South Pacific: our journey’s longest passage…….
Dates and Coordinates:
March 16 2022- 47.7S/90 19.5W: April 4 2022 08 56.8S/140 01.6W
The south Pacific passage, 3320 miles, is our longest sea leg. It started out with 2 windless days and a 2 knot head current so our SOG is 3.5 for the first 2 days. Not a good start. We had all taken bets on length of passage with estimates coming in around 20-21 days. Those who sail know that if you just wait the wind will change; soon we had 15-18 knots out of the east-southeast pushing us along at 8-10 knots along with the expected westerly current. We are making up for lost time.
Our passage is remarkably easy and without drama. No mechanical issues, the rig performed beautifully. Sailing day after day with spinnaker or wing on wing depending on the winds. The new Watts and Sea hydro generator, replacing the one that fell off in the Caribbean, hummed along kicking out 8-10 amps … In short, a dream passage ending on day 19 with a 06:30 arrival in Taioha Bay, Nuku Hiva. Here are a few highlights.
The sunsets and sunrises were all different and spectacular. We took two 3 hour watches each day: mine being 6-9 am and 6-9 pm . In other words I got the sweetheart watches where I could see the sunsets and sunrises on my watch. The sky in the southern hemisphere is brilliant with what seems to me more spectacular night skies than in the north. As the ”Big Dipper fades away on the northern horizon the ” Southern Cross” or Crux , which takes a while to distinguish from the “False Cross” , jumps out of the Milky Way with it’s lower star “alpha crux “pointing to the southern pole.
The Pacific ocean is immense. We fly over some of it in 5 hours going to Hawaii and in 12 going to New Zealand not really thinking about distances; but to sail across the Pacific when day after day; week after week you see more of the same blue ocean that seems as if it will go on forever . You gain a different awareness of how really big it is. I found myself comparing our journey to that of Magellan and the early explorers who were going at half our speed and unsure of what awaited them; or imagining how in the future traveling to Mars will be a similar experience… long distances between 2 points with a lot of time to contemplate all manner of things . The Pacific’s color is mostly a beautiful deep blue but in fact takes on the color of the sky which with clouds or during storms is a forbidding grey or black.
Watching the never ending blue ocean pass by we were treated to some of nature’s wonders :
Mid ocean we were overtaken by a large pod of pilot whales that looked to contain 3 generations chasing and swimming alongside Infinity for over 15 minutes.
On our final day with the Marquesas in site we were greeted with a fantastic sunset while scores of dolphins followed us towards the setting sun… Without getting melodramatic after almost 3 weeks at sea it was magical.
The only sign of mankind we saw on our passage was a large fishing boat mid ocean reeling in a 10 mile long tuna net. Commercial fishing has taken on a whole new scale.
Our group of 22 Oysters have a daily 0900 and 1800 SSB net call led by Louis Goor on Irene IV. Louis is a funny Irishman who’s unique humor kept us all laughing ,entertained and informed on the long passage . Those calls were a chance to connect and were eagerly anticipated by all.
The Marquesean peoples are very friendly and welcoming .
These islands were completely shut off from tourism during COVID and I am told did not experience many cases of COVID. The islands are still off limits for most private yachts coming in from outside French Polynesia . We had to individually apply for an exemption for each of the Oyster yachts.
WiFi is very slow on the islands so I will post this and fill in the details of our time in French Polynesia when we arrive in Tahiti later this month. From Nuku Hiva we will explore a few more of the Marquesas before heading to the Tuamotus and then Tahiti.
Stay well and thanks for following our adventure…