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The Elcie Diaries: Setting Sail Across The Pacific

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The Johnson family of Oxford, Md. are in the middle of a year-long sailing expedition around the world in their 62-foot catamaran, named Elcie.
Tara Boyle
The Johnson family of Oxford, Md. are in the middle of a year-long sailing expedition around the world in their 62-foot catamaran, named Elcie.

Since last fall, we've been following Richard and Jessica Johnson as they set sail from their Oxford, Md. home for a year-long sailing expedition. Over the past seven months, they've traveled down the Atlantic coast, through the Caribbean, and across the Panama Canal. We caught up with Richard and Jessica again as they were preparing to make the long trip across the Pacific Ocean.

On getting ready to depart

"We've just come through the canal and we're getting ready to go out into the Pacific Ocean," says Richard. "It's about 6,000 miles before you can readily get parts and easily do repairs on the boat again; that's when you get to either New Zealand or Australia so we're stocking up with parts besides food, water [and] diesel."

The first leg of their Pacific trip was an 800-mile sail to the Galapagos Islands. They stopped in San Cristobal, the easternmost island in the archipelago. Jessica says it's home to lots of sea lions.

"There are so many sea lions that they'll get in your dingy, they come up on to your boat, they're all over the beach," she says. "They're even walking on the street in town... they're a bit aggressive sometimes."

The Johnsons also went in search of the Galapagos' famous giant tortoises. They found them in an area called "la galapageria."

"The tortoises are hanging out in the shadows of the trees, [and] there's a mud hole where they can go and cool off if they need to," says Jessica.

The Long Trip Across the Pacific

After their visit to the Galapagos, the Johnsons began a 3,000-mile leg of their trip, one that will take them to the eastern edge of French Polynesia. Other travelers helped keep them company along the way.

"Every morning and every evening we've been talking to other boats that have formed what's called a radio net," says Jessica. "We come up on the same channel at the same time on a single side ban radio and give position reports, weather reports, and it's just a great exchange of information."

[Music: "Symphony #2 and the Click Boom Boom" by Emily Wells from The Symphonies: Dreams Memories and Parties / "Papa Loves Mambo" by Xavier Cugat from Xavier Cugat and Friends]


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