Home    Journal    Boat    Crew    Articles    Links    Contact    Site Map

Puerto Vallarta to Marquesas Islands - Longest Passage to Date 

Written by Cathy Siegismund
April 2001


Our last few weeks in Puerto Vallarta were very busy with preparations for our passage. We did make time to treat ourselves to a great dinner in old town and enjoy downtown PV one last time.

Looking out at Cabo Corrientes from Puerto Vallarta's malécon

View down the malécon

One of PV's famous sculptures

We filled our propane tanks, got diesel, completed maintenance coats on all the exterior varnish, completed some last minute canvas projects, engine maintenance, cleaned and stowed everything and had the boat waxed, bottom scrubbed, and stainless polished. I took countless cab and bus rides into PV to do last minute shopping at supermarkets, Sam's Club and the local farmers' markets.

Tam and Vernita at the Bucerias Farmers' Market near PV

Cath at Bucerias Market

Grace at the Farmers' Market, giving us tips as a South Pacific veteran

Vernita picking out produce at the market

Once the buying was done, the produce was dried and some rinsed in a bleach solution and dried.

Oranges drying in the cockpit

Veggies drying in the cockpit, including Ken's favorite - cabbage!

We had a good deal of cleaning and stowing after being in the marina at Paradise Village for six weeks. 

Ken had some serious work on the bottom of our dinghy - yuk.

We also had a great deal of stowing to do. The following are pictures of Felicity's interior ready for her longest passage to date.

Forepeak Farms loaded down with produce and paper towels

Our port side settee converted to the sea berth we use underway. As we never sleep at the same time, we share the sea berth

Starboard side settee and hanging stowage hammocks are full of extra provisions for this long passage to the Marquesas

Galley with a small produce hammock and nonskid on all the surfaces

Felicity ready to pull away from the dock for the Marquesas

Log: Puerto Vallarta to Marquesas Islands

The following segment is in log form. It will probably be a little boring for the non-sailors since it has less photos than usual as our scenery was pretty mundane for our 25-day passage. For the sailors who read this, I included our meal plan and our 24 hour daily runs and headings. 

Day 1: April 4

Breakfast: Huge breakfast at Paradise Village with Jan and Signe (Raven)
Lunch: Skipped lunch, snacked on crackers
Dinner: Jar of spaghetti sauce added some fresh veggies (onions, garlic, peppers and zucchini) with fresh spinach/ricotta ravioli

We left at 12:30 in afternoon and had a great send-off from Rainsong, Layla, Raven, Different Worlds, Eagle and Meeshach, which was really nice.

Farewell from our friends at Paradise Village

Close reach out of Banderas Bay in 15 knots of wind. We are on a course of 260, a bit above the rhumb line to the Marquesas. Clear sunny skies.

Winds easing some in the afternoon. As I wasn’t feeling great on my first day out – as usual – I asked Ken to peruse the vegetables and turn the eggs. We have five-dozen eggs in half and full dozen cartons all stored in the v-berth. To keep eggs un-refrigerated for long periods of time, you need to prevent air from getting into the egg which will rot them. There are a variety of ways to preserve eggs. Some people coat the shells with Vaseline, others shellac the shells, the easiest is to turn the eggs every 1-2 days which keeps the inside of the shell moist and keeps them from spoiling. Ken was willing to check the veggies, but less than enthusiastic to turn the eggs as taking each of the five-dozen eggs out of the carton and turning it over individually was going to take a very long time. I started laughing, and then the light bulb went on, when he realized you could turn the 9 cartons, as opposed to individually turning 60 eggs.

We were treated to a great whale show and a huge jumping manta ray as we were leaving Banderas bay off Cabo Corrientes. The wind had died almost to nothing as we were trying to sail past the Tres Marietas, three small islands at the outside of the bay, at around 1600-1700, so it was nice and calm and I cooked dinner.

Inspected veggies – 3 bad cantaloupe – all fuzzy – mental note, they don’t like to be next to anything. Chopped all those up, also found some turning apples and pears. The whole bin will need a once over tomorrow.

We checked into the Pacific Seafarers Net for the first time tonight. It seems to be a very professionally run net. We talked to Jordan on Queen Jane – they are a few hundred miles ahead of us, cooking along at 8.5 knots – that’s what a 50’ boat will get you.

The wind picked up after dinner, 11-15 knots, going 5.3 over ground. We’ve swung around onto a beam reach on a course of about 240 degrees. We can still see the lighthouse on Cabo Corrientes. High cloud cover, and ¾ moon, which is nice.

Day 2: April 5

24 – Hour Run: 61 miles (ugh!)
Breakfast: Pear, Apple, Muffin
Lunch: Cantaloupe with Prosciutto and salad with carrots and croutons – to use the ripening cantaloupe
Dinner: Chicken Quesadillas

We're very sleepy. Not much sleep last night, and the seafarers’ net is in the middle of my first off-watch at night. Still on a beam reach. I’m a little queasy. We’re both really tired, as usual on the first few days of passage. We are feeling a little better after a third off-watch sleep. Discovered a few things out of a cruising book I wished I’d read before I packed my provisions. Apples can’t be stored next to anything, and onions and potatoes can’t be next to each other. Both of these rules I violated, and today have remedied, but not in time to prevent several things from spoiling and others from ripening too fast. Light wind, calm seas. Couldn’t reach Rainsong and Layla today on the net, don’t know if they left have PV. Mid-day today we had less than 5 knots. Now heading southwest on a course of 230. Weather has been cool. We’re wearing fleece and sweats at night and long sleeve shirts during the day. Lots of high cloud cover. The good news is it’s not too hot below to sleep during the day.

Day 3: April 6

24 – Hour Run: 55 miles -- at this rate it'll take us 2 months!
Breakfast: Pear, coffee cake and muffins
Lunch: Chicken Caesar salad
Dinner: Thai Chicken with Rice 

Wind very light, 7 knots, going 2.5 to 3 knots. We have full main, jib and staysail out on a beam reach with gentle seas. High, light clouds with some sun breaks. The ocean has turned a beautiful deep blue and the temperature is very comfortable. Layla left yesterday and we talked to them on the radio; Drew and Vernita are very tired as well. We’re a little better today; sleeping on most of our off watches, but we did manage to play a few card games this afternoon. Layla is about 60-miles behind us, but gaining quickly. Rainsong had left, but stopped over at Marina Vallarta for diesel, filled his tanks and then started a hard beat out of Banderas Bay. Tam then discovered fuel leaking from the tanks in the aft cabin, getting on their rugs and into some lockers. Apparently, when they had their fuel polished in PV, the inspection plate was not sealed correctly. They had to turn back to Paradise Village to try and clean up and get the diesel stench out of the boat. They are planning on leaving Saturday morning.

According to the nets, everyone is going pretty slowly out here, close to the West Coast, until the Northeast Trade Winds fill in, probably another 250 miles for us.

Our dinner had to have a little modification. After I made the entire meal, the shrimp tasted a little suspicious so I had to throw the whole pot of food overboard and start over. I started to use the roasted chicken from Sam’s Club, but even that smelled a little off. I don’t know if it really was, but by then I was paranoid, so I tossed that as well and used canned chicken. I always have a fear of poisoning us at sea.

We’ve been getting a fair amount of email from friends and family, which is a nice diversion. Wind picked up in the evening, and by 2200 we were clipping along at 6-7 knots on a beam reach. We finally put out the new towing generator which seems to be putting out good power.

Day 4: April 7

24 – Hour Run: 113 miles
Breakfast: Muffin & Coffee Cake
Lunch: Salad and Sandwiches
Dinner: Tortellini and Meat Sauce

Still on a beam reach with good wind, the swell is getting a bit bigger. Every once and a while a wave will hit us hard on the beam and lay us over, but overall the swell is long and even. We’re still making good time at 5 knots with 10-15 knots of wind. Today is another turn the eggs day and inspect the veggies. 

Day 5: April 8

24 – Hour Run: 115 miles
Breakfast: Coffee Cake & Muffins
Lunch: Thai Chicken Wraps
Dinner: Beef Fajitas

There’s hope for the exhaustion. As everyone says after 4+ days at sea your body gets used to the watch schedule and you’re not as tired. I think this may be true, as we are getting more energy and seem to be adjusting to the 4 – on – 4 off watch schedule. Tonight was a very pleasant night. We had a full moon with clear skies on a great beam reach with 13-15 knots of wind going a little over 5 knots. We have the radar going most of the time as a really good second set of eyes that can see a maximum 48 miles and a programmed guard zone which will beep at you if anything enters the designated zone. It does draw power, but it really helps, especially when there are only 2 of you and you’re often very tired. In addition to that, we wear a “watch watch” with an 8-minute timer. This is to make sure every 8 minutes we stand up and do a 360-degree turn to check for anything on the horizon, check our course and wind, and just an overall once over. We’ve picked 8 minutes because the large freighters can be on top of you from the time they visually show up on the horizon in 9 minutes.

Good day in Forepeak Farms (a name our friend Signe onboard Raven dubbed all of my produce living in the v-berth) only 1 bad carrot that had to go over the side.

Ken and I were actually both up and feeling pretty good, so we played some cards and actually talked for awhile. Non-cruisers always ask if you get tired of each other on a passage. You don’t; I suspect this is largely because with only 2 people on the boat you don’t see too much of each other. While one person is on watch the other is almost always below resting or sleeping. We only probably spend about 3 hours a day together when both of us are up and awake.

Layla and Rainsong are now both at sea with us. Layla is ahead of us by about 30 miles. Rainsong left Saturday and are on their first day at sea. Tamarac II, a Westsail 32, with Gayl and Terry – friends we met in PV, will probably not be leaving for another few days. I’ll probably check in on the Puddle Jumpers Net, which is during my morning watch. Ken is continuing to check in on the Pacific Seafarers’ Net during his first night watch, and that will be our primary check-in net. It is through that net that our position is tracked on two websites where friends and family can follow our passage.

We’ve been very happy with our power consumption. With our boat speed and some sunny days, our towing generator and two solar panels are actually putting our power in the black during the day. This has impressed us since we are running the refrigeration, radar and all the instruments all of the time. The SSB and watermaker are our two largest power drains, but with the towing generator and solar panels we should be able to only run the engine every 2-3 days. At night, we do go into the red without the solar panels. Overall, this is great news and it will allow us to use our engine less and save our limited supply of fuel.

Day 6: April 9

24 – Hour Run: 99 miles
Breakfast: Muffins & Coffee Cake
Lunch: Salads
Dinner: Chun King Chicken

Picked through Forepeak Farms – couple of bad apples and bad mangos. Winds are lighter. We even flew the spinnaker some this afternoon. We are a little high on our course at 268 degrees. We’re westing some to stay on a beam reach and keep the sails full. With the winds light, it was hard to keep the sails full on a broad reach and the flogging sails keep the off watch person up at night. In the morning, we’ll probably head down some again. We changed time zones, and missed our noon SSB chat we have with Layla and Rainsong and which we hope Velella is listening to; Wendy and Garth have a receiver but not a transmitter. We later learned that Velella did listen the whole way across and Garth dubbed the net the Seattle Geek Net. The wind has picked up some during the day.

Evening has brought better winds 15 – 22 knots. Course is 245 on a beam reach with double reefed- main and full yankee. We are surprised that this is such a good sail combination for us if the wind is at 90 degrees or greater. Felicity seems to have a great deal of weather helm downwind and this sail combination seems to keep the boat the most balanced. It also allows us to reef the yankee by partially furling it from the cockpit thus allowing us to handle even higher winds without a major sail change.

Day 7: April 10

24 – Hour Run: 126 miles
Breakfast: Yogurt & Muffins
Lunch: Salads
Dinner: Pasta

Our most boisterous day at sea to date. Some of the seas are building, and since as we’re on a beam reach it is getting pretty rolly below and making it harder to sleep. Cockpit awning had to come down, as the wind increased into the low 20’s, it was making a lot of noise and keeping us awake. We still have quite a bit of cloud cover and cool temperatures, but no rain or squalls.

The afternoon brought higher winds, high teens to mid-20’s. The seas really built up and made it pretty rolly. The swell was confused from the North and Northwest. We went almost 24 hours with just the yankee. We had to take the main down as it was causing us to round up, get sideways to the waves, roll us on our sides and then start the routine over again. We found with just the yankee we were balanced and it was a more comfortable ride.

Day 8: April 11

24 – Hour Run: 121 miles
Breakfast: Cereal and Yogurt
Lunch: Leftover Chun King
Dinner: Canned Ravioli and Granola Bar

I got almost no sleep due to the rough ride, and by dinner time I was exhausted and not feeling very well. For dinner, I handed Ken a can of ravioli, grabbed a granola bar for myself and collapsed into bed. I still couldn’t sleep from 1800-2200 between the rough seas and the radio so I was exhausted and by 0100 couldn’t focus on the radar. Ken was a sport and came on watch an hour early and let me sleep until 0630 when he wanted to change sail before the Puddle Jumpers Net.

Day 9: April 12

24 – Hour Run: 144
Breakfast: Cereal (and made an Apple Knobby Cake – sort of a dense coffee cake)
Lunch: Grilled sandwiches and Salad
Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken

The wind and seas are still up, but not as bad as yesterday. When we changed sail at 0630, we tried to run wing and wing, but ended up heading due south so we put in a second reef and the yankee. I felt much better after 5 hours of sleep last night although it was still rough, but my attitude was much better. Rainsong and Layla had rough nights as well with higher winds and seas and little sleep. Poor Tamarac II is finally underway, but were still fairly close to the coast with little wind. They started their motor and didn’t realize they had a preventer line over the side, which then wound around their prop. The seas were too sloppy for Terry to want to go over the side, so they were sailing in low winds and sloppy seas until they could dive over the side and untangle the prop.

Ken went down hard for some sleep at about 0830 and with the seas down some, I was able to sit in the cockpit, which was finally not constantly wet. Last night water that washed onto the side decks consistently came into the cockpit and even washed in a small fish! Better sail in the afternoon, winds and seas seem to have clocked around to the Northeast and be from a more consistent direction. We are at 115 degrees west and we think we are beginning to get into the NE tradewinds. Our weather forecast is for stronger trades for another 2 days. We’re making good time. We had a rockin' night often averaging 6.5 –7 knots.

Day 10: April 13

24 – Hour Run: 143 miles
Breakfast: Yogurt for Cath; Cheese & Ham Scramble for Ken.
Lunch: Skipped – but baked a carrot cake
Dinner: Tortellini & Sauce

Winds still rocking and rolling at 18-22 knots. Seas at 10-12 feet are still making it very boisterous. Flying fish are starting to make regular appearances in the water and on deck. The boat is going pretty fast, but if we slow the boat, the confused seas toss us around like a cork. We’ve therefore decided that it’s better to just keep trucking along. Tamarac II freed their prop and are back underway. Terry said they hove to and even that was scary diving on the boat with the rollers. He reminded everyone to keep their tethers on, as being in the water next to the boat in ocean swell was not a good feeling. Evening has us still going between 6-8 knots. Wow - that's fast for our little boat!

We had a typically tough Friday the 13th. Our expectations of tradewind sailing have yet to be realized. We still have lots of cross swell and big lumpy seas. We have only been able to run with a poled out yankee. The roll gets too bad with the main up. We’ve been getting OK sleep. We’re still on our rhumb line. Our big late afternoon catastrophe was as follows. I decided I was going to make an apple crisp with some apples that were starting to go south. I sliced and peeled the apples on my afternoon watch. I had just started to mix together the topping with flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Typically in the afternoon the wind does kick up and just as I got the ingredients together in a bowl a gust really laid us over and woke up Ken. We were quickly feeling overpowered with the wind getting up into the mid-20’s. Ken wanted to get the main down, so I tried to carefully wedge my bowl tightly on the counter with non-skid and other items on the counter and went topside to help him with the main. We didn’t have the hatch board in, and as Ken went forward to drop the main, we were again laid over really far and water rushed down both side decks dumping 15-20 gallons of water into the cockpit, floating the cockpit grates, and drenching me with salt water. I tried to block the companionway and keep water from pouring below and again killing the laptop. The water did not go below, but the galley was a disaster. Everything on the counter had flown around the galley, and sugar and butter were everywhere. Sugar was all over the counter, it had flown through the louvers in the cupboard doors and was in the cupboards, and had gone down into the fridge to keep the vinegar company (I had spilled that in the fridge a few days before).

That sequence of events put me over the edge. I had achieved meltdown. I had had it with trying to cook in a Disneyland ride. I was tired of being thrown around the boat with a hot stove swinging around. Ken was a sport and cleaned everything up while I changed out of my salty clothes and mellowed out.

Ken then decided to start the engine and run the watermaker a bit and it was time for his Friday the 13th luck. He had forgotten to switch the output over on the watermaker. This allows the initial output of the watermaker to just run into the sink, allowing us to test it for salinity before we switch the valve and put the output water into our water tanks. He initially put the output water into the tanks without testing it. It probably wasn’t that bad, as the watermaker ran a bit first unprimed (the system seems to become unprimed when the boat is really bounced around – which is almost every time these days) so it didn’t immediately didn’t go into the tanks. The result was probably a little higher salinity water going into our water tanks but with the dilution in the 45 gallon tanks and the fact that we always drink our water from our Seagull water filter in the galley we’re not too concerned.

Day 11: April 14

24 – Hour Run: 126 miles
Breakfast: Yogurt & Granola bar , Ken – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Lunch: Leftover Sweet and Sour Chicken
Dinner: Ken: Ground Beef and Gravy and Mashed Potatoes from Scratch, I had Corn and Potatoes. Apple crisp

We’re getting close to 10 degrees north and with our proximity to the equator we are starting to get squalls. To date, we’ve fortunately not seen any lightening, but during the night we had squall after squall and had the wind going from 12 –25 knots making for a lot of sail changes. Finally we just decided to run with a reefed- poled out yankee. This had us underpowered some of the time, but just right at others, and allowed Ken to get some sleep. None of the squalls blew over 25 and we did get a little rain which cleaned off the boat some. It is hard to explain how salty everything gets on the boat after only a few days at sea.

Day 12: April 15

24 – Hour Run: 138
Breakfast: Cereal, grilled sandwiches
Lunch: Skipped
Dinner: Taco Salad

We still have confused seas from the NNE with a north wind. The waves sound like a sledgehammer slamming into the boat as they hit us on the beam and lay the boat over. We again have the full poled out yankee, this seems to be keeping our speed up without too much roll, which the main seemed to be causing and resulted in us dunking the end of the boom in the water a few times. This isn’t very good; so we’re currently sticking to the Yankee alone. We’re not making as good a time as before but we’re still making good time. Drew is currently about 120 miles ahead of us and Jason is quite a bit farther north and about even with us. He’s having a hard time running dead downwind with his boat. Today Ken and Drew gave him some ideas to try and help his downwind performance.

It is finally starting to feel like we’re getting close to the equator. It’s getting warmer and there is an increased humidity in the air but we still have 100 % cloud cover, which we’ve had more days than not since we left PV.

The seas are up again, 12 feet. They finally seem to be coming from the NE, same direction of the wind, which puts most of them comfortably on the aft quarter.

Day 13: April 16

24 – Hour Run: 129
Breakfast: Granola
Lunch: Grilled sandwiches, made another apple crisp.
Dinner: Skipped dinner, Ken had leftover soft tacos at 2200

Rolly again and little sleep for me last night. I got up at 2200 and we started to see lightening – which was the start of a horrible evening with squall after squall and lightening all around the boat from about 2100 – 0300. I had meltdown number two of the trip at the thought of being a floating lightening rod, so Ken relieved me at 0100 and let me sleep until 0545. It was still raining and squally and we had to change sail. We had decided to head west instead of southwest after reading the weather to get out of a line of heavy convection, which we had been right in the middle of all night.

We’ve continued to have drenching squall after drenching squall all day. This has kept us locked up down below in an increasingly hot cabin or cowering under the dodger all day. I made another apple crisp to use up some more apples and try to lift the crew’s spirits a bit.

Our decision to go west might not have been the best, as the convection line seems to be following us; however, we do seem to be out of the lightening. Rainsong is about 8 miles north of us and in VHF contact which has been nice. Based on the morning nets and listening to the weather of the boats ahead of us, we’ve both decided to jibe and head for the equator, crossing through 05 degrees north, 125 degrees west. We’re currently at about 9 degrees north and 122 degrees west.

We’ve screwed up our sleep schedules again and we’re exhausted.

Day 14: April 17

24 – Hour Run: 124
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Thai shrimp

Lots of squalls and more rain, fluky winds. Didn’t have great day, fresh water pump broke. However, even on the glummest of days, mother nature can surprise you with a fantastic view.

Sunrise at Sea

Day 15: April 18

24 – Hour Run: 105
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Thai Shrimp Wraps
Dinner: Pasta

Juiced all the remaining oranges as they were going bad. Discovered all my potatoes were rotting and about 2 days from making vodka – it was unbelievable what a horrific smell rotting potatoes put out. Ken was a sport and got the potatoes out of the rancid smelling v-berth and into the cockpit. I had to toss them all over the side. Ken decided to work on the water pump, and I took his watch. Ken revived the water pump but warned that it is on crutches until the Marquesas. I was exhausted and Ken let me go to sleep at 1400 and I was out cold until 1900. I made dinner and then went back to bed until Ken was finished on the Seafarers’ Net. I then got up at about 2130 for my night watch. We’re at about 4 degrees north. It’s hot with light winds. We did a little motoring this morning with very light winds and rain. The seas have flattened out which has been nice.

We’re about 1100 miles out of Hiva Oa. We’ve been out for 15 days so we’re over the half way point.

Day 16: April 19

24 – Hour Run: 93
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Soft Tacos
Dinner: Crab Quiche

Winds are lighter, only made 93 miles. Sailed with the spinnaker for a while. It's getting very hot. 

Day 17: April 20

24 – Hour Run: 101
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Crab Quiche
Dinner: Meal of Champions! - Beef jerky, Canned Fruit and Brownies

We're both hot and tired, we're only at about 2 degrees north and the wind is down and the going is hot and slow.

Day 18 : April 21

24 – Hour Run: 106
Breakfast: Granola
Lunch: Quesadillas
Dinner: Steak, Corn and Cake

We’re 26 miles north of the equator. Have I mentioned how HOT it is. It’s nice in the cockpit with the awning up and a nice breeze, but it’s really getting hot below with temp averaging between 86-90. Not as muggy as I had thought, but still really hot with over 80% humidity. I’ve started sleeping with blue ice bags in the sea berth with me. It’s also getting very hard to sleep except during the evening. The wind is good with at least 12 knots and fairly flat seas and we’ve been able to stay on the rhumb line for Hiva Oa.

Queen Jane made landfall on Hiva Oa; we’re still 800 miles out. The passage is not what I’ve expected sailing-wise. In some respects, it’s been better and in others worse. The infamous tradewind sailing was rough and rainy and uncomfortable. What I thought would be the doldrums of oppressive heat and glassy seas and lighting filled squalls has been more like what I thought trade wind sailing would be. It’s been 10-15 knots with long even waves on the stern quarter. We’ll see what the southern latitudes hold for us. The heat has us down to wearing very little clothing, Shorts for Ken and a sarong for me. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s saving on laundry which we’ll have to do by hand when we get to the Marquesas. There aren’t any laundromats between here and New Zealand. Apparently, you can send your laundry out in Tahiti, but it costs between $9 and $26/load. So I’m probably looking at a bucket and washboard until we get to New Zealand.

Most of our produce is gone or rotten by now. I think I maybe over-bought and despite my reading I don’t think I stored it with enough ventilation in the v-berth. Yesterday, I had it with the cabbage. Ken didn’t want to eat it, and I was sick of peeling moldy rotten layers off to keep it. I also found a liquidating bag of cucumbers that had to be jettisoned. All we have left is jicama, ginger, onions and some carrots in the fridge. Today we’re crossing the equator, so I need to get motivated to bake a cake to commemorate our crossing. 

We should be having our shellback ceremony around noon and we’re going to open some wine – giving some to Neptune and we’ll probably have our two last steaks for dinner. I baked a cake, we dressed up in pareos and opened a bottle of wine. We tossed wine and cake over the side for Neptune and had steak and corn for dinner. We then did a message in a bottle with the empty wine bottle.

Crossing the equator

Neptune getting his share

Our equator crossing cake with frosting that barely set up before it melted in the heat

Our GPS reading just north of the equator...

...and just south of the equator

Day 19: April 22

24 – Hour Run: 111
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Grilled Sandwiches & Canned Fruit
Dinner: Teriyaki steak

Had been up all day for all the equator crossing ceremony activity. So by the time I came off my night watch at 0200, I was exhausted. Ken was a good sport and let me sleep until 0800 the next morning, giving me a solid 6 hours. That should have set me up for a good day, but it was still a frustrating day. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was hearing that Drew and Jason were only a day or two out of Hiva Oa and we were still a week out. I had an "I hate the night watches and hate the passages" kind of day. I was unmotivated to do much of anything. Ken cooked the teriyaki steak I had marinated that morning. The small boat, slow going and heat just got to me.

At least, we ended up having a very mellow night sail.

Day 20: April 23

24 – Hour Run: 102
Breakfast: Granola Bars
Lunch: Ravioli, canned fruit
Dinner: Pasta

South of the equator and the winds are light. We motored for a few hours to charge and keep the sails full. We tried sailing with the spinnaker for a while, but with the periodic squalls it's too much work to keep putting the spinnaker out and taking it down.

In some ways, the days are going faster. We’re sleeping so much off watch that our 3 on watches go fairly fast. Layla is about 300 miles ahead of us and Rainsong is also about 150 miles ahead of us. The heat just bleeds the energy right out of you. We haven’t studied French and really haven’t even read as many books as we had originally thought we would.

Day 21: April 24

24 – Hour Run: 86
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Smoothies, Chips and Salsa
Dinner: Turkey enchiladas with mole sauce

The equator crossing was really a highlight. We felt we had accomplished quite a bit, but it also seemed to have set the expectation that the rest of the trip would be down hill.

Listened to the net and finally got some good sleep this morning. Today is a nice day, but really hot; it's 94 degrees in the cabin. We’re 588 miles out of Hiva Oa. We’re at about 03 degrees south and are starting to get into wind. But with that comes the squalls everyone ahead of us had been talking about. This afternoon we had a huge one overtake us over 6 miles across. It looked like a scene from Independence Day on the radar.

Large squall as it appears on our radar

We both were up, and discussed what our strategy should be as it headed toward us. We dropped the yankee, and put up the staysail and double reefed main. When it bore over us and poured rain – which cooled things off for a while and washed the boat off – the winds only got up to about 25 knots with no big seas – it really wasn’t that bad compared to what we came to expect north of the equator.

This evening winds were pretty light until about 2130. I was awakened by the boat being slammed over hard. We had 1 reef in the main because the wind was picking up. We had the staysail and yankee out, and Ken was a little slow getting the yankee in, so when the wind gusted up to 28 knots we were slammed over on our side for a moment. On my watch, we have the same configuration of sail back up single reefed main, staysail and yankee. That was until we seemed to get into a squall line, with squalls packing winds of 20-25 running us over every 4 or so miles. It's like being a mouse trapped in a bowling alley, we’re a tiny boat that only goes an average of 5 knots with squalls traveling at least 3 times that fast and are 2 –10 miles across. So after the squalls started, we pulled in the Yankee and just ran with staysail and single reefed main. This had us a little under-powered part of the time, but when the squalls ran us over, we had a good amount of sail.

Day 22: April 25

24 – Hour Run: 115
Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Ravioli and Canned Fruit
Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese

The days are a blur, it is so hot and the wind is back up to an average of 25 knots. This is great for our speed, but we’re on a beam reach which is making the ride very rough below. We are constantly being slammed over by seas on the beam. It is so wet in the cockpit we have to keep all the hatches shut, which is making it extremely hot, smelly and miserable down below with a low temp of 86 and a high of 94 during the day. We are both extremely ready to get to land.

I was stupid today and didn’t drink enough water and got dehydrated. I felt really sick and dizzy and sleepy, I couldn’t eat. I kept pouring water down me and finally felt better, although Ken had to cook all day and took the whole day watch. I came on watch at 2100 after his radio call, and stayed on until 0200 so he could get some sleep.

Day 23: April 26

24 – Hour Run: 127
Breakfast: Peanut butter Sandwich
Lunch: Meatloaf
Dinner: Beef Jerky and Fruit

Looking at our timing, we're going to get in either Sunday night or Monday. We decided if we put the pedal to the metal we could make a Sunday arrival. We’ve been in VHF contact with Seashell  -- another Washington boat from Anacortes, a Freya 39, for about 5 days. We’ve egged them on to try for a Sunday arrival as well. We’ve pulled a bit ahead of them, but are really pushing the boat. As we're now living in a hot, damp washing machine, I’ve closed the galley, after making Ken a meatloaf to hold him over until we get there. I’ve moved on to the peanut butter sandwich and canned fruit diet.

Day 24: April 27

24 – Hour Run: 144
Breakfast: Canned fruit
Lunch: Meatloaf Sandwich
Dinner: Peanut butter sandwich

The winds and seas have eased somewhat, and we’ve been able to move back out in the cockpit and open the boat up some. This has done a lot to improve our attitudes. The sea is a bright blue, the squalls have disappeared and the sailing has been great.

Day 25: April 28

24 – Hour Run: 155
Breakfast: Canned fruit
Lunch: Meatloaf Sandwich
Dinner: Peanut butter sandwich

Last night at sea! We have 44 miles to go until our outer waypoint of Hiva Oa, then another 13 miles after that to the entrance to Atuona bay.

All of our friends are waiting for us, and signed us up for a tour of the island on Monday after we get in. I’m so excited to get there and get the boat cleaned up.

Day 26: April 29

Land Ho!

Hiva Oa was a very welcome site as we sailed past the the eastern end at 0600

Overall, I would not call the passage fun, but I don't find passage-making the best part about cruising anyway. There are a few days here and there where the wind and seas are perfect, or we see a pod of dolphin, or we have a beautiful moonlit night that I enjoy. I think Ken enjoyed it, but he likes the passages. With that said, there were only a few times that were scary; the night we had lightening, a few times when we were stupid and left too much sail up as a squall approached, etc. The highest wind we saw in a squall was about 35 knots and then only for a short period of time. The only time we were becalmed was the first two days out of PV. I didn't find "being out in the middle of a huge ocean" all that disarming. I was bothered far more by me and whatever I was trying to cook flying around the galley. This isn't to say I didn't have a few meltdowns, but I would attribute most of those to being hot and tired for a few too many days in a row.

Would I make the passage again? Yes, if we were again trying to get to the South Pacific I think the cruising here is so fantastic that it would be worth the trip. Am I going to try and make a living as part of a delivery crew? Not on your life.

© Copyright 1999-2003. All Rights Reserved.