Blog Entry 18 - 5th April Land Ho!
|08:50.2S, 139:36.3W - 5th April|
I called it at 0620 this morning. Land Ho! The time honoured seafarer’s cry as the first look at a distance shore raises its head above the horizon. Because it was early morning and had previously been dark (Ed: yeah, thanks for that statement of the bleeding obvious) it was a dramatic moment. In the hours of daylight a shout would’ve gone out with sight of a feint glimmer of something over the horizon. In the dawn’s twilight the sighting showed a dramatic raised hog’s back appearing only 15 miles away - already a giant entity the island of Ua Huku was before us.
As we have neared the shores the island has been mesmerising. We’ve been staring at it as the features have sharpened. Steep gully’s with trees and hilltop groves as well as a bare rock crest underpinned by impressive sheer cliffs. Looking through binoculars we have seen the North side of a pristine island. Not a single sign of human habitation or existence have we found. No flag pole, hut, track or fenceline. No area of crops or walls or harbours, no grazing herds, no satellite dishes or aerials. It looks a barren place, unchanged over eons. The same landfall seen by the first Europeans in their exploration of the seas. It also looks foreboding, an inhospitable volcanic lump with no natural inlet or landing place. How challenging this must have been for those early explorers, the expectation and perhaps their sense of apprehension can only be imagined ….cannibals lived here.
This is day 35 since leaving Panama - we’re still not there. It’s not our island. ‘Next stop, Nuku Hiva, nothing to see here’. Our landing place is still another 35 miles further on. Ironically, we may lose sight of this island to a vista of endless sea ahead, before we gain sight of our destination. nonetheless we are now in the Marquesas. We looked at each other, knowingly. Communication in our team can speak volumes with just a look. The look contained both respect and satisfaction. Getting here has been the culmination of a vision. Now a reality shored up by a lot of determination, foresight, planning and of course some luck. But we dared. Few get this far. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not comparing ourselves to Chichester or Montessier, Cook or De Gama - our journey has not been innovative, death-defying nor heroic. But it feels like a real achievement. It has taken guts and grit. We have overcome the odds of living in a confined space together and come through some unique stresses, challenges and dangers. We haven’t just survived, we’ve thrived. We’ve worked well as a team and kept our humour and love for each other and for our adventure.
Did I mention the victuals? Laura’s planning of our rations has been remarkable. Last night we had a pasta with fresh courgette and aubergine in a tomato and chorizo sauce. For lunch today, we will have slices of apple and perhaps cheese on toast, made with fresh baked bread, and fresh coleslaw made from carrots, with red cabbage mayonnaise and sultanas. Remarkable because we still have fresh fruit and vegetables. No hard tack weevil-laden biscuits nor pot noodles for us no spam or tinned veg. Our provisioning has buoyed morale and has ensured novel, (if not nouvelle) cuisine from resources that have required planning, foresight and ingenuity. Quite how its been kept fresh and edible has been a huge feat. Small veg hammocks slung around the inside of the boat have required daily tending - the turning of vegetables to prevent the tiny hammock knots from bruising the skin, the packing and repacking of our chest fridge to keep products edible. The beef we had in a stew two days ago was still part frozen and yet we do not have a freezer. She is a creative genius. I take my hat off, exposing a sunburnt pate, to my partner in brine.
Tonight we will drink beer and wine - and we will toast RaLa and our journey. We plan to enjoy our time in the Marquesas and look forward to exploring the rest of Polynesia. All the time cogniscent that we are only just about half-way across the Pacific. Australia is another 3600 odd miles to go! However, the route ahead is dotted with islands and atolls and lots of landfall never more than a week or ten days away. We have no pressure driving us on although the hurricane season starts in November and is an ‘event horizon’ to plan for. We will of course look forward to some respite from our travels tonight and a proper night’s sleep and some cuddling up together will not go amiss after 5 weeks sleeping at different times.
We hope that our blog snippets may have brought you perhaps some insight and some interest of our venture, and perhaps some amusement too. We trust that you will forgive us the myopic nature of our own bubble. Isolated in our cocoon we remain currently ignorant of world events and the details of importance, and of course the trivia, from our families and friends. We will prioritise getting communications up and running as we’ve missed you all and access to the virtual world of electronic media