Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cruising simply redefined.

We met Josh a year ago in the Sea of Cortez while we were anchored in Agua Verde on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez. We watched as Josh sailed his 1969 Dufour Arpege 29' sloop named Maistral through the light breeze tacking among the other boats anchored in the small bay before dropping the hook in his selected spot. To set his anchor he pulled the main over by hand, backwinding it and held it there as the breeze pushed the small boat backward until the anchor chain came taut and the anchor set into the white sand below. A few moments later he hopped in his hardshell dinghy and rowed ashore to explore the area.

Josh rowing into the beach in La Paz BCS to get supplies in his dinghy/liferaft.

La Cruz anchorage.  Banderas Bay, Mexico.

That was a little over a year ago and this year we have had the pleasure of spending more time with him, sharing stories and meals. Isn't that what cruisers do? Josh is not the typical cruiser and after a meal or two on our boat and a couple on his, I wanted to share his story. Not because I think he is crazy, nor because I want to be like him and cruise with seemingly nothing other than a dry boat and sound sails. Rather because both Marne and I love his perspective on life and his desire to find peace and live free. His journey is to explore the oceans of the world as simply as possible, without relying on electronics, technology and luxuries as much as possible. We all have our own opinions on what it means to cruise simply. Josh redefines that for us and takes us back to what sailing used to be.

First of all let me tell you a little bit about Josh. He is 31 years old. He was raised in Canada and following high school he went on to college gaining a degree in engineering. He didn't grow up sailing, rather picked it up later in life as a matter of coincidence and then purchased Maistral about a year and a half ago. His boat is simple. A 29' sloop rig built in 1969 with a good quiver of sails and excellent pedigree but little else. His engine is a 9.9 hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboard and he carries just over 10 gallons of fuel on board. He has a handheld VHF radio but no Ham radio, no SSB, no EPIRB, no liferaft, no generator and no GPS other than his cell phone which serves as his primary navigation device where he uses the free Open CPN application to navigate with. He does have a second cell phone as a back up as the primary one is starting to glitch and looks like it has been ran over a few times in the street. His one prize luxury is his electric tiller pilot. However, with only one battery that has a capacity of about 100 amp hours and two small and very dated solar panels, a few cloudy days could easily put a temporary end to that luxury. He is currently teaching himself to auto steer using a backwinded storm jib attached by a bungy to the tiller which he says is totally viable.

The Dufour 29 "Maistral"

 The ample galley.

 Nav table.

 Looking forward through the salon.

 View from the foredeck.

His sole guide to the South Pacific.

Josh's current plans are to head down the Mexican coastline to Puerto Vallarta this winter and prep himself and Maistral to make the 2500+ mile passage across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia and the other islands of the South Pacific. I didn't ask him how long it would take in his small boat but I would estimate about 25 days. 25 days alone crossing the largest ocean in the world. If things go bad, he has no way of communicating with the outside world to plead for help and very little resources for rescue other than his own abilities to set things right and that is just the way he likes it. When his parents offered to buy him a satellite phone, he politely declined telling them he just wanted to keep things simple.

 Maistral at anchor in Chacala Mexico.

 Fun, food AND exercise.  

Stateside, before his journey south of the border.

It is true that many others have made that passage and even circumnavigations in similar or smaller boats. He is not the first, nor will he be the last. But in his mind, who is counting? He isn't doing this for notoriety. He is not trying to be the first, nor the last. He is doing it because he cherishes his own internal peace, which is completely independent of anyone else's approval. That peace is nourished by his travels about the sea in his simple craft Maistral. You won't see him blogging or making any fanfare of his journey. What you would see if you had the chance to meet Josh, is a huge smile and inner peace that seems to be rarely found, whether you are 31 or 71.

Many would say he is reckless, careless or naive. If you met him and spent some time with him I believe your opinion would be different. Yes he is carefree, but he is also intelligent, calculating and thoughtful. He doesn't sail to accomplish something big and garnish accolades, he sails to continue in peace. For Josh, although not for all of us, peace is plain and simple. 

Marne and I both wish him the best and bid him farewell with fair winds and following seas. We hope to cross paths again and share a meal or two and hear of his adventures along the way.

Live. Love. Enjoy. Josh, you've got it figured out and we applaud you. Good on ya!

Until next time,

SV Liahona

Bret and Marne