Paradise Found, at last
March 27, 2012, 11:52 am, Baie Tahauka, Hiva-Oa French Polynesia
We arrived at Tahauka Bay in Hiva-Oa on Saturday, March 24 at 5:41pm eastern time (1:11pm local) almost 21 days since we left the Galapagos. The picture above is a portion of the bay showing At Last and some of the World ARC fleet. Overall, we feel very good about the trip. Janet keeps commenting about how much she likes the long passages but she was glad to see the island rise above the horizon at dawn that morning. We spent most of the last three days motoring with the engine due to lack of wind so this part of the trip was relatively uneventful. The main excitement was waking up in the main cabin and realizing I was sleeping with a fish. The flying fish must have a contest to see who can find the smallest opening in a boat and try shooting the gap like Jordan shooting a 3-pointer with nothing but net.
We arrived just in time for a massive down pour in the bay where the World ARC fleet is anchored. But the skies cleared also just in time for the islanders to host a formal ceremony welcoming the fleet to Hiva-Oa. The festivities included very authentic Polynesian dancing by a local dance troupe and a feast of native fruits, breads, vegetables and other delicacies. Toward the end the dance troupe got the entire fleet to join them in the dancing.
Most of the fleet spent Sunday at a Bed and Breakfast nearby owned by Alex, a Frenchman, where we listened all day to a local band playing native music. It was more like a jam session of ukuleles, guitars and other instruments. I plan to post a video on the internet when I can. We enjoyed a huge barbeque, Polynesian style and the party lasted from 11:00 am till the wee hours in the next morning for some of the younger in the fleet. This was just what the crews needed after such a long trip.
Monday was a day spent shuttling fuel in jerry cans from the dock to our boat, and a trip to town for grocery shopping and a visit to the stores (two) to see what is available. Today we will spend time doing laundry, cleaning the boat, and taking time to celebrate a birthday in the fleet at Alex's again.
The islands are breath taking, the people are very friendly and we can already tell that we are going to have quite an experience here. By the way, this port is the second largest and busiest in the Marquesas. There are only four boats here that are not with the ARC. It will feel like we have these islands to ourselves for the next two months except for Tahiti where there are more tourists.
We finally have some internet access and will be contacting our friends and family, catching up on email and updating the blog more regularly now. We will post the photos of the passage and our time here in Hiva-Oa to the gallery before we leave to visit the next island in the Marquesas on Friday.
PS; These are some stats for those who are interested. Our track shows we traveled 3,056 nautical miles through the water in 484 hrs averaging 6.3 knots. 822 nm of those miles were spent using the engine for 124 hours averaging 6.6 knots (speed over ground) and using .75 & 1.1 gals/hour at 1800 & 2000 rpm. We averaged 152nm/day and on our best day sailing we made 180 nm. At the time of our arrival, there were 10 other boats behind us. At the current time, there are still three boats that have not arrived and one is not expected till Friday.
Injuries and equipment failures for the passage. For Mark: a broken toe and 2nd degree rope burns on one hand from releasing the spinnaker sheet too quickly under load. (I should have worn my gloves). Nothing other than a tiny burn on a wrist from the galley stove for Janet. For At Last: a spinnaker halyard that almost chaffed trough but was lowered just in time before the spinnaker went into the ocean, some very concerning squeaks with the rudder post and steering gears that need attention, and of course the broken autopilot bolt that is still requiring us to tighten every eight hours of use. We are working with Dockside Electronics and Hellier Yacht Sales in Connecticut, USA to help us ship some parts to resolve the autopilot problems. For the rest of the fleet, equipment failures include a broken shroud, a broken forestay, broken jib foil, several blown spinnakers (at least 5, I believe), several broken spinnaker halyards resulting in spinnakers landing in the ocean, failed electronics and GPS units, autopilot problems, a cracked rudder post support bracket where the rudder passes thru the hull, blown fan belts, and more. I hope the World ARC fleet, who keeps a record of the equipment failures, publishes this information for the benefit of others who will do this trip someday.
You Can Not Get There From Here
March 20, 2012, 5:14 pm, 09 34.6'S:129 33.6'W, Still in The Middle of the Pacific Ocean
I apologize in advance for the sailing jargon/lingo in this blog but I cannot help it because I am really into sailing lately. We have been on the water for more than 16 days now. We have another 4-5 days to go but for each of the last 4-5 days, we have had 4-5 more days to go. Reason being, the winds are gradually dying a little more each day. So we are going slower and slower. Right now we are sailing, so to speak, in 8 knots of wind doing 4 knots only because we have a 1 knot current pushing us to the Marquesas. Thank you Neptune!
To keep the sails from loudly flogging/flapping due to the rolling waves, we have headed up wind and then down wind and are zigzagging our way along. This does not help the progress but it gives us a moment of quiet to sleep. The forecast is for the wind to continue to die down for the next several days. We are waiting for the last possible moment to turn on the engine in order to conserve fuel. We just received an email from WARC Rally Control that the dockside fuel station in Hiva-Oa will not have any fuel for the fleet upon our arrival. The nearest port to get fuel is another 100 miles north west. Talk about testing our light wind sailing patience (not skill).
We do a sail change at the end of almost every shift (every three hours) hoping to find some way to make the boat go faster. But we are not all that successful. We put as much sail out as we can as you can see from the picture above, where we have the jib, stay sail and the main sail deployed. Right now we are flying the spinnaker and jib together. Last night at 3 am a squall came up from behind me and I was soo thankful to have 12-15 knot winds push the boat along for thirty minutes. Normally one would try to dodge the squalls. We look forward to them.
Otherwise, life is good aboard At Last. Janet is really becoming quite the sailing chef and that does a lot to keep our spirits up. She made an apple, raisin and cinnamon cake yesterday. It is all gone now. Our daily routine is sleep, tighten the autopilot bolt that is still giving us trouble, do laundry, cook, sweat, shower, and eat. Oh, I forgot about sailing the boat. The sun is really intense here and it is hot!! The lack of wind makes the boat all that much hotter below.
I thought of a comparison for the trip that everyone might relate to. Imagine traveling with one other person from Juneau, Alaska to Miami, Florida in a minivan doing only 7 miles per hour. You are not able to stop at all and have to cook, bath, steer and change the oil and tires while underway. That is pretty much the picture.
We look forward to getting to the Marquesas and getting access to email and skype to catch up with everyone. Till then....wish for us wind, any kind will do.