Passage to French Polynesia from Galapagos
24 April 2015 | Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia
We have just completed the second portion of our transpacific journey. This was the longest non-stop part of the crossing and took us from the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador to the Marquesas islands of French Polynesia. This leg was about 3,000 miles long and took us 23 days.
It wasn't easy. We had days of no wind and squall after squall with gusts up to 35 knots. The seas have never been calm and at times we have seen 9 foot swells rolling under us. We've had issues and have had to do things to keep us going that I hope never to have to do again. A boat that was less than 300 miles from us was hit by a large wave and subsequently sunk. I think I kept a lookout for that wave for 2 days before finally deciding that we weren't in any danger.
Besides keeping an eye out for that rogue wave, we've had two issues that we've had to deal with. Early in our passage we noticed that our raw water pump on the engine was dripping a slow drip. We kept an eye on it and be about day 15 the slow drip turned into a small stream. It wasn't enough water that the bilge pump couldn't keep up with it and we could have just turned the thru hull valve off to stop the flow but since the problem was escalating, we decided to change it while under way. We carry spares for most everything so we had a new one squirreled away. Ken worked on the project for about 2 hours and now we are leak free.
The other issue was much more serious and I get queasy thinking about what we had to do. Our main halyard (the rope used to hoist the mainsail up the mast) got jammed and we couldn't get the mainsail down. Ken had to climb the mast to the top, using safety gear of course, while out at sea to cut the halyard and dropt the sail. Our mast is almost 65 feet off the waters surface and you can only imagine how much it moves up there while out on the open ocean. I was so frightened while he was up there and so relieved when after 3 hours, he returned to the deck.
Night watches took a while to get used to. After about 3 days we got into the rhythm of it though. We have found that since I can get to sleep early that we do best if I go to bed at 8. Ken sleeps from midnight to 3, I sleep from 3 to 6 then Ken sleeps from 6 to about 11. We stay busy on night watches with games, books and pod casts on our iPads, sending email, texting with other boaters who are out here and watching the horizon for lights and the radar screen for other boats.
This passage has been the hardest thing that I've ever set myself up to do. 23 days on the huge open Pacific Ocean leaves one vulnerable to all kinds of trouble. Ken and I make a good team and did well together. I am very happy to have this feat in my back pocket.
We still have over 3,000 miles to go before reaching our goal of New Zealand bet since there are many islands to stop at along the way, none of the passages will be as long as this one has been.