Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 7) 27.05.08 - 28.05.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Thu 29 May 2008 09:28

Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 7) 27.05.08 – 28.05.08



Tuesday 27.05.08


The Black Pearl Competition has caused much excitement on Astra. Our metaphorical mailbox is fit to burst with estimates ranging from considered conjectures to guileless guesses. Inundated, as we were, a spreadsheet was necessitated to tabulate the divers suggestions ranging from 0948 28/05 to 1845 30/05, with an average of 1427 29/05 – all times here given in GMT. The spreadsheet was particularly helpful as we were presented with guesses given in four different time zones (GMT, BST, Ship’s Time (GMT-6), and Local Time in the Marquesas (GMT-9.5) and quite often (to increase the chance of winning?) no time zone whatsoever.


The sniff of land in the air, George and Ash decided to embark upon a sole-cleansing session. This required each of 20 sole boards to be lifted and transported to the shower where Ash used more water than most boats carry to cross the Pacific to return them gleaming. Meanwhile, George, on hands and knees, scrubbed and washed the metal supports. A thorough ablution for sole and soul, after a few hours rolling around upside-down inhaling disinfectant George had reached a transcendental state (and had a rather nasty case of housemaid’s knee).      


In addition to giving Astra the cleanest sole in the mid Pacific, the cleaning frenzy also served to distract George from his celestial observations. He has, of late, become something of a Sextant Fiend spending hours at a time nursing the instrument and performing related calculations. Now that he has managed a whole day without touching the sextant all on board are less concerned about the state of his psyche.   


While Sally continued her unrelenting assault on the library, Jeremy and Ash got down to the serious business of the pilotage plan, land ever closer. It goes without saying that Jeremy has the relevant weighty tomes on board to facilitate the required calculations; if all the books on board were laid end to end they would probably span the Panama Canal! Two complications arose: firstly, the minor impediment that the nearest Primary Port was Pago Pago, Samoa, at some considerable distance from our destination, Baie Taahuku, Hiva Oa; secondly, they were slightly confused to find that two breakwaters were shown in our books but only one on our electronic charts! Quite a significant difference, particularly as it appears that we may be arriving in hours of darkness. This is further complicated by the fact the charts may well be off: we will only know to what degree when we get close and can overlay the radar on the chart. 


Wednesday 28.05.08


Having watched the wind slowly diminish from 20 knots to less than 1, Sally was slightly surprised to find herself the next moment in a 30knt squall at 0700. We had been promised some ‘more interesting weather’ but had received nothing of this ilk thitherto. It would have been an uncomfortable experience in most boats but Astra just powered up.


Sally honed her pizza making skills, producing four more excellent pizzas for lunch. Unfortunately, as we heeled over, the first of these slid off its plate straight onto Ash’s foot, covering him in molten cheddar. Needless to say we dusted it off and ate it anyway (the pizza, rather than the foot)!


A brace of tuna decided on a romantic dinner for two: one went for “Pink Fluffy 2” the other for “Jet Head 2” and were reeled in unison. After much discussion, we thought we might take a new approach to fish execution (guillotine method a little time consuming) so George was at the ready wielding the knife. A quick insertion of the blade at a 45 degree angle, behind the eyes, proved very effective but left his shorts bespattered. Any tips for removing a lot of fish blood would be greatly appreciated.


30 miles to the east of Hiva Oa, Jeremy raised the cry of “Land Ahoy”. Obviously the wind over these last 30 miles was going to serve a critical role in deciding the winner of the Black Pearl Competition. To make things interesting we found ourselves amidst a large squall with winds gusting up to 42 knots. In addition to this we had a prolonged, heavy shower – the second extended period of rainfall over Astra in over 100 days. Fortunately, the squall passed behind us within the hour and we were able to enjoy some clear skies for our last hour of daylight as we motored towards the anchorage.


After 18 days 16 hours at sea, we anchored bow and stern at 0215 Ship’s Time (0815 GMT) under a pitch black, moonless sky. Congratulations to Charles Beckley for getting the closest time (0713 GMT) –the black pearl is on its way to you, as soon as you learn to use capital letters in your emails!