29 May 2009 | Hiva Oa
We have arrived!! It took us 27 days to sail 3050 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Galapagos to Hiva Oa in the Marquesas and, I have to say, it seemed longer!! We were expecting it to take 25 days but I was hoping we might do it in 21 if the winds had been on our side. However, it was an amazing trip, an experience of a lifetime, an incredible sense of achievement but NEVER AGAIN!!!
Difficult to imagine spending so much time in about 12 square metres of cockpit. The first week was slow. I seemed to be anxious for most of it about one thing or another. All the bad things we'd read or the comments 'friends' had made about high winds and rough seas came back to play on my mind in the middle of the night. Every light we saw in the distance was a pirate ship despite the fact that there have never been any reports of piracy on this crossing!! Andy fretted about our course. Should we go more south to catch the higher winds or stay where we were to catch the South Equatorial current? Luckily, we were able to e mail other boats that had left at the same time as us via our satellite phone and find out how they were doing and to let them know our position. We also e mailed family at home every night to tell them where we were and that we were still alive and kicking!
The second week was much better. We had good wind and were making good progress. We started sleeping well and enjoying the trip. We even saw a ship one day! Then we started getting a few squalls which upped the anxiety levels again! We had two nights of 30-35 knots winds with maybe gusts of 45 but the sea was calm and the boat ploughed on through it all. This was followed by days of rolling seas which made the boat rock from side to side. Really annoying day after day. Miserable trying to cook and even going to the toilet was a marathon affair!
The start of the third week things started to improve weather-wise and we had some cracking days sailing at 7 knots in the day, and then reducing the sail at night to have a more comfortable night for sleeping. We were just beginning to enjoy ourselves when the satellite phone packed up! As this is our only means of communication with the outside world, you can imagine how happy we were. We were really worried that family would think something had happened to us. Andy's daughter, Barb, has exams and we knew the last thing she needed was to have to worry about us! Also we had been notifying about 5 other boats of our position every night and they would all be concerned when they didn't hear from us. Over the next few days the wind dropped and we could only manage between 4-5 knots an hour. Andy used the VHF radio to call any other boats that might be around but we didn't see any. VHF only has a range of about 25 miles. Then about 4 days later, we saw lights from a ship at 1.30 in the morning. After all that time, it was really weird. Intellectually, you know that there's nothing to worry about but that doesn't stop you thinking that a) it's going to run you over or b) they are going to send a huge speedboat out to you full of men wearing black and carrying Kalashnikov rifles! Neither of these two options happened. Andy radioed them and it turned out to be a container ship on its way to Tahiti. This fantastic Russian sailor called Boris took all our details and promised to e mail our friends on Taku Tori and Barb and Richard at home with our position and ETA in the Marquesas. We'll have a look for him in Tahiti and buy him a beer!
After that, we settled into a gentle, occasionally dull, occasionally irritating but mostly enjoyable, slow journey to Hiva Oa. I never imagined when I was working I'd have so much time to sit and read or just look at the sea or at yet another fantastic dawn or sunrise. One of the good things about this trip has been having time to think. One of the bad things has been having time to think!! I seem to have spent many hours remembering all the bad things that have happened in my life and trying to work out what I should have done differently! Shan't be doing that again!
Despite all that, we really are pretty pleased with ourselves, although it's Andy that should take all the credit. He planned it and studied everything we needed to know. He made lists of everything we needed. He checked the boat out, did all the routine maintenance and solved every problem that arose. He worked out the fuel consumption and he did the navigation. He spent hours tweaking the sails to get another half a knot. He even mastered the fishing, including the gutting and filleting!! (Sorry Dave, flaying!) And every day, he was cheerful and positive (well, mostly. He did have a minor nervous breakdown when the sat phone broke!) I'm really proud of him. I just cooked and worked on my tan!
So we've finally arrived here in Atuona on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas, the first of the French Polynesian islands. It looked fantastic as we got nearer, surrounded by cloud and, then as the mist cleared, you could see the green, tree-covered mountains and smell land for the first time in a month. Brilliant! Can't wait to explore but first need to sleep............