|Meet Chirp, the new first mate aboard Bettie|
We were pretty surprised when we tallied up the mileage Vlad sailed solo, in which I'm including our first try at Acapulco where for a week Vlad sailed the boat and took care of me while I threw up. He went about 1,300 miles or close to halfway across the Pacific. We are pretty sure the major ocean crossing passage would have been more pleasant journey, however. For one thing, he could have slept more than 20 minutes at a time, and for another it's theoretically a much better sail, despite crossing the doldrums.
People have asked him what it's like single handing, and he always replies that it's exactly the same but with less sleep. Being close to the coast near heavy shipping lanes and the occasional fishing fleet means that sleeping for long stretches just is not happening. Of course, people have to sleep some, or they begin to make bad decisions (not good on a boat!!) or even go a little nuts. To combat fatigue somewhat, Vlad would set an alarm for anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes depending on conditions and would then wake up, scan the horizon, check the course and maybe the radar as well if he had it turned on. He also swung out to sea more at night just in case the alarm failed.
Mostly, he motor sailed up the coast, partly because going north up this coast is against the prevailing winds the majority of the time and partly because he wanted to make it to the wedding. You know, priorities.
This last passage, from Barra de Navidad to Puerto Vallarta, was the roughest to date, with high winds, big seas and what looked like a major storm front looming. Plus, he was running on a major sleep deficit from a month of on again, off again single handing. But thankfully he had Chirp, the new first mate he picked up after the old first mate so rudely abandoned ship. Chirp wasn't much of a navigator, but she did stay at the helm pretty much the entire time, despite the rough weather.
The foul weather he had near Cabo Corrientos, which is the cape you have to go around before entering Banderas Bay, stayed with him for about eight hours and then just disappeared. We think it might have been the catalyst weather system for a tropical storm that formed the next day far out in the Pacific.
Also, he docked the boat by himself, anchored in a crowded, windy harbor by himself, was surrounded by massive dolphin pods and fought with a freighter that tried to run him over twice in broad daylight (every time he got out of its way, it turned straight for him again). Plus, he read some of Bernard Moitessier's The Long Way, though thankfully did not decide to follow in his footsteps!
In the end, he safely got our boat all the way to Puerto Vallarta, never complained, never seemed particularly nervous and has now had a couple well deserved days of sleeping.