After leaving Vista Mar, we staged ourselves back at Cantadora in the Las Perlas Islands to await our weather window. We were advised by Bob McDavitt ( http://www.metbob.com ) who planned our departure date and routing, which was to the north of the Galapagos islands. We had decided to pass on the Galapagos because of the expense, bureaucratic nonsense, restrictions and tourist volumes (check out the cruise ships crowding out the AIS around the islands below).
Bob was excellent and kept contact with us via satellite comms the whole way, providing advice, weather warnings and routing changes to avoid or take advantage of weather.
In general, we had a good crossing. We did it in 33 days of 3 hours on and 3 hours off watches each. We had wind most of the way and only motored exclusively for one 8 hour period north west of the Galapagos when becalmed. Otherwise it was sailing with the occasional engine boost when our speed dropped too low. We got used to “Goose Wing” sailing downwind.
Our Hydrovane wind steering (dubbed Henry, for Henry the Navigator) proved an awesome asset and steered us reliably for many hours at a time without drawing energy from the batteries.
Sunrise and sunset were favourite times to be on watch.
We were escorted frequently by curious and energetic dolphin.
When conditions allowed, a salt water washdown shower was very pleasant.
We tried to aim to cross the equator on Liz’s birthday on the 3rd but missed it slightly, crossing at 23h00 on the 4th April. We did of course celebrate with champagne on Liz’s birthday and offer a libation to Neptune at the equator.
The yoghurt maker that Andrew brought with him to us in Cantadora Island proved a focus of luxury as we had museli, yoghurt and fruit every morning of the passage.
Our attempts to feed ourselves from fishing were less successful with only one decent catch. The fish contemptuously shredded our various lures or just ripped them off (we probably did not want to catch anything of the size of the latter).
We did not escape unscathed. Liz had a fall down the companionway in rough seas and hurt herself badly. She was bravely back on duty a couple of watches later, shaken but not stirred.
The bolt securing the autohelm linear drive toi the rudder tiller arm sheared off. Fortunately, we had obtained spares and having the Hydrovame wind steering meant we could repair the autohelm at sea in fairly short order.
We got caught by a dry squall during one of Liz’s night watches (could not pick it up on the radar). The auto steering could not cope and Liz was struggling. We got things back under control by fortunately achieving a heaved to position and getting our aggressive third reef in place (effectively a storm sail). After that, even though we had in excess of 40 knots of wind and rough conditions, Windward perormed beautifully.
Next day, when things calmed down, we made jury rig repairs to two broken sliders and a batt car.
The last 5-6 days were washing machine conditions and four welds parted on the stainless steel framework of the cockpit that carries the life raft and the dingy motor. We lashed it together with rope and hoped for the best (we subsequently have welded in reinforcing bars).
It was a great moment on the last morning as the mountains of Hiva Oa crept up over the horison and we sailed down the passage between it and Tahuata Island to join our friends Alex and Carla on Ari B who had passed us towards the end of the trip (one of only two vessel sightings that we had in 4000 nautical miles!). When passing, they saw us on AIS and made VHF radio contact and we briefly had binocular visuals.
Arrival at the small but beautiful anchorage after the passage was a very happy affair (after which we crashed for 12 hours solid).
We don’t mind admitting that we were in great trepidation about the Pacific Crossing. We are not that experienced sailors and are not spring chickens anymore. Anyone who tells you that they are not scared of an ocean passage, to a greater or lesser degree ,is (in my opinion) a liar or delusional.
Many thanks to all the sailing friends who kept in contact on SSB radio and via satellite comms and kept an eye on us. Thanks to Bob McDavitt for his excellent support. Thanks to Andrew for tracking our progress and status like a hawk and sending us frequent motivational chirps.
At the end of the day, it was an awesome experience. It is truly humbling to be out there in this vast ocean space that can only be experienced by being there on your own. It is nothing like the perception and sense of open space on land. The ocean is truly mighty and truly magnificent. We were really privilaged to have had this experience.