Finally the paint has dried. Our twenty day crossing of the Pacific from the Galapgos to Nuku Hiva in 20 videos. These will be published one day at a time over the next twenty days so you can fall asleep one day at a time.
If you want to read notes from our crossing scroll past the videos to the end of this post.
Day 1. Leaving the Galapagos
Day 2 - After a night of no wind and no sleep
Day 3 - and it was cold
Day 4 - Time for Tea
Day 5 or 6 - We never were quite sure
Day 7 - Nearing the end of our first week, musing on how far we are from Shore
Day 9 - Skipping a day or I lost count, very wet
Later in the day, a glimpse of a night time watchkeeping
Today, focus on food and a cameo appearance by Clare
Day 12 and no wind
Day 13 - Moving faster and time for showers and a wash
Day 14 - Fishing comes good at last
Day 14 - Plotting our position
Day 15 - Vistors
Day 16 - Chafe
Day 17 - Cooking with Clare
Day 18 - Musing on Clocks going anti-clockwise
, Mr D and entry to French Polynesia
\day 19 - A night of squalls and wind going round in circles
Day 20 - Arrving in Nuku Hiva with Dolphins
Mon Jun 15 2020
Light winds, a few squalls and experimenting with the sail plan to keep us moving in the right
direction explain the deviations from a direct route. We are now headed along approximately
05 30S to 129 W hoping to stay in some west bound current for as long as possible. Wind and
wave conditions described as discombobulating by those that know this sea area.
Tue Jun 16 2020
Our route to Nuke Hiva shows a distance of 3073NM. At 20:00 UTC we “only” had 1536 miles to go even though we had only
5º 14.416s 113º 20.437w
Wed Jun 17 2020
We get excellent weather support from a meteorologist that goes by the name metbob. As he says “Weather is a mix of pattern and chaos”. THe expected nice South Easterly winds also forecast by NOAA in their GFS model clearly decided some chaos was in order and have swung around to the East. This means that after 12 hours of fun sailing we are back to rolling along slowly downwind grateful to be in a good current that keeps us moving.
Days seem to flash by. I don’t know whether it is just a sign of old age or having got into a routine, or maybe a defence mechanism against the disorientation of the continuous rolling that goes with downwind sailing in large swells. These days will be removed from our memory and replaced with views of the milky way that cannot be seen on land or of sculpted seas that only exist in the middle of large oceans.
Another time zone bites the dust
Thu Jun 18 2020
As we cross 120W change our clocks for the second time on this passage. The Marquesas are another -30 minutes.
We are now 8 hours behind UTC or GMT and 9 hours behind British Summer Time.
The winds continue to come from the East rather than the expected South East. Rolling along slowly but steadily.
Celebrated progress with freshly baked chocolate cake.
5º 29.971s 117º 23.131w
Fri Jun 19 2020
Fishing has not been a great success for us in the recent past. Sargaso weed in the Carribbean, our rudder and various body parts caught in the barbed hook being our only successes.
Then yesterday morning within minutes of putting the line out we had a strike only to lose the lure and whatever sizeable fish had taken it.
As dusk fell and we were preparing to eat dinner we saw a fish jumping in the distance. We might catch something I said before realising that the fish jumping and our line shaking rapidly were connected, this time securely.
It was a beautiful Dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi or Dorado) that had taken the lure, one that guaranteed it said to catch Dolphine fish. Guarantee delivered.
Catching a fish at sea is perhaps the easy part. Filleting a fish on a rolling deck where nothing stays still unless held down resulted in something that looked like a crime scene on the one hand and two beautiful sides of fish on the other. Dinner came but an hour late, the fish restocking our freezer as it was just too late for dinner today.
5º 30.552s 119º 54.682w
Fri Jun 19 2020
After a day of dither as the winds backed and veered we decided to try the mainsail. We are now wing on wing with the Genoa poled out into wind.
45 miles to the 1000 miles to go waypoint.
Into the last 1000
Sat Jun 20 2020
After two full weeks at sea we have just under we have entered the last 1000 miles with under 930 miles to run at the time of this post.
We plan to run another 300 miles in the current north of 6S and then turn direct for Nuku Hiva. Before that we have to navigate through another wind hole due to affect us as dusk falls but we have falling wind speeds already compared to last night.
5º 31.340s 123º 04.504w
Sat Jun 20 2020
When you think you are in the middle of nowhere…and we are pretty close to that…the last thing you expect to hear is the thump thump of a helicopter. But that sound echoed through the cabin as I was dozing. Clare shouted helicopter and I woke from my dream to find that the sound only grew louder.
A little orange helicopter was hovering low in front of us. It came forwards and then along side. Two men waved at us. At first we thought they might be asking us to stop but that was crazy. I at least have clearly read too many thrillers. After a while they started smiling and flew off - their waving being more friendly than at first.
On AIS we could see one boat temporarily, though this vanished as fast as the helicopter. We think they were from a tuna fishing vessel or fleet. The registration was HC-COL.
And then there was silence again. The wind has dropped and backed towards the East again and we are back rolling slowly along wondering whether it was real or have we started hallucinating like sailors of old.
Sailing on a knife edge
Mon Jun 22 2020
645 miles to go. We could arrive Friday evening or Saturday morning. We are now on a near direct track to Nuku Hiva. If you have ever watched the Americas Cup boats they are always sailing into wind, sailing close hauled (sails pulled in close to the centre line) even when sailing downwind. The exact opposite of watching a sailing boat sailing with both sails pushed out as far as possible, often on different sides.
Whilst we only potter along in comparison we can still pull off the same trick, in a limited way.With the wind even a little behind the beam going forwards initialy reduces the windspeed and so you can’t sail anywhere near as fast as the wind as there is no wind left to push you along if you are going with the wind.
But if by going fast the wind we feel (apparent wind) can be made to seem like it is coming from forwards of the beam then the wind speed increases as we go faster. We can set the sails for upwind sailing and edge even faster as the increased wind speed pulls us forwards.It’s a virtuous circle that allows the Americas cup boats to sail into wind while sailing downwind many times the wind speed.
On a good day if the wind is not too far behind our beam we can do the same and achieve sailing speeds close to the wind speed. But the virtuous circle can become a vicious circle if the wind drops a little, the sails flap and the wind moves behind us and we slow right down.
Robbie the hydrovane will, though, turn us so that the wind angle is correct but then we will turn off track, turning back as we speed up again if the wind speed increases again.
As a result our course wanders as the wind gusts and our speed varies significantly if we are close to the point where this is possible. Falling off the edge leaves everything flapping and us going nowhere.
A reduction in wind speed of even a knot or so can leave us either off course or sailing slowly. It is then time to get out the planning software to see which is the best option. Overnight we had to take the slow speeds. Today we have pushed the wind forwards and are making good speed again. It’s a lot more comfortable too.
5º 43.415s 125º 49.427w
Chafe and Loose Screws
Tue Jun 23 2020
We have under 450 miles to run now. A significant distance that now seems quite short, Perspective is a curious thing.They say you only need two things to repair a boat. Wd40 to free up things that are stuck but should move and Gaffer tape to stop things moving that should not.On my daily round of the boat yesterday I found the Genoa sheet had become worn through to the inner core, the strong part of the rope. Chafe can happen anywhere it seems and is the real enemy of long distance sailing. In this case we were lucky to find it before the line’s strength was compromised. This was easily fixed but a timely reminder to keep focus on sailing as we near our destination.
The day before I had found a bolt on the “car” that slides up the mast to dock the Genoa pole had come loose. Not a little loose but sticking out loose. Somehow vibration had turned this bolt through at least three full revolutions even though it was quite stiff to turn Another simple fix except for the need for a special tool to tighten the 5 star headed bolt. Boat parts are never standard.
Fortunately we have slowly accumulated more tools than WD40 and Gaffer tape. Liberal application of loctite blue should prevent it coming free again.
Cleared into French Polynesia
Wed Jun 24 2020
We are now 265 miles from Nuku Hiva. We might just make it there in daylight on Friday, Arriving in the dark is possible but best avoided We are cleared into French Polynesia just in time for us to meet the mandatory 48 reporting requirement.
We will have to quarantine for 7 or 14 days on arrival.We will not be cleared by immigration until we get to Tahiti but we believe that we can travel freely within French Polynesia before that.
Once cleared in we will have until October to decide whether to stay or go on to New Zealand if they open their borders.
Luckily we are still treated as EU citizens and can apply for permission to stay for a year of we need to. That doesn’t solve the small problem of cyclones in French Polynesia but at ldon’t have to leave on December 31st if the rest of the Pacific remains closed.
6º 42.378s 132º 20.106w
102 miles to go but we are not sailing
Thu Jun 25 2020
110 miles to go. We are back on a direct track to Nuku Hiva hoping to arrive around 1800 local time which is 9.5 hours behind British Summer Time. Weather has caught up with us as a wide squall line is passing through the area. The wind is going in any and all directions seemingly all at once making sailing in any given direction quite impossible. Just as I write this we are get a high ptessure wash from above.
Our desire to arrive has overcome our reluctanxe to use the engine.Nearing any destination attention turns to the more detailed charts, other traffic (none seen yet), in this case an island to be avoided as it is inconveniently situated on our direct track.
The main focus though inevitably becomes “When are we going to get there”. For three weeks this has not mattered but as the distance drops so arriving becomes the driving force. It’s not like another night at sea would be a bad thing but when the alternative is a full night’s sleep preceded by a gin and tonic and or a glass of wine the pressure becomes too great to resist.
Time to put the ice trays in the freezer and the cans of beer back in the fridge.
7º 30.302s 135º 52.803w
Arrived but not yet half way
Fri Jun 26 2020
We arrived Nuku Hiva at 15.30 local time after a fast downwind sail.
Not yet half way to New Zealand! We pass that milestone when we arrive in Tahiti but much exploring to do before that.
Gin and Tonic time…
8º 25.240s 138º 18.268w
Emerging from hibernation
Mon Jun 29 2020
We are slowly emerging from hibernation, the best way to recover from sleep deprivation. Tomorrow we hope to make progress towards ending quarantine but there will no doubt be a backlog of paperwork to process after the long weekend. This bank holiday bead in celebration of semi-independence from France,
We have started cleaning the house barnacles from the waterline and the green slime that has grown all the way up the sides of the hull. On previous passages speed through the water has kept everything clean but the Pacific is so rich in nutrients that growth is inevitable.
Tue Jun 30 2020
Our quarantine ended with a brief radio message to say we were free to go ashore and welcome to French Polynesia.
We are not immigrated into FP but are free to go where we like on land and by sea for the first time since early March when we were locked down in the Galapagos. It is strange after so long being locked down and then at sea to be stepping into a normal world where the kids are playing basketball or volleyball or just swimming in the sea and adults mingle freely. No facemasks. No 2 metre rules.
A quick trip to the stores revealed that the shelves were bare. The supply ship is due tomorrow then for a few days the shelves will be full again. Buy it when you see it for tomorrow it will be gone or so we have been told. One should add if you can afford it as prices are eye watering.
The decision, when it needed to be made, was easy. There was no safe Eastbound option. We could not even get permission to leave here for Salinas in Ecuador and Panama started to do mad things like tell cruisers to leave immediately (having not allowed them to leave) and fine them for not renewing visas, even though the offices were closed so renewal was impossible. The electrical storms that are a daily occurrence at this time of year provided a further good reason to go west. We now have to take our chances with French Polynesia and whatever lies beyond. We will though, be reunited with many of our friends after at least 21 days at sea, 14 days quarantine and however long it takes to catch up with them;- that's assuming all goes well with the check-in process when we arrive.
We will miss the Galapagos having had as good a time in lockdown as one could reasonably expect in a worldwide pandemic. In the last week or so we have had the bonus of being able to see some of the Santa Cruz Island as the lockdown has been partially lifted and the Island declared COVID 19 free.
I had my first cappuccino since February, and somehow we just had to have a burger because we could.
What will we remember? The Iguanas might be special, the sharks plentiful and unusual, and the giant tortoises are astonishing; but it is the Sea Lions that we will miss the most. They are cheeky and playful and somehow they always make you smile.
Here are a few photo reminders of our last few weeks in the Galapagos.