Pacific Ocean: Panama to French Polynesia – halfway 2000nm

If you’ve been following our GPS tracking and reading our daily updates, you’ll know that we’ve sailed halfway, over 2000nm, since leaving Panama towards French Polynesia. Life on board is a little different to life on land. Here’s some more of my meandering thoughts as we sail across the Pacific…

For the last 1000nm, we’ve had a 1kn+ current with us, giving us at least an extra 20nm a day boost. Over 30 days, that’s a good percentage of our trip.
We’ve passed the halfway point, and have less than 1900nm to our destination, Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. The weather forecast for the next week looks good, with wind in the teens, and gusting into the twenties now and then.
Maintaining our speed and staying with the current should have us arriving close to 11th April.

News and Current Affairs
We don’t have access to the plethora of news sites and social media apps out here that drown our modern world. But we can read the main stories and stay in touch with what’s going on.
Using the XWeb app and IridiumGo, we can access news headlines from the major news outlets – Reuters, BBC, CNN, ABC, etc – or any website we choose, in plain text format. It’s slow, but it works and a quick read of the headlines is good enough for an overview, or a click on the link will bring up the article.

Text only news accessible through our IridiumGo and XWeb app

I have dozens of podcasts to listen to (thanks to unlimited Tigo internet in Panama) from light hearted banter, to political and financial news, or a series of tales or interviews. One such podcast we enjoy is Wondery’s ‘British Scandals’. The witty hosts tell tales of scandalous events in British history – quite entertaining and amusing. Other podcasts from Wondery are just as interesting, though not as humorous, such as ‘American Scandals’ and ‘Against the Odds’. And then there’s the old favourites; ABC’s ‘Nightlife’, ‘Late Night Live’, and ‘Life Matters’, the BBC’s ‘History Hour’ and The Guardian’s ‘Long Read’. Just a few that we’ve been listening to for over ten years, and there so many more podcasts around nowadays to add to our listening collection.

Keeping busy
There is always something to do on a boat, but heeling over at 15 or 20 degrees doesn’t always make it ideal. Recently I had to defrost the fridge, which isn’t so easy head first into a top loading fridge while sailing along.
Skipper is always checking the boat’s performance – energy charging, water supply, sailing direction, navigation and so on. Between us we read a lot, tweak the sails, throw out a fishing lure, maybe some housework, maybe some clothes washing, prepare food, check the weather twice daily, attempt to reach any SSB a station (no luck yet), or just sit back and enjoy the ride. Between 5pm to 5am are the hours we generally do our watches. The rest of the day we stay awake, napping if we need to top up sleep.

Off-watch reading and napping

Keeping fit
While I’ve always loved a good yoga session, when the boat is hurtling down waves, it’s not so easy holding a Warrior pose without falling over! On these extra long passages, daily stretching is a good idea, particularly the hips as you’ll be sitting down for at least 18 hours a day (laying down the other six hours). And when you are sitting, you’re probably sitting awkwardly (on a monohull at least). There’s no floor area to lay down on that isn’t at an angle, so to avoid sliding off into the ocean in the Downward Dog pose, any exercise that can be done standing up can probably be done fairly successfully. On a moving boat though, it’s not always easy to hold a pose for any length of time. Even when resting, your body is constantly moving, muscles tensing and releasing while you sleep as the boat rocks back and forth. At times you’ll be expected to have bursts of energy, usually when the proverbial hits the fan and you are called to action. Eating well helps too. Small meals, less processed food and loads of water. At least that’s my experience.

Speaking of food…
Halfway into our voyage and our fresh food is keeping up appearances. I’ve only opened one can, a small can of corn, and the rest has been veggies or meat from the fridge, plus some dried staples. Some of the produce I bought in Panama came in sachets (olives, mayonnaise, jam, spag sauce, etc) so we aren’t buried in empty tins and jars for recycling.

Spending a month offshore is a good opportunity to eat well. We don’t drink any alcohol while offshore (maybe a beer once and awhile), and don’t eat much, probably as we don’t expend energy, so not very hungry. We avoid processed foods, sugary snacks and too much caffeine, preferring to eat light, drink lots of water, and eat wholesome foods, which also keeps the hunger away.

But I do love cheese. Back in Panama, I couldn’t find any decent hard cheese, such as mature cheddar. Much of the cheese was the soft varieties; mozzarella, and so on. So I bought a block of labelled ‘American cheese’. I have no idea what it is made from. It has no taste, the texture is weird, it doesn’t melt, and it’s an unnatural shade of orange. I’ve dubbed it Soylent Orange. Fortunately I also bought some blocks of Edam…

Only when the contents of our fridge is reduced do we attempt to fish. So, with our daily consumption slowly emptying the fridge, we’ve been trolling a line and lure hoping to catch something tasty to fill it up.
In Colon at the Abernathy fishing store, we bought a few Rapala lures, some trace and 175lb fishing line to compliment our pathetic tackle box. Maybe on this trip we can catch a fish or two, although neither of us are particularly adept at fishing so we’re not holding our breath.

The next two thousand…
With 2000nm ahead of us, we can’t be complacent. We are still a bloody long way from land, from other vessels, and safety. Anything can go wrong out here, and we do our best to keep the boat from breaking, keep ourselves healthy, give each other space, and try and anticipate problems before they occur. Since the COVID lockdowns, maybe now some of you might appreciate what it’s like to be cooped up with your partner for weeks on end. Nuff said!

Weather routing suggests to go up to 4 degrees South

If you want to contact is while offshore, you can email to blueheelerhr39(at)
Follow our progress here – [end]

About blueheelerhr39

Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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