Tag Archives: 5. Panama to Tahiti

Day 1 at Hiva Oa

As I’ve learned in the Galapagos, I don’t do very well with first days in new places. It started well, going ashore to meet Luc and Jackie, the BPO reps here. They are wonderful, and they greeted us with baguettes and fruit. Luc drove us into town (maybe three miles) and helped us get through the formalities, which we had been led to believe would be very simple. No; not so simple. It took most of the day, lots of waiting around, lots of money put into a bond that somehow we get back when we leave, all handled in a language that I don’t understand (French). I greatly dislike not speaking the language. Oh well, I just followed Tim and Bill around (they seem to be happy as can be in this delightful place, even though they don’t speak French either). Tim, as always, engaged with everyone. When he couldn’t communicate very well with two ladies who gave us a ride back to the harbor, he sang a song that he knows in French. Went over well.

I felt better by the end of the day, back on the boat. We jumped in the water and scrubbed the hull for an hour or so. It grew quite a “beard” in three weeks at sea. It surprised me that barnacles and green algae would grow that way while we’re moving. I could blame some of it on the Galapagos, but lots of the growth was up the side of the hull, where it was wet only when sailing. Cleaning it is difficult, but it is fun work. Then we had a bottle of French wine, bread, two kinds of cheese, and star fruit. Very nice.

Internet access is marginal here. Frustrating. I have lots of little video clips I’d like to post. Eventually.

Arrival in Hiva Oa

Saw the first isles of the Marquesas in the afternoon, still 50 miles away. Watched the sunset over them. As we got close the wind went very light, and we motored the last 30 miles or so. Tahawas was behind us, but we know they can go faster than us under power. So for a while we ran both of our engines to stay in front of them. Then we spoke with them on the radio and agreed that we would finish together. Very satisfying.

As it was getting dark we cut the engine (and stopped the noisy watermaker) for dinner, so we could enjoy the quiet, and some nice music, and the islands ahead, and a good meal. Then motoring on in the moonlight. The islands seem so much bigger than the little dots on the chart! Very dramatic in the night — I expect they will be awesome in daylight. As we went along the south coast of Hiva Oa suddenly there was an almost overpowering fragrance of shore — of flowers — of exotic South Pacific lands. What a dramatic change from the constant scent of the sea!

We anchored about 11pm outside the little harbor. It is rolly out here, but we don’t care. At dawn we need to move into the harbor and anchor bow and stern so we don’t swing, because the harbor is tiny. Then we all have to be ashore at 8am to take a shuttle into the town (not sure where the town is), to clear at with the gendarmarie.

At anchor it was sweet to have a drink together in the cockpit, the steep hills of Hiva Oa outlined against the moonlit sky, feeling good about what we have accomplished, and enjoying having arrived in this already-seems-special place.

Counting Down the Days

We’ve told people this passage should be expected to take 21 days. This is derived by assuming we will average about 6 knots…approximately 150 miles per day…approximately 1,000 miles per week; 3,000 miles = 3 weeks. We tend to be conservative in such estimates; I was hoping to make it in less than 21 days, because I think we can average better than 6 knots. I had visions of logging a few 200 mile days in the trade winds.

Well, the 200 mile day still eludes us. We’ve done 190 twice, but we’ve had some very light winds on other days. Today is Day 17. We have about 450 miles to go. Three more days.

After 2,500+ miles, we converged today with Tahawus. We can just see them as a speck on the horizon, occasionally rising above the ocean swells. The two of us are sailing “neck and neck.” We pulled ahead, they pulled even, we pulled ahead, they are gaining. I think we do better in some wind strengths; they do better in others.

Our solitude is gone (I can’t help looking at them, or at the general area where they ought to appear if I stare long enough), but at this point we are preparing (mentally) for reentry anyway. Finishing up the favorite foods, since we don’t have to stretch them out beyond three days; learning about the anchorage, and what is required for formalities in entering French Polynesia; realizing that we don’t know anything about cruising in the Marquesas. Luckily, as part of the BPO rally, we have someone meeting us at Hiva Oa who can help us get oriented. Three days…