Saturday, 26 May 2007

we have arrived! we made it!

22 days & 23 hours. 3000 miles across the South Pacific in a 41 foot boat & I'm here safe & sound! We saw land as the dawn broke & the sun rose from the sea. Towering above sea level, was the mountainous island of Fatu Hiva. Both absorbed in our own thoughts & excitement for a few brief minutes but we still had work to do, sails to pull in, the engine to start (Bobby didn't tell me until we were anchored that he had just noticed that the transmission was leaking & wasn't sure we would make it into the bay!) & unsecuring the anchors which hadn't been used for 23 days! We have made it into the Bay of Virgins, anchored in over 100 feet of water, we are taking in our surroundings. It's impressive. Huge cliffs around the bay covered green green grass & trees. The water was clear & warm & felt good on my skin as I dived in for my first swim in over 3 weeks! We enjoyed our first breakfast at anchor, hot choc, coffee & freshly baked muffins never tasted so good! We praised Barraveigh for getting us here safely & are now wondering what we should do next!

Number of boats seen: 0
Number of fish caught: 0
Types of fish seen: 1 (flying fish)
Number of steps from bow to stern: 12
Amount of food Bobby can eat: unlimited & always hungry
Number of different card games played: 2
Books read: 6 including Savage seas (true story about a boat on the same trip attacked & sunk by whales!)
Fresh veg left: Tomato's, carrots, peppers, potatoes & onions
Number of eggs left: 2
Number of arguments: uncountable!! ; )

I cannot thank Bobby enough for getting all 3 of us (including Barraveigh) here in one piece. It's one hell of an accomplishment & I'm speechless at his commitment, knowledge & effort. It truly is something I never imagined I would do & I'm proud to have shared the longest crossing of his trip.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

so near & yet so far! Day 21 (15/5)

Both totally disillusioned. The stories of the tradewinds, comments of never adjusting a sail & smooth sailing on a flat sea are not our experiences! We have had rough, messy seas, been thrown about & struggled to stay on course as the winds push us south & off our course. We have jibed & tacked, only to end up as south as we were before we started & feeling like we wasted 24 hours. To top it all off we have now lost the wind. After 3 days of sailing with flopping sail as the wind fails to fill them doing a disappointing average of 4.5 knots & 100 miles per day, the wind has disappeared. We've put away the sails & started the engine. Arrival at Fatu Hiva, Marquesas looks set for midday on day 23, a day later than expected.
Its not been easy & it's been an effort to stay focused…passages are definitely not my forte! I now know why planes have been invented & intend to use them! Bobby & I have seen the worst in each other. At times it's been a struggle but we've broken a few death stares & laughed as we uttered our fav comment, "It could be worse, we could be stuck on a small boat together in the middle of the ocean!"
The scenery has remained unchanged throughout the trip - sea, sea & more sea! Flying fish are the only activity seen in the waters & there have been no other boats. Routine has kept us sane & also left us going mad. We have kept our clocks on Galapagos time. The sun is rising later so I don't wake until 9am when its time to start trying to escape the sun! Bobby completes the 10am official radio check in. At 11:30am we plot our position on our chart, working out distance traveled & average speed of the last 24 hours. At noon Bobby runs a radio check in with 5 other boats. We all started this crossing within a day or so of each other so it's good to stay in contact in case anyone needs assistance. We watch an episode of Sex in the City before the battery on my lap top dies & fill in the next few hours playing cards & reading our books until its time to start the generator around 5pm. At which point we escape the noise of the generator below deck. Bobby spends the next hour or so trying to send & receive our limited emails home, reassuring family we are safe & well, whilst I sort out dinner. It's the same routine everyday & both of us are looking forward to breaking it when we arrive. We are desperate to swim in the sea & stretch our legs on land. Fatu Hiva had better have been worth all these days at sea!! ; )

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

not all plain sailing!

Day 10 (4/5/07) We are halfway! 1500 miles completed. It's been far from perfect! Have been, & still are bashed about as 10 foot waves hit us from all directions. Barraveigh loves to surf the waves but can be a little scary when they spin us out, especially if you're below deck. Averaging 140 miles per day at 6 knots.

Cranking Bobby to the top of the mast whilst under way due to a jammed main sail (again!) is not something either of us wish to repeat. The waves continually threw Bobby into the mast & we were both surprised & lucky, there were no injuries.
A sail change to maximize the wind didn't go as planned, the new headsail jammed in the track leaving the last meter plus hanging down. It won't go up & won't come down! On the plus side it still works but it's a constant battle to avoid wear as it slaps on the stays & rubs on the life lines.
We devised plans to unjam the headsail. All failed, the final plan resulting in the sail nearly pushing me overboard. The furler for the headsail wore through, unfurling the sail in the middle of the night. Bobby clambered forward. Attaching a new rope is all very well, but in the dark, up at the bow being hit by waves, strapped onto the lifelines, with a dislocated finger & the headsail slapping about freely, destroying itself, was not the easiest of situations.
The generator also added its own complications & will now only run once everything is emptied out of the compartment & requires the fuel line to be hand pumped for 15 minutes before it can be left to run on its own! Power is essential for the GPS & auto pilot.
Some minor casualties were our stock of eggs - I sat on them after becoming off balanced! Surprisingly some survived the impact! I've been pelted with flying cabbages as they topple out of their hanging netting & have restocked on my supply of bruises!!

It's not all bad! We watch movies at night in the cockpit, nibbling on goodies from home. Down to our last two cream eggs, so it could all be down hill from here! ; ) With the watches relaxed & snoozing being given the ok by the captain, we both fight to spend the night in the cockpit, its cooler, more comfortable & the view is out of the world. The sky is littered with thousands of stars & the Milky Way is so bright it looks like candy floss. Believing Sally is the brightest star up there, keeping a watch on me during these clear beautiful nights & knowing she would be reprimanding me for my greasy hair & lack of enthusiasm for lip gloss & mascara, brings a tear & a smile & makes the tough times a little easier.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

we have left land!

Tues 24th April 2007. 3000 nautical miles, 4 weeks & sea sea sea as we sail across the pacific to Marquesas, northern chain of French Polynesian Islands. Thats 4 weeks, no land, no stopping, just Bobby & I on a small boat..hang on a minute..I want to go home! ; )
Bobby is jumping for joy as we leave the last Spanish speaking country. He should be proud of himself. He's communicated well with officials & locals, sharing jokes & all in Spanish. Its certainly made life easier for us & I wonder how well we will get on with my limited grasp of the French language - really wish I had paid attention at school! Maybe I'll just have to resort to the english's tried & tested method..speak english slower & louder until they understand! ; ) I guess I have plenty of time to read my French dictionary!
At present we are sailing south & will continue to do so until we hit the the trade winds which, fingers crossed will push us west across the pacific. Rumor has it that once you are in the trades there is no need to alter your course or sails for the entire trip. I've been told its a nice easy sail - will keep you posted!!

Saturday, 12 May 2007

the galapagos experiance

The 24 volcanic islands that make up the Galapagos islands are our last land experience before the big south pacific crossing & wow what an experience! Time was divided between just 2 of the islands - Santa Cruz & Isabella. Santa Cruz is the most populated of the islands & the quaint town of Puerto Ayora was a dream. More facilities than the guide books lead you to believe..I was in Suzi heaven, fresh sushi, loads of fab ice cream! Yes I know the animals were why we were there but being able to restock our supplies & have a few treats was a bonus!
A days sail across to Puerto Villamil on Isabella with our guests. Its a sleepy laid back town with sand roads & where they use a bulldozer to keep the sandy roads level! Sleepy is good unless you need things done. Slight nightmare as our guests water taxi failed to arrive therefore missing their ferry back to Santa Cruz. As always money speaks & they managed to charter their own boat back. They were good sports & adapted well to life on Barraveigh. Great time had by all I hope - I certainly loved all my goodies from home..cream eggs yummy!
On both islands we saw spectacular wildlife. We didn't even have to leave the boat, sealions, penguins, iguanas & black tipped reef sharks swam by daily. We saw the huge tortoises that are so old its possible that some of them were around when Darwin explored the islands, blue footed boobies that dive bomb into the sea dropping out the sky like fighter jets - why has evolution given them blue feet? I couldn't tell you but they are very comical & look like they have stepped in wet paint! The cute award has to go to the sea lions & penguins, both appear to be good friends as they play & even work together to catch their dinner. Watching them swim around the boat was a sight I never got bored with. We snorkeled with turtles & families of rays. We kayaked through waterways created by solidified lava & home to white tipped sharks that were bigger than me - not somewhere I wanted to start practicing my 360 degree kayak roll!
The islands were a great experience & I hope that as tourism sours they are able to keep the human footprint to a minimum.