can’t kill an albatross, it could be the soul of a sailor lost at sea. NEVER whistle while things are going well – you are mocking the wind gods and they will not hesitate to send a gale your way. Pinapples are good luck. Bananas are supposed to be bad luck, as are women, but modern day sailing has moved past these two, opening the water up to potassium and women alike. Also – never leave port on a Friday.

Everyone has their Friday story, and if they don’t, they’re about to. We left San Francisco Bay on a Friday and hit the worst weather we’ve seen to date, gusts up to 35 knots and 12-15 foot seas. We spent the night white-knuckled, surfing the waves under a double reefed main and working jib. Granted, it wasn’t a hurricane, it probably wasn’t even a storm, but it was enough weather to keep us both awake and alert, hoping that it wouldn’t get any worse. By morning the wind had died down, leaving us in a sloppy, leftover sea in the middle of Montery Bay. “Never again,” we vowed, “never again.”

A private superstition which both Michael and I share is announcing our sailing plans to the general public. The permanancy of a departure date in the impermanent world of ebbs and flows, wind and waves seems slated for ironic failure, plus it absolutely, absolutely sucks to tell people your plans.

People will inevitably fall into four different categories when you present them with the information: “My boyfriend and I are going to sail our 30ft sailboat from La Paz to the Marqueses.” First are the Chicken Littles. These are the dream-crushers who know they are dream-crushers. When I told one customer about our plans, she responded, shocked, with: “Aren’t you afraid your boat will get swamped and you will die?” These people fear change the way claustrophobic people fear tanning beds, with skittish incredulity: “Yeah, I guess some people do it, but it’s a fucking radioactive death box.” It is statiscally safer to sail across the Pacific than to drive any car on the highway. But facts, and most logical arguments are lost on the Chicken Littles, who literally think the sky will fall if you do anything above and beyond their square of knowledge. Their faith in the vicious nature of all things outside their bubbles is complete and unshakable. They literally cannot be reasoned with.

Second are the Bobble Heads. These are possibly the worst type ever. At least the Chicken Littles are consistent in their fear, the Bobble Heads are the dream-crushers who don’t think they are dream-crushers. Because of this hypocritical short-circuit, they will initially be very positive, but very inquisitive. This initial curiousity will progress to a full blown roast where you will be grilled until the Bobble Head has found the one weak link, the one incompletely formed thought floating in your head and they will prove, empirically, that you shouldn’t pursue your dreams because they were, in fact, dangerious and ridiculous. Lots of nodding, lots of agreeing, but ultimate denial. Change, in this case, is still feared.

Third are the Toe Dippers. These people are the number one fans of the People Who Actually Do Stuff. Contrary to the Bobble Heads, the Toe Dippers approach with caution, hesitant about accepting anything too far beyond the social norm. But, over the course of a night, a magical phenomenon takes place. The Toe Dipper will get drunk and all the insecurity will melt away with the blissful exhale of released inhibitions, and they will realize there is nothing better than simply and unambiguously following your dreams and they will tell you as much, right before they pass out or try to do something stupid like a handstand on the bar, or something.

Last are the People who Actually Do Stuff. They will smile and nod knowingly, think, then give you one or two nuggets of wisdom: “Provision well.” “Spinnaker Pole.” “Save some projects for the journey.” “Over-sized bras are major trading items in the South Pacific.” They’ve done it. They know that shenanigans will ensue no matter how prepared you are, and the important thing is to be prepared enough and in the right mentality.

Michael and I are leaving La Paz. The plan is to spent a few days on Espiritu Santu decompressing, a last restock at Cabo, then off to the Marqueses. The journey from Cabo San Lucas to Hiva Oa is about 2,500 nautical miles, which for us means about thirty days at sea.

I won’t bore you with a list of extensive upgrading and rebuilding, sanding and grinding, painting and crimping, sealing and caulking, installing and re-installing and re-re-installing that we’ve been doing over the past year, but suffice to say I have worked harder than I have ever worked in my life, both on the boat and at the Shack, illegally, making pennies compared to what I made in the States working half as hard. We are ready. Azul is ready. Tigre might not be, but he doesn’t have a choice. And all we ask is to keep us in your thoughts over the next month as we venture out into blue isolation.

Having said that, we will not be completely alone. We have our SSB radio which we will us to check in to the various nets that take place daily, updating the net controllers on our position, speed and direction. We have a liferaft and EPIRB if things go completely to shit. We have enough rice to last through the apocalypse, we have enough water storage to last two months at sea, and we have enough diesel to motor 500 miles if need be. We have a collection of over-sized bras.

To those who remain incredulous, I leave you with the controversial words of Captain “Fatty” Goodlander, a prolific writer/sea gypsy who is currently on his third circumnavigation.

“A Special Note to Young Adults

I am now going to reveal to you something you probably already suspect. Since I am an adult, I’ve secretly promised my fellow adults to lie to you, to tell you what we think you should hear rather than the truth. That’s what we adults do and that’s why you think of us as hypocrites – because we are.

Thus, I am not at liberty to tell you to buy a boat, drop out of school, and sail away.

And this is good becasue I sincerely don’t believe most kids should. There will be plenty of time to go cruising after you graduate from college, get a job, get a spouse, have a kid, work forty hours a week for forty years, and retire.

I certainly won’t suggest that our society has it ass-backwards. Don’t even think about the absurdity of diligently working while you are young and playful. And then, later, maybe, attempting to play for a couple of moments as you’re dying.

No, don’t even think about any of this.

Just follow orders. School. Church. Work. Death.

…just skip the living part.”

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