Gunter and I attended the 10th Puddle Jump anniversary with about 30 cruisers who sailed to the Marquesas Islands in the spring of 2002. (“Puddle” is the name given to the Pacific Crossing, similar to “Pond” for the Atlantic.) Pacific Bliss made the 3200-mile crossing in 21 days, the longest time out of sight of land during our entire eight-year circumnavigation.  The timing was fortunate because many of these sailors are mentioned in my forthcoming book, SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC, and I will need to obtain approvals from them.

We returned on Monday from Puerto Vallarta, safe and sound and very happy.

I think the seminar that the “class of 2002” gave in La Cruz was a roaring success. At the close of the seminar, here’s what we said to the new crop of 2012 Puddle Jumpers:  “This voyage will change you.  You will NOT come back the same person you were when you left. You will stare death in the eye…and survive. All of you will face fear and come back a better and stronger person. You will get closer to God and the universe. You’ll become extremely grateful for the opportunity to have taken this voyage. From now on, you will become more appreciative of all you have and for your many blessings. You’ll come back happy, and most likely, remain happy for the rest of your lives.”

We differed somewhat in our favorite destinations, but ranking among the top was: Vanuatu, Tuomotus, Vavau Group (Tonga) and The Heiva Festival in Huahine.

We advised them to take advantage of cruiser camaraderie and to help out fellow cruisers by carrying plenty of spare parts.

Of course, we 2002 Puddle Jumpers had our own events. One was a sundowner, and what a magnificent sundowner that was! It went on and on. Plans were to attend another event at the Yacht Club, but once the stories got going ’round and ’round, no-one wanted to quit telling them!  So we all stayed into the night. I told two stories from my forthcoming book, SAILING THE SOUTH PACIFIC, one about my most embarrassing moment and another about the international incident.  The Puddle Jumpers kept saying over and over, “We returned home to find that no-one ‘gets it’. A gathering of cruisers is the only place we can tell these stories, laughing ‘til our sides ache!”

Other Highlights:

Finally, A Big Thanks to Andy and Latitude 38 magazine for hosting the Pacific Puddle Jump every year!

From the website: “Ever since Latitude 38 editors coined the phrase ‘Pacific Puddle Jump’ nearly 20 years ago, we’ve taken great pleasure in supporting, and reporting on, the annual migration of cruising sailors from the West Coast of the Americas to French Polynesia.

Boats from many nations register with the rally (currently free of charge), and they depart from various points along the West Coast, with the largest concentration of passage-makers jumping off from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Balboa, Panama. Latitude 38 holds annual send-off parties at both locations: Vallarta YC, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico; February 29, 2012, 3:00-6:00 p.m.; and Balboa YC, Balboa, Panama, March 10, noon-4:00 p.m.

Although these sailors set sail independently anytime between the late February and early May, they share information on preparation, weather routing, and inter-island cruising via radio nets and electronic communications before, during and after their crossings. Their arrivals in French Polynesia can be anytime in April, May or June. And due to the broad-based nature of the fleet, many crews will meet for the first time when they arrive in the islands.”

Duplicating the “Island Look” with swimsuits and pareus

2002 Puddle Jumpers, Vallarta Yacht Club

For an album of individual photos, refer to my Facebook Page.

“Whew!” Relieved to be home, I swung the blue canvas bag over the arm of my easy chair and flopped alongside. Out of the bag fell an assortment of pens, bookmarks, and calling cards.

“No flyers?” asked Gunter. Did you distribute all of those you had printed for the Fiddlers/Sea Breeze event?”

“Yes, most of them. The rest are in the car. I covered all the yacht clubs along Shelter Island and Harbor Island drive. Still more on my TO DO list though.”

“There’s always more to do. But, are you happy? That’s the important thing.”

Happy? I haven’t thought about that lately—in the midst of all the bedlam—preparing for three forthcoming book promotion events.

Those long passages on board Pacific Bliss during our circumnavigation gave me plenty of time to contemplate and to enjoy the path, but now? Now, I’m acting like a landlubber and dirt-dweller, frantically checking off items on my TO DO list and then pouring on more at the beginning of each new day.

“Yes, I am happy…” I shove all the promotion paraphernalia back into the bag. “I’m happy to be a published author—finally! I’m happy to have the opportunity to share our stories and Moments of Bliss. And come to think of it, I was happy today, distributing the flyers.”

“It wasn’t just work then?”

“No. I saw all those boats pulling at their dock lines, under a beaming sun and a bright blue sky, just wishing they could go out to sea where they belong. And everyone I met was so friendly and relaxed! The employees at the yacht clubs said they’d be happy to post my flyer and they were pleased to meet the author herself. I left each encounter with a smile and a bounce in my step.”

Gunter grinned. “So…I think it must be sundowner time.”

I headed for the kitchen to fix sundowners—like we did on Pacific Bliss each day when our “work” was done. Then we stood on our balcony and stared at the sea, as we always do. We clinked our glasses and met each others’ eyes. “To enjoying the path,” I toasted.

My fatigue suddenly vanished, swept away with the outgoing tide.