Some photos from Marqueses

diane on spiriton horses HOHorse riding on Hiva Oa along the mountain top. Overlooking the anchorage. 15 kilometer ride on “Spirit” – Diane’s horse, and “Wallis” – John’s fast horse. Highly spirited horses from Chilean decent. Exhilarating, scary, down muddy jungle canyons and steep ridge tops. Horses were very sure-footed and loved to gallop.

John trying to reign Wallis for the photo almost backed him of the edge.

 

 

 

drum at churchWe rented a 4×4 for a day with buddy boat Athanor. We stopped at a village church and wandered into a vacant classroom. Loved the drum at the head of the class. It had an amazing rich sound.

 

After getting lost and driving all over Hiva Oa, it turned into a quest to find the “Smiling Tiki”. smiling tikiLate in the day after talking to a few different locals, we finally found the right trail. We missed a fork in the trail and walked through ankle deep muck to end up at a pig farm. Backtracked one more time and found it just before dark.

 

The Passage From Mexico

The Passage From Mexico
So it was super El Nino year and we decided to go with our plans with some apprehension of a vigorous passage. The 2700 nm passage started out great, we were sailing with a reefed main and poled drifter for two full days right out of Banderas Bay. Wow, 135 nautical miles each day on the same tack (direction) without touching the sails, we weren’t trying very hard to break speed records and if only the entire passage could’ve been so sweet! The wind was NE, the seas were rolly, a little bumpy with some cross swells but very manageable. It took a couple days to get our sea legs, sleep schedules and full appetite back after having been landlubbers for 5 solid weeks.
By the 4th night out the wind starting clocking around to our stern, coming from the east. Bummer, rolly ride ahead with continued cross swells. The winds would die down at night and we’d listen and watch our sails slap side to side, pitch up, the sails would fill in and then we’d fall off the side of the wave with the sails dumping and then the BANG. Fill, dump, bang, hour after hour into the wee morning hours. Impossible to sleep with the all the noise, the roll from side to side was almost unbearable as we tried to walk in the cabin. Changing course didn’t help as the swells were coming from North and South. During the day the wind would pick up to a fresh breeze of 10 – 12 knots, we’d zoom along at 5.5 – 6.0 kts with seas building to 6 feet. We threw the fish line in and were excited when we caught a small dorado, that was an awesome meal and our only fish for the passage. The first 8 days were full of awesome sail, good food, easy days and some noisy nights.
The rigging was beginning to show signs of chafing. We lost 2 new halyards to chafe, the Monitor steering windvane was showing signs of frayed ropes, the wind vane at the top of the mast was bent from a hitchhiking bird, we both had already taken a couple of spills in the cockpit, nothing serious just a sharp reminder that Neptune likes to play. We were Delorme texting with another PPJ boat that was 4 days behind us. They used a weather router – a professional weatherman that monitors your boat and weather, informs you of upcoming weather systems and provides a “safer” route. Apparently there was a high pressure system near Hawaii that was driving the wind and large waves. Damn, misery loves company, lumps for all! The only saving grace in the midnite hours was watching the stars. Oh my, the southern milky way looked like a cloud on the horizon it was so vivid, the southern cross grew higher and higher in the sky as the North star started dipping lower onto the horizon. There are thousands of vivid stars within the Orion constellation that nearly makes his belt disappear.
Our best sailing day was on March 19th, we sailed an awesome 145 NM! That was a very memorable sail with 2nd reef in the main and full yankee across 6′ waves. After that our distance made good starting dropping as the waves grew bigger and taller, the period between waves was lessening and we were in troughs. Numerous sail changes and we kept reducing the mainsail, most days we were sailing with 3 reefs in the main and 50% yankee to keep the boat under control. Sometimes we’d be surfing down the waves or rolling off the sides. One night in particular I called John up from sleep as we started sailing over 8.0kts, a little out of my comfort zone at night. We added the staysail with a customized reef that made a huge difference in boat stability. By the beginning of the third week we were below 10 degree north and the squall zone was setting in. A little early according to some of the seasoned sailors. We watched as a big system moved in over the top of us and for 3 solid days we drifted in the rain, rolling from side to side in large swells with no wind. The wind was from behind and with it came rain. There are 2 “L” words that sailors really dislike: Leaks and Lightening. We had both. The main companion way was leaking enough that we were scrambling to stuff towels around the doors and frame. The water was running down the interior right into our electronics and electrical panel. Two portlights with new glass and seals were dripping onto the dinette, we stuffed towels along those. “Damn”, that’s all we could say for 3 days as we started the engine to charge our batteries. The solar panels were useless and we were turning off the electronics and refrigerator to conserve power. By the 2nd very dark night we were tired of sitting in the warm rain and decided to monitor our course during the night from below as we motored and tried to sleep through the nights while taking turns to get up and look around outside. A much needed break from the exhaustion of sleepless rolly nights. But the enclosed cabin was a steam bath of wet clothes and towels, we could hardly breathe.
We celebrated our equator crossing on March 29th, John’s mother’s birthday. She would’ve been so proud of John and his accomplishments. We shaved, showered, wore extra clean clothes for pictures, cleaned Konami and got out the very best rum. An amazing sunny day sailing at 5.0kts with subsiding waves, it was absolutely perfect!
Sitting in the calms on the equator is an experience we all heard of or watched in the movies. Sailors going crazy from lack of water, heat exhaustion, crazed eyes. Near mutiny! It wasn’t quite that bad for us. We read, listened to music, slept, drank beer, laughed a lot and ran the watermaker, John went up the mast to fix the Windex. We’ll consider the importance of it before doing that trick again. We drifted nearly 36 hours in the 2kt west current. We couldn’t have known how much that rest period was going to cherished!
Three days later I got John up early and we sat hove-to for a nearly 3 hours in the early dawn watching a 90 mile line of monster thunderstorms stretching east to west. Lightening was rolling across the cloud formations, the sea was fairly calm but an eerie wind was picking up, we could smell the rain. By daybreak the lightening “disappeared”. We couldn’t backtrack and go around the line, we couldn’t outrun it, no telling how far south it was spreading. We gathered up our nerves, reefed the sails, discussed emergency sail plans and boat performance and headed in. The wind was instantly blowing 20 kts, Konami zoomed along. We can handle this! 30kts, we were cranking the winches reefing the yankee down to just a small triangle. We just had to hang on as the swells started building to nearly 6′ with 6′ wind waves stacked on top. Shit, I want to go home! The wind was shifting, the seas were coming from all directions, we started beating into the 6-8′ waves. Walls of water were flying over the dodger. Today is April 1st, aren’t we the fools! We finally sailed out of the line, 2 days of white knuckling, eating only crackers, cheese and sardines.
Only a couple days left, 200miles to go! “Easy” sailing. But Zeus decided we weren’t humble enough. Another squall zone was ahead of us, driving 30 kt winds with 8 – 10′ seas and 8 seconds. We complained, but Konami rose up to the challenge. Thank goodness for the Delorme texts from my sister and other family members, we couldn’t have done the last couple of days without their words of encouragement. I just sat down and cried, “Imma baby, WTH are we doing out here?”
We hove-to one last time to avoid arriving in the dark. At 2:00 a.m. we released the sails and began our destination sail to Hiva Oa. First light and land appeared, tears of happiness, accomplishment! We arrived at noon to a full anchorage, dropped anchor near a wall of rocks to stay out of the channel, sat down in the blistering sun and stared back at the ocean. We couldn’t see paradise. Too exhausted, overwhelmed, dirty and hungry, the boat interior was totally trashed with piles of wet clothes, dirty dishes, gear thrown about, the refrigerator wasn’t cold enough to make ice -that made me mad. John poured us cold cokes with extra rum and we pounded down 3 each. I awoke the in the wee night hours lying in the cockpit still wearing wet clothes. It took us nearly 3 days to recuperate, clean the boat and check in to the country.
Unwilling to end our passage feeling like it may have been the worst experience ever, we started to recall the beautiful blue-blue, the expanse of the universe where heaven and water met somewhere on the horizon, 24 days of spectacular sunset pictures – we missed 3 because of rain, humorous pictures of each other – subsequently deleted, the southern cross rising, the 50+ dolphins chasing the boat, awesome sailing for days never touching the sails, the connection of 2 people reaching out only to each other, our loving family who sent us beautiful words of inspiration, thoughts of our sons and their words like “wow, brave, cool, love you, and Did you see the Facebook post”. It was awesome, breathtaking, humorous, spiritual, and enlightening!

Hiva Oa Marqueses

There is so much to write about: THE Passage including footnotes from Other PPJ’s and Their Passages – Makes it look like our passage was a picnic; and Fun Days and Adventures for Konami Crew. But let’s start with the beautiful and mostly – Land of Paradise.
Hiva Oa is a beautiful, paradise setting very similar to Hawaii in landscape, everything is green and lush. The small village Atuona is about 2 miles away, a very easy walk on the nicely maintained highway if you’re not carrying backpacks and packs of provisions. Giant banyan trees, forests of banana trees, wild Thai chili pepper, loaded down coconut, pamplemousse (giant grapefruit), guauva, and papaya trees grow across the mountainsides down to the roads edge. Lime trees with shiny green leaves loaded with golf-balled limes, breadfruit trees with broad leaves provided shade from the beating sun and heated pavement. Hibiscus, gardenia, and ginger fill the air with euphoric scents, even out to the anchorage when the offshore breeze blows. We would stand in one spot and inhale deeply. Various birds, bugs, animals but no snakes. Rivers and creeks. The mountain ranges are steep, rocky and treacherous and covered in banyan trees. The highest peak is always in the rain clouds – it’s the rainy season now. When the heavy downpours end we can look up at the mountain peak and see 6 or 7 waterfalls dropping nearly 500 feet or more, and it’s a long distance to the peak from the anchorage. That is a lot of water flowing!
The first thing we bought was a baguette and fresh brie cheese. It was so delicious it brought on a voracious appetite for more food, mostly for crispy, crunchy green veggies that we haven’t had for more than 2 weeks during passage. It took a few days to find green veggies and it’s limited in variety. Chinese green beans, seedy cucumbers, eggplant, chives, onions were about it. Prices? Some of it was no more expensive than US prices during off season shopping, about $1.50/pound. But 3 golf ball sized tomatoes cost us $0.95; 1 small carrots (not pounds) was $0.92. I picked up a stalk of celery and didn’t realize we paid a whopping $6.76 for it until we got back. Where was this grown? Looked at the wrapper – Salinas, California! We decided to idolize it first, take pictures and then eat every bit of it including the dirty root. We didn’t feel so badly about the expensive celery when our buddy boat Sababa purchased a pound of grapes for $17.00 !!! . Nice fresh eggs imported from Tahiti is about $4.94. Hunks of fresh caught yellow fin Tuna is $2.50/pound. We feasted on sashimi for a couple of days.
I provisioned well in Mexico, especially for expensive items in FP such as powder milk, booze, rice, Kraft mac & cheese, salami and packaged meat. Coconut milk is SO cheap in Mexico, but trying to be practical about weight, I figured why carry coconut milk across the Pacific when we’re going to the “Land of Coconuts”? I found canned coconut milk imported from Thailand for $1.80 a can. Fresh coconut cream brought in from Tahiti is $12.00/liter. So we’re down to drinking water downed fruit juices from Mexico. There are no fresh fruit juices sold in the store, not even coconut water – only water-sugar- fruit juices that cost $6.00 per liter. WTH.
The anchorage area is crowded in the peak cruising season – April thru’ June. Boats are crowded in with bow and stern anchors, some boats parking on one another’s anchors – a real fiasco when wanting to up anchor and depart. Sharks swim around with the manta rays and a group of spotted rays, too bad the water is so filthy from mountain runoff and boat scum. We try to be very careful about dumping dish soap, and with the composting head, we aren’t adding to the sewage discharge. The dinghy dock is just a concrete platform that is extremely slippery and hazardous when the swell drives the dinghies under the platform – scrapping and gouging it. The first week we were here three dinghies slipped under the platform and popped. The swell is big and at high tide the water washes up over the platform creating a strong backflow. A local had to come down and hang onto me to keep me from being washed out into the anchorage. Getting back into the dinghy is a hyper extension leg stretch with back bending twist trick. On one occasion the dinghy was swept too far from the dock and I was left hanging 5′ below the platform hanging onto just the rope and a concrete post. Fortunately, abled-bodied Capt John leapt forward and grabbed me around the waist pulling me back into the rolling dinghy just as I started to lose my grip (literally too). I nearly cried from fright!
We catch rain water when we remember to set up the system at night. It rains nearly every night, a very cool breeze sweeps down and brings the refreshing rain. The water is clean enough if it hasn’t rain too much to wash down the sediment. We have an external filter to remove sediment and then treat the water with a chlorine solution. The boat is clean, the cushions get washed. We, on the other hand reek! The humidity is stifling, we sweat profusely and even after showering and washing laundry in the mineral rich river runoff, our clothes can’t dry in the humidity so we wear damp clothes all the time. Our clothes will have to be thrown away when we get back. We have grown accustomed to smelling like a horse, the other cruisers smell too, some of them like wild goats. It’s a zoo smell so we all get along and are happy little cruisers with drinks in our hands starting right after lunch.
Cruising life is hard at times. It takes a lot of physical strength and energy just to maintain upright stability on the boat in the rolling swells. The heat and humidity zaps our energy, we walk over 4 miles to get food, wifi is nil, and when we have weak wifi – the fokking (a new word we learned from the Irish cruiser) computer battery dies. The solar is at half output because of the clouds so we fiddle with the solar panels all day, shut down the fans and fridge to conserve power. It takes guts to land the dinghy and with the last few scary incidents we limit our shore excursions. The latest scary story is the shark biting someone’s dinghy oar. (Note to self: don’t fall in the water!) The bank shut off our bank cards for nearly 5 days, thank heavens for my brilliant sister and her tenacity, we now have purchasing power. The diesel is cheap with the duty-free discount – $2.78/gal., otherwise it’s nearly $5.00/gal. We used an agent to check into FP that cost us $260 but with the fuel discount good anywhere in FP and for our 90 day stay, it just about pays for itself.
We’re off to Tahuata, a small island southwest of Hiva Oa where the water is blue and clean, we will see the bottom 35 feet below us. There is a beach, we can swim without lurking sharks and fewer boats. No water or food in the anchorage, some coconut trees on shore. We’re stocked up with fresh fruits from a farm on Hiva Oa, lots of baguettes and 2 large hunks of creamy brie cheese.