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Season Two: Pacific crossing logs

Warren’s sailing log for Zihuatanejo to Marquesas passage.

Day 0

Had a very emotional and wonderful sendoff in Z-Town. Jeanne dropped by around 1345 to help us get the hook up off of Playa de la Ropa. What a friendship we’ve enjoyed in our brief time together, I'm really going to miss her in the south pacific. At 1415 we headed out of the bay and put out a final call on the VHF to all our friends.

While getting the sails up near Roca Negra we promptly lost the jib halyard up the mast (which surprisingly we’d never done before). Steph was a mucho macho and retrieved it quickly in the bosun’s chair while underway.

Had great sailing winds for the first 50 miles offshore (WNW 15 kts). The winds continued mostly through the first night on passage but started to die shortly after sunrise.

Day 1

This day was all about getting into the groove and trying out new stuff. Due to the light winds we made an early heads’il change to the new 170% genoa drifter which was acquired through Steph’s hard efforts in Acapulco. We’d never actually bothered to find out if the sail would fit before leaving so we hoisted it with great anticipation but in the end she fit like a custom sail. A very nice sail, seems quite new, light weight material doesn’t take much wind to fill and very big. With some experimentation we quickly learned that the best method for using the drifter in 5 knots, which we’ve had all day and will continue to have for quite some time most likely (according to Don Anderson), is to drop the stays’il and give it as much wind access as possible.

While in Z-town we acquired lots of nice fishing tackle from the co-op near the central pier. We’ve never done any fishing off Mico before and were anxious to get started. We read up on a few ideas for trolling in the Dashew Offshore Encyclopedia and went with one long and one short fishing lines behind the boat. No strikes yet but I think time is on our side in this passage.

Traffic has been fairly light so far, only a few freighters. Radio reception for all nets and wx fax maps has been excellent.

Day 3
1600 UTC 4/16/05

The trip has already started to feel like an adventure in finding new and exciting ways of breaking things everyday. When we lost of electronic wind indicator to a short in PV last month at least we knew that we still had our trusty “hawk” at the top of the mast. About 120 nm out yesterday we encountered a swarm of pesky and very tired boobies. One promptly landed at the top of the mast and bent the hawk. We’ll try to go aloft to right it in the next calm. Last night the clip holding the windvane feel out and we hove to. Today while reaching we lost the stays’il topping lift up the mast after the pin feel out of the shackle (gotta seize those suckas).

In happier news, we’ve finally found the NE winds. These are not yet the trades but at 10 kts they’re keeping us headed downwind at around 4.5 kts SOG.

Had very good luck getting weatherfaxes last night from Hawaii station.

Day 4
1700 UTC 4/17/05
14 30’ N
106 12.9’ W
Wind 10 kts NW
Miles to go: 2447 nm

People who think offshore passage making is all about storm avoidance couldn’t be more wrong in our experience! So far on this trip we have had 5-7 kts of wind 70% of the time, > 10 kts 10% and < 2 kts the rest (when we’ve been motoring or just drifting around). Light air this far out are really annoying because with the apparent wind almost always less than 5 knots (heading downwind most of the time) it means your sails are constantly banging, filling and slating. Not good for them or the crew. I lay in my bunk at night wondering when the main is going to get blown out for good. We have some basic supplies for sail repair but putting a herringbone stitch in a 10 foot rip at this point would be a major bummer.

I’m really thinking now that it would have been a good idea to lay out the cash deposit for a new main as soon as we knew that we were going to keep moving west. Even if we didn’t have it for the crossing we’d have it for the next legs. I’m also looking at our gooseneck a lot more suspiciously these days. It’s been fine so far (touch wood) but the fact that all that’s holding the boom on is two sheet metals screws doesn’t help me get anymore sleep at night. On the next boat I’m getting a custom one fab’d and taking the design straight from the Dashews.

Yesterday we thought we’d found some consistent winds at long last when we picked up 15 kt NE’ers for most of the day but the very light 5-10 NW’erlies have already returned (more banging sails). We’re making 4.5 kts SOG but we’re headed far too north to be making a good VMG. With this much wind and no reaching strut it’s impossible to keep any air in the sails we sailing below 100 deg apparent.

The weather has been getting a bit warmer and more humid with each passing day. The sky has also changed from bright blue to a hazy, near overcast. The nights are definitely the best for both of us. We tend to have more winds, it’s not quite so hot and you can pass the time for your off watch by sleeping. I have to say that the days out here so far have been pretty long and tedious. Heads’il changes help keep us going, though, and probably more fit as well. We’re averaging two sail changes a day so far.

Have also been trying to muster the mental energy to get back into celestial navigation. I have all the materials with me and a starpath calc but somehow we managed to leave Seattle without any nautical almanac or any sight reduction tables (the almanac part is really ridiculous since before this year, when we went nowhere with the boat, I bought one regularly). I have at least made it so far to work out LAN for our current position, perhaps tomorrow I’ll drag out the sextant to start taking sights.

Looking at the chart so far we seem to be averaging about 85 miles made good so far – if we continue at this pace that will put us into Hiva Oa sometime around the 7th of next month.

On amigo net this morning Don talked at length about the fact that people getting started now for the passage to Marquesas shouldn’t expect as good of weather as those who are almost there. He said that local disturbances will soon start moving east to west N of 10 degrees.

Still haven’t caught any fish yet – although oddly enough last night when pulling in the two lines before starting the engine we did manage to catch a little bit of someone else’s line!

Day 6
1530 UTC 4/17/05
13 17’ N
108 12.9’ W
Wind 7 kts NE
Miles to go: 2559 nm

We’re still looking for the elusive trades, but we knew not to expect them E of at least 115 degrees W so we’re not too surprised. The wind has continued to be light but is now from the NE most of the day. Occasional periods of 15 kt winds have occurred during the midday and midnight.

Yesterday we treated ourselves to major bodily cleaning in the form of sea water sluces (very refreshing) and a little fresh water rinse via the sun shower. Being clean really makes all the difference in one’s attitude.

The nights have been mostly enjoyable and quiet so far, watched three episodes of Angel season five last night …

We’ve altered our course from 220 to 250 to keep us moving more west than south in order to try to pick up some wind and avoid the ITCZ which starts at around 08N and the doldrums which are currently at around 10N.

Several boats are around 500-600 miles ahead of us including Laelia, Sonrisa and the singlehander, Harry, or Rhiannon. Another boat, Indria, is on our longitude but farther north about 160 nm from our position. I’ll keep trying them on VHF as we get closer as they might be able to relay our position on the nets for anyone who might be interested.

Last night we had our closest call so far with having some fresh fish aboard. I came up on deck at around 2100 local and found that both lines had been tripped. The heavy line with 10’ leader and seining twine was missing it’s lure and the other lighter 33 lb test line was gone altogether! We’ve now rigged a proper alarm system connected to the line consisting of some pennies inside of an empty coke can.

Day 9
0412 UTC 4/22/05
12 16’ N
114 16’ W
Wind 17 kts N
Miles to go: 2256 nm
Days to go: 16

We’ve found some version of the trades although they don’t officially start ‘til after 120 W. The past two days have brought good daily runs in of 120 and 133 miles respectively.

Our fishing system finally paid dividends today! Talk about perfect timing. Steph was on watch reading a book in the cockpit about an hour before dinner time when she heard the clanging of the fish alarm (some pennies inside a Coke can tied to the meat line). She immediately called out to me down below “FISH ON!” As I hurried up the companionway stairs she called out again “FISH ON the other line too!” Our hearts were in our thoughts as we pulled in our quarry. We grabbed two perfectly sized blue fin tuna. I’d never cleaned any ocean fish before but it turns out to be a lot like cleaning lake fish and the mess on the stbd rail wasn’t even that bad.

Blue fin makes incredible sashimi (raw fish) let me tell you. We even had a little tube of wasabi squired away from months ago in the pantry. It was the freshest thing I’ve ever tasted. In addition to the sashimi Steph also broiled a couple of fillets and those were amazing as well. Quite satisfying to sit in the cockpit of your boat almost a thousand miles from land, eating a delicious fish you caught not thirty minutes prior …

Our first catch of blue fin tuna

The boat has been sailing well but we’ve been getting lazy about making sail changes the past couple of days. This has already resulted in some unnecessary wear and tear on the ‘new’ drifter. In the past days we’ve been using it ‘drift’ along at about seven knots. The sail is definitely too light for these 20 knot winds, it’s not a reaching sail and we’ll try to be more careful. Right now we’re making about six knots with the working sails.

I’ve updated our course to take us a bit farther west and less of a direct route to Hiva Oa. This was after getting excellent personal weather routing today on 8A from Don. There’s quite a few other boats with SSB around us at the moment and I piggy backed on sv R-Factor’s routing question today. We’ll be starting the turn into the ITCZ at 130 W and heading straight down the doldrums (180 T) to cross them as quickly as possible to save fuel.

No squalls yet but I can definitely feel them lurking over the horizon (especially as we get closer to the ITCZ). Last night I spotted some dark rain clouds, got excited and promptly battened down ever port light and hatch but it turned out to just be some very brief light rain.

Day 10
0239 UTC 4/23/05
12 23 N
117 42 W
Wind 7 kts NE
Miles to go: 2058 nm

I think today was one of the best days I’ve had out here since leaving Seattle last fall. It wasn’t due to screaming winds bringing us closer to our destination (we only made 88 nms today in very light winds, yesterday was our best run so far with 144) since the trades were knocked out by a trough off Pacific Baja today. Don says they’ll return tomorrow.

Today was like a Sunday morning or at the very least a day off from the “work” of cruising across an ocean. Once we were able to trim the sails last night sufficient to stop any slating and banging we were making a very peaceful 3 knots over the ground but this was OK by us. We awoke very refreshed and had a lazy morning complete with some excellent eggs and coffee.

Things were even accomplished today. Steph repaired the damage already done to the drifter (NOT for use in more than 20 knots of wind, or 10 for that matter) and I finally figured out what the @#$% was up with the wind vane (RTFM – I had the vane on backwards). It only took me 4000 miles to figure out the thing, not bad for cruising. As I type this the Cape Horn is steering the boat in fine style with less than five knots of apparent wind.

We even managed to catch another tasty fish today – a nice 6-7 lb blue fin tuna, just perfect for us both. It’s a blast to scream “FISH ON” and have everything going on at that minute come to a complete stop while we pull in our quarry. It was actually a bit much and we pigged out on a sashimi starter followed by delicious fillets. I think my fish cleaning is improving too. We’ve decided to only keep one line out going forward because the tuna tend to hit anything that moves and we’ll have too much meat. We definitely have to find a better, more humane way of killing the fish once it’s on board and freaking out. To date I’ve been using one of the bronze winch handles to bash the fish to death but today’s entrée was a serious fighter and took waaay more hits than I wanted to deliver (Steph always makes me the heavy when it comes to this task) and the cockpit was full of blood, even with the fish in the bucket, by the end.

As part of our lazy day I spent most of the day thinking about improvements to the “next” boat and generally annoying Steph with details she could care less about. I’m keeping a file of everything I’ve learned so far and would change in design, performance, comfort etc.

We passed the 1000 nm mark today. We’ve only used about 12 gallons of fuel so far, but I think we’re going to need every drop to get us across the 300 nm stretch of the doldrums from 05-00N.

Day 13
2030 UTC 4/26/05
12 24 N
123 48 W
Wind 15-20 kts NE
Miles to go: 1600 nm

No more lazy Sunday afternoon sailing for us! We started our leg in the ‘real’ trades (west of 120W) three days ago. Immediately the seas doubled in size and the wind really picked up in the 25-30 kt range. We’ve been making some very since daily runs with and average in the mid 140’s with one in the 150’s – not too shabby for a 27’ waterline.

Last night we had our first run in with playing dodge ball with squalls. We were able to do some shuffling and jibing to keep them two miles off but I know we won’t keep ‘em all at bay.

Morale is getting a bit low at this point. We’re ready to cross the equator and start making good toward Hiva Oa. Tomorrow should be our half way point of the trip (I can’t believe we’ve already been out at sea for two weeks). Our next let of the voyage will consist of crossing the nasty convergence zone which starts around 09N down to the doldrums. Then it’s light air/motor-sailing from around 05 to 01N to the SE trades. From there it should be a beam reach to landfall.

Supplies are OK at this point. We’ve only used about 12 gallons of fuel for the last 1400 miles and we’re still on the first water tank.





Day 14
0230 UTC 4/27/05
11 12 N
125 49 W
Wind 15-20 kts NE
Miles to go: 1400 nm

We celebrated two weeks at sea today by turning left at 125W towards the equator.

Steph made an interesting and dubious discovery on her afternoon watch. Four out of six of the wooden pads under the boomkim have split – most of them completely and are threatening to fall out from under the spars. Not good news. The boomkin is what the aft stay (biggest/longest on the boat) is attached to so we’d definitely not want that to fail. I should have noted earlier that these pads needed replacing since they’re obviously very old and were never even treated with epoxy, resistol or painted etc. We’ve served the bad pads with tarred marlin up tight to at least try to hold them in place under the spars ‘til we make landfall and can replace the lot of them. If the pads fall out completely we’re going to have and interesting time of trying to make news ones and pull the old carriage bolts at sea.

One can’t believe all the loads a boat takes on a long passage like this one. With the constant 25 knot winds, 10 foot seas and rolling things definitely start to wear down and move around a lot. The seas last night we’re the worst so far (which may have been the point were the pads cracked). We were getting pounded by 15 footers breaking over the decks beam on.

The worst part of finding something like this is that we weren’t even looking for it – tomorrow is thorough rig check day …

Day 16
1950 UTC 4/29/05
07 37’ N
127 06’ W
Wind 15 kts NE
Miles to go: 1350 nm

We are still having good luck (touch wood) with the trades, even down here at 7N. I picked up the latest tropical synopsis last night from Pt Reyes and it looks like we’ll hit the ITCZ officially at around 05 30’ N.

I think I’ve discovered the cause of the boomkin issue from the past couple days. When we installed new rigging fore and aft I don’t think I set the rake of the mast far enough aft. I never used an imperical method, e.g. a plumb bob, to get it exactly 6’’ aft as should have been the case. If we ever have a calm day I’ll slacken the forestays and try to bring the mast aft a bit to sit on the broken pads more evenly.

Squalls have been a lot more consistent these days as we head south. No major blasts so far (25 to 30 knots during the downdraft) but they definitely keep you occupied while on night watch. The rain always feels great though and the boat badly needed a rinse.

We caught our first dorado last night but since we’d already eaten and it was only about 12’’ long we put it back.

Have I talked much about the wind vane on this passage yet? It’s been totally indispensable and we’ve used it for 90% of the steering so far. It does pretty well considering that it’s still out of alignment which prevents it from steering as well to stbd as it could. The most reassuring aspect about the vane is that the faster you go and the more wind it handles the stronger the steering becomes. It’s also much easier on our electrical usage (which is always an issue since it’s overcast nearly every day in the trades).

Day 17
2017 UTC 4/30/05
06 18’ N
127 54’ W
Wind 5 kts SE
Miles to Hiva Oa: 1163 nm

I can’t believe that it’s almost May and that I was in Spain this time last year.

The trades are finally caput and left us promptly last night at around 06 55’ N. We can’t complain though since we were on borrowed time since we crossed S of 08N. The winds are now blowing very light from the SE (I hope they gradually start to get stronger as we head south since we definitely don’t have an unlimited supply of fuel).

The squalls just kept coming in lines yesterday and last night, ugh, what a pain they are! Non too serious yet, presumably since they were forming in a min of 15 to 20 knots of wind, which I didn’t think could happen. Of course when we did have a decent one in the 30 kt range we started having major issues with our reefing system.

Apparently after sailing for thousands of miles downwind in mostly NW winds down the coast of the US and Mexico we’ve very rarely ever had to put a reef in when on port tack. On this tack everything is quite a mess since all the sail material is in the way of the slab reefing lines. Last night I even managed to tear (repaired by Steph this morning) the main in two places when putting in a second reef due to the sail cloth getting pulled into the reefing block. Moving the reefing blocks on the boom seems to have solved this issue but we still have issues with the #1 reefing line chafing (and breaking as happened yesterday too) as the block on the dead-end side of the boom was incorrectly installed (the first and only rule of rigging is “fair leads” – Brion Toss).

The weather has been very hot but pleasant today and the seas are very moderate. With a break from the 25 kt, 10 ft seas of the past couple of weeks the first thing we did today was to take nice fresh water showers and change the sheets on our bunks.

I tried to do some fuel consumption math based on our previous log entries this year at around 1500 RPMs. I think we’re burning around 0.77 gallons per hour at this rate which gives us enough fuel for about another 350 miles or so. Glad we resisted the temptation to motor in some of those brief light spots at the beginning of the trip.

If ever planning for this trip it’s good to know that for San Diego or Mexico to the Marquises you really only need one chart for the whole thing (actually there’s only one available) – DMA INT 51. Not knowing this I purchased an entire “Pacific crossing package” from Tide’s End in Bellingham at great expense (in addition to the south Pacific charts and an invaluable tides guide from NOAA).

Since things have settled down a little I’ve been trying to be more thorough about checking things out around the boat. On a whole things are holding together pretty well but what a ton of stress a trip like this puts on every boat system. I’ve definitely been very preoccupied everyday thinking about all of these in one way or another since we’ve left and it’s cost me much book reading and sleeping time.

Day 18
2100 UTC 5/1/05
05N 128 W
Wind 10 kts E
Miles to Hiva Oa: 1100 nm

We’re still wallowing in the doldrums and now we’re officially in the ITCZ. Trying to save fuel has been a challenge but our patience paid off in the end today and we’re currently beam reaching at around 155 true heading toward the equator. Quite a bit of fuel was burned yesterday to put us only about one degree of latitude closer to getting out of the doldrums. I’ve started getting WX faxes out of Honolulu at select times of the day but Pt Reyes is still my ol’ reliable for the tropical surface analysis.

In the calm and relatively cool morning today we set to work in earnest to address the problem of not having enough rake in the mast. All sails we’re removed, forestay slackened completely and jibstay slacked nearly to 2% or so. The aftstay was tightened and the mast came back a little. I also decided to be a bit more light with bending the mast as well as tuning to a breaking strength of 12% (we were previously using 15% on the jibstay and 20% on the aftstay). To complete the process I need to work on the lowers, however, as they play a part in the bend and rake to a degree as well (bringing the mast back slackens the aft lower and tightens the forward one accordingly). I’m probably doing something not quite right but I can’t seem to find a way to put the mast in a truly neutral, non-bendy state although I know it’s beneficial to at least take the “spring” out of it with a little bend of no more than a mast width etc. While on the subject of rigging I can with great certainty state that at the first opportunity I’m going to rig a topping lift for the boom, which would make reefing the sail so much more convenient.

Working with the lower shrouds will be a complete joy compared to the fore and aft stays since doing so involves hanging over the water in pitching seas and always gives me some vertigo.

I was just thinking about the concept of VMG (velocity made good) in terms of sailing and it’s relationship to the horribly limiting notion that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” As opposed to a boat’s speed “in-the-water” (the rate the boat is traveling through the water) or a boat’s SOG (the rate the boat is moving relative the earth/bottom), VMG is a specific measurement of velocity that applies specifically toward some point on the earth. This can be a point of lat/lon, a buoy, a windward race marker etc. Because of the former most racing sailors are extremely familiar with this concept but to cruising sailors like me it took some getting used to.

To illustrate how we use VMG more than SOG everyday out here imagine you have a waypoint set in your GPS at 00 N 130 W, right on the equator. Assume you start out at 05 N 130 W and you want to run straight down the meridian because you’re getting really sick of light, fluky winds and after your fortieth squall you’ve learned you weather lesson by now pretty well (wind blast, downpour, veer and light winds, rinse and repeat). If the winds are out of the SSE you might be tempted to try and pinch up and head straight for the waypoint at say 2.5 knots, since you’re headed right for it your VMG is the same. However, if you crack off the wind a bit and put the boat on something closer to a beam reach, which is the fastest point of sail on many boats you start making about 4 knots and your VMG is now around 3 knots.

What does this mean? You’re actually making better progress toward your goal by not sailing straight for it. So one can definitely see that the “shortest distance” analogy is wholly dependant on the R in D = RT being constant. I think it’s probably also very dependant on the T being consistent as well which gets very confused in quantum mechanic/string-theory stuff. Also, from a practical standpoint unless you’re rounding a mark or shooting a reef pass you don’t necessary have to pass right through some point in space but rather a line (like the entrance to a harbor or the equator) so you have room to figure out the fastest way to get across that line instead of thinking just about the point.

Watched two episodes of Angel season five last night. Man, I can’t believe they actually killed off Cordelia (what an episode)! I also can’t believe the stupid WWII episode which made no mention of any of the previous events that followed.

Day 21
1730 UTC 5/4/05
01 30’ N 129 45’ W
Wind 20 kts SE
Miles to Hiva Oa: 863 nm

We’ve finally made it out of the ITCZ and it lived up to all of it’s notorious legend. What an absolutely miserable place! Constant rain, thunderstorms, lightning and violent squalls day and night. The first night we lost the autopilot to a major downpour and had enough wind that the shackle pin on the end of the mainsheet broke at the boom (nice to know that this was the weak link in the chain as opposed to the gooseneck).

Week four has just begun and we’re beating hard into the SE trades on the rhumbline course to Hiva Oa. So much for listening to the experts. If I made this trip again I wouldn’t wait ‘til 128 or 130 to jibe into the smaller ITCZ but would instead suffer an extra day of it to be able to beam reach into the Marquises. All night we were pounding into heavy seas and I can just feel every bolt onboard working its way loose.

Day 22
2330 UTC 5/5/05
00 28’ S 130 45’ W
Wind 10 kts SE
Miles to Hiva Oa: 730 nm

So maybe the experts aren’t so dumb. It turns out that there was just a lot of S in the previous SE’lies. After our fast beat over the past couple of days the wind has been getting a bit lighter and backed enough that we’re now reaching.

We crossed the equator at around 1000 this morning and celebrated the occasion with a nice cake a la Steph. The boat was so very peaceful last night that we both had the best sleep/rest we’ve had in weeks. The sky is now bright blue again with no sign of trade wind clouds, just some wispy altostratus and it’s comfortably warm. The sun is super intense however and after various burns to nether regions we both keep inside the cabin as much as possible.

The stars were extremely bright last night and the sky looked so foreign. I can’t believe that a boat that simply sat around a cold marina in Seattle for the better part of a year is now sailing the waters of the south pacific …

Finished Angel season five – good season, sad to see it all come to an end. Can you believe there are no more active Joss Weadon TV shows in production? Maybe they’ll bring back Firefly after the movie comes out.

Day 26
2230 UTC 5/9/05
06 13’ S 135 21’ W
Wind 10 kts SE
Miles to Hiva Oa: 292 nm

We encountered very brief trade wind conditions yesterday and made a great day’s run. If it held I think we would have been on par for some kind of a Westsail record (the best one I know about was from the winner of the pacific sea cup at 178 nm).

Two nights ago we caught a beautiful 8 lb mahi mahi which was a perfect size for the two of us and lead to excellent sashimi and fillets.

Nice mahi-mahi is a morale booster

Morale is getting pretty low and I think it will get very bad when Steph finishes off the rest of the books. The talk of the “next boat” which was so readily available at the beginning of the trip has come to an abrupt stop. Topics now have shifted more to “how the hell are we ever going to get this boat home.”

I wonder what our first port of call will hold in store for us? Will the natives and gendarme be friendly? I hope it’s not asking too much that we get some props and not be treated like tourists. There’s a big difference in spending a month at sea on a tiny little boat and jumping on a flight from LAX for nine hours.

Touch wood, the boat continues to hold up and sail well. I did manage to bend to rigid vang the other day while putting in the second reef in big swells.

Although the winds have been light we’ve been toughing it out and not motoring more than an hour here and there to charge the batteries. We’ve used half our fuel in the tanks at this point (35 gallons and we have 10 in reserve too). We’ve used up the jerry jugs of fresh water (we could have filled ‘em both during all the squalls be were too lazy and exhausted) and we’re still on the first water tank.

The autopilot has come back from the dead somewhat but steers erratically and probably needs to be calibrated. The wind vane has been absolutely crucial to our sanity on this trip. And to think we’d only used it for about an hour total before having it steer for 3,000 miles!

Day 28
2225 UTC 5/11/05
08 42’ S 137 33’ W
Wind 15 kts SE
Miles to Hiva Oa: 97 nm

Four weeks at sea … I can’t believe we’re in the double digits to landfall.







Making our French courtesy flag right before arrival

Even though we’ve been navigating 98% on the time (with only very infrequent sun sights with a running fix) I can’t help but wonder if the islands will be where we think they will be. I looked at the date of the French chart I’m using and it’s from an expedition in 1880. There’s very large notation that states “the position of the islands is not to be relied upon.” We’ll see.

Mico is really smelling the barn today and making a steady 5.5 kts in light aris with just the yankee and stays’il heads’ils and a reef in the main to balance (low aspect cutter rig).

We must be getting close because Steph treated the crew to a big breakfast of fresh rolls, potatoes and strong coffee. She even finished the construction of our French tri-color courtesy flag.

Day 29
09 48.1’ S 139 01.9’ W
Wind 5 kts SE
Miles to Hiva Oa: 0.00 nm


This morning we finally caught sight of the eastern most cape of Hiva Oa (it was actually were we’d expected). We were promptly radioed by the first boat to see us rounding the point and welcomed to Polynesia after a very long passage.

Cape Matafuena and motu tapu

Mico is finally lying in repose in Taaoa Bay (Traitor’s Bay) in the southern coast of Hiva Oa. I can’t believe we’re actually here and not still out at sea. Our route turned out to be just over 3200 nautical miles total. The wind was very light today and we had to use the engine to cruise down to this side of the island.

Hiva Oa is such a beautiful place and so unlike anywhere we’ve even been before. After setting the hook in the very crowded anchorage (we have about fifty feet between us and boats on three sides of us and lava rocks within 50 on the other side) we were obliged to not do anything at all and just relax a bit on our messy boat. As soon as we arrived the neighbors dropped by to help us set our stern anchor and even brought us a couple of celebratory ice cold beers (thanks Joe).

Steph with the crossing fleet in Atuona

Footnote: The next day we set to work in earnest putting the boat in order and surveying the damage. The foredeck was a mottled pile of canvas (three big sails) but we finally developed a really good system for flaking the sails and they’re now all happily bagged. We also made our first foray into the local village of Atuona which is the most well manicured place I’ve ever seen. Everything’s so simple but very elegant and not a scrap of trash anywhere! The locals have been very friendly but we quickly learned just learned just how rusty our French has become after all these years (later in the evening we spent the better part of the night quizzing each other on the most common verb conjugations).

The old man, hella glad to be done with the long passage in Atuona (Steph: I like to call this look "Christian campfire guitarist")

To read previous posts, check out the Journal!

SV Mico Verde