Monday, June 19, 2006


Yesterday seemed to drag on for a week in contrast to the rest of the trip. We decided that although there was minimal wind in the afternoon, we'd attempt to sail with just the genoa (we'd taken the main off for repair) and I'd helm while Nick changed the fuel filters as we suspected dirty Panamanian fuel was causing the engine to run erratically. It was impossible to keep the genoa full and it flopped about and flogged against the rigging in a maddening fashion. Also, without the main we were rolling like crazy. In honour of approaching landfall, we both had a saltwater shower in the cockpit earlier in the day, and I had recklessly cast off my 3-day old, manky anti-sickness patch thinking I would manage without one for the last leg - wrong! Consequently I felt sick most of the afternoon.

Nick completed the filter changes despite the roly-poly conditions and we furled the genoa and fired up the engine. According to our GPS we were still about 35 miles from land. We hadn't been able to make out the island amongst the low cloud until then but gradually, Fatu Hiva took shape in exactly the place it should be. I went to sleep in the evening and having slept off the sickness was woken at about 23.30 by an excited but tired Captain. We were about 2 miles north of the island and in the darkness it was difficult to make out anything but the silhouette of the land. Nick then slept and I spent an exciting couple of hours navigating across the north and down the west side of the island. The moon still hadn't risen and at times I felt very unnerved about my proximity to the coast but it was very thrilling and I used the radar to verify what the GPS was telling me. When I headed south to cover the 3 miles to the anchorage, a little white light seemed to be marking our waypoint exactly.

At about 2am it was time to wake Nick and we both struggled to make out our surroundings. The moon was up by now, but it was pretty cloudy and it took us a while to work out the anchorage was surrounded on 3 sides by tall cliffs with strange formations at the peaks. We motored around as slowly as we could and gradually made out the hulls of 5 other boats and with our super-powered torch we picked out the rock faces and were able to find a spot to drop the anchor, which we did at 2.20am. I had followed that little white light all the way into the anchorage. It was an anchor light - Zefferin's!

We woke early this morning in the most extraordinary, dramatic anchorage we have ever seen. Can't describe it adequately but I'll try. The Marquesas are volcanic but there's hardly any rock visible just numerous shades of green. Some of the peaks are long craggy and vaguely reptilian in their spikiness, where others are rounded like sugar loaves and topped with a hat of bushes! The coastal cliffs are indented with deep valleys and ravines. The highest peak on this small island (8miles x 5miles) is continually covered in shifting cloud.

This morning, we decided to complete the 2 most pressing jobs; cleaning behind the oven (after much sponge pudding and custard spillage) and scraping the propeller, which we checked had solved the speed problem with a quick trip around the anchorage this morning. Zefferin have given us a huge local grapefruit for breakfast, and also an enormous fillet of wahoo which they caught on their approach here and which we are having for lunch. There is a small village here with a church and a school and apparently not much else though we shall explore this afternoon. Trading is the way to do business; a t-shirt for some grapefruit and bananas, some fish hooks for flour etc. Apparently a load of washing costs a bottle of rum so looks like we'll be doing it by hand! Oh woe!

Overall passage statistics
Passage time: 20 days, 10 hours, 30 minutes
Charted distance: 2900
Logged distance: 2862
Total engine hours: 12
Distance to go: 0
Landfall: Hanavave Bay, Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia (S10°27.83' W138°40.08')

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