Sunday, May 27, 2007

Landfall in Fatu Hiva

On May 13th after twenty-one days at sea we made landfall at the Bay of Virgins in Fatu Hiva, one of the smaller islands of the Marquisses. In the pitch black night with the help of our radar and some other cruising friends we dropped the hook at 2am. Our friends from Guava Jelly came over immediatley bearing island bananas and pamplemousse and after they climbed aboard we toasted our collective good fortune of having made it 3000 miles across the longest open ocean passage in the world. At about 6am after only sleeping a few hours, I woke up and tried to prepare myself for what I was about to see. I padded slowly down the hall and climbed up the stairs into the cockpit I gasped as I looked around to see the steep verdant cliffs. The town itself is very small and the French speaking Marquissens greet you at once to ask if you have anything to trade for their surpluss of fruit. Perfume is very popular. We traded one little Estee Lauder sample for five large pamplemousse (there really tasty version of a grapefruit), twenty-five limes and about sixty little bananas. As far as provisioning at Fatu Hiva, that was it. There was no internet and one phone that only took very expensive phone cards. The water was warm and clear and the day we arrived we spent a few hours in the water cleaning Scholarships filthy waterline. After our work was done we relaxed for a few days. Everyday was exciting as new boats arrived victorious after arriving from so far away. The passage itself went really well. I have talked to a lot of people who disliked their passage and would never do it again but we for the most part had a really good time. How boring are we :) We motored very little and we finally found out how fast this baby can go. Scholarship was made for sailing in the tradewinds and for Mark especially, it was exciting for us to pass other boats that had left the Galapagos before us. Mark used to say he gave up sailing when he bought such a big heavy boat. He will not say that anymore. Scholarship averaged between six and seven knots pretty much the entire trip. And to those of you who are not sailors, that is fast!! So the sailing part was great and we only had maybe four or five days of uncomfotable seas. The rest was easy. The sleeping in shifts takes some getting used to but after a few days we were so tired that we slept like babies when it was our turn. We both read a lot. We watched movies. Cooking was a highlight as was our twice daily check in with other boats traveling to the South Pacific. It was wonderful to know they were all out there, even though we did not see any other boats for nineteen days. Our passage however seemed to be one of the better ones. Many people we have talked to had numerous problems, broken autopilots, jammed sails and even sprained elbows and dislocated fingers. The worst and saddest was the boat that had a damaged bow sprit, started taking on water and were forced to evacuate their boat. This means leaving your home with all you can carry and knowing that it is out there slowly sinking into 4000+ feet of ocean. We only had to deal with some chaffed lines and rips in sails. All of which we fixed underway or in the paradise of Fatu Hiva. As they say, cruising is fixing your sailboat in exotic locations. More soon. Au Revior.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Isla Isabella, Galapagos

The largest of the Galapagos, Isabella is also the most wild. There is little development on the island and abundant wildlife. I could not move on to French Polynesia without including pictures from our last days at the Galapagos. The highlight for me was all the penguins. They were constantly crusing around the anchorage and made an interesting cooing sound that alerted us to their presence. I even got the opportunity to snorkel with one penguin as he circled me at warp speed. I am sure he was trying to work out what I was doing there. We also took a a day tour of the lava tunnels on the south side of the island and cruised through a lagoon absolutely full of sea turtles. They too circled the boat curiously.