But thankfully after a couple of hours of hand steering, Jordan did some adjusting to the rudder angle indicator (sensor part of autopilot) and got it working. It finally kicked in and relieved us from sitting at the helm. As we passed Isla Isabela with Galápagos' last occidental village, we decided to take a chance that it would not quit during the passage and we were off!
But our passage to the Marquesas in the French Polynesia was not what we were expecting, or should I say, hoping for. At first there were little or no winds as the ITCZ (intertropical convergence zone) - that band of dead air that wraps the global oceans at or near the equator separating the north and south air masses - was over us. So after 1.5 days motoring to get some southing in search of the trade winds, we picked them up, set our sails and didn’t touch them for 4 days, running due west along the 4 degrees latitude south with the benefit of the westbound equatorial current. We thought we would have a great sail with the nice steady trade winds but instead we were at the vicissitude of the winds, waves, and rain cells making for inconsistent conditions. As the saying goes,
"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails."We did a whole lot of adjusting sails!
Other than the aforementioned, this crossing was typical in many respects. After multiple passages, we now easily fall into the lazy rhythm, passing the time with such things as reading, watching movies, writing, and daily deck checks which include cleaning it of flying fish and squid! We had no more engine problems.
First day out, Jordan caught a huge yellowfin tuna, after about a 2-hour fight. It was so big and heavy that he struggled to bring it on deck - a very rotund plump fish. We saved enough for about 10 meals, the rest we had to return to the sea and share it with the fishes as we had no way of safely preserving it for a long period of time.
Too heavy to lift!
We saw few boats - a couple of freighters - about 3 days out then nothing until Day 14 where we crossed close paths with a slow moving Japanese fishing ship that Jordan made contact with to make sure he saw us. They go to great distances for their pelagic harvest.
The start of our passage was under a sliver of waning moon. We had many dark nights with only start to light our way. But slowly, it made its appearance once again as we watched it wax to full. The Milky Way here was as vivid as white powder on a black canvas so much so that at first we thought it was clouds, but after repeated nocturnal observations, it was evident. In this pearly band, the Southern Cross (the southern hemisphere's equivalent to the North Star) was showing us the way.
Day 23 - June 23rd. Getting close to land. Had a couple of dolphins at our bow, 1 mom and 1 baby. How cute is that! Also several boobie birds and seagulls making an appearance. The moon was full and so bright.
Land Ho! We spotted the first Marquesan island, Ua Huka, off in the distance the next day at 16:15.
On Day 25, we entered Taiohae Bay (pronounced Ty-o-ha-eh) at Nuku Hiva island of the Marquesas at 09:00 (S08°54.927' W140°05.881') just as the moon was relinquishing light to the rising sun. Jordan counted 39 other boats in the anchorage. We set our clocks to Marquesas time of 06:30 (2.5 hours earlier than Galápagos time). New exploring to begin!
We have completed 4 major passages in the last 6 months: from Ecuador to Easter Island, Easter Island to Chile, Chile to Galápagos, and now Galápagos to Marquesas. This put us out to sea for a total of 83 days out of 199 days which is close to half. That's a lot of time to be out to sea in a short period of time for us!
F.Y.I. The French Polynesia consists of 5 archipelagos which means 5 groups of islands. We will be visiting 3 of these groups: our first is the Marquesas, next will be the Tuamotus, and finally the Society Islands.
We will NOT be visiting the 2 more southern groups called the Gambiers or the Australes (do not confuse with Australia!) The 5 archipelagos include 120 islands spread over 4.5 million square kms in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As we are only allowed to stay in this area for a total of 3 months, the number of islands we can visit is limited.