Passage to Polynesia
Entr’acte departed the Galapagos on April 16,
2008, set a course to the West and began the three thousand mile passage to the
Marquesas and French Polynesia. For the first two days we were plagued with
light winds but thanks to our light air sails we managed to squeeze out 60
miles per day. Although we have made
many long ocean crossings this one was different. This was the big one! For years we had been reading about the
Pacific crossing and how it was so different from the Atlantic. We were excited and determined to enjoy every
mile. This crossing was exciting also
because unlike the other passages, for the first time in many years we were not
backtracking but were voyaging to places we had never been.
several days we cleared the Galapagos weather system and the breeze began to
fill in and we started to move in earnest.
There was indeed a different feeling to the Pacific. The swell was much longer and more regular
than the Atlantic. These Pacific Trade Winds, if that is what
they were, lacked the boisterous fury of the Caribbean
winds. Most days we sailed with open
hatches, lounged in the cockpit and generally enjoyed the day. Because of the gentle motion we could sleep
in the aft cabin which allowed the watch full reign of the rest of the
day ten we finally found the groove. It
seemed as if King Neptune himself had tied a line to our bow and was quietly
towing us along in a straight line down a long road. We have never experienced a feeling quite
like it. The days blended together into
one long downhill slide. We were making daily runs of 125 miles per day under
beautiful blue skies. We had no
significant rain throughout the entire passage.
The high point of our day was the daily
check in with two radio nets, the Pacific Seafarers net and our own personal
net that we shared with several German and Austrian yachts Golden Tilla, Kurtisane, Sapho and Aquila. Our sail drills were confined to an
occasional first reef, never more than that and only for a few hours
best way to spice up a trip is with the meals.
We had planned several fun meals to help pass the time while the miles
melted away. A picnic in the cockpit
with veggie burgers, potato chips and salad is one example. Of course no passage is ever without
problems. On the third day while
lowering our light air mainsail, the release line on the halyard snap shackle
caught on something and opened resulting in loss of the halyard at the top of
the mast. Since it was a spare halyard
we decided to wait before we made the trip aloft.
biggest disappointment was that Max
our self steering gear was still sick.
In Costa Rica
we replaced his two main bevel gears. Max steered so well in the light winds
of the Galapagos passage that we pronounced him cured but with the stronger
trade winds the problem re-surfaced.
Although it looked as though we had aligned the gears properly, with
real wind it became obvious that I had once again misaligned them by one
tooth. Just as before Max would only
correct for lee helm and not at all for weather helm which was far more
important. There was absolutely no way
to disassemble the unit and re-align the gears at sea. If we were to drop anything overboard it
would mean the loss of the entire unit and we had a very long way to go. With a flash of brilliance we re-string the
steering lines in reverse, turned the wind paddle 180 degrees and tricked Max
into steering backwards. He was now
steering again and although a bit sluggish, he continued to steer us 2500 miles
to our landfall.
had several break downs along the way but none too serious. Our galley water pump developed a leak and
had to be rebuilt. More problematic was
the toilet pump that refused to prime.
Between the mess, the smell and the rolling of the boat, it made for a
delightful afternoon! Then there was the glasses repair after Ed took a direct
hit from “A-Tiller the Hun” at 03:00
one morning! Some West Epoxy and filler
did the trick. His glasses didn’t look good but they worked.
found the Pacific to be much more biologically active than the Atlantic as our wake glowed brightly throughout the night
and algae continued to grow all the way up the top-sides of the boat. Night watches with books and radio shows on
mp3 were a treat. The comfortable conditions and opened boat made it pleasant
for both of us. Our weather forecasts promised much of the same as did Mr. John
who managed to send us regular e-mails from Mexico filled with much weather
advice for our area. How he found the
time to do that and explore Mexico
was a puzzle.
We checked in with the German radio net every
day. This net consisted of our friends Wolfgang and Uli on Golden Tilla along with new friends Kurtisane, Sapho and Aquilla.
It was a fun group of sailors sharing weather and other information but
mostly in German. The fleet had a one
week head start on us and the larger boats pulled steadily ahead but we managed
to maintain our 150 miles distance from Kurtisane. They all promise to hold the celebrations until
laundry bag was surprisingly small this trip until this one little wave found
its way through out spray cloths to land on the Captain’s head while he was
asleep in the aft cabin. He was NOT HAPPY! Now we also had cushion covers and sheets to
At last, 11:30 AM on May 12 we were anchor
down in Hanavave Bay on Fatu Hiva, Marquesas after 27
days at sea. Average days run of 112 nm
per day. Not bad at all! Wolfgang, ULi, Kurtisane and Sapho were immediately along side with Champagne and caviar to
celebrate and then we were off to Happy Hour for everyone in the anchorage
hosted by catamaran Que Barbara. Good thing we were well rested and ready to
go. The fleet had been here a week and they had our shore side social calendar
filled well in advance.
calm of the village, spectacular scenery and lack of other yachts made this a
wonderful conclusion to a perfect ocean voyage.