Even though many bluewater voyagers think of themselves as loners rather than ‘joiners’, after completing a major passage most are eager to swap tales with like-minded adventurers and hoist a glass to their safe arrival.
Such was the case yesterday in Whangarei, New Zealand. As Irene Bass of the Freemantle-based M&M 52 Kiapa explains, "Whangarei Marine Promotions hosted a meet-and-greet ‘do’ at the Marsden Cove Marina for those of us who have sailed south to the land of the long white cloud — New Zealand — from Tonga and Fiji, to avoid the cyclone season in the South Pacific.
"The affair was well attended by over 100 people, many of whom set sail for the South Pacific as part of the Pacific Puddle Jump from either Panama or Mexico. Passage notes were compared, various tradesmen’s contacts were shared, and altogether a lot of convivial BS was bandied about."
As last season’s Puddle Jumpers lay over in New Zealand, Australia, Tahiti, Fiji and elsewhere, a new armada of boats is staging all along the West Coast for the 2014 Puddle Jump migration. Free online registration just opened about a week ago, and already there are more than 60 sign-ups. Although the Puddle Jump is a rally in only the loosest terms — participants leave from all along the West Coast of the Americas anytime between February and June — its numbers have swollen to over 200 boats in recent years, making it second in size among offshore sailing rallies only to the ARC.
Through an arrangement with Latitude 38, registered Jumpers will be offered a special package again this year by an yacht agency in Tahiti. The ‘deal’ will include clearance in and out, bond exemptions for crew members, and duty-free fuel certificates for a reasonable price. Dates will soon be announced for Latitude‘s annual PPJ send-off parties in Mexico and Panama. And at the other end of the 3,000-mile crossing, the annual Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous will take place July 3-5, 2014. Stay tuned for more updates, and check out the website for fleet lists and other pertinent info.