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My sail across the Pacific Ocean began in 2015 long before I ever set foot on the Swiss yacht christened the "Aranui." The seeds of it were sown when I was on my trek through Bhutan in 2015. One of the other hikers in my group making our way along the "Snowman Trek" was a Swiss business man who had recently sold his company and retired. He was a life long seaman who, now retired, was planning a sailing journey joining the "around the world rally cruise" known as the "A.R.C." This group gathered in the Caribbean Sea at the beginning of each year and sailed westward through the Panama Canal and out into the open Pacific Ocean via the Galapagos Islands. A year or so after our trek through Bhutan Nikki wrote me an email expressing that he was looking for crew members to join him on the leg of his journey from Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands to Hiva Oa in French Polynesia, a distance of three thousand nautical miles. He asked me if I'd be interested in joining him and one other sailor to crew his boat with him. I saw this as an incredible adventure opportunity and I immediately agreed to help him crew his boat. I then excitedly began my preparations to fly to Ecuador, spend some time there exploring the mainland and then fly to the Galapagos Islands where I'd rendezvous with Nikki and board the Aranui for our journey across the Pacific. To say that I was a little overwhelmed with learning what I felt I needed to know about this sailing adventure would be a gross understatement. I am not a seasoned sailor by any means so months before flying to Ecuador I gathered and studied a number of books to learn as much as I could about sailing and properly prepare. When I arrived in the Galapagos Islands after having spent three weeks on the Ecuador mainland I spent the first two weeks in the Galapagos aboard a commercial sailing boat of twenty or so other travellers skipping through each of the Islands in the chain observing and photographing the wildlife and scenery. That was another fabulous part of the trip with a gallery of its own in this website. After finishing that boat tour I spent another week relaxing in Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz Island by myself soaking up the local culture while awaiting the arrival of Nikki and his boat. When he finally sailed into the harbour of Puerto Ayora I met up with him and Simone, the third sailor in our group. The three of us then began our preparations for twenty days at sea aboard the Aranui. We purchased our food supplies from the local grocery stores in Puerto Ayora and packed them for the long voyage. Once fully settled aboard and a day before were to set sail Nikki gave us a full briefing on all of the safety procedures necessary to ensure a successful trip. Regardless of all the studying I had done and the effort I made to listen and learn as intently as I could from Nikki's briefing, I was still overwhelmed with everything. None the less, on February 28th, 2018 at about noon, we and thirty or so other yachts and catamarans of all size and shape set sail from the harbour of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands westward across the Pacific Ocean to the first point of land, Hive Oa, in French Polynesia. It is the longest open sea leg of the entire sailing journey around the world. During the course of the sail I had two "watches" where I was responsible to scan the horizon to ensure that we were not on a collision course with anything on the sea. This could be a boat or a cargo container that had fallen off a shipping vessel and was floating in the sea or anything else that may endanger our passage. My shifts were from eight in the evening to midnight, and again from six in the morning until ten in the morning. While I would never dispute that there is garbage floating in the oceans of the world, I'm happy (and surprised) to report that I never once saw the slightest piece of it floating anywhere in the sea. I'm also surprised (and dismayed) that I also never saw any dolphins or whales or other sea creatures of any kind. There were no birds flying past nor any airplanes leaving vapour trails across the sky. Succinctly, it was twenty days of bobbing along at eight nautical miles per hour, (about the speed of a trotting horse), with nothing but blue ocean all around. We had very little rain and no storms of any note to deal with in the entire crossing. The winds were never too strong and on several occasions, mostly during the first week, we were reduced to motoring for many hours of the day when they had died down too much to make sufficient progress under sail. The only unique thing that I can report that I witnessed was a submarine skimming northward from left to right as I was scanning the horizon on one of my watches. I was at first puzzled at what I saw not believing that I was viewing an actual submarine on the surface of the ocean far out to sea, but when I spied through the binoculars for a closer look I confirmed that what I was observing was indeed a submarine on the horizon. Who's it was, I will never know. As there was little to do in the limited space of a fifteen metre single hulled sailboat for twenty days when I wasn't "on shift" I spent many hours in the cockpit reading books or watching movies on my laptop while trying not to fall off the cabin seat as the ship heeled and rolled in the waves. Occasionally I would grab my camera and wander around the boat (while firmly attached to it via my safety harness) trying to get interesting shots and those are some of the images that grace this gallery. While I can't say that I would want to sail such an ocean passage over and over in my lifetime, I can say without hesitation that this one voyage was without a doubt one of the most interesting and unique adventures I've ever undertaken. I am glad that I was invited to partake in it, and despite my apprehensions about what little I knew of sailing and my occasional boredom from having "little to do" for twenty days I'm very happy to have made the trip. It will forever remain an amazing memory indelibly etched into my memories of my adventures.
Yachts in the harbour of Puerto Ayora, Galapagos IslandsThree yachts in the harbour of Puerto Ayora of the Galapagos IslandsTwo yachts in the harbour rainstorm in Puerto Ayora of the Galapagos IslandsSetting sail for Hiva Oa from Santa Cruz, Galapagos IslandsLooking back to Isabela Island on way to Hiva OaCaptain Nikki Schmidt at the helm of the Aranui yachtCaptain Nikki Schmidt working with lines on the AranuiSailing the Pacific Ocean at night on the Aranui yacht.Yacht sailing toward Hiva OaThe Swiss yacht Aranui on route to Hiva Oa in French PolynesiaHeeling over on the Swiss yacht AranuiLooking over the bow of the Aranui yacht while asail on the Pacific OceanA rainbow on the horizon of the Pacific OceanThe Swiss yacht Aranui sailing the Pacific OceanThe Aranui yacht heeling over while aseaSaliing the Pacific Ocean on the yacht AranuiSunset aboard the Aranui Yacht on the PacificNikki Schmidt aboard the Aranui Yacht on the PacificThe Aranui yacht heels over at sunset on the PacificThe Aranui yacht heels over at sunset on the Pacific Ocean