It is the evening of July 26th, and we are just about to enter the doldrums. As I look out at the ocean, it’s totally calm. There’s no wind to be found. The water is flat and looks almost like glass. It is just beautiful. In fact, here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I’ve just witnessed one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. (I’ll have a photo posted soon.)
Although we have been sailing for 10 days and are almost halfway to Nuku Hiva, this is really the first chance I have had to gather my thoughts about our trip.
So far, the sailing has been rough as we’ve had to dodge two hurricanes and two tropical storms. Luckily, Captain Bob has an expert technique to zigzag through it all. Still, we’ve been bouncing around, making it difficult to read, write and even talk on the satellite phone. But now, it’s relatively calm and a perfect opportunity to give you an update on my observations and the trip so far.
A fantastic crew for the crossing
What I have found is that, when you are sailing, your crew really becomes like family. You live together, laugh together, and look after each other. I have to say, I feel incredibly grateful to be on this adventure with such a fantastic crew. I’ll be sharing much more about them and our adventure across the South Pacific once we reach land, but for now, here’s a quick glimpse at who they are.
Our captain, Captain Bob, was a seasoned sailor when he was my skipper on the Firebird over 40 years ago and is just magnificent in what he knows. (I wrote about how we met as much younger men in The Adventures of the Firebird.) Bob’s wife Els hails from the Netherlands and grew up around boats, so it’s in her blood. She’s not only a capable sailor, but does an incredible job keeping us all fed.
Zach has a passion for sailing, which is infectious. We were lucky he could take time off from his job at Amway to help us with the crossing. We’re in better shape with him aboard.
Paul is the youngest member of our crew, a fun-loving guy excited to be aboard. Like Zach, he’s making the Pacific crossing (and crossing the equator) for the first time, which is always an exciting event for sailors. Paul was a top student in the sailing program at Orange Coast College in Southern California and is training to be a sea captain, so this experience is spot on for him.
Of course, Rod is also on board. Back in the late 1970s, he joined us as a boy on the Firebird for part of our voyage circumnavigating the world. We’re a father-and-son team again, only this time we’re eagerly soaking in all the crew is teaching us about sailing this amazing vessel.
Francesca will join us once we get to the South Pacific. I was tempted to shanghai her when we left San Francisco, but I knew I would never hear the end of it.
Same role, different venue
I’ve come to notice a similarity between being on board the Double X and being in business. On board, I guide the mission and experience the joy of sailing. The crew, on the other hand, is extremely talented in all phases of sailing and executes our mission with great skill. It’s a joy to watch.
It’s much like manufacturing Nutrilite products. I help guide the Nutrilite philosophy. I don’t make tablets, but when I visit the plant, I feel so privileged (in awe, actually) to see such knowledgeable people skillfully working the state-of-the-art equipment, just like the crew handles the Double X.
Warmer waters, no matter how you measure
During our time at sea, we have been taking the temperature of the water. Right now, it is 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30.5 degrees Celsius). Yes, that number is correct (see Sail for Change below). It’s scary for the area of the Pacific we are sailing through.
By all accounts, the ocean temperature has been on the rise since my Firebird journey over 40 years ago. Whether scientists take direct measurements, gather satellite-to-surface monitor readings, or track the sea level rise as a result of heat expansion, the data all point to an ocean that’s getting warmer.
A clean, but lean ocean
I expected to see a lot of plastic debris floating in the water as we sailed by, but interestingly, we actually saw very little. I only spotted two plastic crates, a plastic chair and a few plastic balls used in fishing nets. The water appeared to be surprisingly clean, although it’s hard to see microplastics with the naked eye.
However, just as surprising was the emptiness of the ocean. In fact, after a 10-day stretch of fishing, we only had two strikes. Other than that, the only fish we saw were flying fish, which thrive in warm waters. Watching them propel themselves through the air like torpedoes, fins flapping and tails gyrating, is just fascinating.
Well, that’s it for now. It’s been an exhilarating crossing so far, one that I didn’t expect, but one that I wouldn’t have missed for the world.
I’ll write again once we reach the South Pacific. In the meantime, we are all doing well and in good spirits. Keep us in your thoughts and thanks for following along.
The scientists over at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are compiling animated maps showing the changing sea temperatures.
On the Pacific Ocean map, there is a dramatic reddish-orange “wave” spreading across the ocean, signifying warm temperatures of 86-90 degrees Fahrenheit (30-32 degrees Celsius).
To see the maps in action, visit the NOAA website, they are definitely worth a look.
What better time for change than now?
P.S. Don’t forget you can subscribe to our RSS feed to have blog posts delivered right to your inbox.
P.S.S. A quick update from the Land Crew: For now, we’re happy to report that since this post, the Double X has arrived at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, dropping anchor on August 4th at 5:25 am.