05/15/2012, 08 deg 55' S 140 deg 05' W
Well we have arrived safe, sound and happy in the Marquesas Islands after 28 days at sea and are now surrounded by steep, incredibly green hills and about 40 other cruising boats in the 'big smoke' of the Marquesas, Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva.
A more detailed account of the voyage will follow in a couple of days, but in general things went very well. We had great sailing in the northeast trades, then light winds most of the rest of the time. We motored a fair bit through the 'doldrums' but were lucky to experience only quite mild squalls during that time - enough to wash off the salt and to give the sails a little push. The last couple of days before we made landfall saw the wind filled in again, 8-10 knots at first and then more, and we were again speeding along at five and six knots, a great feeling.
We first glimpsed land on May 7 at daybreak, and by that evening we were anchored at Taiohae Bay (pronounced Taa-ee-oh-haa-ay). The next morning we staggered ashore, ate some baguettes and checked in with the gendarmes, and started to diagnose the nature of our engine troubles - about four days from landfall Mr. Perkins started to overheat, all of a sudden, about ½ an hour after startup - he was losing his fresh water coolant at a great rate! After few days Mike had the diagnosis: a good-sized hole in the exhaust manifold, and we now have a new one on order but as you might expect the shipping could take a while.... We hope less than two weeks, but we will see! But we are certainly lucky that it is possible to get one here.
Due to the engine work and all of the socializing and sleeping we've been doing since we got here, we have been slow to work on the blog but now progress is underway to stay tuned for a more detailed account of the sail across.
Much love to all our friends and family, we would not be here without you!
04/08/2012, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Thanks to our wonderful friends at Mainstay-Yachttech Rigging and Rob Landa (new owner of the Hope Bay Cafe on Pender Island) we are now the owners of new turnbuckles, gleaming away on Picara and making our imminent departure a reality again. Thanks so much guys, without our friends we would still be back at home dreaming about this.
Our little detour over to the Mexican mainland has been quite pleasant -- as well as seeing Rob, we have met up with some other friends we wouldn't have otherwise seen. The town of La Cruz is just as fun as we remembered, and the weather even seems to be working for us with forecasts of moderate northwesterlies to get off the coast.
We've met a couple of other folks leaving from here, and have heard more on the radio.
As many of you already know, we expect to be checking into the Pacific Seafarer's Net at 0300 UTC on 14300 Mhz (they have a webpage) on our Ham radio and they will plot us on their "yotreps" webpage. Not sure if we'll be listed by our boat name or by Ham call sign, which is VA7MCF.
So.... much love to all our family and friends, we are feeling good and confident about the boat and ourselves, and excited about heading off!
Fingers crossed, barring any other 'issues' our next post will be from French Polynesia!!
04/04/2012, Banderas Bay
After a slow, light-wind passage from Cabo to Banderas Bay that included about 20 hours out of 76 motoring, we dropped the hook in Punta de Mita on April1st. The good news was, we got to try out our new asymmetrical spinnaker, although in winds of less than 5 knots and speeds under2 knots the wind vane has a bit of difficulty. So, we turned on the Perkins... a luxury we'll have to think very hard about on our upcoming ocean passage as our fuel resources are finite.
Mike got in some surfing at Punta de Mita and was a happy and tired sailor.
Now we are at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, one of our favorite spots from last year. In just one morning we met two other boats planning to do the crossing from here. And an email from our friends on Buena Vista cheered us up, as they think it might even be a better sail from here than from Cabo, since it is more of a reach than a run off the coast, and thus a slightly more comfortable sail angle than dead downwind. We'll see... and we'll let you know when our second... or is it third... departure from Mexico is imminent.
Plan A was to pull into Cabo, check out, and be on our way. Too easy, you say, and you are right!
A day earlier, Mike had noticed what he thought might be a crack in the toggle on one of our Turnbuckles. We had spares on board, so he thought he'd quickly change it out at Cabo. However, once he took it off the stay and had a closer look, he found another, more alarming crack at the base of the T-bolt which threads into the turnbuckle. Ahlthough we had done a thorough (we thought) rigging inspection, we had foolishly omitted pulling these crucial components off for a closer look, somehow mentally lumping them into the 'totally solid' category despite the fact that we bought them second-hand several years ago... they just looked so strong on the surface! Ha ha, well the joke was on us. There are nine of these pieces on Picara, and all were now inspected... and several found to be compromised. Yikes!! This was really the eleventh hour and as we rolled around in the wake of the jetskis and watertaxis whizzing around us in the anchorage we kicked ourselves for not checking these bits earlier. Spirits on board were so low that afternoon that Mike couldn't even rally himself to binocular the daily wet T-shirt contest at the nearby beach bar.
However, better to discover these things while near land and services than as your rig topples in the middle of the sea - an experience we've had once before on someone else's boat and don't wish to repeat.
There was little chance of a quick turnaround in getting new parts down to Cabo, and we really didn't want to hang out there for much longer anyway. While the washing-machine anchorage was good training for seasickness resistance, the party atmosphere was wearing thin. Marni was getting ready to head down to the beach bar and give the wet T-shirt commentator a totally futile lecture on treating women with respect!
Luckily, the local boatyard, Cabo Yacht Centre, helped us out with a quick grind-and-weld fix on the cracked T-bolts, but our awesome buddies back home at Yacht-Tech Rigging in Sidney thought that it would really be better to have new gear, since welding is an OK quick and dirty fix but it can alter the nature of the metal surrounding the weld. Even more luckily, a friend was getting ready to come down to La Cruz, near Puerta Vallarta, this week and kindly agreed to carry our parts with him- so we upped anchor and pointed the bow toward Banderas Bay 270 miles South-east.
Another note about Cabo - our friends on Buena Vista have a brother-in-law that runs a very cool and funky hotel in Cabo San Lucas called the Siesta Suites. We went in to their café to use the internet and got a tour from Alex, the friendly owner... a great spot for anyone thinking of vacationing in Cabo San Lucas!
04/04/2012, Cabo san Lucas
We had decided to stay in San Jose because although expensive, we thought that their marina prices ($56 US) were cheaper the marina than at Cabo San Lucas, where you are charged $18 just for the pleasure of anchoring in a rolly, noisy roadstead... turns out, over the last year and a half prices have dropped from $100 US to about $60 US for a boat our size at the Cabo Marina which is really much more convenient than the one in San Jose to shopping, and checking out with authorities. Although we stayed in the crazy anchorage, the marina staff were very helpful to us, helping us figure out the buses and get propane.
04/04/2012, En route to San Jose del Cabo
We left Los Frailes and motored down to San Jose del Cabo, where the plan was to splurge on a marina slip for the night to fuel up, water up and get some final provisions before checking out of Mexico at Cabo San Lucas. This accomplished, we headed out the next day, 20 miles further west to Cabo.