June, 2015

Passage Note #76 - Puddle Jump: Sailing to French Polynesia

We did it!!!!

French Polynesia!!  21 days to get from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas Islands. We made landfall on Tahuata Island on June 10.  This adventure had been uppermost in our minds for many years. Chuck had been keen to return since he was there for 6 years in the 1990's on Jacaranda - he calls it the "creme de la creme" of cruising.

 

Here's the story of our Puddle Jump as told in Linda's personal narrative:

June 2, 2015

 

For two weeks now we have been “floating like a trustful beetle”, alone and feeling very small on the heaving blue sea, rising and falling rhythmically on its breath of foamy swells.  Surrounding us from above are the blue heavens of the southern hemisphere, filled with fleecy white trade-wind clouds by day and the southern cross with its austral co-constellations shining by night. 

 

We are in the midst of two boundless, mysterious and dynamic blue universes that are in constant motion.

 

It is June 2, the 14th day of what will turn out to be a 21 day passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia - what we call the “Puddle Jump” across the Pacific Ocean.  This is the longest non-stop blue water voyage a cruiser can make - about 3,000 nautical miles - even longer than crossing the Atlantic, known as “The Pond”. 

Two weeks ago, after noon on May 20, we pulled up our anchor in Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabella, Galapagos, and pointed Jacaranda west southwest. What a heady feeling knowing we had begun - we were embarking on the BIG journey of our dreams - multiple weeks instead of multiple days or hours!   Our excitement was high and we were enthusiastically looking forward to what adventures lay ahead!  As we passed foamy Union Rock two giant manta rays surfaced in the prickly dark blue sea and one suddenly and majestically somersaulted into the air!  I am neither religious nor superstitious but I am enamored of myths, legends and good omens.  A few hours later, in the waning red-orange light with Venus and Jupiter blazing points above the setting sun, our last vestige of land  -  the gently sloping purple silhouette of Volcano Cerro Azul - began to fade from view.  Goodbye Terra Firma!  We are headed out to sea!

Courageous or Crazy

 

Land folks have invariably called us courageous or crazy for doing this voyage. Yet within the context of our cruising community, although it is certainly a big decision, it is nothing out of the ordinary.  We are part of a mobile neighborhood that has now begun to disperse with the same goal we have: sailing to French Polynesia.  This is the season with the right weather window to go. Eight of our friends have left from our anchorage within the last week and many more have already departed from Mexico, Panama, and mainland Ecuador.  This is the first time I have done anything like this but it is the second time for Chuck who sailed Jacaranda from Mexico to the Marquesas in 1991, taking 27 days.  He spent 6 years in the South Pacific and has always wanted to return, calling it the “creme de la creme” of cruising. Listening to his stories of exotic cultures, stunning islands and remote places that time forgot mesmerized me like the Arabian Nights until his dream became mine too. 

Is it scary?  We both have fears and yet we are not afraid. Only a fool would be arrogant enough to have no fear - of the sea, the wind, the vastness of space, of the unknown.  You must have a healthy fear and serious respect for the elements or you put yourself at risk.   I have read accounts of people (mostly from non-sailors I think) who are scared of the sea and attribute sinister motives to it; feeling that its wrath is directed toward them personally with a targeted enmity and contempt.  I don’t believe it.  I have no such perception of malevolence.  The sea is dispassionate, not caring if you live or die - an indifference embedded in the very nature of the natural world itself.  Even its untold depths hold a benign fascination for me. The sea is in my heart and ninety-eight percent of my time on the water I have been at peace, feeling a spirituality unknown anywhere else.  Chuck, who has experienced a few horrendous heavy weather conditions in his 30 years of sailing, just calls me lucky.   Maybe so. 

In truth, I fear the wind more than the sea.  To me this is the real culprit. The sea acts in concert, in tandem with the wind.  Sometimes when the sea begins to get nasty, I often imagine it whispering  “The wind made me do it”.  And in bad weather, it is the freight train roar of the wind that is more frightening to me than the crack of breaking crests.   The wind can sound as mild and meditative as a mantra or as murderous and menacing as a chainsaw....like a murmur or a scream. It can revive and refresh or wear you down and steal your energy.  It can have you hearing voices like the Sirens of Greek mythology.  Maybe I come to this perspective, too,  because it was the wind after all that killed my brother in a spectacularly tragic kite accident in 1983--- but that’s another story altogether.   Still I never fail to remember this every day of our cruising lives as we check the grib files to see what the weather has in store for us.  Our yachtie existence is largely at the mercy of the wind gods. 

I would say that perhaps my greatest fear is one of us falling overboard. Even though we wear our harnesses and are tethered to the boat when we are outside on deck or in the cockpit, retrieving a person from the turbulent conditions - if indeed it can be done -  is a frightening prospect.  Chuck says his greatest fear is of things breaking on the boat while we are underway creating a perilous situation; the loss of any critical part  - because it quits, falls off, shreds or snaps - can cause a serious safety issue or crisis that potentially endangers us and our survival; and he has already had the hazardous experience years ago of having to climb up the mast to fix something while underway, as if clinging to the top of a giant metronome.

Preparation is the key - of both the crew and the vessel.  We have spent months getting ready for this Puddle Jump - inspecting, replacing, redoing, installing, studying weather, packing and provisioning. Our life raft has been recertified (and I hope to never see the inside of it again).   Our SSB radio, an essential for us, is in good working order.  We both have a lot of confidence in Jacaranda’s seaworthiness and we are conservative and careful sailors.  We avoid pushing the boat: the sails, rigging, steering mechanisms -  all are under tremendous load; the pressure is immense.  We take precautions and try to be as diligent as we can.  Even so, no matter how circumspect one is,  shit still happens.

 

And luck?  Well, there’s always an element of luck to everything in this life, isn’t there?

Doin’  It: Conditions and Mishaps

 

So for the first 14 days of our Puddle Jump passage, we have had pretty nice and mild conditions - no bad weather to speak of.  We are actually enjoying the sailing and remark how wonderful the ride has been under head sail alone.  

 

The weather gods have proven rather kind. We found the “Trades” from the very beginning - favorable winds from the East or SSE, blowing 12-18 knots, generally on our beam or off the port quarter.   Days have been sunny and very warm with cool evenings.  We have had some cloud cover and a couple of fleeting squalls that brought minor variations in wind direction and strength and some rain but no heavy downpours, storms or lightning.

Our major complaint is with the cross swell  (coming from different directions and colliding together) that creates a confused and uncomfortably lumpy sea state tossing us around; at times it’s like being in a washing machine.  The rowdy swells have run between 2 and 8 feet. The cockpit is pretty salty from frequent dollops of sea water, making it unpleasant most days to sit anywhere outside but in the companion way behind our two protective aft dodger windows.   Green grass is growing up on the deck by the toe-rails and we’ll soon need a lawnmower. 

On the worst of days, the boisterous sea state can turn our cozy cocoon into a clattering capsule. Through the hull you can hear the occasional depth-charge explosion of pounding waves as they come at Jacaranda from different directions but she takes the bomb-like thumping in stride.  Down below, we listen to all our boat crickets  - the creaks and squeaks, bangs and clangs of a moving vessel underway.

Our only mishap happened on Day 1.   On the very first morning we lost the paddle (rudder) on our wind vane - the steering mechanism we had planned to use for the entire trip.  The wind vane is an ingenious mechanism affixed to the stern of the boat that uses only the wind to steer - no electronics.   Earlier in the year, some friends left Ecuador and lost their wind vane paddle on the way to Peru so Chuck very diligently made sure ours was in good shape.  Apparently a bolt gave way due to metal fatigue (that can be impossible to spot visually) and the paddle slipped right through the safety line.  We were very discouraged - this has repercussions for our power situation as well as leaving us without a real steering back-up, having to rely exclusively now on our electronic autopilot named Wet Willy. Without Wet Willy, having to hand steer would be brutal so we have our fingers crossed that he continues to work well.

We will complete the entire trip on one (port) tack.  Most of the time we sailed on a broad reach, our jib poled out across the starboard side of the boat (and reefed as necessary).   We sailed the first few days with our mainsail and jib but soon the wind moved further aft and we covered the main and strapped two of our solar panels up on the boom where they normally live to give us more of a power boost for our batteries, trying to avoid running the engine more than twice a day to keep them topped up.   

Occasionally when the wind moved even further aft we had twin poled jibs up in a wing on wing plan.   How different and relaxing this is from Chuck’s first Puddle Jump in 1991 when there was no roller furler!  He estimates he did over 100 sail changes then, requiring a lot of deck work, hanking sails on and off the forestay.  

 

Our original course strategy was to dive south to latitude 5S to try to catch a favorable strong west setting current, and then stay with it sailing due west.  We never did find much of that current and ended up going back to our rhumb line for the latter part of the voyage.

 

We averaged a speed of 6 knots (near our top hull speed of 7 knots) and made about 144 miles per day.  Very nice set of statistics (see the end of the Passage Note for the Recap).  We’ll take it!! 

“How do you eat an elephant?” 

 

By now we have established a comfortable routine in the daily rolling cadence of our life at sea.  Still, after two weeks the passage is beginning to feel like a lifetime.  We are trying to keep the perennial question of “How much longer?” at bay in our minds so as not to make the long journey psychologically longer, as in the old adage “A watched pot never boils”.   But marking time out here is a natural thing to do because that is what you are so conscious of and that is what you have most of: time.   If it weren’t under such abnormal circumstances, it could be considered a true gift.

 

I think of the old joke: “How do you eat an elephant?”    Answer: “One bite at a time”. 

Just so!  The Pacific Ocean is our vast blue elephant and we are pushing through it one day at a time. “Poco a poco” as our Latino friends would say.

There are several ways that we observe the passage of time: by each sunrise and sunset, the rhythm of our on-and-off watches, writing in our daily log, the GPS reading of miles made good and miles to go, by the phases of the moon, the check-in schedule on several radio nets (the voices of others that make us feel we are not alone), reading our daily sailmail,  by the minutes of the clock and the oppressively longer minutes of latitude and longitude. Ceremoniously we shout out a celebratory “whoop whoop” every time we reach another degree of latitude/longitude!!!!  We will pass through 3 time zones and keep adjusting our timepieces to match them with the flow of the day.  But right now, time seems as endless as the blue of our surroundings.  

Life Underway

 

So what’s it like out there?   Here’s a look at our daily rhythm, our “comfortable routine”: 

 

Since one of us is responsible for being vigilant at all times - for other boats and for our own progress - our days are carved into a pattern of on- and off-watches.  Day watch, night watch, every 3, 4 or 5 hours. Many cruisers do 3 or 4 hour shifts throughout the day but ours varies.  We do 5 hour stints at night and are more flexible during the day doing 3 or 4 hours depending on how we feel.    Since I am a night owl and Chuck is a morning person, our longer night/early morning watch periods are comfortable and the only time in our lives that our mutually incompatible biological time clocks actually pay off.  I’m happy to be awake from 1 - 6 a.m. and Chuck likes the 6 - 11 a.m. shift.   About the 3rd day out, initial sleep deprivation turns into sleep disruption that you eventually can live with - it’s like adjusting to a newborn baby in your life.  Ironically, for this reason, a multi-day passage is easier on our bodies than one overnight.

OK......so it is 11:00 a.m. I have just awakened from a 5 hour sleep (my off-watch) which encompassed the post-dawn morning.   Time to make what is breakfast for me and lunch for Chuck before he climbs into our sea berth in the salon  (our skinny settee with a lee cloth strung along its length to keep us from falling off with the roll of the boat) for his off-watch. After checking our progress on our various electronic screens and monitors (lat/long, miles to go, speed, course, crosstrack, vessels that have an AIS signal, etc.)  I go outside into the cockpit to get oriented and look around -- at the sails, the wind, the waves, searching the horizon for any boats.  It is a brilliantly sunny day with blinding sunlight dazzling off the sea surface - just like yesterday and the day before it and most days before that.  That’s a good thing.  We are grateful that the weather has been benign and beautiful. 

While I slept, Chuck has already checked into the morning SSB radio net that we religiously participate in as part of our daily regimen.  Actually, there are three in all: the chatty informal Magellan Net broadcast in the morning and again in the late afternoon, and the more professional, lifesaving Pacific Seafarer’s Net (a ham net) in the evening. He reports our position, course and our conditions and listens to the reports of our fellow Puddle Jumpers, our net-mates as I call them.  Someone says they are getting a strong push from a favorable current at their latitude; others have torn a sail or chafed through a halyard; somebody saw a fishing vessel in their vicinity and wants to alert the fleet; wahoo, tuna, or mahi is on the menu for a few tonight; there’s a broken mast; another is experiencing some squalls; but generally “all is well on board” for most of our friends.   Problems out here require creativity and extra stamina.  We are in admiration of svSweet Chariot who lost their rudder, and instead of turning back, forged on steering with a Danforth anchor as a drogue for 2,000 miles; an incredibly creative solution allowing them to sail 140 miles per day!!  We cheered on our longtime friends David and Kim on svMaluhia whose 4 (four!!)  autopilots quit and so had to hand-steer for 8 days (1000 miles).  Some boats are already beginning to make landfall in the Marquesas while others are behind us in the pack, somewhere on their own path.

Chuck has also taken care of the mail -  connecting to the radio to receive our sailmail on his computer:  our daily weather files as well as encouraging messages from family, friends, and net-mates that spice up our days.

 

He also employs our daily rope trick - the Gooseneck Barnacle Prevention Program.  By trailing a line from the bow that tickles along the topsides for 30 minutes on each side, gooseneck barnacles are hindered from attaching themselves to the hull.  Miraculously this works (learned from his first Puddle Jump experience) and will make the monumental effort of cleaning the hull of scum and grass and barnacles from 3 weeks at sea immeasurably easier once we make landfall and are at anchor again.  It’s amazing what sea life tags along to find a new home for itself. (See “Other Good Things” for more information).

Now, while Chuck sleeps, I do a few chores and tasks.  What’s left of the morning is good galley time to do the dishes and pre-prepare some food for dinner.  I make some rice for tonight and bake some blueberry muffins,  turn the stored eggs, and clean up any rotting veggies that remain in my basket.  Food provisioning for a long trip is an art as well as a science - there’s no supermarket to run to and minuscule freezer/fridge space so there is a definite method to the madness (see “Other Good Things” for my description of Provisioning).   The most discouraging thing to me about cooking on a passage is not the movement or cooking in a sea-way (which is the bane for most of us) but having to make dishes with ingredients that are past their prime and compromise the quality and taste.  I’m just about at the end of anything fresh and am relying heavily on canned goods now. 

 

I top up our jugs of drinking water that take up half the space in our little fridge since hydration is of critical importance to staying healthy and avoiding headaches or heat exhaustion. The days are quite warm and we need lots of liquid and some salt to replace what is lost through sweat.  We make ourselves drink a lot of water throughout the day.  Thank goodness for our watermaker!

Looking around outside during my watches,  there is surprisingly little wildlife to be seen.  The few birds there were have left us closer to the Galapagos: little black Elliot’s Storm Petrels that “walk on water”, diving and careening in the troughs of the waves, changing direction on a dime like seafaring bats; the nocturnal swallow-tailed gulls that circled us at night like apparitions, grabbing my eyes and stealing my attention whenever they passed by reflected in the light of the tricolor bulb at the top of the mast.......have all disappeared now. 

 

On Day 10 we were visited by five slender dolphins accompanied by a blunt-headed pilot whale, looking like the ugly duckling in their midst.  They swam next to us for a little while before peeling off over the horizon, purposefully going only they knew where.   

But there’s plenty of flying fish.  Hordes of them scatter in all directions from beneath the boat and take to the air like so many skipping stones.  It is delightful to see them unless, of course, they fly into the cockpit and smack you in the head.  Which is what happened to Chuck on Day 2 while he was just sitting there on watch, minding his own business.  One went airborne out of the sea like a big fat stinky missile, hitting him in the side of his face and knocking off his glasses. Not only was this dangerous (he was lucky not to lose an eye) but extremely pungent as well - flying fish have to be top contenders for the smelliest fish in the sea.   

This brings up the necessity for Stench Patrol. King Neptune offers up unsolicited gifts delivered in the salty cresting waves washing over the deck and left on our doorstep overnight -  sardines, squids, flying fish.  The decks are strewn with them and it is impossible to sit outside in the cockpit during the day with one of these gifts putrefying somewhere hidden -  between the seat cushions or down among the lines or spray cloths.  So each morning I go on a treasure hunt to find the night’s offerings and keep the boat stench free.  Just the other day I had disposed of a flying fish wedged between the fuel jugs but the foul smell still remained hours later.  Upon further examination, there was a squid tucked in there too which I hadn’t seen!  Boy the reek was overwhelming!

In the same odiferous vein, there is the matter of our garbage - and three weeks worth of garbage is nothing to sniff at.  Originally, all superfluous packaging was discarded in Ecuador when I provisioned (and there is a lot of it); foodstuffs were transferred to storage containers and reusable ziploc bags when possible. Every day at sea degradable stuff gets thrown overboard into the deep blue - food scraps, paper, and glass - while plastic is washed, cut up to reduce volume, and stored in a trash compactor bag until we can dispose of it  properly in a town large enough to have an incinerator. 

 

We haven’t done much fishing but did keep one of two small mahi mahi for a “one taco” dinner which I will cook tonight.  Since Chuck has to clean the fish on the side deck, it can be an uncomfortable operation when the boat movement is so rowdy so most days we forego the fishing.

 

The late afternoon is relaxed and both of us are usually awake, spending it together - the few hours in which our conscious company coincides in any one block of time. Our watch schedule is more flexible, more shared as one or the other feels like resting or not.  We sporadically read, listen to a TED talk or some music, or work on the computer.  Showers in the cockpit with our sun bag are a welcome relief from the heat of the day (we have to dodge those salt water dollops though). 

Sunset, however, marks a time of transition for us and is the harbinger of major change as night will soon approach.  We go out into the cockpit together to revel in the colors of the sky and reflective water, looking for the legendary green flash.   Ceremoniously, I aim a conch toward the setting sun and blow three times in gratitude for the day, with an extra prayer for the continuing health of Wet Willy, our auto pilot.

Dinner is the main meal of the day and is the most challenging galley time.  Tonight I will panfry that small mahi mahi we caught and serve it with some rice and coleslaw (cabbage, a good passage staple,  lasts a long time unrefrigerated).   Nothing can be put down on a flat surface because things will go flying (a bowl of batter or food that is flung around the inside of a rolly boat can account for a minor meltdown).   I feel like a juggler but it’s just part of how you have to cope with the movement: needing the agility and limberness of a rock climber, the sense of good timing and balance of a surfer, the adroitness and dexterity of a carnival knife thrower, the gracefulness of....well, there is no such thing as graceful as you are buffeted to and fro like this. 

 

Spin lurch pitch plunge sway reel teeter swing swerve.

This is an Oceanic Roller Derby except you are not wearing roller skates;  your feet are flat on the ground but instead the floor beneath them is on ball bearings and rolls around under them.  You have to master the maneuvers of changing positions in transit.  Here’s my list of how to do the dance on a moving boat:

 

A Catalogue of Boat Moves 

      Orangutan Moonwalk - walking along below alternately holding on to the overhead handrails on either side of the salon 

      The Wedge - wedge yourself against an immovable part of the boat (there are a few places)

      The Brace (not embrace) - Hold yourself in place with outstretched legs (sitting or standing)

      The Balancing Brace - a delicate sitting variation of The Brace used in the head on the toilet.

      The Horizontal Hula - lying down trying to sleep as your innards sway back and fort at various, often uncontrollable speeds

      The Jerk - (which was a REAL dance back in the ’60’s) - when you get catapulted  unexpectedly.

      UnMusical Chairs - you sit down suddenly and unexpectedly without any music prompts

      The Window Washer - the swaying position to take when you are belted in at the galley (yes, you can use a belt so you can                                  have both hands free!)

      The Bump - gently (gently!) bounce your body off a solid surface to propel yourself to another place.

There is an old yachtie joke: “How can you tell a cruiser?”  Answer: “By the black and blue marks on his body”.  That unfortunately, is no joke at all.  The one with the least black and blue marks wins.  Several of mine are in the stages now of turning yellow and brown.

 

After dinner, with the veil of darkness, we notice a change in weather pattern.  This is Chuck’s watch and there’s usually more wind and small fluky squalls - meaning either a change in sail plan and/or reefing sails for the night.  Black clouds come and go overhead bringing with it wind and some drizzle but no real rain.  The winds rise and fall but our boat speed usually stays within a 6.4 to 7.2 knot range. He reports our position on the Pacific Seafarer Net (PacSea) while I sleep.   The net controllers and relays, ham radio folks in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, are good friends we have never met - just spoken to for years - and they are reassuring in their audio presence.  There is one in particular with whom we have mutual cruiser friends - Randy from The Big Island of Hawaii  - and hearing his velvety voice and singsong call sign (KH6RC -King Henry 6 Radio Charlie) is always a warm comfort, like a good cup of tea on a cold day.  One day we hope to meet him in person.

Chuck awakens me at 1 a.m. for my watch. This is my favorite time - I love being alone with my thoughts and my stars and the silvery sparkle of a phosphorescent sea....by myself enveloped in a luscious nocturnal silence. 

 

It is a clear black night - the eyelash of the waning moon has set hours ago.  When I go outside to get oriented, I stand in the open cockpit and look up to do my little astronomical ritual - greeting my three “guardian angels” in the night sky.  In commemoration of the three special people who died so young, I recall a quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery’s “The Little Prince”: 

            In one of the stars I shall be living. 

            In one of them I shall be laughing. 

            And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, 

            when you look at the sky at night . . . ." 

I look at Jupiter and say hello to Ben (my friend Beryl’s son).  Scorpio, my favorite constellation, reminds me not of a scorpion, but of a kite with a long S shaped tail, red Antares glowing in the middle of it and curling around to terminate in a pair of stars called the “cat’s eyes”. I find it and say hello to my brother Steven.  Above Scorpio is the planet Saturn which I designated as my “Kitty light”, in tribute to a five year old live-aboard child who tragically drowned near her boat in a Texas marina last month.  All across the world boats belonging to members of my Women Who Sail Facebook Group are lighting their own Kitty lights. 

 

Throughout the night, clouds will gather and shift, leaving only small twinkling peep holes of stars, and then recede. Within the hour the stars will regain their dominance of the sky again but then later be forced to retract as the clouds prevail once more.  Their struggles are unrelenting.  The wind will do its dance between them; I’ll respond with the adjustment of the sail and a tinkering of our position on the autopilot control.

 

My night watch passes quickly with observation, meditation, and listening to music until the sky begins to lighten in the east, turning gold and rose with the dawn.   I’m finally feeling drowsy when I hear Chuck’s welcomed voice from below say “How are we doing? Are you ready for a lie-down yet?” .  With the exchange of some particulars of my watch and a kiss, we implement a changing of the guard.  Shortly I am asleep, rocking in the roll of the sea berth before I know it. 

 

And so it goes.

 

Landfall

 

June 6 (Day 17) - We are in the last (sea)leg of our Puddle Jump journey.  With 500 miles to go, I find I can finally relate to how much we have left to go - this is a shorter distance than the transit we made from Panama to Ecuador which we did 3 times (the longest passage of 6 days that I had made before we left for the Marquesas) This is a concrete amount now, something I can put my finger on.  This is REAL.  I can taste the end.

 

June 9 (Day 20) - almost there - but today was a bit excruciating.   After all the push push push to get here, we had to slow down so we could time our arrival in the anchorage in the daylight.  Several times previously during the passage we had slowed ourselves down by reefing the jib to make Jacaranda more manageable and bring about a more agreeable ride....because usually there is a trade-off between speed and comfort.  But today is different.  With land just coming into sight - two dark ghostlike masses hulking in the distance ahead of us -  it is hard to put the brakes on - slow - slow - slow - we are doing 3.9 knots with just a handkerchief of a jib out.  

June 10 (Day 21) - Finally, finally !!!!!   At daybreak we are here - in the Marquesas Islands!!!!  Accelerated winds in the Bordelais Channel propel us along between two rugged velvet-green mountainous islands - Tahuata on our port and Hiva Oa on our starboard.  It looks a lot like we’re in Hawaii........and it won’t be until later when we go ashore that we know we really aren’t.

At 7 a.m. we reached our destination: Hanamoanoe Bay on Tahuata Island.   Motoring past 3 manta rays feeding on the surface just behind a field of 5 sailboats, we dropped the anchor with great excitement.  A white sand beach lined with coconut palms lay at the head of tropical turquoise waters, backed by luscious green highlands.  The water was warm and crystal clear - we could see the anchor at 30 feet on the bottom.  The Marquesas have a reputation for rolly anchorages but this bay was calm and flat.  What a gorgeous spot!!  

We jumped right in the water, cleaned the boat of gooseneck barnacles under the transom where the rope trick couldn’t reach, and scrubbed away the yellow, black and green algae sludge on the topsides before it all hardened into concrete.  Our friends on sv/Flying Cloud dinghied over to welcome us with two gastronomic treats of the Marquesas:  a baguette (bread courtesy of the French) and a pamplemousse (grapefruit courtesy of Polynesian nature).  That night, early, we fell into a long, deep, well-earned sleep together, back in our very own V-berth bed.

So here’s the last joke I am thinking about -  one of those Dumb Blond Jokes.    A woman stood on the shore of a river looking at a blonde on the opposite bank.  She yelled to her: “How do I get to the other side?”.  The blonde answered “You ARE on the other side!”. 

 

This of course is more  - much more - than a matter of perspective.  I feel a great sense of awe and accomplishment.  Soon my post-passage amnesia will take hold and make me forget that passage-making is not my favorite part of cruising; I’m glad this trip is behind us.  It will sit comfortably in my memory as a protracted blur of days at sea that were all the same yet different.   But after many years of dreaming and journeys far and wide, here we are on the other side of the Puddle in French Polynesia, ready for adventures of a new sort....in Paradise!

 

                                                     ________________________________________

Related Information in “Other Good Stuff” in the Menu:

Linda’s Provisioning Tips

Gooseneck Barnacle Prevention Trick

"Pacific Puddle Jump Recap 2015"  (Latitude 38 article)

MORE PHOTOS: In the "Photo Gallery" for Passage Note #76

Statistical  Recap of our Puddle Jump:

 

Departure: Isla Isabella, Galapagos Islands, May 20

Arrival: Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuata, Marquesas Islands, June 10

Distance: 2900 miles

Actual distance sailed: 3005 miles

Duration: 21 days

Average miles per day: 144

Min. miles per day: 70 (last day - brakes on)

Max. miles per day: 157

Average boat speed: 5.96 knots

Maximum boat speed: 7.5 knots

Wind direction: E  to  SE

Average wind speed: 14-15 knots

Max. wind speed: 30 knots

Min. wind speed: 8 knots

Average swell height: 2 meters

Sailing time: 99.99%

Motor sailing time: 2 hours

# of Tacks: One (port)

Sail plans: all but 2 days on headsail

Average watch length: 5 hours

Fishing: 2 small mahi mahi

Seen: No other boats, 5 dolphins, 1 pilot whale, flying fish, sardines, squids, Elliot’s storm petrels, 2 manta rays, scissor tail gulls, terns.

Mishaps: Loss of windvane paddle, malfunction of the automatic float switch for the bilge pump (repaired underway), rudder post leak (about 6 gallons per day) - repaired when we arrived by tightening up a hose clamp. 

 

 

Sailing wing on wing

With twin headsails poled out, Chuck sits in the companion way behind our two protective aft dodger windows. Two solar panels are lashed to the boom.