Preparing for an Epic Voyage

Zed is back in the South.  He flew into New Orleans last night and will rent a car and drive to Bayou La Batre, Alabama, where our new boat is waiting in shipyard.  Zed will spend the next 2 to 3 weeks living in an apartment at the shipyard, working on the boat and overseeing some welding and fiberglass work.  Luckily the boat is in excellent condition and shouldn’t need too much work.

This is the cost of Alabama and you can see Bayou La Batre on the left…

In a couple weeks I will fly down with the boys and join Zed.  We will get supplies and cruise south, following the coastline along the Gulf of Mexico.  We will cut across the Caribbean to Panama, pass through the Panama Canal, then finally head north, back to Bellingham, Washington.  We expect this trip to take about a month.

I am excited, but very nervous at the same time… I have never done anything like this before.  Well I’ve traveled plenty but I have never driven or navigated a boat and I tend to get seasick (blechhh).  Plus, I have all the usual nagging worries of a mother – I am thinking to myself “What if the kids fall overboard, what if the boat breaks down, what if someone gets sick, what if we are attacked by pirates?”  I can’t stop my mind from running through every possible scenario and horror story.

To combat my nerves I have been making lists of things to take with us.  Grocery lists, clothing lists, toiletries, emergency supplies, cooking supplies, cleaning supplies, etc…  It might be slightly neurotic of me, but afterall, if we forget something it’s not like we can just run to the store and pick it up.  We are only planning on docking a couple times on the whole trip so we better not forget or run out of anything important (like food!).

I try to think of all the positives instead.  Like the fact that our whole family will be together for an entire month, uninterrupted (something that rarely happens anymore).  We will be getting some serious quality time together.  I am also excited about the prospect of an adventure.  Zed and I used to travel quite a bit, but since having kids our lives have been pretty tame.  I’ve been feeling a little bit “stuck-in-a-rut” lately… the same schedules repeating week after week.  We usually take a little vacation every year, but this will be our first time out of the country with the kids.

Unfortunately, we will be in a mad rush to get back for the crab season and won’t really be able to stop and enjoy the tropical landscapes we will be passing through.  Before we were married, Zed and I spent two months in Central America and I think the week we spent in Panama might have been my favorite part of the whole trip.  Panama has amazingly lush scenery and wildlife, but isn’t nearly as expensive or touristy as it’s northern neighbor, Costa Rica.  We had an awesome week of snorkeling, swimmimg and island living.  This time we will be rushing right past those white sandy beaches and clear blue-green waters.  Oh well, at least we can soak up some sun from the boat.  Plus, I’m really excited about the cruise through the Panama Canal!  I can’t wait to pass through those giant locks with the water flooding in and out with all the giant cargo ships!

Here is a timelapse video of an entire canal crossing…

I’m going to get back to my planning and list making now, so if any of you readers out there have any advice for us on our trip I would really appreciate it.  Anyone done this before?


6 thoughts on “Preparing for an Epic Voyage

  1. Good on you guys, Robin! Knowing the madness I feel getting ready for a simple summer in Southeast Alaska, I can only imagine the stress of preparations as Mom/Partner/First Mate, etc. But I really believe that a month together, without the interruptions of the outside world and life’s routines, can be a truly precious gift (even though it’s not always pretty or easy.) Pack some secret goodies – a book the boys can enjoy you guys reading to them, a special food treat, a game – that are for breaking out to celebrate particular mileposts of the voyage. A blank journal that’s a special family logbook to keep everyone’s experiences and memories. (Also, plenty of Bonine for the seasickness!)

    My parents launched the sailboat they’d been building in our Alaskan backyard when I was 7. And with that, they sold our home, and we sailed across the Gulf of Alaska, Anchorage to Sitka. That was my first sea-going experience, and I wish I remembered more of it, or that we had photos and written stories from that time. Here’s wishing you a wonderful journey, and looking forward to hearing about it!

    • Thanks for the advice Tele!
      Yes, treats and games and books are definitely on the list, as are lots of art supplies and paper. I’m determined to thoroughly document our voyage, and because we will have internet through the SAT phone (hopefully) I will be able to keep blogging the whole time!
      And I plan to have a MAJOR stockpile of Bonine as well.

  2. after just talking to zed, my comment is as such-it’s an adventure! it’s the attitude i took when transporting my sail, and you just have to go for it. then look back at it as an accomplishment that was very worthwhile.

  3. I am so excited for you guys. If there is one thing I just can’t stand, it’s feeling “stuck” in one place (a town, a house, school schedules, a routine). It’s awesome that you guys will be able to spend this time together on an adventure, and what a boat-learning experience it will also be!

    I’ll definitely be looking forward to the updates. I’m sure you won’t have much (if any) time for reading, but in case you’re looking for a book to pack along, I’d recommend one by Janna Cawrse Esarey. It’s a memoir about her sailing adventure with her husband. I only just started the book, but I heard her speak this summer at a writer’s conference and she was extremely likable. The book is called The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife.

    The very best of luck to you and Zed and your adorable boys!

  4. Ooh! Yeah, I second the book recommendation! I read Motion of the Ocean this last season and loved it. She’s super-funny, and makes this extraordinary adventure so very relate-able. If not something you get to on your voyage, definitely one to curl up with this winter.

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