Well, that’s it.
The long awaited ‘holy cow that’s a long passage’ passage is over.
The anticipation, a memory. The climax, already water under the bridge. Now what?
We are anchored in the Bay of Virgins, off the Village of Hanaveve, in Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia… or, in other words: 10 degrees 27 minutes south latitude, 138 degrees 40 minutes west longitude.
Just astern of us is the only other boat already here, a Catamaran of unknown nationality (I can’t see their flag). There is clearly a small village ashore, right off the bow, but all I can see at the moment is a soccer field and a radio tower of some kind. The bay itself is similar in many ways to St Vincent – except more majestic, bigger, more dramatic in it’s grandeur – especially when you recall that you have just sailed more than three thousand nautical miles to get here. The lee of the island, which we had a chance to inspect a bit on our way into the anchorage, is wholly similar to Kauai – in fact, one section is a brother geological formation to the Napali Coast. If you have ever seen that, then you know the natural beauty I’m talking about. Everything else in sight is some shade of green (trees, shrubs, etc) or black (the lava!!!!). Green, lush, rugged, beautiful. A landlfall in paradise. Looks like the set of Lost, or Jurassic Park – just to put it into context for you. (It’s so much better than a movie set!!!!) Oh yeah, and their are goat on the rocks and steep slopes, eathing the grass on the north side of the anchorage.
We motored very slowly up and down the lee coast all night long, not wanting to make this landfall by night. The night seemed endless after so many days at sea and Lara and I took short two hours turns on watch just to try and make it bearable. I tried several times to sail, but in the lee of this tall island (over 850 meters of soaring volcanic spires and mountains), the wind was nill to almost nill. So we had to call on Yan, and Yan is showing me some troubling signs of an unusual smoke from the exhaust… will have to double-back on that one and get it sorted. All in good time.
I am starting to unwind (the adrenaline drains away and you feel the pure raw will to sleep for days) and clean up the boat – though I have just seen we’ve got one helluva cleanup job to do on the bottomside. I have never seen this particular growth before, but Walk On has acquired a Santa Claus beard of marine life that I almost can’t believe. And to starboard, on which side we were heeled most of the time, the growth is even up over the bootstripe (white stripe down by the waterline) and encroaching quite nicely on the lovely dark blue hull paint. Wow. You have to see it to believe it. Speaking of unwinding, once we were sure the anchor was set, Lara hit the hay in a matter of seconds. Poor thing. This last watch had been hers and I know she too just wants some pure, quality, undisturbed and un-heeling resting time to sleep. She deserves it! What a champ she’s been on this our longest passage.
So, a few numbers…
If you count ‘arrival’ as coming close (within a mile) of the north tip of the island last night – we did the trip in 21 days and 10 hours.
If you count arrival as anchors down after motoring off shore all night to wait for daybreak – we did the tirp in 21 days and 21.5 hours.
I’ve no hard numbers on the exact mileage, but I do know that it was a bit further than the published rhumb-line or even great circle routes – which will generally give you something like 2,950 nautical miles from the Galapagos – Santa Cruz. As we left from San Cristobal (further east), and did quite a bit of tacking off the wind the last days of the trip, I would venture that we did easily 3.100 nautical miles.
Best case: 3 weeks and 10 hours – 514 hours – 3,100 miles – avg speed of 6.03 knots
Worst case: 3 weeks and 21.5 hours – 525.5 hours – 3,100 miles – avg speed of 5.90 knots.
Neither one of these is very appealing to me – for reasons that I won’t go into at the moment – but it is what it is, and we are here. Bummer we lost the use of our Spinnaker pole – I think we would have made it here in 19.5 days more or less (avg. of 6.62 knots or something like that). Still, Lara got to surf a wave at 10.6 knots she said.
And for numbers and lists, I’ll wait until my next email to post some other kind of disturbing news (about what broke or broke down, and what is on the fix-it soon list!).
For the moment, our very best from Fatu Hiva.
From French Polynesia.
This unlikely couple (simple guy from the desert in AZ, lovely lady from the farmlands of Brazil’s interior) has just done one very long ocean passage – successfully and happily – crossing the better part of the largest ocean on our known planet. Without major incident, in relative peace and comfort, and just tickled to have actually done this in our own boat, on our own time – and yet still in our lifetime! Carpe diem.
Sail far gang, and live slow too.
MM & Lara