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The Westward Migration Begins

Vallarta PPJ group
Gathered outside Vallarta Yacht Club for their 15 minutes of fame, these Pacific Puddle Jumpers and many others will soon be en route to Tahiti and beyond.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

“Fantastic first day,” reported Charles Wilding this morning from the UK-based Nautitech 40 Wilderness. “Spinnaker up all day; put in second reef at sunset. Winds picked up as predicted… gusting 25.” Wilderness is one of 100 boats currently registered for the 2019 Pacific Puddle Jump. Although fleet members hail from more than a dozen different countries, they’re all headed to a common destination: the fabled isles of French Polynesia.

Charles and his wife Fung Lai set sail from Balboa, Panama, yesterday. But prior to that, they were among 140 sailors who gathered late last week in Panama to attend Pacific Puddle Jump sendoff events staged at opposite ends of the Panama Canal. Balboa Yacht Club co-hosted the first one. Shelter Bay Marina (on the Caribbean side) co-hosted the second one. A third event — supported by Latitude 38 — took place yesterday at the Vallarta Yacht Club in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. At least 60 PPJ crewmembers attended.

Who’s doing the Pacific Puddle Jump this year? Sailors young and old from more than a dozen nations.
Video ©2019 Latitude/Andy

Thanks to support from the newly formed South Pacific Sailing Network, this year’s seminar/celebrations were more impressive than ever. Multimedia presentations narrated by a team of regional sailing experts from Tahiti, Fiji and New Zealand gave detailed overviews of their countries’ attractions, which filled the heads of the Puddle Jumpers in attendance with facts, figures and exotic imagery.

Stephanie Betz
This year’s presenters flew in all the way from Tahiti, Fiji and New Zealand to join Latitude 38’s Editor-at-Large Andy Turpin in Panama and Mexico. Seen here is Tahiti’s Stephanie Betz.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

This year, you’ll be able to follow the progress of many fleet members on the website, a multi-function system that records daily check-in data plus status comments, and plots the courses of all who opt in. It’s a clever system that allows participating boats to check in via many electronic devices, including email via Ham/SSB radios linked to Pactor modems, and satellite text messaging from devices such as an Iridium GO!, Garmin inReach or SPOT Messenger. Individual boats can also request the locations of any fleet boats within a specified range, such as a 200-mile radius. The idea is to make the crossing a bit safer, while allowing fleet members to interact if they choose to. We wish the 2019 fleet the best of luck.

Balboa fleet
The Balboa, Panama, group bids adios to the Americas.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

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