Wow, what a long haul & it's was great to make land fall.The passage had plenty of wind, it blew 24/7 for all but a few days, in fact the wind was so relentless Bobbie mentioned that she couldn't wait for the doldrums...of course when we did reach the itcz it was worse than too much wind :-OBut we never encounter the itcz north of the equator; we had 15 to 30 all the way to 2 South.It was strange to be so far out that the wind was not affected by land so it blew hard day & night.From about 10 north to the Marquesas we encountered all lot of rain squalls but they weren't much to worry about; by the time we'd close the ports the rain would stop & the wind never got dangerously high.The farther south we got past 2 degrees south, the winds went light, when a squall approached the light wind would change directions which made for some frustrating sailing, the sails would bang & clang each time the boat rocked back & forth. We downloaded grib files & weather maps from the hf radio & were spot on, we ‘wested’ far enough to never loose wind for as far as one could expect & crossed the equator at around 128deg 31min. west at 5:30 am.We all got up & enjoyed the king Neptune ceremony.We had stowed a bottle of champagne & sparkling apple cider for Robin to toast to Neptune & a spill a bit into the sea to ensure fair winds.
Arriving in Hiva Oa in TraitorBay was so nice.The lush green tropical hills, coconut trees lining the bay, the junglely fragrances & the 5 star hotel up on the hill where won a free night.A few nights later the three of us hopped aboard the Range Rover for a ride up to luxury at the $400 a night hotel.The manager turns out to be a world renown flute player, he was very interested in checking out Bobbie glass flute & we had the golden opportunity to hear the best flutist we’ve ever heard play is 18 carat solid gold flute.
Nothing broke along the passage; we nearly chafed thru the 1st main reef (days with a reef in), we nearly chafed thru a jig sheet (again days& night with a pole out, aggressively adding 'pole down haul in 20 to 30 knots often with no reefs :-)
After being here over a week, the motor's raw water thur hull valve broke, the handle broke off :-OVery nerve wracking to deal with in the water, but Bravado had two spares & the water gods were on our side, the replacement went smooth.Our wind gen is on the fritz, another reason not to bother with those helicopter sounding things :-OIt’s the type that seems to be over engineered, it’s so smart it’s dumb; after climbing the miz mast a number times to trouble shoot it’s now tied off so it won’t spin & brake constantly in a nerve wracking fashion, which is a drag since it blows hard all the time out here :-O
We are a long way away from the relatively 'care freeness' of cruising Mexico; the sea of Cortez seemed real easy going compared to some of this cruising, it's like the big leagues out here, big seas big wind & far far away from real boat help & haul outs...We had been anchored near Atuona with the advised front & rear anchors.With the proper scope front & rear & set well, the boat next to us asked us to drop back a bit; this now loosing the proper aft scope; however we stayed put in the gusty winds & driving rain for three hours but later dragged the aft anchor & had to re-anchor in the driving rain & very gusty winds. A derelict sailboat on only one anchor yawled about wildly & bashed into both of our solar panels during the fiasco:-O (Only small damage to the mounts but I fixed easily the next day)After trying another spot in which another boat swinging wildly on one hook scared us off we decided to go back over to another anchorage at the island we had been previously but as soon as we got to channel between the two islands just outside Traitor bay we got hit by 25 to 35 knot winds & HUGE seas, so we turned back. Lot's o' drama later we were set again.Here in Fata Hiva a new boat hooked an anchored cat & it then dragged onto another cat, both cat folks were on shore.A couple of hours later & a scuba dive to 60' to untangle the mess & things are settling down... no wait one of the cats is re anchoring again as I write :-OWow, we are yawling close in the gusts :-OIt's rocky in less than 30 feet, there's little bit of sediment bottom in 40 to 60 then it's very deep quickly after that, boats in the back of the pack are in over 120 feet.Last week a boat dragged in the night, they couldn't be hailed with VHF or big spot lights; they woke up 5 miles out to sea :-O
Calalow with George & his wife, they have broken two shroud stays along the way & will need some real rigging help when they get in around next week.Whisper blew out their genaker.Love Song lost a very $$ mountain bike overboard during a rough jib on the crossing & another boat bumped into theirs in Hiva Oa seriously gouging Allen's surf board. As I write this Julia Max is sailing into Fata Hiva Bay of Virgins were we are in the dark with motor issues, so we are standing by to help out.
Cruising here is real hard core but the anchorages are beautiful & surreal, the Marquesas are very friendly, the plant life is out of this world with a large variety great fruits hanging on all the trees nearby.Bread fruit tastes like french fries when baked or fried, bananas are found growing in large bunches; a sign of cruising here is having a large bunch hanging from your boom:-) Pomplemouse, mangos,... I can't even name all the tasty fruits we're eatin' here & a lot of it we’ve picked right off the trees on hikes thru the jungle :-)
Getting fuel requires front anchoring & tying an aft line to the wharf, some boats got damaged in Nuka Hiva & it's the same process in Hiva Oa :-OPropane is not available in Hiva Oa, they say butane works but with less pressure.
We will be heading for the Tuamotos in about a week, another cruiser that has just been there gave us some waypoints for anchoring in Amanu, it's not on any guide books but seems cool being a bit off 'the path'.
We’ve met a new kid boat Zen from RoadIsland via Panama a boy & girl Robin’s age. The other kid boats, Bravado & Whisper were also on hand at Tahuata for a great beach bon fire; we’ve made it paridise, a dream a life time in the making.
Propagation is iffywhich makes sending out basic email tough, our nearest radio email station is 2825 mils away & anchoring in these tall mountainous islands make radio email iffy, & the wifi is very far & few between in these parts so it may be awhile before this ship’s log is uplaoded.
Anchoring in the Bay of Virgins in Fata Hiva has so far been the best place so far.It was originally using the male extremity phallic – something in reference to the tall spires of volcanic rock protruding towards the heavens but the priests that came along later was too embarrassed with that name & change one letter to mean virgins.The high vertical volcanic mountains raise sharply up from the bay in a dramatic geological formations, part of the town is located within the original volcano caldron.We took a hike out to a very high water fall thru dense jungle foliage. The water fall plunges into a very deep pool which we dove off the sides into the sweet water, swimming to the heavy flow of the water fall.Two days later we hiked way up to the high peaks above the anchorage for some spectacular views & exercise :-OAfter nearly a week there we have just sailed back to Hiva Oa to get our 90 day total visa extensions & a few more supplies before we sail up to the northern Marquises island, then we will cruise in the Tuamotos atolls, previously named the ‘dangers atolls’ for these are very low lying islands, no higher than the tallest palm tree so they can’t be seen until you are very near; they have claimed many boats over the centuries, but with GPS navigation we should be ok.