To Fatu Hiva and the Bay of Virgins

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Sat 5 Apr 2014 23:47

Position           10:27.87S 138:40.10W

Date                1830 (French Polynesian Time UTC -10½) Sunday 23 March 2014


Distance run - 45nm over the ground, 45nm through the water


We decided to break out of Hiva Oa as many of the other Rally boats scattered on their own itineraries.  The early morning intended departure was somewhat delayed by the taxi driver who was to deliver the fresh fruit and veg at 0830 and was working Marquesian time; i.e. +/- 1 hr but usually – 1 hour.  It was worth the wait and there was the bonus of breadfruit, sweet grapefruit and star fruit from his own garden.  The avocados were enormous and very good.


The sail to Fatu Hiva from Hiva Oa is usually to windward.  Well on this day there was no wind to speak of so calling it downwind or upwind did not make much difference.


And then disaster struck.  The engine started to make odd noises and the speed dropped.  A quick check showed that it was not a fuel problem and looking further I found the hydraulic gearbox to be empty of oil.  As there was no escaped oil under the engine and gearbox the only cause could be a hole in the gearbox oil cooler which is on the salt water intake to the engine, probably caused by electrolysis.  This would mean that the gearbox oil had been pumped under pressure out into the cooling water.


As we had absolutely no wind, and no drive, I had no option but to put a further three litres of oil into the gearbox to restore drive and motor in the last 18 miles.  The delay in sorting this out meant that we entered the incredibly impressive Bay of Virgins at last light, enough light to admire the view but pitch black just as we anchored.  Fortunately Russ and Sheldon from Nexus were on hand and took our stern anchor out, an essential in the anchorage with other boats around.


The Bay of Virgins, taken the following morning