Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Galapagos to Marquesas (French Polynesia)

Hey everyone!!!!!!!!! Yayyyyyyy we’ve made it. Longest trip of our lives and hopefully the only one. Sorry it took so long to write but this has been our first opportunity , we don’t have email onboard. We left the Galapagos on the 30th April and arrived at our first destination on the 26th May.

We managed to sail from Santa Cristobal until that evening then the wind died completely and we found ourselves being pushed towards Santa Maria by the current. Not being die-hards, nor having a rowboat full of crew, we turned on the motor and headed south until morning. This got us into a mild breeze that stayed with us for the next ten days. We were told by friends (they had done the trip previously) and weather experts to sail down to around 7 degrees south in order to find the constant SE trades. 15-20 knots for the next week or so and by the 10th day had covered 1500 miles. Another 1200 miles or so to go and 10 more days and we would be there. The waves were not as smooth as we were led to believe, they were pretty lumpy and it was necessary to double reef the main to slow down, surfing waves at 11 knots was a little too much. Still we were happy to make good time. Then a tropical system had developed about 1000 miles south of us near Pitcairn island and sucked all our air away. The winds got lighter and lighter until we had a couple of days of nada. Of course we still had the swells which was a good thing since it was the only thing that was pushing us along. Turn the engine on, no other choice, that or have our sails flog themselves to death. 10 days just became 20 and it didn’t seem likely we would get any more wind for a week or so.

We didn’t have any major mishaps along the way, it was more boring than anything, there’s only so many books you can read, the rest of the time being taken up by sleep and eating, as much junk food as possible, comfort food. Everyday we would tune in to the radio net and keep in contact with friends doing the journey as well. Our friends on Pagos were headed down to Easter island and lost their forestay and lucky didn’t lose their mast. Another friend, George, on Thalia actually fell overboard. He’d been sailing for 15 years and this is the first time it had happened to him. There was no wind and they were basically floating along. He went to take down the Spinnaker that had not a breath of air to fill it, wrapped his hand around it and from nowhere came a gust of wind and lifted him and the spinnaker and put them both into the water. Now he’s in the pacific ocean alongside the boat and screaming to Isabella, his wife, to help and she knows less about sailing than I do and couldn’t help. A swell swept him to the boat and he was able to climb aboard. George said that Isabella immediately learnt how to use the SSB radio afterwards in case it happened again and she could be rescued. Hey a girl has to have priorities.

Dimitri did a lot of fishing – whenever the numerous sail changes and course corrections allowed him a spare moment- and after a week of nothing caught with the hand lures decided to use the fishing rod and immediately caught a 60 lb tuna. Took him an hour to get it aboard and there was enough meat for 20 meals. In Panama I had bought lots of nori, wasabi and soy sauce and we ate sushi for days, excellent. Next he hooked a 2 meter long Marlin and managed to get it alongside the boat. After a struggle the fish decided it wasn’t ready to join us in the cockpit and broke the leader wire. Probably a good thing as our freezer just didn’t have the room!! Then he caught a two smaller tuna and, my favourite, a mahi mahi and I was in heaven, it has to be the best tasting fish in the world.

So now it’s 22 days on the ocean and we’re both pretty much had enough and with a few hundred miles to go. It’s the most difficult time because you are so close and you just want to see land again, you start to believe you’ll never see it again. The last day we had only 85 miles to go and now we have to slow down otherwise we’ll arrive in the dark which I hate to do and that makes you crazy. Finally we arrived at Fatu Hiva. It’s the most south eastern island of French Polynesia and the only island where Tapas, ink tattoo painting on bark are still done. It’s not a point of entry so we had to be careful to avoid officials. Totally gorgeous!! Just like the movies, large volcanic island covered with lush vegetation. So happy could have wet myself. The first thing we did ashore was to look for the waterfall we’d heard about. Off we trekked, with a few others, and proceeded to get lost in the mountains. Nobody seemed to care, we were just happy to be using our legs again after so long at sea. Finally we found it, a 70 meter waterfall with a swimming pool at the base. Oh what joy! We swam, bathed, showered after a nice picnic lunch on the rocks. The next day my legs felt like I’d been training for the Olympics or something. I could barely move my muscles so I decided to flop over the side and go for a swim in the deliciously tempered water.

We stayed a week and then sailed overnight to Nuku Hiva for our official entry procedures. The 24 hour trip was more exhausting than the trip across the pacific and we ripped our mainsail in the 35 knot gusts at the start of the trip. The remainder was sailed on, firstly, staysail, and later, genoa alone. Not the most stable of conditions at sea but we had no choice. We checked in and paid the outrageous deposit for non European citizens, $AUD2700 dollars and are now relaxing, in between sail, battery charger, and alternator repairs, for a couple of days before moving on to the next anchorage west. It has a, clean, fresh water supply, an even taller waterfall, and an isolated anchorage. That’s the place to relax!!. In the next week or so we need to get going to Tahiti to do the official check in. We hope to stop in the northern Tuamoto islands and do some snorkeling for a few days. They have black oyster farms there that we’d love to check out.

Well that’s about it for now. Will try to post some photo’s on our blogspot for yall. Love and best wishes to everyone from us both. Cheers.


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