Before we left for the Marquesas, we celebrated Horatio's birthday in La Cruz with our friends from Pesto, had our last dinner at the German restaurant and we also were able to catch the new Batman vs. Superman movie with our friends from Pesto, Kenta Anae and Cape D.
On our way to the Marquesas – French Polynesia
We left La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit. Mexico on Monday March 28, 2016 at 1:00pm local time.
We cast off our lines from the La Cruz marina and it felt like another day of sailing, but really the adrenaline was pumping because it was a new adventure. We knew that we would not see land or step foot on land for at least 20 days. We heard it takes between 20-30 days to get there based on weather. As this is an El Nino year, we were told there would be very little wind and the Trade Winds would be receding or even almost stopping and could reverse! But we were off.
Day 5 – Steady as she goes
The weather was steady at about 10 knots once outside of Banderas Bay and it felt good. The second day we had choppy waves and some patches of no wind, but overall it felt good and everything was going well. The days were somewhat overcast with some light sprinkles. Clothing was shorts and t-shirts during the day and light fleece jackets at night.
It felt pretty lonely after the first two days. We did see some sailboats and ships in the shipping channel, but once outside of the shipping channel we saw no other boats around us on our AIS. By day 5, we actually saw something pop up on our AIS. It was a Chevron tanker. It was one of their Pacific Area Lightering ships (they bring oil, usually from the Middle East, and come offshore toward Los Angeles where the smaller ships meet it and take the oil off their ship, as it is too big to dock). You really don’t expect to see much out there, so you can get pretty lax about keeping watch during the day. The tanker was only 2 miles away, so it was really exciting!
Already, Noah was wondering, “Are we there yet?” So, we gave him a haircut so he could focus on something else. Like, “why do I have blond and blue patches all over my scalp?” Could have something to do with all the past hair dying he has had. He wanted to keep the front long and the back short, as he would say, not the opposite, “I do not want a mullet!” Of course, Miriam does not cut hair, but tried her best as it is long in the front and short in the back, but it needs a serious touch up by a professional.
The mood on board has been good and we are trying to get into the routine with meals and watch schedules. The kids have their day Noon Report where they document and track our location on a paper chart. We are also listening in and checking into The Pacific Puddle Jump Net so we can hear how the other boats are doing and get their coordinates so the kids can also track them with us. They also have to write in their journal about what happened every day.
Geoff has become obsessed with Boobies, the bird kind. We have boobies following us all the time! It is amazing how many there are. We think they are trying to catch the lures we have trolling behind us. When they get tired, they try to land on the mast top. There is a lot of expensive instruments up there for a bird to break, so clapping, yelling and air horning them has seen to deter them thus far.
Fish Report: 3 - All of the fish we have caught so far wave been babies, extremely small. We caught a striped marlin (glad that was a baby!), yellowfin tuna, and a Mahi Mahi. We have had a few squid (not sure how they got on board) and lots of flying fish jump onto our boat. The kids have flying fish duty every day. They have to make sure they remove all the flying fish on board before they stink up the boat, or save them for bait.
Noah holding a flying fish
Noah getting his hair cut
Day 16 - Squalls. Squalls, Go Away!
It really must be an El Nino year, as we have been hit at least 10 times with squalls and heavy rain. Good news is that we have crossed the Equator and Poseidon made a visit!
The kids were so looking forward to meeting Poseidon. Actually really wondering what they should say to him and what they would have to do to go from a Pollywog to a Shellback. Noah had questions ready for him, like, “Did Zeus really send you to the Oceans?” And “How many fish are there in All of the Oceans?” It was so cute to hear because they really thought they would meet Poseidon and not their dad dressed up like Poseidon! Geoff looked great as Poseidon and really went all out on the costume. Mop handle with tin foiled chopsticks for the Trident, tin foiled crown, shell necklace, and mop brush for his beard: cost- nothing, the look on Horatio and Noah’s faces – Priceless! “Whaaaattt??? Where is Poseidon? Why are you dressed like that, dad?” Hilarious!
We are definitely looking forward to getting to the Marquesas. We had made a run back North to avoid a low pressure system that brought no wind and we had the cross the squall zone 3 times! Now that we are in the Southern Hemisphere, we are hoping there is less squall activity, but cannot be guaranteed of this as the squall zones (usually between 2-5 degrees) are the same whether in the north or south of the equator… sigh.
So far, the weather has been consistent with @10-15 knots of wind, which has been a very nice change from the days of crazy wind and squalls, to no wind, because the squall just past. We are hoping to keep getting this kind of wind and no rain or squalls. Attitude has also improved a little with the clearing of the squalls. I think wearing wet foul weather gear all the time really effects your mood. Also being able to prepare a decent meal without sliding and falling all over the place makes a big difference. Sleep was also a concern, but we seem to catch up a little during the off squall times. It has also been very hot and humid. When it rains, it is nice because it cools the temperature down a little, but overall the inside of the boat still remains warm. So, the kids are always only in underwear, while Geoff is always in swim trunks and Miriam is in underwear. It is a lot of nakedness, but no one really cares how they look, they just want to feel cool!
The kids are continuing their daily Noon Reports, so they are tracking our progress and marking it on the paper chart as well as writing in their journals. We really have not had any energy or time to devote to homeschooling during this passage. Even when you have a little down time, you just want to sleep. So, no real homeschooling. They have been reading some books and they play games like Monopoly and Battleship and play cards with each other, as well as playing or reading on their Kindles and occasionally watching movies. They do come out and help and talk with us. Noah hangs out with Miriam when she starts her night watch, so he will fall asleep until he is asked to go down below because of rain or possible squall coming. Horatio is good help with getting the Spinnaker pole set up or put away, and they both watch a little if Geoff or I need their help. I think it might have been day 18, we knew we had some chaffing on our Spinnaker guy (sheet), but after looking at it, we figured it would last us until we got to the Marquesas. But low and behold, the sheet literally snapped on the other end. All of a sudden we could hear this loud “kapow” and our spinnaker was flapping off the side of the boat. All hands of deck and we were able to get the spinnaker back in the bag before any damage could happen. We were really lucky as the weather was pretty calm and there was no damage and we could still handle the boat. Whew!
Fish Report – 2, nothing really exciting, we caught a skipjack and a yellowfin. We can’t believe how little fish we had been catching. We just figured we would catch fish almost every other day, at least! Ha ha! We also have had no Booby issues anymore. The closer we got to the equator, the less birds we saw. But we did have some serious flying fish! We always found at least 10-15 fish somewhere on deck. But there is nothing like getting smacked in the face with one during a night watch. It is really exciting! Those little buggers smell bad and are really slimy and leave behind lots of fish scales, Yuck!
Speaking of smelling bad, the last of our fresh produce is almost gone. Surprisingly those Green bags (Greenies, Debbie Meyer’s Green bags, etc.) really made a difference. We still have tomatoes, romaine lettuce and carrots that are still good! The one thing that should NOT go into a Green bag is potatoes, even though it says it is ok to. Talk about rotting putrescence! I believe our friends on Pesto also had this same issue. Maybe one or two of the potatoes got smashed and then rotted, which then proceeded to rot the entire bag. Ugh, talk about a soupy smelly mess. It was worse than changing a baby’s diaper!
Noon Report and Journal writing
Noah charting our location
Horatio charting our location
Miriam trying to stay cool
Beautiful sunrise after a squall
Horatio getting his hair cut
Packing our plastic into plastic bottles for recycling
Uhhh, what? who?
Poseidon (aka Dad)
Day 19 – LAND HO! – April 16, 2016
We made landfall at Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas in French Polynesia around 6:30pm local time yesterday. Making a 19 day 5 hour passage. Not too bad for an El Nino year as we were told “we’d starve” taking so long to get there. Honestly when we look back, there really was not too much in regards to shortage of wind, but there was certainly lots of weather, rain and squalls.
As we were coming into the bay, we thought, what meal are we going to have to celebrate our arrival? Grim possibilities as all of our fresh food except carrots are now gone. Well, we caught a large Wahoo (maybe around 40lbs). It was excitement all around as we were trying to bring the fish in, bring the sails down and get the engine started to get ready to anchor. It always seem to be our routine of coming into a new bay to anchor. Too much going on all at once! Well, it was great to anchor and have a fantastic meal and get so very much needed night of uninterrupted sleep!
The artist Gauguin had it right on this place. Only an artist can capture the beauty here. So, that give me an excuse to not describe the place, but say, put it on your bucket list. Our camera Is pretty average, and does not seem to capture the right colors and shades properly. You need to come see the magnificence of the mountains and how they were carved or weathered away, but covered in so much lush greenery. This bay has a beautiful sand beach that surrounds the bay. So breathtaking.
The plan is no real plan for right now. We do have to check in and exchange currency. We will swim and possibly go ashore and do some hiking. But for now, we will relax!
Landfall Dinner - Wahooooo!
Land Ho - Nuku Hiva
Entrance to Anaho Bay - north side of Nuku Hiva
View of mountain entering Anaho Bay
April 20, 2016 – Wednesday
We decided to take a hike to the next bay over from us, it would take approximately 1 ½ hours. About 3 kilometers up and 3 kilometers down to the Bay of Hatiheu. It had rained the night before, so the trail, which is considered a mule trail, was about half a foot deep full of mud. It was hot and humid and on the way up, the trail was covered in literally millions of ants, one step down, ants are crawling all over your foot. It was amazing how many ants there were. When we made it to the top and started our decent, the ants were nowhere to be seen. It was incredibly strange, but made the hike that much nicer for your feet and legs! Noah wanted to go back before we were half way up, no he could not wait to get down. It was a much nicer hike down. When we got to the village of Hatiheu, we saw a Magasin (small market) with a restaurant Chez Yvonne, next to it. We were so excited to see a store, as Anaho Bay has no stores, or any businesses, just a few homes. We went in an asked if they accepted American dollars, and they did, which was great since we had not exchanged our dollars yet or gotten to an ATM to withdraw cash. We bought some popsicles and some water and drinks. We noticed the little market carried some frozen meats and a good selection of canned goods, but no real fresh produce, but they did have some potatoes and onions. They also carried some clothing items, like t-shirts and also a skateboard and lighters, etc.
We took our popsicles and drinks outside and sat on the benches that overlook the bay. This Bay does not have any sand beaches, so if you do anchor in this bay, you have to land your dinghy at the quay, which looked very rolly. Anyway, we were thrilled to be getting some rest and something cold to drink, when Geoff and I heard the kids screaming. Oh, my goodness, what on earth could it be??? Our friends on s/v Pesto had just driven up and parked close to our bench! Talk about the best surprise ever! We had been emailing and deciding when and where we would meet next and we would then buddy boat together. They arrived in the Bay of Taiohae, which is the administrative capitol on the south side of the island, and where we would eventually check in. They decided to rent a car that day and check out the island of Nuka Hiva. What luck that they came to this exact place at the same time we were there! The kids were so excited to see Raquel and Paulo, and admittedly, Geoff and I excited to see Alex and Adriana! It was like being back in La Cruz with our friends!
We ate lunch together at Chez Yvonne and talked about our shared experiences during the passage. Pesto was always within 50-70 miles of us, but we could not hear each other on our VHF radios, so we only communicated by email and occasionally heard each other during the Net check in. We shared a lot of the same experiences as we practically took the same path to get here. It was so great to see them and catch up with them. After discussing our passages, we all agreed that it was a challenging passage and at times, very unlikeable, but overall, we managed well with no one getting injured (except Adriana did break one of her toes as they left La Cruz), and the boats not breaking anything. We know we have made an incredible journey that can only be described as a monumental achievement and a once in a lifetime journey that our children will not forget. We know we won’t.
The food at Chez Yvonne was our first taste of Marquesan food. We had some fish and shrimp served with rice, bread fruit and cassava. It was delicious. Alex and Adriana had the goat with coconut sauce. They said their dish was also very good. They said there was a Pizza restaurant in Taiohae and other restaurants and cafes. So, it will be nice to try them when we get there. The only thing that will stop us from eating out a lot is the price. Food is not cheap. Our seafood dish, which we shared, was about $20. So, not like Mexico prices. Something we will have to get used to. But we have to admit that the espresso is very good! We can’t wait for the baguettes and croissants when we get to Taiohae!
Getting ready to hike from the beach on Anaho Bay to Hatiheu Bay
View of Anaho Bay from the trail
Miriam trying to swat ants off her legs and feet - futile
Noah with Anaho Bay in background
Horatio talking with a man we met on the trail
What a surprise to meet Pesto in Hatiheu Bay
Big Sand Crab on beach in Anaho after our hike back from Hatiheu
April 22, 2016
Taiohae Bay - south side of Nuku Hiva. This place actually has a little town with restaurants, grocery stores (magasins) and cafe's with wifi!
Need to check into the Marquesas and exchange some money and get some food!
We met up with Pesto and noticed several other Puddle Jump boats in the bay. We caught up with our friends on s/v Scoots and some other boats that we talked to on the radio net. We are now officially checking into the country and then we will do more exploring. We will head about 3 miles west to the next bay, Daniel's Bay, and meet up with s/v Sarita, and Pesto will also be heading over there today.
We will not have wifi again for a while, so will catch up when we get wifi again.
Lots of boats at anchor in Taiohae Bay
View of waterfall after big rainfall
Outrigger canoe race