4th Jul 2012 - 25th Jul 2012 - My First Pacific Crossing
Galapagos to Hiva Oa (Marquesas)
Crossing – Galapagos Islands to Hiva Oa (French Polynesia)
04/07/12 to 25/07/12 – 3055NM (5,651Km) of open water with nothing but the ocean, the occasional fishing vessel and lots of great fish.
Day 1: (4th July) We left San Cristobal Island at around 2pm, we were planning to get underway mush earlier but we had to get out passage document (Zarpe) stamped by the port captain at the local naval base. It took us nearly 3 hours to get this simple task done!! Apparently there was an issue as we had purchased Diesel from the local service station without first filling in a fuel request form and having it approved. Turns out it was a new guy at the service station and he did not understand the system, as we were supposed to show him the approval before buying the Diesel. This is because the local fuel is subsidised and only costs locals $1.02 per Gallon (about 25cents a litre!!!). We on the other hand had to pay $4.74 per gallon for the same fuel..
We left Wreck Bay with a 15 to 20Knt wind directly across our port side and averaged some 8Knts all the way through the night. We managed to travel some 176NM (325Km) by midday the next day ( A new boat record!!).
The night passage was pretty uneventful with the exception of Spencer waking me at 2pm to ask for advice on how to go around a fishing vessel, by the time I got upstairs we were right on top of them and had to bear away sharply to avoid them. It turned out to be a small boat with lots of light and at first glance looked much further away than it actually was.
Day 2: (5th July)The winds eased to 12 to 15Knts for the entire day and we were treated to our first cloudless sky in weeks. We were visited briefly by a pod of dolphins in the afternoon. The local dolphins are quite small and totally black..
Day 3: (6th July) The wind has lifted again this morning to 15 to 20Knts and we are in a 2mtr swell which is running at a 45deg angle to the rear of the boat, This is great as following waves are much more comfortable to sail on, however every now and then one lifts the rear of the boat and tries to turn us sideways… I caught a huge Mahi Mahi early this morning (1mtr long), I was below decks when my line went off and it took me about 20 minutes to bring it in (not so easy when you are doing 7Knts and can’t stop the boat). I then caught an even bigger one just as the sun was setting, Looks like nothing but fish for the next couple of days!!
Day 4: (7th July)The day has started off well with a great sunrise. The wind has shifted slightly to the east (now a south easterly) and is between 15 and 20Knts. There is an awesome 3mts ocean swell coming through that is well spaced apart. We can see nothing but ocean all around, have not seen another boat of any kind for a day or so.. No fishing today, as we have more than enough in the fridge.. We have now been on the same tack since leaving Galapagos some 4 days ago, having only changed course slightly. We have also fitted a “boom bang” to the rear of the boom to stop it moving around when we crest a swell. A boom bang is basically a rope fastened to the rear of the boom and run through a pulley at the front of the boat. It then returns to a tie off point at the rear of the boat. This allows us to have the boom way out the side without the fear of it slapping or jibing when sailing down wind.
Day 5: (8th July) This was a pretty uneventful day. We had a consistent 15 to 20knt winds all day and did not see any other boats at all. No fishing as we still have lots of fish in the fridge.
Day 6: (9th July) The days are starting to get into a regular pattern with the wind easing to 10 to 15 Knts at night and rising to 15 to 20 during the day. The wind direction is also pretty stable and is only moving around about 25deg. We Are seeing huge schools of flying fish everywhere and lots of Mahi Mahi (Durado) chasing them across the surface. We are also getting lots of squid jumping onto the deck at night, not too sure how or why they are doing this as it is about 1mtr from the water surface to the deck.
Day 7: (10th July) We have now used up our first water tank and have just changed over to the 2nd tank (250Ltrs). We also have about 100Ltrs of bottled drinking water left. We could do with a rain storm again so that I can refill the empty tank (It never rains when you need it!) We are now some 1000NM west of Galapagos and have just over 2000NM to go… We have been averaging some 160NM per day which is great. (anything over 120Nm per day is good) At this rate we should be in Nuka Hiva within the next 12 to 14 days. We just had a visit from a pod of about 30 bottle nose dolphins, they swam alongside for a couple of minutes and just as I got the camera out they all disappeared.
I hooked a huge black finned tuna late in the afternoon and fought it for over 30 minutes, I had the tension on the rod turned up to full and it was still taking line at will. I almost got it to the back of the boat when it made one last large run and the line broke. Bugger, I was looking forward to sashimi!!.
Day 8: (11th July) The day started early when I was awoken by a loud shout from Spencer at around 2am, it turned out that he had just missed being hit in the head by a flying fish.. By the time I came up to see what was going on he had had several more fish come in the boat and he was armed with a spatula!! Not too sure of he was looking to use it as a Lacrosse stick or play tennis with the incoming fish. We apparently had an extended visit from a large pod of dolphins after this, however I was asleep once more.. I took over the night watch at 3am and had no fish or dolphins, just a steady 15Knt breeze and lots of stars.
Day 9: (12th July) We travelled approximately 170NM (315Km) in the last 24 hours. That’s an averaging of just over 7Knts (13Kph). We didn’t try to fish at all yesterday as we were simply traveling too fast. At this point we have not slowed down at all and are looking to post another great mileage result. Might have to force us to slow down for an hour or so around sunset so that I can catch some dinner.. The evening was really clear and warm so we folded back the bimini cover so that we could see the stars batter, Spencer took the watch at 9pm and soon after was almost landed on by a sea bird. Apparently it flew straight at his face and scared the crap out of him..
Day 10: (13th July) Well its Friday the 13th and all good so far, The winds eased overnight and are lighter today and pushing us slightly south (only by a few miles). Didn’t need to slow the boat to go fishing last night, just around sunset the wind eased and I caught another nice Mahi Mahi..
Day 11: (14th July) Well we wanted some lighter winds and we got them!!! We spent the whole afternoon motoring as the wind completely died. It did pick up a bit around sundown however was going to push us even further south, so we decided to set the sails in “Bat Wing” formation (One out the left and one out the right) and sail with the wind directly behind us. This worked really well and we were able to head directly West for most of the night. We did have to put up with several hours where the wind was not really strong enough to keep the Genoa inflated and its flapping nearly drove us both insane. Looks like this will be the slowest day yet.
Day 12: (15th July) The wind is still quite light and we are still sailing in “Bat Wing” formation heading due West. It’s a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, we Just need a few more knots of wind to stop the boat rocking from side to side and it would be an awesome day.
Day 13: (16th July) I noticed a mark on the main sail this morning and on further inspection found that we have rubbed a small hole in the sail. It has apparently been rubbing on the end of one of the mast spars for the last couple of days. I have patched it with gaffer tape until we get to Nuka Hiva and can have it properly repaired. The wind has picked up again and we are also in a great following current that is giving us a 1 to 1.5Knt boost.
We had the best and worst day of fishing, I managed to catch a huge Mahi Mahi only to have it spit out the hook and shoot out the back access area of the boat and fall back into the water, we then hooked another 3 Mahi Mahi during the course of the day and everyone got off (No fish tonight)
Day 14: (17th July) We finally got some rain this morning, there were storms all around us at sun rise, however they all went around us and we only got a brief shower that was just long enough to wash the decks… We are now 2/3rd of the way to Nuka Hiva and only have some 1050Nm left to go, should be there in 7 to 8 days :)
The fishing has not improved again this morning, we have hooked 2 more huge Mahi Mahi with the first spitting out the lure half way to the boat, we managed to get the second one to the back of the boat after a mammoth effort in which we both had a go at bringing the fish in, however it too spat out the lure just as I was lifting it into the boat.
We had 2 visits from dolphins during the night, the first was just after I took over the 3am watch and the second was just as the sun came up, both times they played around the bow of the boat for 30 minutes or so.. Great to see we are not the only ones out here. We have not seen any other signs of other boats for over a week now
On a lighter note, I have now completed all levels of angry birds on my iPhone! Now to go through and get 3 stars on each and every level.
Day 15: (18th July) The wind held strong all day and we made great time, it started to rotate late in the day and is now pretty much a southerly. We lost several more fish today, we had 3 huge fish take the lure in quick succession only to spit it out once we applied pressure. We had another strike as the sun was setting and lost the lure and rig!! That makes 10 lost fish in a row!!! I have taken the hint and stopped fishing until we reach Nuka Hiva, as the fish are just too large here to catch while the boat is sailing at over 6 Knts..
Day 16: (19th July) The wind has shifted to a southerly and is blowing at 20 to 25Knts, this is great with the exception that the swell is not running in 2 directions, one from the east and one from the south.. Going to be a bumpy ride :) We are now only 320Nm (hopefully 2 and a bit days sailing) from the point we plan to turn south towards Nuka Hiva for the last 400Nm of this crossing. We have stayed high to keep in the equatorial current which is worth 1 to 1.5Knts of speed. Once we turn south we will have to cross the opposing equatorial current, however we will cross that at a 450 angle so it should not slow us down too much.
Day 17: (20th July) We had our real first drama this afternoon, we had a few strong wind gusts over 25Knts and the rope that holds the Genoa top furler bracket in place decided to break right where it exits the top of the mast. The Genoa stayed pretty much in place and we managed to furl it a couple of turns to stop it moving further down the pole. The rope however decided to fall back all the way down the inside of the mast. We have not lost any speed with this problem and we will not be able to fix it until we reach Nuka Hiva, as I will need to get out the bosons chair and climb up to the very top of the 13.5 high metre mast to replace the rope and re-attach it to the furler hoisting bracket.
Day 18: (21st July) We finally turned southward (heading 248deg) towards Nuka Hiva at 7am this morning, we had been following the equatorial current due West and are now only some 675Nm from our destination. We managed to travel just over 140Nm yesterday evan though we have a partially furled Genoa, so all being good, we should reach Nuka Hiva in another 4 days. Can’t wait to have a shower, fresh bread and a steak!!!
We also saw our first sign of other people last night, we passed a large fishing vessel at about 4:30am..
Getting to be a bit like ground hog day!! I was so board today that I actually made soup for lunch.. We have now run out of any sweet munchies and we are both craving something sweet..
Day 19: (22nd July) The day started off with a sea bird landing on top of the bimini (awning) at about 4am, he stayed there for several hours and was not phased by me popping my head up to look at him every 15 minutes or so, it finally flew off as the sun was rising.. We are now on the final stretch of the crossing with only some 350Nm to go and we are both getting a little excited about getting off the boat for a few days..
Day 20: (23rd July) The wind had eased considerably since yesterday and we now have a 8 to 12 Knt NE wind, this means that we are only traveling at 4 to 5 Knts, and are also struggling to maintain enough angle to the wind to get directly to Nuka Hiva, we only have some 220Nm left to go, but at this rate it will take us at least another 2 days!!.
Day 21: (24th July)The wind and current have continued to drive us south towards Hiva Oa, so we have decided to make this our first stop in the Marquesas. Hiva Oa is actually some 40Nm closer than Nuka Hiva and we were planning to visit here on our way down through the chain of islands, however the wind has other idea’s. We will arrive in Hiva Oa some time during the night or early tomorrow morning, however we will need to tack back up to it later on today. We are now just 70Nm from Hiva Oa, but no land in site yet. Can’t wait to have a swim!!
Day 22: (25th July) We arrived in Hiva Oa at about 10:30pm and anchored in a small bay on the north side of the island. We are the only yacht here and we look forward to a good night’s sleep and a swim first thing in the morning.
We awoke this morning to a magnificent view from the yacht, the bay we chose to anchor in is amazing, with huge mountains all around us and a little village by the beach. We had a great swim first thing and are looking to move on to the main port later today so that we can fill up our water tanks and get some much needed food.