I had a lot of time this past weekend to work on sharpening the vision for this trip, and here is what I came up with for the first leg of the journey:
I would like the start of this first Chapter to begin in Eureka, California. Ultimately that is wishful thinking because the true start point will depend on where the boat I ultimately purchase is located; however, Eureka would be ideal because it would allow me the opportunity to visit the Redwoods of California, something I have always wanted to see. Otherwise, Eureka seems like a generally easy spot to start the trip, especially since for the first couple weeks I would be at port at least every other day.
Once I develop my sailing legs, I've planned to cruise down the California coast, stopping at all the big touristy spots like San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Long Beach, etc. The final U.S. destination before I truly begin to travel international is planned to be San Diego. This will be the first true "test" of my seamanship as I plan to make a non-stop journey down the Baja coast until I reach Cabo San Lucas. I've read that on average a sailboat traveling at around 5 knots (5 nautical miles per hour) can traverse approximately 100 miles a day, assuming I sail throughout the night. Thus, the trip to Cabo should be about a week, weather permitting.
After what I'm sure will be an exciting few days in Cabo I'll cross the Gulf of California and hit some more beautiful beach towns in Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo, Acapulco, and Puerto Escondido. Once I've cruised down the Mexican coast I'll hopefully be able to meet my grandpa in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. My grandpa (who's Cuban) lives in Nicaragua a few hours away from San Juan, and the last time I visited him we actually took a trip down to San Juan.
From Nicaragua I plan to stop by in a few other Central American countries including Costa Rica and Panama. After a week or two in Panama I hope to then show my favorite South American country, Colombia, a little love and visit Buenaventura, a beach town on the Pacific side. Moving South I'll move into Ecuador and stock up on supplies for the next long trip: the Galapagos Islands.
The Galapagos Islands is about 740 miles away from Guayaquil, Ecuador, my departure point. The trip there should be about a week or two, weather permitting. Not sure how long I would stay on the island, but I've heard so much about how beautiful it is it may be hard to leave.
Upon return to the South American coast I hope to make landfall in Trujillo, Peru where I will continue the journey down south. I will make several stops in Chile until I reach La Serena which will be the refueling station in preparation for the trip to Easter Island. From La Serena, Chile to Easter Island is about 2,315 miles, approximately a month of sailing in the Pacific. At this point I am not sure if I would be skillful enough to make that journey, but I imagine I will make the decision of whether to attempt it when I reach La Serena. It is a beautiful island though.
If I decide to make the 2,315 mile journey (twice) I will hopefully end up in Valparaiso, Chile where I will continue the voyage south. I will hop from port to port until I reach Quellon, Chile, which would be the last refuel spot I found before I would have to make the journey around the tip of South America.
I still have some research to do as to whether there are any other ports I could land in in case of emergency, and I am not sure how treacherous that trip would be. Apparently the distance between the Southern tip of South America and Antarctica in the winter is only 400 miles, so I imagine there may be many sleepless nights looking out for icebergs. I also read that in the 1800s an explorer making that passage was almost stranded ashore by a rogue wave created from ice falling off an Antarctic ice shelf. Moreover, the distance between Quellon and Rio Grande, Argentina (the last stop in the first Chapter) is considerable; I'll be at sea for many weeks.
As I continue to plan the trip in greater and greater detail, I can only imagine what it would be like to see civilization once more after weeks upon weeks of travel at sea. No matter how difficult that last leg of the first Chapter of this voyage will be, I grow more and more excited each day!