Israel took off on this crazy adventure not only with my blessing, but with my insistence. First of all, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to a mysterious place that not many people can say they have ever been. Second of all, this was an excellent opportunity for Israel to gain blue water sailing experience which he has been anxious to learn. It has been very difficult for all of us to be apart like this, I can’t think of a time in the 22 years I’ve known him that we have been this long without even communicating. This trip has been a true test of our family’s love and strength.
Israel set off for this journey aboard SV Otra Vida on his 42nd birthday (best birthday present ever!) Martin, a Brit, is the boat’s owner and captain, Israel and Lysandre, a Quebecois, are the crew. They took two days and $700 to provision the boat with the necessary food and supplies for the 23 day trek. Martin is a vegetarian who loves to cook, so hopefully Israel has learned some tasty recipes.
The crew prepared for the 3000 nautical mile voyage in the traditional manner, by asking Neptune for a safe and easy journey. They left Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador on a Friday morning and headed 600 miles north to the Galapagos Islands. The winds take the boat north from mainland Ecuador to Galapagos and then from there they were able to turn Southwest on a straight course to Easter Island. When sailing, more often than not, you can’t get from point A to point B by just going in a straight line.
Of course, they didn’t actually land on the Galapagos since that requires different permits and expensive fees, but they picked up some hitchhikers as they passed by: three blue footed boobies joined the crew onboard for a few days, they were christened the three amigos. Otra Vida was also joined by a pod of dolphins for many miles. One day at sea, Israel even saw a whale
The sailing was broken into three hour
watches, with each crew member taking turns at the helm. They had three full
days of extremely strong winds (27 knots) and high seas. He said, “the sea was angry that day!” (Seinfeld) on the other hand, there were some days that the wind completely died.
At night the little boat was illuminated by the stars from above and the phosphorescence from below. I can’t imagine how brightly the stars shone that far away from civilization! Israel remarked that the blue of the ocean was of such a brilliance that he had never seen before Israel swam and bathed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; just the thought of it makes me squeamish! What surprised Israel most was how cold it was. Even though they were along the equator much of the time it was quite chilly.
He learned so much about sailing; sailing in all kinds of wind and sea conditions, navigation, and even boat repairs. He repaired a pump, a valve, fiberglass, a sail, and much more (boats break a lot).
What he missed most, besides us, was walking distances longer than 37 feet. The crew spent 23 days without seeing land. This kind of passage completely tests a person’s character and resolve. He said it was terribly difficult, yet extremely rewarding.
Their arrival to the island was marked by a crash landing in the dinghy as a wave toppled them over. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the dinghy survived. They were helped to shore by local fishermen, who immediately befriended them. Before long, the crew was drinking with their new friends and they were even invited to eat and stay the night with the fishermen in their homes! Israel said their arrival to the island was the most surreal situation he had ever experienced. He is completely in love with the island and it’s people.
I hope this gives everyone a fair account of his trip thus far. He told me these things via WhatsApp messages and broken up phone conversations, so it’s as accurate as I could get it. I’ll be writing some more about his descriptions of the island soon.