The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron

Thursday, March 30, 2017

More photos of the Marquesas

Photos are slow in downloading.  Glacially slow!

Our anchorage in Ua Huka.
Another anchorage to ourselves in Pua, Nuku Hiva.

The kids being motor heads.

Fording one of the many rivers on our way to the waterfall.  After Ana saw a two foot freshwater eel she refused to cross any more rivers, only Dad took her down on this crossing.

Just a small bunch of bananas.

Zander carrying our bananas back.

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View on a hike of Ua Pua.
One of the terraced pae par's, ancient house foundations.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Nuku Hiva

We've really been enjoying Nuku Hiva, the 5th island in the group we've explored here in the Marquesas. Our first stop was to Taiohae, the second largest town in the Marquesas. We felt like tourist for the first time in months, there were yacht amenities including laundry, a small chandlery, some food stalls and even a tourist info kiosk. We provisioned with some wonderful French foods, ate a few plates of steak and frits and rented a car to see the interior of the island. It was fun to explore something at faster than 6 knots and we felt like we were speeding as we puttered 35 miles around the island. Much like the other islands, Nuku Hiva is an island with an impressive topography. Volcanic in origin, the peaks are tall and jagged. The mountains trap moisture laden clouds in the interior and the canopy is lush and green. When it rains, it rains hard, and the valleys become rivers and the roads are often awash with runoff. We explored a Marquesan ceremonial/village site that had been excavated near the north coast, wandering around through the site looking for petroglyph's and ancient relics. The boys climbed down into a pit that was used to hold prisoners from warring villages that were going to be used for a future sacrifice. We drove over the spine of the island to the dry side crossing a patch of land that was used for grazing cattle. We often had to stop the car to wait for feral horses to move or a feral pig to cross. We got fantastic aerial views of bays and coasts from some prominent looks out points that we normally only see at sea level.
Back in Taiohae we provisioned for a week and headed out on our circumnavigation of Nuka Hiva. Our first stop at Daniel's Bay was the site for the reality show Survivors Marquesas. It's a dramatic bay and the boat was dwarfed by thousand foot cliffs. The valley was magical and we spent three days there. We met a Marquesan family that we ended up spending part of our three days with and really enjoying. Teiki and Kua were a good source of information and we did quite a bit of bartering with them. One thing I love about the Marquesans is that they never ask for a hand out. They may ask if you have something to trade, but we found them fair and if anything overly generous. Whenever you visit a Marquesan home you are given a gift. We've been given loads of fruit over the last few weeks. Ana even received a black pearl necklace in Fatu Hiva. Teiki and Kua gave us mangos and pomplemousse. When Michael mentioned we had 22 caliber bullets we'd love to gift them back they added some freshly caught wild pig and goat meat. After they loaded us down with a banana stalk so heavy I couldn't carry it, a burlap bag of pomplemousse, fresh meat and a random assortment of other small fruits we felt like we needed to offer more. The bullets cost us $3 in the US, but they are like gold here, costing anywhere between $50 and $100 for the box, if they can be found at all. When I asked if there was anything else I could give them from the boat Kua brought out some old cocoa powder and asked if I would bake her a chocolate cake. The next morning we brought our cake ashore and they were like children at Christmas. Apparently the Marquesans do not have a baking culture, but they do love their baked treats so we are now going to try to have cookies or brownies ready whenever we expect visitors. Teiki and Kua live in a home year round amongst a half a dozen other small houses of family members. Most live in Taiohae and stay in the valley only a few weeks at a time to harvest fruit, but some are year round residents.
From the small "village" we walked up an old royal road (paved with flat stones and from a time when the valley was home to thousands of people). It was a magical walk with a goat trimmed path, lined with lush tropical flowers and fruit bearing trees. The entire valley was littered with pae pae's and other ruins just short jaunts from the path. We found rock walls, pae pae's, and even a few intact Tiki's. At one point we found a horse tied to the head of an old tiki. The locals are so used to living with antiquity that they often build their own houses upon the foundations of their ancestors or use an ancient relic to tie up livestock. One day we followed the path up to the second tallest waterfall in the world, Vaipo Falls (1100 feet tall). The trail was often overgrown, but we managed to find our way after walking about 2 hours. We forded the river several times, at one crossing we ran head to head into a very friendly 2 foot fresh water eel. From that point forward Ana was on Michael's back for the rest of the river crossings! From a mile away we could see the upper part of the falls, but not the lower and once we got to the base, the river canyon was so steep we could not see the upper portion of the falls. But the roar of the water was deafening and the mist was refreshing. It was a great hike and besides feeding the valley's mosquito population we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
From Daniel's Bay we moved on to the west side of the island and finally the north spending the night in Pua. We swam ashore only to have to have Zander return and pick us up with the dingy because we couldn't swim back with all the fruit we were given by one of the residents. Since we didn't bring anything ashore with us we returned later with a few canned items that were well received. Mike made a fantastic curried goat for dinner and we had a lovely flat anchorage to ourselves.
After several nights in empty bays it was fun to see some friendly boats when we turned into Anaho Bay on the NE corner of the island later in the week. We had dinner with an American couple a Dutch couple and a Canadian solo sailor. It was one of many lovely shared meals we've experienced with fellow cruisers in the Marquesas. We also snorkeled the only coral reef in the whole island group. Visibility is still pretty poor with the constant runoff from daily rain showers (downpours), but the small black tipped sharks in the shallows were a first for us, so a less than ideal day snorkeling is still usually a pretty good day! The boys have also been busy wake boarding behind the dingy, and that never gets old. They teamed up with a few other 40 year old kids and have been the local motor heads.
Tomorrow we head back to Taiohae for probably just a night before we head to our last island of Ua Pou.

Monday, March 20, 2017

More of the Marquesas, March 20

From Fatu Hiva we sailed back to Hiva Oa to pick up a few supplies, including 9 baguettes that we managed to eat in less than 48 hours. Have I mentioned we are carbo freaks and my sad attempts at bread at sea, just don't cut it when we have other options! We also managed to be in town for their bi-monthly cruiser potluck. It had been a few months since we'd caught up with other American cruisers and although it was fun talking to the Dutch and French boats in the harbor, it was a refreshing sound to hear an American accent.
We decided to do a night sail to cover th 55 miles to Ua Huka to save the kids from another long day at sea. To kill the day we motored to the west side of Hiva Oa and found the nicest little bay. We had had torrential rains the night before, including flash lightening, so it was no surprise to see the bay a muddy color from the river outflow. When we explored inland we saw that it must have rained even harder than we had originally thought. Flash flooding evidence was everywhere. The creek was a raging river and vegetation debris was caught up in trees 4-6 feet high. All the smaller trees and bushes on the ground were bent over and we were happy we weren't stuck there 12 hours earlier. There were a few lovely little cottages in the bay, but we didn't see anyone at home and there weren't any boats in the bay, weekend getaways for those in Autuona possibly. As if life in a tropical paradise in a town of 2500 hundred people is so stressful you need to get away from it all (but then who am I to talk)! We walked back into the valley and explored a few pae pae's, ancient house platforms, the only remanent of the civilization that was here before Europeans brought in their influence. Back near the modern cottages we found a perfect little spring that someone had damned up to use as a swim pool. Cascading water ran off the hillside, through the lilies and other flowering plants, into the pool surrounded by something that smelled like a gardenia. It was a perfect setting. The kids chased after the freshwater shrimp that made a home in the pool. Apparently they are good eating, but we haven't seen many big enough to harvest, yet.
After an incredibly fast night sail to Ua Huka, averaging almost 8 knots, we arrived into the village of Hane on the south side. Hane is a quiet little village that we explored in about 15 minutes. Ua Huka only gets about 10% of the cruising yachts, so people are even friendlier than usual, if that is possible. After walking around town we returned with a stalk of bananas, a bag of limes and a watermelon. Ua Huka is the only island that is free of the black rat and therefore has the most avifauna of all the islands. That still doesn't amount to a lot, but many of the birds are endemic. We decided to try to hike to the next town over since we had heard they had a nice museum. About a quarter mile out of town a truck stopped us, corrected us in the distance to the next town (10km away) and told us it wasn't all that interesting anyway. Instead he brought us to a ceremonial site that he was photographing for the Mayor by drone. Every two years there is a Marquesan festival on one of the islands and the site changes every festival. Ua Huka had outdone itself with multiple thatched buildings and beautiful carvings, carved stone tiki's, and manicured grounds and lo and behold the museum was on the same property. Unfortunately our friend, Thomas, didn't have the key, but most of the building was covered in windows so we were peeping toms and managed to see most of the displays. Thomas also returned us to Hane and gave us some great anchorage ideas to stop in on our way to Nuka Hiva, the island to the west. On the way to one such anchorage we passed two large bird islands. Huge, rocky outcropping's covered with nesting Sooty Terns. Apparently one day a year the islanders harvest eggs from the island as they historically always did. Now, because there are so few islands with nesting birds in the Marquesas (due to the introduced rat decimating ground nesting sea bird populations), the islanders don't eat too many of the eggs. We found the rope the villagers use to scale the 20 foot cliff and of course Zander had to climb it.
In another anchorage we anchored the dingy, swam ashore and did some fabulous hiking. Mostly when we get to vacant beaches we can't find our way through the thick foliage to get a good view. This part of Ua Huka has fewer trees and we climbed all over the surrounding hills, upsetting the feral goats and horses as we trod on their trails. Zander and Porter also found some caves through the sandstone and lava rock (yes a strange combination) that they were able to climb down into and see the surge come in from below. From atop it sounded like a breathing dragon and Ana and I were content to stay on top. The boys like caving, but they have a healthy respect for the potential dangers and are pretty careful.
After a few days on Ua Huka we made the 25 mile passage to Nuka Hiva. Of course we could stay at all these anchorages longer, but time is ticking and we have already been in the Marquesas for 3 weeks and in another week or so we will have to start making the trek south.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cruising Cost, the real breakdown, scheduled post

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post for cruisers traveling to French Guiana, it was probably quite boring to the non cruiser, but I hope it helped a future cruiser to that region. This one may be equally boring to the non cruiser, but aimed to help a family dreaming of an exit plan.
I wrote a blog recently about the costs of going cruising, without actually adding any dollar amounts. Our upbringing conditions us not to talk about money, for a variety of good reasons, so we tend to shy away from blatantly talking about costs. That may be the polite response, but cruisers that are dreaming of bringing their families out, need real dollar amounts to know what they are up against. Unless you get some raw data you can’t make real decision on how much you have to save, reserve or have coming in. I don’t like to publicize how much we make, spend, fritter away, but in the hopes that I can enlighten a few people on the actual costs of cruising, I’m breaking my personal taboo and including a summary of our expenditures thus far and how they are broken down.

As a family of five we spend roughly $4300 dollars a month cruising. In some places we are probably extravagant, and in others painfully frugal. It would be interesting to do a monthly breakdown, but I resisted the temptation simply because it varies hugely depending on where we are that particular month and what large expenditures skew the average. We have frugal months where we are mostly at sea or anchored in a relatively inexpensive areas (Mexico, Portugal, Grenada) and we have expensive months when we are transiting the Canal or doing major boat projects and in a marina. The following 
breakdown averages 28 months of cruising in Mexico, Europe, the Caribbean and now we will have some South Pacific data.

The numbers generally speak for themselves, but I will elaborate a little on the different categories so a future cruiser may see where they may have higher expenditures or lower based on their habits and itinerary.

Eating out : Accounts for 9% of our budget. We like to eat and there are five of us, so we probably spend more than most cruising families in this category. With the exception of Mexico and maybe Morocco, most of our meals out are comparable to US prices. The also includes ice cream and sodas in town which I hate to admit add up to quite a bit.

Fuel : (5%) This number may seem a little high, but consider we have traveled over 23,000 nautical miles and that is probably more than most people travel annually, this is a big budget item. It would be dramatically less if we planned to stay in one geographic region : the Med, the Caribbean, Mexico. This also accounts for our propane/butane costs as well as gasoline for the outboard and generator.

Groceries : (17%) Again we like to eat well and there are five of us, so our bills are high. That said we are frugal and when groceries are reasonable I fill the bilges up and when we are in more expensive places we eat out of our stores as much as possible.

Immigration : (3%) Generally immigration costs are not that high. Our amount is a little skewed considering I lumped our two Panamal Canal fees into this category ($1000 each transit and will have to add our $1400 Galapagos fee in a future tally).

Land Travel : (12%) We love the boat, but we also really like to get off the boat and see the land based sites. My favorite reason to cruise is to travel and get to new places. Some of those places are not always accessible by boat. As examples, we did a week long trip to the Copper Canyon in Mexico, a 4 day trip around the Yucatan, another 4 days in Ireland, 3 more days in Scotland, 2 weeks traveling around France and two weeks traveling around Morocco. In addition we did numerous overnights and day trips and racked up numerous rental car fees for shorter forays. This number could definitely be brought down if you stayed in the islands where land travel is not a necessity to see the region.

Misc. : (9%) This is the big catch all. This category includes cab rides, laundry costs, birthday and Xmas presents, haircuts, clothing, school expenses and anything else that doesn’t fit in the other categories. One of these days I plan to tease out these costs a little more, but for now, this is as good as it is going to get.

Misc. Boat : (27%) As you can see this is our big expenditure. It also covered boat insurance which is about $4K a year. I don’t think this number implies our boat has had many breakages, it is more a testament to the fact that Michael repairs things the moment they show a squeak of imperfection. We do have a 24 year old boat, so you would expect a few more costs in this category compared to someone with a newer boat, but I think it mostly illustrates how diligent Mike is about staying on top of maintenance. We’ve been very lucky so far. Mike simply is very much a fan of preventive maintenance. Sometimes I might even call it a little OCD, but when we are crossing oceans I’m happy for his foresight. Along those lines, because we are crossing many oceans, we cannot risk waiting for something to break before fixing it. In addition we have three precious cargo units on board and we are probably overly cautious about their safety (there probably aren’t too many people that have 4 gumby suits on a 42 foot boat in the tropics or two life rafts). We probably spend more in this category than most other people that don’t actually have things breaking on them. You could buy a fixer upper and have high costs, but we bought a great blue water cruiser and we are extremely happy with her performance thus far, we just believe in our own trifecta of stressless cruising: preventive maintenance, redundancy and multiple spares. We could probably open a small chandlery with the spares we carry on board.

Marina : (8%) Most of our marina costs are actually from leaving the boat when we have flown home. This cost would be much less if we didn’t go home 4 times in 3 years. For example, last year we spent about 40 days total tied up in a marina.

Tour : (3%) This is a relatively small segment of our budget, but it includes everything educational we do with the kids including visiting museums, going on guided hikes and other tours.

Travel at Home : (6%) We have been lucky in this category. We made one trip home with the boat (Florida Grandparents) and only incurred marina and rental car costs and the other flights home were highly subsidized by grandparents desperate to see their water logged grandchildren and make sure they weren’t too traumatized by a life at sea.

Medical : (2%) This covers visits to the doctor, dentist and health insurance.  We only cover evacuation and travel insurance, so this cost is substantially less than if we had full coverage from the States. 

Where does the $4300 dollars a month come from every month? We were lucky enough to have a house we rent that was half paid off, so our rent, even after expenses, is half profit. We have two commericial properties that generate some income and we have a summer house that we rent and almost break even on. We do have to come up with some money every month, but after three years of cruising it will amount to less than the price of a new car. So yes, when we return home, I will be driving my old 2000 station wagon until it literally falls apart, but I think it is a great tradeoff.

Could you do it for less? Absolutely, I think most people could do it for much less. If we were doing this as a lifestyle we’d cut down on the land travel, the eating out and the travel home. We still think of it as a short trip, so we splurge more than if we were planning to be out here indefinitely. If we had younger children and not teenagers that consumed huge quantities of food we would have a lower grocery bill as well. If we didn’t move so fast we would have a lower fuel bill (yes we are on a sail boat, but we still do plenty of motoring on our shorter legs, which do add up). On the other hand, we are frugal by nature, so we shop around and use our money wisely. School costs are low as I have bought almost all my curriculums on ebay second hand. I mentioned our insurance costs are low, but they could be even lower if we chose to go without. Many people do not insure their boat and rely on inexpensive local medical care instead of paying monthly premiums for insurance at home they most likely will never use. Other small things help: we walk when we can, we eat in little dive shops when we can, we bargain when it is appropriate, we hand wash, we do everything we can to lessen our costs. In addition Mike does as much of the boat maintenance as he can.
If you have a sound boat and a capable crew, with a family of five, I think you could cruise comfortably on $3000 a month, mostly anchoring out. Less is certainly doable, but I think you would probably have to cut a few corners unless you were anchoring in only a few inexpensive places for a long time. Likewise, you could always spend more: spend more time in marinas, eat out more, do more land travel, have a boat mortgage or have house expenses that are not offset by renters. Everyone will have a different set of priorities, but if you’ve been following us at all, you can probably tell what kind of cruisers we are and judge your own future expenditures against our stated costs.
Anyway, I hope this helps get someone out there that is hesitant or thinks you need a lot more money to get your family on the water having the adventure of a lifetime. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fatu Hiva

We won't get a lot of sympathy for admitting this, but we are all complaining of tendonitis in our wrists from eating so much pamplemousse! It is a good problem to have. Life has been good to us, very good lately.

Just over a week ago we sailed into the dramatic Bay of Virgins in Fatu Hiva just as the sun was setting. It was a rough 40 mile passage from Hiva Oa. Fatu Hiva is usually an upwind sail and sailing here reminded us why we chose not to sail up the North American Continent home and instead take the more oceanic route. Sailing to weather sucks! After 24 days at sea you'd think we'd be able to handle anything the seas throw at us, but alas, the passage to Fatu Hiva kicked our collective butts. We were very happy when we got into the lee of the island Thor Heyerydahl made famous in the thirties. Fortunately it was a short crossing and our misery was short lived.

The story goes that the original name for the bay was Bay des Verges, which translates into the Bay of the Phalli, a reference to the vertical spires that line the bay. The early missionaries weren't a fan of the name and added one letter to call it the Bay des Vierges, or Bay of Virgins. Despite the name, it is one of the most dramatic anchorages we have every seen. The lofty peaks seem to be eternally shrouded in clouds keeping the spine of the island green and beautiful. With the precipitous cliffs crashing into the ocean and the jungle center, it truly looks like the land of King Kong.

The Williwaws gusting off the mountains were intense and never let up the whole time we were there. Fortunately there were only two other boats in the bay and we were able to put out a lot of scope and not worry about hitting other boats. We spent the first couple of days sticking close to the boat, convincing ourselves that our anchor was really holding. Mike tried to dive on the anchor, but the visibility wasn't fantastic and after we dropped the anchor the boat floated back into 100 feet of water, so he could never find the anchor with only snorkel gear. On land we hiked up to a waterfall with a huge outflow of water due to the torrential rains that seem to occur every afternoon. We weren't able to swim in the pools (we couldn't even find the pools due to the volume of water cascading down), but it was fun hiking, following the cairns from one rocky outcropping to another, in the otherwise lush jungle.

We traded with the locals for some of the famous Marquesan carvings. The really impressive artwork gets sent to Tahiti, but we traded for a few utilitarian items. The women wanted perfume and makeup, which we didn't have, but the men wanted 22 caliber bullets and alcohol. I know, a great combination! A cheap $5 bottle of rum at home may cost $40 in the Marquesas. We had a few spare bottles (we use cheap rum to kill our fish, a splash of alcohol over the gills knocks them out), but mostly we traded for 22 shells. The bullets are regulated heavily by the local police, but the islanders need them to hunt the feral goats on the island. When we heard they were in demand we brought a few bricks with us and sure enough, they were a hot commodity. We also traded for unnecessary things on the boat; an old pair of sunglasses, an old watch, clothes, etc.

After we were convinced the boat was safe, even though the winds were still gusty, we took the dingy down the coast to the only other village on the island, Omoa. Omoa is only about 5 miles away, but with five of us in the dingy we puttered along slowly and half an hour later we were finally tied up the municipal pier. The anchorage in Omoa is notorious for being rolly, so most boats anchor off of Hanavave in the Bay of Virgins, as we did, and do day trips to Omoa. We had been anchored in Fatu Hiva for four days, but had yet to meet the other two boats' crews anchored near us. Absolutely coincidentally, mid way through our dingy ride to Omoa, a local boat passed us with the crew of one boat, also bringing them to Omoa to hike across the island, as we had planned. Ironically, they also had three kids, twin 8 year old girls and an 11 year old boy, and serendipitously both crews had all chosen to hike across the island on the same day, at roughly the same time. It turned out to be a lovely hike, hot and steep, but with breath taking views of the mountains, the coast and the impressive valleys. We had great company and although the kids all had a language barrier to contend with, the five youngest kids got along beautifully and had a ball. The hike was tough, but it was a great way to see the island. Really the only way to see the interior of the island since there are very few other trails. The terrain was unfathomably steep so bushwhacking wasn't really an option. After a 6 hours hike, we hobbled back to the boat, while Porter went to play soccer with his new French friends and some of the local kids.

Back in Hanavave, on subsequent days, we continued to explore the coast by dingy, we swam to shore when we wanted to check something out; a waterfall, cave or to swim with a Manta. We kayaked and swam from the boat. We picked local fruit, we were given bag loads of local fruit and we traded for more of the same. There is a serious lack of vegetables on the island, most locals have huge freezers in the front rooms of their homes and much of their food is brought in frozen from the bi-monthly supply ship, but fruit is everywhere.

On one hike up the mountain Michael ceremoniously left a rock he had picked up in 1998 with the assumption that one day he would be back on his own boat to replace it. It took almost 20 years, but we made it.

Although we could have stayed longer, after a week on the island we felt like we needed to move on. Fatu Hiva was a fantastic stop for all of us and one day we hope to be back. Hopefully I can get some photos loaded sooner than later. Wifi is glacially slow in some places, and non existent in others.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hiva Oa and Tahuata

Our first full week in the Marquesas was spent jumping back and fourth between Hiva Oa and Tahuata, two islands separated by about 6 miles. Hiva Oa was a great place to arrive, pick up a few supplies, get some wifi, do some banking and officially check into French Polynesia. Otherwise we didn't spend much time there because it seemed like every time we pulled into the harbor it rained. And when it rains in the Marquesas, it doesn't just drizzle, it is a full deluge of rain. Tatuata was a veritable paradise in comparison with white sand beaches, trees laden with fruit and interesting marine wildlife to spy on. We've been filling up on mango's, limes, bananas and the ever present pamplemousse (a massive, sweet grapefruit that has become our new favorite fruit). The Marquesans are incredibly friendly and they are always giving us fruit. We try to have a few things stashed in our bags to trade, but even when we have nothing to offer they stills stuff fruit in our hands. On our first morning on the island of Tatuata, after waking up the lone boat in the bay, we noticed fins above the water and schooling fish everywhere. The Manta Rays feed on the small shrimp and plankton, as do the schooling fish, so if we follow the fish, we get to swim with Mantas. They are amazing, majestic and Zander's favorite animal, so we seem to be perpetually chasing Mantas. The finger like bays on Tahuata are nursery grounds for both Mantas and Dolphins and we see them everywhere.

Back in Hiva Oa we purchased duty free fuel and provisioned at the gas station on the dock. Only in a French country could you buy sushi quality tuna, baguettes and artesian cheeses from a gas station. French Polynesia isn't cheap, but the government subsidizes staples, so as long as we don't buy too many imported foods, our grocery bill is surprisingly low.

We are loving French Polynesia, wishing we spoke more French, but loving it nonetheless. We think we are the first boat that has arrived, after making the crossing, in the last few months. The other boats in the harbors seem to be resident boats, mostly Europeans that can stay in French Polynesia longer than we North Americans can, and have been in the islands for more than a season. In the next few weeks more boats will start arriving from Panama and Mexico and we are hoping we can catch back up with a few friends that we met in the Caribbean that will also be visiting French Polynesia this year.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A few photos from the crossing

Wifi is unbelievably slow, so photos will be slow in coming, but here are a few from our trip from the  Galapagos to French Polynesia.

hanging off the boat on a very slow day

keeping ourselves busy

bosun chair swinging, a favorite pastime

Fish Slayer

mid crossing

Notes on our passage to the Marquesas.

Too damn long!  I’ve read sailing logs about couples that slow their boat down when they get close to land because they have gotten in such a groove that they don’t want their pleasant little routine to end.  Not us, we were dreaming about baguettes by the middle of the trip and it only went down hill from there.  We had multiple evenings of “what restaurant would you be eating at, and what would you order, if you could be there now.”  Dreaming about food was a definite pastime.  Mind you, we eat well on passages, very well, but you dream about the things you can’t possibly make: ice cream, artesian bread, donuts. Not to mention Five Guys, we all missed great burgers. 

Our trip started slow, very slow. For the first 12 days we didn’t see winds bigger than 9 knots and even those days were few.  We praised our spinnaker daily to squeeze a few knots out of the wind.  We motored when we could, we sailed slowly and we bobbed for a few days not making much more speed than the current was taking us.  We had several swim calls, taking advantage of the flat seas to swim off the boat, take the kayaks out and burn off some energy.  I’m a little nervous swimming when the closest land is several miles below you, but my kids are all fearless.  The boys swam around the boat when all the sails were flying, trying to keep up with the 2 knot speed.  Ana cannon balled off the stern everyone had a good time cooling off in the cobalt, crystal clear, mid ocean water.  These were silver lining moments in a series of otherwise slow days.

On Day 12 our luck changed and the trades finally made their presence.  While we loved the speed of 160 knot days, we missed the idle days of the boat not jostling around.  Instead we balanced, held on and watched the miles click by.   On day 17 we celebrated Porters Birthday afloat.  Not the most exciting of days, but we saved some of his favorite foods: smoothies, bacon and pancakes for breakfast, lasagna for dinner with some frozen stashed ricotta cheese and finally peach crisp with canned peaches and UHT cream.  We had schools of Dolphins check us out and seabirds trail in our wake, but otherwise our wildlife sightings were confined to the gecko we had as a stowaway on board and would show himself every few days. He’s still with us and we aren’t totally sure what to do with him.

The wind died down again after a good 5-6 day run and we were back to downwind sailing, with our head sail poled out and a preventer on the main, sailing wing and wing, trying to get every half knot of speed we could coax from the sails.  Down wind isn’t the fastest point of sail, and the boat rocks a lot more, so it isn’t our favorite, but at least we didn’t have to motor. These were slow days, but we practiced our French, had epic conversations about everything under the sun and spent endless hours watching the nightly star show. 

With less than 500 miles to go we got the wind back and we had some nice sailing with 15-20 knot of wind, our comfort zone.  Just to make it interesting we had three squalls the last night out and while we were racing along at 10 plus knots we were dreaming of a good night’s sleep and a flat anchorage.

It was definitely not a fast passage and after 24 days at sea we were so happy to see those lofty peaks of Hiva Oa. We had a few medical setbacks during the passage, but all in all it was another successful passage. The end tally was one sprained wrist (Michael), one boiling water burn (Amy), zero breakage (another amazing feat for such a long passage), 60 plus movies watched, 25 plus books read, a little Spanish, a little French, 3 landed yellow fin tunas, 75 gallons of diesel burnt, 10 lbs of chocolate eaten, 2 swim calls, and finally 5 very tired, salty sailors.

We will be in and around the Marquesas for the next month and then on to the Tuamotus, 400 miles to the south. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 1, Arrival Marquesas

I didn't think this day would ever come. It seems like we have been at sea for an eternity.

The lofty peaks of Hiva Oa came into view about 9 am after 2900 miles of seeing nothing but waves and clouds. Poseidon mocked our extremely slow crossing by throwing in 3 huge squalls on our last night at sea. Winds gusted 40 knots, rain poured down completely obliterating our vision and of course we had all our canvas flying. At that point we didn't care, rather than reef or take sail down we simply rocked and rolled all night, and watched our GPS speed top 12 knots as we surfed down breakers. If only we could have harnessed a little of that energy earlier on in the cruise! The last 24 hours was probably our fastest of the passage.

All that is in the past now, we are securely anchored back to the planet and the boat is remarkably still. As we passed the headland on Hiva Oa we could actually smell land. The rich soil, the fragrant flowers it was an assault on the olfactory senses. We sailed along the island and passed verdant spires, waterfalls, we saw feral goats graze and watched the antics of sea birds dive off the cliffs. You can't imagine how lovely it was simply to watch land.

We will spend the night on the hook and then venture into town tomorrow to do the obligatory check in. We've had a hard last few days and we are ready to hit our bunks for our first full night of sleep in almost a month. Ah, the simple things in life.

Pelagic Crew