Tough voyaging decisions

Voyagers Nat and Betsy Warren-White, interviewed in a recent issue’s voyager interview, send this post, written by their son Josh, from their voyaging blog and website. Even in the idyllic voyaging life, tough decisions are still required.

From the Bahati Blog: Hard Decisions.

27 May 2008 | Opua, New Zealand
And the changes continue…

Where to start? The short of it is that after what seems like endless changes in plans and unknowns, Bahati is not leaving New Zealand. She will stay here for the next year. This was decided the day before we were set to leave, amidst the madness of repairs and offshore preparations.

Originally, Bahati was on her way to Singapore where Nat would be based working in the Oceania/Asia region for the year. This made an immediate passage north to New Caledonia essential given the winter storms that set in around New Zealand after May/June. It was all set up. We would sail the boat to New Caledonia, where Josh and Eivind (from s/v Empire) would deliver the boat through the Torres Straights and Indonesia up to Singapore to meet her captain. Plane tickets were purchased, and we were good to go. Then after Molly fell ill and Nat returned home for a couple of weeks to be with family, Nat’s employer changed their minds and decided Singapore was out of the equation. But where would he be based? The first job was weeks away, the seasonal weather window was quickly closing, and the time for the crew to enjoy the islands was very short.

There was lots of back and forth of different options, and everyday it seemed like there was a new plan — sail the boat to New Caledonia and live on it while flying to work, and return to New Zealand again for the cyclone season. Or live in New Caledonia and bring the boat to Australia for the next cyclone season. Or keep the boat in New Zealand for the long, cold, wet winter and live on it in Auckland. Or put the boat on the hard in New Zealand and live on land in Australia or New Caledonia. Every day that the weather wasn’t right to leave, or some issue arose that stopped us from leaving, Nat’s time before the first job got smaller, as did Betsy’s to get back to the US, as did Josh’s to get back to the US to start his new job… Finally, we decided we’d bring the boat to New Caledonia, where Nat would commute from, and bring it back to New Zealand for the cyclone season, with the blessing of his employer.

Watching weather… watching weather… just as the right weather window came up, Josh went up the mast to grease some moving parts — and what does he find?? Corrosion and damage to some of the standing rigging (which holds up our mast). A major danger in going to sea. It was confirmed by a local rigger — after only two years — half of the standing rigging would have to be replaced. Then, that night, we fried the inverter/battery charger, and our electrical system was greatly compromised. Great. Three days delay until parts come in. And weather up north deteriating. What are we doing??!!!!

Finally, after making pro/con lists, and reconsidering, it seems to only makes sense to stay in New Zealand. If we sailed north now after repairing the rig and the electrics, we would be there for only a couple of days before both Nat and Betsy had to fly away. Then Nat would be on the boat for very short periods of time before having to prepare it again to sail back south to New Zealand for the cyclone season. Only to prepare it to sail north again at the end of the season! So why are we killing ourselves to get it to the islands?? This is ridiculous! We should suck up our pride and keep the boat here for the year and make everyone’s life a lot easier. The only problem now is sorting out New Zealand customs and immigration to allow us to stay, and that Nat now has to come home to a cold and wet New Zealand winter during his time between jobs.

So now we’re figuring it all out… Nat will begin work around Oceania and Asia, flying to Sydney, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and back to Auckland. Betsy will be flying back to the US to be with our family for the northern hemisphere summer. And Josh will be flying back to California to begin a new job doing graphic design for non-profits in the Bay Area (he’s also looking to buy a boat of his own to live on — what a fool!!! — if anyone has any ideas).

So life goes on… but there won’t be any sailing for Bahati in the next year. She’ll get some well deserved rest for the year, after sailing the 15,000 miles from Maine to New Zealand.

As always, sailing around the world is a test in staying flexible. We’ve been tested, that is for sure. But we are quite sure we’re making the right decision. When you push too hard, its when people (and boats) get hurt.

By Ocean Navigator