Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Mexico to

The Marquesas Islands

Day 21 - 34

 

 

 

Day 21
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 02 degrees 43 minutes S - 132 degrees 18 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 3', Waves 2', Wind S/SE at 15 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 2362 miles


April 13, 2007, Friday. Those nasty, annoying inkblots were back today, signifying we were now in the southern hemisphere ITCZ. These were even larger in size, some three to four miles wide, and like a Man of War jellyfish colony, began merging into one supersquall. Fortunately though we were able to dodge almost all of them and just had rain, no high winds. All of this squall action (I'm guessing) did kick up a short, choppy swell, hitting Talerra's hull broadside and causing a lot of back and forth movement. I'm getting worried that I won't get all of my chores done before we make landfall because this constant movement makes doing everyday tasks much more challenging, including just walking from one end of the boat to the other. It's like traversing one of those rope slung walking bridges with the person ahead of you making it go all wobbly. It did calm down considerably by the end of the day with no inkblots showing up on radar, and we had another bonus; the wind picked up and we began scooting along in the six to seven knot range! The inkblots remind me that I wanted to try to describe the beauty of a clear night sky. If there is no moon and it is cloudy, the sky is very similar to the blackness of an inkblot or the smooth black velvet spread out in a jeweler's showcase. It's like sailing into an abyss. You can't see anything and you are extremely grateful for radar technology. But if there are neither clouds nor moon, the dazzling beauty is so spectacular, it almost takes your breath away. It's as if that jeweler spread his entire supply of diamonds over the black velvet, almost completely covering its blackness. Dark out, it is not. How could it be with all of those billions of sparkling stars and brightly lit planets? The constellations seemingly jump out at you, making it obvious as to why the ancients named them as they did. And the shooting stars shine a more vibrant glowing white than I've ever seen. Before we left land I was concerned about the nights we wouldn't have a moon. I should not have been. No moon is necessary while sailing in such a brilliant, diamond studded planetarium!

 Day 22

Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 04 degrees 33 minutes S - 133 degrees 53 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 3', Waves 1.5', Wind SE at 10 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 2508 miles

 

April 14, 2007, Saturday. Through email and a radio contact with a few women friends (one of whom recently received her "General" ham license and was trying out their new radio/antenna set-up), I have been asked a few, how shall we say it, more sensitive questions. They want to know what it is really like out here (a Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story" log entry). Is it scary? Do we wear clothes? Do we stink, and do we shower? How do we leave our watch and go to the bathroom if the other person is asleep? Is it too much togetherness, and do we still like each other? The answers: not at all, yes, no, yes, quietly, no, and a definite yes! Starting with the last questions first, let me do a quick recap of our daily schedule, starting in the evening because our watches have a changed a little. David spends more time outside during the day and I like night watches, so he gets the first sleep beginning sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 P.M. until 12:30 or 1:00 A.M. I sleep from 1:00 to 4:00 A.M. David sleeps again from 4:00 to 8:00 or 8:30 A.M., and then we have a radio contact with our buddy boats out here. Following that, I sleep from around 9:30 A.M. to 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. David then takes a short nap for an hour or so. That puts us at around 4:00 P.M. It sounds like a lot of sleeping, but it ends up never being more than eight hours each. It also answers the question regarding a lot of togetherness. We don't get to spend that many waking hours together, so we don't get tired of each other. Given the choice, we would spend more time together! I know this is gaggy; but it's true. From 4:00 to 8:00 or 9:00 P.M., we have three radio contacts, two maritime nets and one with our ham buddies in Washington. We send and receive email, do laundry, cook, eat, cleanup, and try to squeeze in some other boat project. While one person is sleeping, the other can do some things, but you are at watch, so are somewhat limited, and you don't want to wake up the person sleeping. Having a water maker makes it easy to take showers often. It's quite warm out, so that is a wonderful luxury, and we can just as easily as before wear deodorant! As far as clothes go, we do wear them! Shorts and/or underwear and loose tops are the fashion of the day, which is nice because there is less hand laundry to do. The question regarding leaving watch while the other is asleep brings the autopilot back into the picture. It steers the boat 24/7, except when one of us is on the radio. You may recall that radio broadcasting messes up the functioning of the autopilot, so it is off at that time. Anyway, knowing it is doing all of that steering reminds me how upsetting it was when we went 70 hours without it. Then someone did have to continuously be at the wheel. You couldn't leave it to use the bathroom. If the other person was sleeping, you had to get them up. You couldn't eat at the same time (unless the one steering tried to eat and steer at the same time) or help the other person do something, you couldn't sleep as long because the person steering would get too tired, and you couldn't even easily hug. That was why it was such a big deal. Now you can leave the helm during your watch to get a drink or something to eat or a new book to read or to use the bathroom, and you don't have to be behind the wheel. You can sit or stand anywhere in the cockpit you want. Finally the scary question, I have honestly never been afraid on this passage, not even for an instant. Going back to our day, you can see how it goes quickly and there never seems to be enough time to do all of the things you want to get done. Not so very different from a day on land!

Day 23

Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 06 degrees 17 minutes S - 135 degrees 03 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 3', Waves 0.5', Wind SE at 8 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 2635 miles

 

April 15, 2007, Sunday. Tax day, well almost, since you get an extra day. I wonder how many of you are working on your taxes as I write (it's 5:00 a.m. Monday morning). Remember if you paid taxes, it means you made some money. That's not such a bad thing. In addition to enjoying almost perfect cruising conditions, there was a lot of focus on numbers on Talerra today as well. 3000, the number of miles we would travel between anchorages; ends up it will be 2965, just a few miles less. Still, it is the longest passage we will ever have to make in circumnavigating the world. If we do ever make one longer, it will be because we chose to skip a port, not because we had to. When David sailed around the world with his family, they made a 56-day passage, but only because they passed up ports of call. We may do the same one day, but this time there were no ports to skip. It was just one big ocean passage. Twenty-five to thirty days, the approximate time it would take; twenty-five it will be. From the time of writing, we have 270 miles remaining, with an estimated 55 hours of travel. That puts us arriving mid-day Wednesday, day 26, but will indicate we have traveled twenty-five days. We should still have lots of diesel since we have been having such beautiful sailing days. That is definitely a number thing because it means we will spend less at the fuel dock! Our destination is Fatu Hiva, the southern most island of the Marquesas. It is not a check-in location, but lots of boats arrive there first, spend a few days, and then head up to Hiva Oa for official check-in. This adds a couple of days to the 90 allowed by the French government, more numbers. We hear they are very strict about the 90-day visa. You can only stay longer if there is a dire emergency, so it will be about a month in the Marquesas, a few days at the Tuamotus, and a bit under two months in the Societies (Tahiti is the main island there). Our time at sea seems to have flown by; we hope we can make our time in French Polynesia stretch out to give us a lifetime of innumerable memories!

Day 24

Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 07 degrees 54 minutes S - 136 degrees 23 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 3', Waves 1', Wind SE at 10 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 2762 miles


April 16, 2007, Monday. We're still on for putting down anchor on Wednesday! How crazy will that be, to actually sleep in our regular bed, at night, together! Amazing. I never brought that up before, and no one has asked. I'm talking sleeping, specifically where, since you already know that whenever we are underway, we never both sleep at the same time. We do not sleep in our regular bed. That has become a storage facility for the outside cushions we don't use at sea, the back cushions from our seats in the main salon, our dry foul weather gear, never even put it on, our medical bags, in case of emergency, life vests, floatation harnesses, and anything else we can cram up there (it's our garage while in transit). We sleep in the main salon, the side being determined by which way we are healing (don't want to be tossed out of bed). That way whoever is sleeping can quickly get up if needed outside, and up forward there is a lot more movement, so it would be less comfortable anyway. We remove the back cushions and that gives us much more sleeping room. The other issue not previously mentioned is garbage. Our ham radio buddies have asked, but no one else has. As Patrick said when he asked, it is a sensitive issue. But for us, it really is not. We wash (don't want it to get stinky), dry, and keep anything plastic. Everything else goes overboard to be quickly disintegrated by the power of the Pacific. We took great care to remove all of the packaging possible from items we purchased and threw it away before we left. That meant a lot of items went into ziplock bags, which get washed, dried, and stored for future use. I label some bags for contents, such as meat, because even though I wash them between uses, I still don't want to put bread in a bag that once held raw meat. Speaking of washing the bags, haven't I complained about that yet? I don't like it, pure and simple, but when I see Flipper and Chip and their families and friends swimming by Talerra, it reminds me how important it is to not throw our plastic into their world.

Day 25

Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 09 degrees 20 minutes S - 137 degrees 59 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 3', Waves 1', Wind SE at 8 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 2892 miles

 

April 17, 2007, Tuesday. Landfall will be made tomorrow. We've read the cruising guides and studied the charts. I've even read Herman Melville's Typee, which describes his experience with a Marquesan tribe in the mid 1800's. David is ready to take the anchors out of stowage, and I did the best I could to get some of the "been at sea for three and a half weeks" cleaning done. Of course I didn't get everything done while underway that I wanted, but that is the way it usually goes. I'm sure I'll be able to squeeze in a bit of cleaning time here and there. Then again, we are in Polynesia, so we'll see just how much cleaning gets done! But hey! We've just crossed the Pacific Ocean; we can do anything!


Land Ho!
Lat/Long (1931 Z) - 09 degrees 48 minutes S - 139 degrees 01 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Who cares!
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 2964 miles

 

April 18, 2007, Wednesday. LAND HO! I was the first to spot land on radar and by eye! I think there is some prize that goes with that! Of course we couldn't see it very well initially, but we had done our homework and knew what to expect. We dropped and set anchor at 9:30 a.m., local time, thus clocking our passage at 25 days and 25 minutes, pretty close to the 25 to 30 day estimate made by David. We traveled 2964 miles, very likely completing the longest passage we will ever make. Of course we are somewhat tired and a bit sleep deprived, but we really did have an easy crossing. All of our equipment is working, no sails are torn, we weren't in any big storms, and best of all, we still like each other! We'll just have to make up some exciting sea stories, like our close encounter with the giant squid, for our get-togethers with other cruisers. Our landfall is being made on Hiva Oa, the largest of the southern Marquesas Islands, and one of the two official ports of entry. The Marquesas Islands are mostly mountainous, with high cliffs, lush green valleys, tall waterfalls, mango, cashew and citrus fruit orchards, banana and breadfruit groves, and coconut palm plantations. The people, who numbered over 100,000 before Captain Cook arrived, and now number about 6,000, are friendly, easy going and love to dance. Hiva Oa is also known as Gauguin's island for Paul Gauguin, the famous French painter. He lived here and is buried at Atuona, the town next to our anchorage. Ooooooooo, there is going to be so much to see and do! We can't wait! Hey, I wonder if they have butter spray?
*** At this point I plan to continue to make log entries, just not daily. We are going to be busy enjoying the fruits of our labor to get here (remember, we've been working toward this goal for 30 years). I have and will continue to do my best, in the time allowed, in describing what we see and experience as we travel on Talerra.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Marquesas Islands (Hiva Oa Island, Atuona - 4/18, 19, 20, Hiva Oa Island, Hanaiapa Bay - 4/21, 22, Tahuata Island, Hanamoenoa Bay - 4/23, 24, Ua Pou Island, Hakahau Bay - 4/25, 26)
We are making a passage today from the island of Tahuata to the island of Ua Pou, about 62 miles, which translates to at least ten hours of travel time if the wind is up. So far, so good! We have encountered a few squalls, so that helps in the wind department, washes the salt from the decks, and the lumpy seas remind me we are not in the San Juan Islands any longer. Our week in the Marquesas has been fabulous! The people are so, so friendly and sweet. While we were in Atuona, our port of entry on Hiva Oa, we of course used the public transport system, hitch-hiking. It seemed so funny to me to see these "50 something" cruisers, many who in their former lives drove expensive, fancy vehicles, now sticking their thumbs out and hitching rides in the backs of pickups. Thankfully the islanders are all willing to stop and many have added bench seats in the backs just for this purpose. And most of these trucks are not junkers; the local economy appears to be treating most people quite well because many of the vehicles are brand new. This also reminds me to mention how neat and tidy and clean the villages are. They are surrounded by lush, green foliage and flowers of every color in the rainbow, so that doesn't hurt, but it's more than that. It's taking pride in what they have and in their surroundings. At Hanaiapa Bay on the north coast of Hiva Oa, the village was immaculate! The roads were lined with coconut palms, mango, papaya, grapefruit, breadfruit, lime, and banana trees. Hibiscus, franga pani, and many other flowers were everywhere, on the plants, decorating the churches and houses and in the hair of all of the females, babies to grandmothers. Dried coconut (for its oil) and noni (used in specialty fruit drinks to promote good health) are two of the money-making crops on this and other islands. And seeing all of this is after you have left your boat anchored next to tall rocky, gray and green cliffs with a waterfall cascading down one side and a powerful blow hole providing thunderous booms as the waves crash beneath it and then are blown into the sky. Next we were off to Hanamoenoa Bay on Tahuata, one of the three anchorages Eric Hiscock (famous cruiser) rated as the most beautiful in Polynesia, and it was easy to see why. We anchored in twenty feet of crystal clear, aquamarine-hued water. The coconut palm-lined, white sandy beach truly was a travel brochure photo waiting to happen. We had such a good time snorkeling in the 86 degree plus water that it was difficult to pull up anchor. But that we did, and now are headed to Hakahau Bay on Ua Pou, with it's surf-free sandy beach (making it easy to go ashore, unlike some surf landings which come with free salt water showers if you aren't very careful), and beautiful carvings of wood, stone, and coconut shells. It even has a church with a pulpit carved from a gigantic chunk of tou wood in the shape of the bow of a boat and is adorned with symbolic carvings as well. I have a feeling we won't be disappointed there either!