Some of the questions from the 7th graders are challenging. Here’s my try at answers and comments.
Regarding the color(s) of the water. Yes, very different from Maine! My understanding is that the cold water carries more oxygen, which in turn supports more plankton and/or other microscopic life in the water, with the result that the water is not clear like it is in the tropics. With the clear tropical water the color is an indication of the depth. Dark blue is deep and safe to sail in. Light turquoise/green is shallow with a sandy bottom — good for anchoring…until it becomes too shallow. Brown, or dark patches in the water indicates coral reef or coral heads — dangerous! I love the dark blue and the turquoise side by side.
I would have loved to be there when you chose your favorite photos! No, Hailey, I had not considered making a calendar of my favorites, but I might just do that when I get home, to remind me of the places I’ve been.
Regarding the black pearls — no, we didn’t get to keep the one in the photo, but I did buy one for my wife. Zamzam, I can’t remember how much detail I provided in my original blog, so I may be repeating myself here. What they do is choose an oyster that has a pretty color around the edge/lip of its shell. They “sacrifice” this oyster, cutting that edge/lip tissue into many little pieces (I think they do 120 pieces from the one oyster). This is the tissue that they implant with the “marble” to start the pearl. For some reason that I don’t think anyone fully understands, that little piece of tissue determines the color of the pearl.
Chantel, thinking about the cost of fuel is always wise! The fuel for our engines is diesel, and the fuel for our dinghy outboard is gasoline. Here (and in most of the world) they are sold/priced by the liter, not by the gallon. For diesel we paid 84 French Polynesian francs (the local currency) per liter. To compare that to the cost at home, we have to convert both the currency and the units. But for a simple approximation, one franc is very close to 1 American penny, and a liter is just a little more than a quart. So 84 francs per liter is close to 84 * 4 = $3.36 per gallon. The local people actually have to pay more. We do not have to pay some of the tax (which can be substantial on fuel), because we are a foreign yacht in transit through the country.
Hmm, how to answer Ryan’s question as to whether my wife was a big help? Yes, in the sense that it was great to be together again, and spend some time talking about people/relationships instead of about sailing. But no, in the sense that she’s not much of a sailor, and she’s uncomfortable when the boat is moving, even when I think the motion is so gentle that I barely notice it. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to having her back (in Australia), but mostly to go exploring together ashore, not for sailing.
Reginald, the doctor was being funny when he prescribed champagne. But nevertheless he really did write it on a prescription form. And the woman who was bit by the dog really was drinking it when we met with her that evening.
Brooke, yes, with what I know now I would indeed do this again. Probably if I ever DO sail here again I will do it differently, because of what I have learned. I would pick certain places, like the Marquesas, where I would stay for a month or more, and I might skip other places. Sailing in a “rally” has its advantages (partnering with other boats, assistance with clearing into foreign countries, guidance about scheduling to avoid stormy seasons), but a disadvantage is that if you fall in love with a place you can’t stay put for a long time — the rally moves on.
Ben, I’d guess that the black tip sharks we’ve seen range from pretty small up to maybe 80 pounds. But we saw one very large nurse shark (I think it was). It was probably 10 feet long and must have weighed at least 200 pounds. The locals do not consider these sharks dangerous, but if I saw a shark that big when I was snorkeling, I would be out of the water pretty quickly!
Alia, I’m not sure which animals are endangered and which are not. I’m sure some that I saw in the Galapagos are endangered. Notably the giant tortoises, which they were breeding and re-introducing to islands that no longer had them.
Veda, I’m never in fear of sinking, because our catamaran would not sink, even if it developed a huge leak. There are other bad things that could still happen, like colliding with a ship, crashing on to a reef or capsizing the boat. It’s up to us to pay attention and not let these things happen. There are times when I feel scared, but I know what needs to be done to pull through, so I just need to stay on task, and do it.
I have plenty of time for answering questions. Today we are at sea, and only occasionally do the sails need to be adjusted or our course checked. I have hours for just enjoying a beautiful day on the ocean, and for answering your questions.
I will let you know whether it is possible to Skype between June 15 and 18. We are heading for areas where Internet connections may be few and far between. In early September we expect to arrive in Australia (Mackay, on the east side, near the south end of the Great Barrier Reef). If we don’t connect before school is out, I send all the Team Rock students my best wishes for a fun summer. May it include some adventure, large or small — and I hope you will tell me about your adventures in the fall!