The Path Home

The 12000 Nautical Mile Route that we would end up taking.

Saturday May 22, 2004

Hakahau Bay

Ua Pou , Iles Marquise

S 09o 21.526’ W 140o 02.862’

Tomorrow, Peter and I will say goodbye to the exotic islands of the Marquesas and begin the four day passage to the coral atolls of the Tuamotus. Since we left the United States in February, the Lillian B has traveled over 5000 miles. Sitting in a slip in Stuart Florida, the South Pacific had seemed a world away. Now we are looking at the return home.  When I set out on this voyage, my promise to those at home was to be back by Thanksgiving. The promise to myself was to give the dream of a long sailing voyage a try. The charts we loaded on board in Florida went only as far as Fiji in the South Pacific. Our inside joke was that when we got downwind to Tahiti, we would take a break and have a planning day. Now that day has arrived. Many years ago, the dream was to circumnavigate the globe, but that dream was from a time before the blessings and commitments of family, work and community. I know that Peter, an adventurer at heart, still dreams of  sailing Lillian B. back into her home port of Rockport Maine after having taken her beyond Tahiti, through the Straits of Torres, over the South Indian Ocean, around the Cape of  Africa and back home across the Atlantic. Several times on board, we have perused Cornell’s book on world sailing routes to piece together possible paths around the world. But, even at a fast pace, such a trip would take at least another year, not to mention some difficult sailing. All things considered, circumnavigation is a dream Peter will have to pursue on his own.

For now, I will reserve judgment and comment on what this adventure has meant to me, but in any case the time has come to begin the broad turn towards home. Various intriguing destinations have tempted us further westward at the expense of time and distance and the risk of being caught in typhoon season. We have considered  routes via Fiji, the Solomons, Guam, even Japan, but they require more time and/or leaving Lillian somewhere in the Pacific for the winter. Right now, the most sensible route is to turn north after Bora Bora, traveling to the Northern Cook Islands and then via the Line Islands and the Nation of Kiribati up to Hawaii. From Hawaii we will catch the trade winds that blow high across the North Pacific to San Francisco. For Peter, as a mountain climber, it must seem like taking a side trail when the summit is in sight, but despite his disappointment and to his credit, he has accepted the shorter itinerary with enthusiasm. As our planning day draws to a close, we have started ordering charts and books about the islands enroute. We wonder what language they speak in Kiribati, and we have begun to anticipate the emotion of sailing into San Francisco harbor after another 5000 miles at sea.

Lillian at anchor in Ua Pou, in her last port in the Marquesas