|Diagnosis; Travel fatigue|
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The pacific is a very large ocean. How large is hard to imagine before you actually wander out here. To give you an idea French Polynesia alone is larger than Europe. And yes that is after Europe was enlarged with all the countries in the east. From Panama it is app. 8000 nautical miles as the crow flies to Australia. Never sailing the way a crow flies you will cover a whole lot more miles before you actually reach the other side. In comparison the typical Caribbean round trip, sailing from Europe to the Caribbean, is a distance of app. 2800- 3000 nautical miles.
The most significant difference however is that when you have arrived in the Eastern Caribbean the rest of your trip is small day hops between the islands. From the Virgin Islands in the north to Venezuela in the far south there is only 550 n.miles or 4 days sailing as the average sailboat does 120 - 150 miles a day.
In the pacific when you arrive in the Marquiesas from the Galapagos, a +3000 n.miles journey taking 3-4 weeks, you still have many many miles to go. Next island chain is the Tuamotus 500 miles away, then there is the Society islands a short 200 miles away before you jump to the Cook Islands 500 - 600 miles away, then Tonga another 500 miles away. The thing is you need to be on the other side by time the hurricane season starts. That leaves you 6-8 months to do the distance. You get the picture; In the Pacific you have to keep moving.
Each island chain offers thousands of islands, reefs and anchorages to explore. There is so much choice and so much variety. You are filled to the brim with unforgettable experiences, places and people. Many of the areas you will visit are more remote than anything encountered in the Caribbean. Suvarrow gets supplies once a year. Niuetaputapo has a small supply ship stop every second month. Provisioning a real test of skills. You have to make do with what you have and whatever you can find.
In many ways cruising let you experience life in its raw and unpolished form. The friendships and the hardships are real. It is no secret that boats do need maintenance. It is however often a shock to the average boat owner how much attention it needs on a long cruise. Spare parts are hard to get and qualified help even harder to find. Luckily yachties do help each other out, and many are very skilled after having had to repair their own boats.
Surprising to many the anchorages are not as good in average as the well protected leeward anchorages you find in the Caribbean. The Galapagos and the Marquiesas Islands are spectacular but do have rolly anchorages where you hardly ever get out of the swell. The many atolls further west offer a lot of fantastic experiences, but they are not necessarily good anchorages. The fetch across many of the lagoons can be many nautical miles. When inside it can be hard or impossible to leave. You might need light and the right tide to make it out as well as calm conditions.
Reading this I guess it is no surprise that many a sailor is tired. Talking to crews in Fiji it seems like most have had their dose and more. The one gorgeous beach becomes just like the other. One exciting island seems to be just like the previous. The energy to explore new islands or to go for excursions' ashore disappears. The passages feels like they are longer and longer. Travel Fatigue (TF) has set in.
Travel Fatigue often leads to changing plans. Some opt to ship their boat to their destination of choice, with no wear and tear on boat or crew. A friends 80 ft is being lifted out and put on a containership to Europe. This way the crew get their time off, and the boat will be closer to home and to family. The thought of sailing all the way through the Indian ocean was not tempting.
Others sell up in New Zealand or Australia where the market apparently is good for second-hand yachts. This has been our plan as we did not want to sail into Asia and the Arab part of the world. Many boats are now joining us on this quest. A family on a catamaran we have been cruising with are putting their one year old boat up for sale in Australia. They have had enough and feel ready to go home. The maintenance and repairs where just too much.
For some the solution is to fly home and let their spouse or delivery crew do the last bit of ocean. For those bound for New Zealand this seems to be not a uncommon choice. This trip can be rough and is often listed as one of the 5 worst ocean passages in the world.
But most rely on a long good rest during the hurricane or cyclone season. 6 months of being tied off at a good marina, maybe going home to see family and friends, or even working for a while to fill up the cruising kitty. Sometimes the 6 months becomes 12, then 18 then....
It is just too fast sailing around the world in 2 - 3 years. Just ask all the boats that left the "2 year round the world rally". They where exhausted before they even reached Panama. Planning your trip you should pace yourself. If you don't really really love long passages allowing more time will definitely heighten the experience.
This site was last updated 09/06/07