- June 2005
The Pacific Ocean is BIG. When you get halfway between the Galápagos
and the Marquesas, you are further from land than anywhere else
on earth (2500 km). Looking at our inflatable globe, it's easy to
see just how much bigger the Pacific is than the Atlantic:
The passage from the Galápagos to the Marquesas islands
took us 25 days and was relatively easy sailing, broad-reaching
most of the way on the prevailing SE trade winds. We did however
experience SW and NE winds too, as well as periods of calm, all
most unusual! Mostly we saw blue sea and nothing else - shipping
was pretty scarce: during the whole trip we saw only one other yacht
(near the Marquesas) and the lights of 3 fishing boats. We had occasional
visits from Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphins and False Killer Whales
and the rest of the time it was just us and "the lonesome sea
and the sky". (PS: when we work out how best to do it, we'll
put some video clips of the dolphins and whales on the website.)
Most nights we would watch for the "green flash"- this
is a strange phenomenon where the last part of the sun turns green
just before it dips below the horizon. We still don't know the reason
for it, but have seen it many times. Sue has seen it at sunrise
too, just as the sun appears above the horizon. Anyway, having drinks
at sundown and watching for the green flash is almost a tradition
among long-distance cruisers.
Then at nights, we would sit for hours looking at the stars - it
is so dark in mid-ocean that there appear to be twice as many stars
and shooting stars, and the Milky Way stands out like a long glowing
streak across the sky. It's strange to be able to see a mix of northern
and southern hemisphere constellations - from the Plough to the
A wee dolphin, keeping close beside
Our "watermaker", the Waterlog 100, a dismal failure
on our Atlantic crossing, proved to be reliable in one sense - it
was a dismal failure on our Pacific crossing too! This time, the
pressure release valve stuck causing the pistons in the pump to
split apart. It had also developed cracks elsewhere in the towing
bracket and in the propellor support. This has proved to be the
worst piece of kit that we bought for the boat and Tom hates it
with a passion. If he could find a big stick he would give it a
worse thrashing than Basil Fawlty gave his car. Sue is also disappointed
as it means more reliance on shore-side water for clothes washing
and on Tom having to heave heavy water cans to and from shore to
boat, to say nothing of less chance of a morale-boosting daily shower
while on long passages (we had 6 on this passage). The risk of running
out of drinking water goes without saying!
On a positive note, most bits of equipment have worked really well,
especially the Aries windvane steering system: a beautifully-engineered
device, deserving its worldwide reputation. Our ICOM radios (M502
VHF and 718 HF) are great and our Frigoboat fridge just keeps on
going, keeping the beers cold. So we don't have many complaints.
We'll just try not to think about the Waterlog!
Go on, have another banana...
As expected, the stalk of bananas that we took with
us all ripened at once, so we spent a few days eating them ...
banana muffins, banana crumble, banana curry, as well as just plain
bananas! We were looking more like monkeys every day!
Although we are now used to flying fish landing on
deck (usually only at night), during this trip we regularly found
little squid measuring about 5 to 8cm long on deck. We still don't
know how they got there - presumably they can jump clear of the
One night's collection of kamikaze
Every bag of Galápagos flour
comes with added protein ... for free! What a bargain!!
Are we there yet?....
The highlight of every day, and almost as ritualistic as taking
our 3 hourly fixes, was tuning in to the daily HF net with the other
boats who left around the same time as we did. Our net was very
ably run by Heike on Filia Venti and included Dream Merchant,
Yo Soy, El Cordero and Tinto. It was reassuring to hear
that we were not the only ones with no wind, too much wind, no fish,
no icecream!!!, breakages (a string on the Aries broke, GPS stopped
working, Autopilot making nasty crunching noise), etc. Not so good
was listening to other nets and hearing of boats who had experienced
close approaches and even a ramming by a Japanese fishing trawler.
Thankfully no boat was sunk, but some bad damage was sustained.
Other highlights of our trip included:
Moved onto the next chart and can see our destination, the Marquesas,
on it. Ate last red apple.
Had a shower. Tom hit in head by flying fish while on night watch.
Passed half way point in miles last night.
Ate last green apple.
Wind dying. Engine on at 1930 and not off again until we got in
on Day 25 at 1815 in evening.
So, after 25 days of nothing but blue, we were really pleased to
see green again when the mountains of Fatu Hiva, in the Marquesas
Islands, slowly crept above the horizon.
Landfall at Fatu Hiva.
We entered the Bay of Virgins just before sunset, Tom playing his
bagpipes and getting replies on hooters from other boats already
there, including Heike and Klaus on Filia Venti and Keith
and Jack on Dream Merchant. We slept soundly that night after
a few celebratory beers! Galapagos to Marquesas:
3034nm in 25 days and 1.75 hours (taking time changes into consideration
Nechtan at anchor in The Bay of Virgins, Fatu
Unlike Captain Cook and his pals, our landfalls usually include
a dash to the nearest internet cafe. However the delights of Fatu
Hiva did not stretch to this sort of technology and we finally gained
internet access a week or so later at another island. While paying
US$12 per hour on a very slow dial-up connection, we found that
during the last 5.5 weeks we had accumulated 551 emails, of which
only 26 turned out to be non-spam!! So much for technology saving
us time and money...
Email us: tomandsueATmcnaughtan.net (replace AT with @ before sending!)