05/02/2009, Between Ua-Pou and Nuku Hiva
Once again our boat was surrounded by dozens of dolphins as we left Ua-Pou for Nuku Hiva. About ten of them fight for the spot just forward of the bow as more play about the sides and more are seen on the horizon coming to join the fun. Just look at some of the pics John got... they're amazing!
Ps. I finally got confirmed that I'm registered for both Gavilan College during the summer and Cabrillo College for fall'09. Thanks for checking in on that Grandma Sue!
05/02/2009, Nuku Hiva
After a brief stayover at Hiva Oa to reprovision, Follow You left at 5am Friday, sailing the 60 miles northwest to Ua-Pou in 15-18 knot winds. We read in Charlie's Charts that there was a restaurant on the island called Rosalies that we could enjoy. After a 25 day crossing and two weeks cooking aboard, we have had exactly one meal off the boat, and that was our expensive lunch on Hiva Oa when we first arrived. The crew was commenting on how conditioned we have all become to balancing eating in with nights out within our normal routines, and certainly while vacationing, as Stephanie and John are. Cruisers also get used to eating out in Mexico, where the food was always fresh and inexpensive. While we expected the Marquesas to not be very tourist oriented, I think we have been surprised by the lack of off-boat options. Even the high end resorts on the islands rarely accept outside reservations for meals, as they tightly align their food purchases to the number of hotel guests... Makes sense given the low volumes here, and especially now given tourism, other than cruisers, has dramatically declined this year.
After walking for an hour and a half to look for a restaurant on Ua-Pou, we returned to the boat disappointed, yet ate well upon our return. The next day we motorsailed to Nuku Hiva in light winds, the largest of the Marquesian Islands, hoping for better luck. We arrived in an expansive bay, and noticed a much more developed coast side infrastructure for boating. The locals have build facilities for selling local artisan goods and there are a few storefronts.... Internet access, yacht services and a restaurant, right at the quay. Down the road that fronts the bay, there were a couple of market/hardware stores and low and behold; a pizza restaurant! After a long walk around the town exploring, we sat down at 4pm for a cold beer. (or 3) Through our muddled French, we first understood the restaurant would close at 6 or 630, only to find signs that said just the opposite. Food service started at 630. Hmmm, what to do for 2.5 hours? Well, the table was not rocking, and the beers were cold, so we just hung out waiting for food service to start.
Around 6pm we ordered pizza and wonderful fettuccine crevette (shrimp) as the patio started to fill up with locals and visitors. While we were trying to translate the menu a French-Canadian guy started to assist, and we struck up a conversation. As food started to arrive, he pulled his chair over and we heard the full story... We knew we were in for an interesting tale when he started off by explaining that he had purchased 12000 square kilometers of the great white north above Quebec, but the government had screwed him by *giving* it to the Inuit Tribes as part of a settlement. He was in French Polynesia looking for islands to purchase to start, get this, a "new society" based on eco-friendly concepts... The more John and I asked questions, the more it came clear that we were dining with a bit of an eccentric with some kooky ideas.
A couple of hours later, we were totally convinced he was on to something. His vision of a utopian society out here in paradise was that compelling. This morning, when we got wifi connectivity, we transferred the contents of all our bank accounts to him.... NOT!
Boat systems are all working well, although I am coming to the conclusion that the decision to size the major systems for the needs of two people rather than five was short-sighted. I could have easily selected the higher volume watermaker, for example as we have plenty of amps to run it with the solar panels... my concern for power usage on the watermaker has been a non-issue.
Our heightened awareness of water use and need for drinkable reserves means that we have split the tankage in half... 50 gallons of pristine drinking water that we use to fill 3 2.5 gallon jugs for daily drinking and cooking, and 50 gallons for toilets, showers, washing dishes, etc. We go through that pretty quickly, which means we are making water almost every day. The watermaker produces 8 gallons an hour and while working fairly reliably, is still finicky about the conditions in which it will produce potable water. The new motor seems more susceptible to voltage drops, which then lowers the pressure in the watermaker itself, which then stops making water until it adapts, sometimes taking an hour to start making water again... It's still much preferred over schlepping jerry jugs, but a hassle nonetheless to babysit.
We will hang out here through Monday to do our last re-provisioning before spending a few days at various anchorages on Nuku Hiva, and then leave for the Tuamoto Islands later in the week.
The Gallery has been updated with more pics for those who NEEEEEED them (luv u mom!)
04/29/2009, Hiva Oa
We're back on Hiva Oa for a day, reprovisioning and getting a bit of internet.... and hey Donna, we gotta get you a job after your arm mends... keeping the blog updated for you is getting tough with no good internet connections out here LOL.
The gallery has been updated with pictures from our last week on Tahuatu and Fatu Hiva, which is now in our top 3 exotic places we have ever been. Stunning scenery and great people.
Tomorrow we are off to another night on Tahuatu's sandy beaches before heading north to Nuku Hiva for a week. Then it's off on a 5 day passage to the Tuamoto Islands.
04/19/2009, Hiva Oa, Marquesas
Alyssa and I were joined by Dietmar and Kurt for a hike to the ancient petroglyphes in the Tehueto valley near our bay. We walked about 4 miles up the rustic jungle valley, crossing rivers and marveling at the scenery. Locals told us it is ok to pick any fruits you want as long as they are not behind fences. We were able to find bananas, papayas, limes, pamplemouse and mangos. At the top of the trailhead near the petroglyphes, we found a deep swimming hole where we all took a refreshing swim.
Alyssa took great pictures of the hike which can be found on the gallery to your right, along with pictures of our arrival and 80 pictures from our crossing.
04/18/2009, Hiva Oa
It's hard to truly appreciate how the crew of Follow You felt after anchoring in the crowded little Baie Tahauku, and taking in the full extent of the scenery surrounding us. Every sense was overloaded. Visually, the stunning green jungle foliage amplified by the sunlight created an instant contrast to the vibrant blue we have experienced for the past 25 days. Once we landed, the aromas of the island also overwhelmed our sense of smell sanitized by the sea. And the sounds of people and civilization, cars, motorcycles and heavy construction equipment interrupted our orderly and familiar boat sounds.
We sat around that first day and just took it all in, relishing the unique feeling and knowing full well that this special moment would pass as the new order became familiar. Our first dinghy landing reintroduced us to solid ground. Unfortunately our inner ears did not get the message for a couple of minutes and made for some interesting first steps.
The last couple of days have been dealing with the formalities of checking in and re-provisioning some much needed fresh fruit, veggies, water and fuel. Once we got here, the sky also opened up and gave us plenty of fresh water in our tanks to compliment the rustic showers on land, near where the locals cleanup after outrigger canoe races.
Jan departed yesterday to join friends on sv Milonga, who will get him closer to Papeete over the next month or so. We very much enjoyed our 8 weeks with Jan. He was an exceptional crew member, always helpful and a great cook. We will miss him.
We will be adding pictures of our crossing to the gallery over the next couple days as the slow internet connection allows.
Look for blog entries every couple of days going forward... as I said earlier (mom!) its time to enjoy the fruits of our long voyage.
Land is a beautiful thing...Allan's right, green, lush & beautiful here on the island of Hiva Oa. Towns people are very friendly. Hitchhiking back & forth to town is the norm and quite fun. Rain everyday, typical of the tropics. Laundry on the shore by hand, rain to rinse our clean clothes...What happens is when we put it out to dry...it's almost dry and then...it RAINS! It's taken several days to dry a few t-shirts and sheets! We are not able to use our washer yet due to the fact that we still have no watermaker to make water. Lugging water from the shore is really a chore...so we just wash it on shore with the local fishing faucet...and a cement shower. Loving every minute of this, it sure was worth the 25 days at sea. All of our boat friends are either here, or catching up with us. We'll be waiting for Pep & John to join us on the 20th!! Can't wait to explore the rest of the Marquesas Islands when they arrive. Will write more soon, off to Carinthia for 5pm happy hour....
Hiking around the island is really beautiful. There's really no commercial tourism or tourist shops of "local trinkets" really made in China either. It's quite a change from the normal Puerto Villarta or Papeete vibe. Me and Jan walked for miles on this little road that dead ended into a tiny town just south of Atuona, where we are now, and there was nothing but 2 tiny huts, a pre-school, and a gorgeous church that we were told by a local was built in the 1700's by the first missionaries that came to the island. About 2 miles inland, we hitched a ride into the largest archeological site on the island. Huge ceremonial pits and different levels of huge volcanic, stone walls lined the hill and it was surrounded by gigantic trees, the ones with all the roots shooting to the ground from every branch... We could look up the mountain cliffs and see tall waterfalls in every direction. Even when we were driving we had to slow down to cross rocky/mud creek beds the government workers constantly have to rebuild to even get to the site. We were lucky to get a ride into town, but it took awhile hiking back until another car came in our direction. We were thankful to get the exercise and some great pictures of the view along the way though! It was just so silent in this town compared to Mexico. There was really no one. It is so tropical and all the huts are so spread out in the mountains that you hardly see anyone. Everything closes from noon-2:30pm. Another interesting fact... all the children on the islands go to school until they are ten years old then go to a boarding school in Tahiti. The government pays for their flights to and from Tahiti for holidays too.
I really do love it here. I hear this is nothing compared to the next island though!
04/11/2009, 06 45.25'S:134 08.62'W, 340 Miles to Hiva Hoa
We received the following email from good friends Devin and Donna in response to a recent blog.
---------- Original Message ---------- From: (ddhammer) Subject: Date: 4/10/2009 11:37:13p
You guys need to seriously get a grip...you are sailing across the freaking Pacific Ocean, on the trip of a lifetime that .00000001% of people who have ever lived on the planet have ever had the opportunity to do, and all you can do is ask -- is it over yet? Seriously? You'll forgive me if I just can't conjure up any sympathy for you. I hope you get to sail some so you have something to do. Looking forward to more pictures too. Donna
Donna, oh Donna, how right you are. Thanks for slapping us back to our senses! It only takes a trip to the bow of the boat, where it is relatively quiet, and take in scenes like the one above, to make us truly appreciate where we are. And the picture, no matter how high resolution, does not do the actual experience justice. It does not take much to be humbled by our surroundings. our lives hanging by simple threads of a sound boat, drinkable water and reasonable weather. We are very much on our own, and I'll tell you, the ocean is BIG out here. Our perspective has also morphed in the past days knowing that this passage will end in 3 days time. Soon we will see new signs of life as we approach the islands. I expect we will both relish our last days of this passage, even as we become more excited with anticipation of making landfall. In some respects, it's mentally like painting a room. You start out all excited, highly motivated and focused for the first half of the project. Then the reality of how long it will take to paint the room kicks in, and it kinda sucks. Then excitement builds again as you can't wait to see the finished product. At least that's what goes on in *my* head.. Also, I know we must be getting close. I'm polishing stainless again! -allan
Oh yea, the end is near..the anticipation of island arrivals.just can't wait. Donna you're right, we were excited in the beginning, then it hits you ..just how far it is! And, yes Allan, there's only soooo much stainless on the boat.ha ha. I'm sure that I'll reflect on this adventure once I'm land bound again, it has really been a great time and working together as a crew and a family. Well, back to a swim & shower in salt water ;-) -Rina
You know what Donna? We are so spoiled! BUT there are other aspects to consider. Let me tell you I had a hard time explaining to my friends that traveling isn't a endless holiday, but hard work as well. Same here you know, How about Allan saying here is the plan!!! How about being the only Dutchman around for miles Woe that culture gap is deep. The freaking ice cube discussions. (allan - Don't get me started Jan! LOL) But then I think about the sailors on the tall ships who didn't have a clue where they were going. Who didn't have an engine and hear me complaining about this noise maker, but luckily we are running out of diesel. So with some luck we will be drifting out here for another week. Even more challenges to get over. -Jan
What can I say? I'm a social person! Lol. I've loved every minute out here as well; it is quite a different lifestyle being able to read all day. I highly suggest the novel Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm a little more than half way through it and I can't put it down! It "weaves together three stories of human love.celebrating the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself." I love the writing and how it explains every detail of the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia as well as debates the ongoing issue of man vs. nature. Call me a hippie, but I'd rather the coyotes kill a sheep once a year than kill off all the coyotes. Then again, I'm not a rancher. I'm very happy to be a part of the "two-percenter" population as dad calls it, when only two percent of the population buys a boat or crosses an ocean. So, I'm very lucky to lather, rinse and repeat again today ;-}. Love always. -Alyssa
03/20/2009, Banderas Bay
After topping off our water tanks and cleaning the bottom, we headed out to sea to see how Follow You handled with the additional weight aboard. As we departed the marina, several boats hailed us, thinking we were headed West. We just explained that we were taking our bloated pig of a sailboat out to see how she handled. They chuckled.
We also took the opportunity to continue the education of Alyssa, showing her the ropes, figuratively and literally. She is picking it up just fine, learning points of sail, line handling and some basic nav.
The boat does handle differently, but mostly in a good way, which was a surprise. Hunter 466's are lightweight cruisers and act as such under sail, with a fair amount of porpoising. With full fuel and water tanks, 50 additional gallons in jerry jugs, and provisions for 8 weeks aboard, she acts like a heavyweight full keel cruiser. Interestingly she has not lost a bunch of speed. If you look closely at the pics above, we saw 8.1 knots through the water in 15 knots of wind on a beam reach. We saw 9 twice as the winds built to 20 knots downwind. Our clean bottom helped greatly of course, but it's nice to know that this bloated pig of a cruiser will still get up and go with almost no waterline left.
03/20/2009, La Cruz
An exciting day on Follow You, as final preparations are underway. The diver is cleaning the boat bottom as I type, removing 3 weeks of barnacles and slime. The local alhambra guy showed up with 100 gallons of fresh water to replenish our tanks and take the load off the watermaker for a bit, and Rina, Alyssa and Jan just returned from Mega with 4 weeks supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Jan and Rina have planned our meals around the lifespan of our fresh fruits and veggies, and stocking 4 bins, one for each week. We have learned a bunch about how to preserve food... for example, NOT refrigerating your eggs makes them last alot longer, as long as you turn them weekly and they have not been previously refrigerated. Storing certain fruits together helps them keep longer, and making sure certain fruits are NOT stored together also preserves them. Each week we will use up one bin, which will allow us to collapse and store it. Amazingly, other than 3 bins under the settee (dining table) and 3 bins in the garage, the boat is clutter free. Not bad considering there are now 4 aboard. Credit also goes to Rina for thinning out her clothes, providing room for Alyssa in her cabinets, Alyssa for packing very light, and Jan for travelling with only a backpack's worth of stuff. We also stuffed every void in the boat we could find with stuff we don't use often. It usually works out well, although the lovely butt shot above is due to us having to dig out a fuzzy blanket for Alyssa, as the nights have been a cool 68 degrees.
We'll take the boat out this afternoon for a shakedown sail now that she is fully loaded to see how she sails, not that there is much we can do about it!
03/19/2009, La Cruz, PV
So, I finally made it to PV to join my parents. It's funny how all of these plans weren't in existence until about 2 weeks ago and, boy, was that a surprise. With the quarterly system at UC Santa Cruz, you lose track of time. Classes go by so fast; you start the quarter and immediately after, you have 2 midterms and the final 2 weeks after that. In other words, these past two weeks have been hell preparing for my last midterm (oddly only 1 week before the final), finals week, moving out of my dorm, and planning a trip to cross the Pacific with my parents, not to mention the little knick knacks I had to pick up on the way for the sailboat. As exhausted as I sound (and am), I cannot wait for Saturday. Saturday is the beginning of my journey. It is dad's birthday and our departure from Mexico; it is, as dad said, "This is the beginning of Alyssa's education." Down time to me these next few weeks is time away from school, away from the pressures to succeed in something I'm not sure what yet. Down time is time spent with my family learning to sail, relaxing, and setting my goals for when I get back. I cannot fathom the adventures to come in my life, but I am entirely grateful for this opportunity. It is a lifetime experience...
You will hear from me again very soon:)
Love always, Alyssa
03/19/2009, La Cruz
Quite the adventure today with the Mexican bureaucracy trying to check out of the country. The horror stories are legion over the years of boaters trying to get out of Mexico, getting the run around at all phases of the process. It's supposed to be simple: Get the local port captain to start the Zarpe process, give him 30 bucks, check out at immigration, then go back to the port captain with your stamp from immigration and get your zarpe.
Last week boats that tried to check out took 4 days to go through this process. The port captain was gone, then out to lunch, then immigration was closed, then they were on a field trip, etc.
In our case, we budgeted two days to complete the process. We started bright and early this morning, got to the port captains office at 9am... nobody there.... oh yea, he's on Nayarit time, the rest of the place works on PV time (an hour earlier) We start the Zarpe process, pay our money, then head to PV for immigration. Before we do, we check in with the local harbormaster to see if immigration is coming out to La Cruz, which they had done earlier in the week. With an air of authority he says no, we have to go to PV. Road trip! All 4 of us pile into the kia and headed to PV. When we got there the guy with epaulets on his shoulders said the immigration officer had.... survey says? GONE TO LA CRUZ! He said he would wait 30 minutes for us to get back to La Cruz to stamp our paperwork. Problem is, with traffic it takes 45 minetes to get from PV to La Cruz. We race back, with Rina's fingernails in my thigh the whole time. When we arrive, he stamps our paperwork, then we head back over to the port captain to get our final stamp. Rina proceeds to start the process, then the immigration officer comes into ream the port captain for not organizing all the checkouts and we get stuck in the middle of the argument. We sat for 30 minutes waiting for the port captains signature, not saying a word, as the look on the port captains face said it all. He was not a happy man. Bottom line is we are checked out and ready to go as far as Mexico is concerned.