Galápagos>Marquesas 18-08-2011 (Day 16, 14:0 0 UTC): DTF 0nm (10:27.864S 138:40.106W)

Vries Peter Pons
Thu 18 Aug 2011 04:30
DTF: 0nm (yes, we're there!)
Track: 3017nm (109nm more than the rhumbline/shortest way)
Trip: 2864nm (distance through water, so overall a favourable current)
Average speed: 7,8 knots

We did it! At 14:00UTC (04:30 local time) on Thursday 18 August 2011, 16
days and one hour after we hoisted anchor at Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela,
Galápagos, we dropped the hook in Baie des Vierges, Hanavave on the island
Fatu-Hiva of the Marquesas Archipelago, part of French Polynesia. Together
Daph and Vries sailed some 3000nm to cross the biggest ocean of the world
without seeing anything but sea, some fishing boats the first few days and
one huge fishing boat towards the end. The only other living things we saw
were dolphins (only twice) and the mahi-mahi we caught. We did not even see
any garbage floating around, like we sparingly saw on the Atlantic. Which
does not mean we were not in touch with the world: with the help of our
Iridium phone we sent out our daily blogs and mailed quite a bit with many
of our family and friends. And worth mentioning in particular: Weynand
Haitjema and Peter Houtzagers faithfully provided us with daily updates on
weather forecasts and their views and tactical insights on the best course
to choose in terms of wind, speed, safety and comfort. If it was not for
them, we'd probably be still sailing now. Thanks a zillion for your help,
guys, your bunks are ready for you to enjoy an all-inclusive vacation in
some of the most exotic places of the world!

The "laatste loodjes" proved to be heavier than anticipated: after our
hectic trimming activity yesterday afternoon, when we had just settled in to
have a relaxed sail for the last few miles towards our destination, we got
some very squally weather over us with winds up to 35 knots, lots of rain
and big waves. Although we had set the boom in such a way that we could reef
the genoa without having to lower the boom, it was uncomfortable
nonetheless. And then, what else could of course break down than our second
autopilot. And not because it had leaked too much oil, which we were afraid
of initially. No, the electric motor simply stopped. After half an hour of
handsteering we switched it on again, and it worked for another hour or so,
so we thought it had simply overheated with the heavy running seas, which is
hardest on an autopilot. Unfortunately after it switched off a second time,
we could no longer revive it. It might be something with the brushes, we
still have to investigate, but we've been very fortunate, that it happened
only some three hours before the end of a 16 day trip. We have already
ordered the spares we need for the other one, which can be shipped to
Hiva-Oa, an island only some 40nm from here, so only some 5 hours of manual
steering ahead of us in a week or so.

Surrounded by clouds and rain we could only shout "Land in Zicht" some 10nm
before we reached Fatu-Hiva, and only because the plotter informed us it was
there; it could just as well have been a dark cloud until we were a mile
from the coast.

Entering the bay with only the little light the clouds let through of the
moon was not as relaxed as we thought it would be, simply because the
towering cliffs of some 100-150m height on either side looked extremely
close in the dark, even though the plotter did not indicate any particular
hazard and until very close to shore we still had depths of up to 125m. Only
at dawn we noticed it was not as tight as it looked at night.

We dropped the anchor close to the stern of SV Mirus of Henk & Miranda, the
only other boat anchored in the bay, did our little routines after
anchoring, like setting the snubber, hoisting the anchor ball, writing the
log, and then we opened the champagne, accompanied by some French cheese,
kissed and toasted on our achievement. To us an achievement, as we arrived
safely in a record time by the standard of many, little damage underway,
still loving each other, and also a bit proud! The last few hours felt like
it took ages, but all in all the whole voyage was very relaxed.

When we woke up this morning, we looked at the most stunningly beautiful bay
we've ever anchored: those towering cliffs are not bare, but clad with palm
trees and a green skin of shrubbery, here and there interrupted by even
higher rock formations that look like statues. The cliffs on either side
form the walls of a gorge in the landscape at the beginning of the bay
steeply sloping upwards towards inland. The unsettled squally weather we're
still having (we get wind gusts of up to 40 knots (Bf9) at anchor, which are
funneled through the gorge) adds to the mysterious appearance of the bay.

Since neither we nor Henk & Miranda felt like lowering the dinghy in these
gusts, we decided to postpone welcome drinks to tomorrow. With the
torrential rains on the way over no need to wash off the saltcrust from the
outside, but we tidied the boat inside, showered, and will now have our
sundowners, have dinner without having to hold on to everything, watch a
movie and be able to both sleep at the same time again.