The Galapagos to the Marquesas Islands
Santa Cruz, Galápagos
Nuku Hiva, Marquesas
Up early today (06:00) as we had a lot to do before leaving. A taxi to the shore just before 07:00 followed by a walk to the market for meat, fruit and vegetables. Most items were found but we had to make do with a few alternatives. Nearly $200US spent making a total around $450. That works out to be around $5 per person over a 20 day period, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner. A quick visit to a general ‘iron mongers’ to buy some oil for the sail drive and then it was back to the boat. The gentleman that had damaged my yacht has offered to pay for the work to be done. Not only this, but he lent me his oil extraction pump so that I could change my oil and brought over his own oil for me to use. On top of these kind gestures he had bought me a fine bottle of Rioja as a way of saying sorry. There are not many people like him in the world today! The water generator has been attached to the bathing platform ladder and is ready to use….. once we no longer need to use the engine! Oil has been changed in the sail drive. The inspection has taken place so we are now free to go. We left Santa Cruz at 12:15. Within an hour Cedric had caught his second dorado. Once on board he set about filleting the fish and portioning it. The deck was washed down to clear all the blood and mess up, but we now have a system that makes cleaning a lot easier and quicker than the first fish caught. Supper this evening, fried fish with new potatoes and green beans. The fish was delicious, the beans…. not quite. During my watch I had to get in contact with a research vessel, Atlantis, as it was looming very large and crossing ahead of the bow. They had been monitoring my position and came back telling me that the closest point of approach would be 1nm, clearly safe in their eyes, and I suppose it was.
Today the World Arc boats leave at midday. We are 24hrs ahead of them but it won’t be long before they catch up with us. Most of the yachts are 50+ feet and will be much faster than us. It will be interesting to see if they take the same course as us or go more directly. There is still hardly any wind and the sea is virtually flat. The fishing line has been out most of the day but nothing has come near my lure. It was taken in just before dusk, and no more than five minutes later fish were leaping out of the water! Wind has picked up, slightly, sufficient to enable us to get out the sails. However, not enough to switch off the engine but the additional speed must be due to the current. Before midnight I was called to go up on deck. The wind had become virtually nonexistent and the sails needed to be dropped. Once dropped it was back to bed.
There hasn’t been sight of land for the last couple of days and we don’t expect to see land for the next 18 days at least. No ships either, by way of navigation lights or on the AIS. We are expecting to see some of the Arc fleet approach and pass us, if the take the same route, or else they’ll appear on the AIS. Fishing lines out at 06:00 but nothing caught yet!!! The starboard engine which has been running has been topped up with diesel. We estimate that we are using around 1.3l/hr. The water maker has also been working to top up the tanks, allowing everyone to have a shower! Having read two Clive Cussler books since leaving Panama I am nearly through ‘Over the edge of the World, Magellan’s terrifying circumnavigation of the globe’. Well, one has to, hasn’t one? It’s also surprising how long an IPhone battery lasts when you aren’t using it for connection to the internet. I haven’t charged my phone since leaving the Galapagos! Well, some monster of a fish has just swam off with all of my line and lure. I had changed lures earlier this morning as ‘Olive’ my green and orange one was not as alluring as she should have been. Now I’ve had to revert back to her as ‘Purple Haze’ is no longer available! At dusk, when we were retrieving both lines, Cedric had lost his lure. We are down to just two left, so we cannot afford to lose any more!
We wanted wind, and we have got wind. Thankfully not excessive. Generally between 12 - 16 kts but occasionally gusting up above 20kts. The waves are diagonally against us making for a bumpy sail. During the early hours we had rain and an electrical storm in the distance. Speed has been good. Although a reef in both the main and genoa sails we are still averaging around 6 - 7kts per hour. As the day progressed so did the wind and rain! Each day we are covering more miles than the previous day, but there will come a point when we have hit our zenith. Tonight we have put two reefs in the main sail and reefed the genoa. This should make for a more comfortable night. Will we see any of the Arc boats tonight. Nothing showing up on AIS, and no navigation lights evident.
My watch last night was absolutely horrible. The rain had returned but this time much heavier. Initially I just had a jacket on but it wasn’t long before I sought out a pair of trousers. At the end of my watch I was looking like a drowned rat. This morning the sun is shining and let’s hope it stays this way. The water generator that I had bought to charge up the batteries during the night when we lose the solar power isn’t working. Not sure why! Where’s Wally when you need him? There seems to be power at the connections at the stem of the boat and at the choc block where the wires enter the charge regulator. The fuses appear to be good, so I’m lost as to why it isn’t working. I’ve even tried connecting it directly to the battery but it still doesn’t work. On top of this, my Xantrex battery monitor started to play up. Are the two connected or just a coincidence? At the end of the day, just before it started to get dark, there was another shout ‘fish’. On the line John had put out at 06:00 there was a fish. The line was carefully retrieved only to lose it when it was by the stern of the boat. A lost meal, and I’m afraid that’s all it would have been, it was not up to our usual size. Still, a meal is a meal, and the fish are delicious!
We have covered over six hundred miles, one fifth of the passage. However, when I came on watch at 04:00, I was greeted by little wind and a slower pace. Not what I was expecting! Let’s hope that the wind blows soon and we get back to a decent covering of miles per watch! Finished reading about Magellan and him being the first to circumnavigate the world. In fact he wasn’t, he never completed the passage as he was murdered by tribal Mactanese warriors after he had burned down their villages for refusing to convert to Christianity. It is considered that maybe his slave, Enrique, could possibly be the first to circumnavigate the world as he was sold as a slave probably from the Filipino people. When Magellans boat, the Trinidad, anchored and they met with the locals, Enrique was able to communicate with them in a ‘Malay’ tongue. Maybe not the same ship to complete the circumnavigation, but then if it’s on the same vessel, then it would be those that sailed in to Seville aboard the Victoria, and not Magellan!
Looked at the water generator again. Reading through the manual there are a couple of things that I could check to see if there is power getting out to the batteries. There is also a potential issue with multiple charging systems. If one system fails to recognise that the batteries are in need of charging they might not allow a second device to provide that charge. This, I feel, is where the problem lies. To eliminate this I have run the wires directly from the water generator to the batteries, bypassing the charge regulator and the dump resistors. The manual says that this is possible BUT I need to constantly monitor the battery bank to avoid overcharging. This appears to be the solution because not long after making this wiring change the battery monitor started to change, from 12.1v to 12.7v. I need to make sure that I don’t forget to remove the fuse when I consider that the batteries are full. In the meantime I have run the engine to make some water to top up the tanks. Shower time anyone?
The trade winds that we were expecting to reach by now have not really developed. We’re are in a band of variable winds between 11 - 14kts, gusting occasionally to 16kts, and not blowing in the same direction. This is causing the boat to either gain or lose speed depending on how the wind blows. Over the last three days we have had company of some of the Arc boats. Generally seen on AIS but not by eye. Three days ago it was Szel, a 20m monohull, two days ago it was Che Figarta, a 17m monohull and yesterday it was Into the Mystic, a 16m catamaran. I had contacted this yacht en route to the Galapagos as I was getting concerned that I might run out of fuel. We had been motoring most of the way from Panama. Well yesterday they called us over the VHF radio to say hi and to see how we were doing. Very nice, and no doubt we will have a beer with them when we get to the Marquesas. Yesterday we passed through another time zone. As the earth turns each day (24hrs) it rotates through 360*. So 360 divided by 24 equal 15*. Every 15* you travel in an easterly or westerly direction you either gain (East) or lose (West) an hour. However, as the starting point is the Greenwich Meridian, the first hour gained or lost is 7.5* either side of this imaginary line. We are currently at 100* 59.41’W. Six x’s 15 = 90 + 7.5 = 97.5, meaning we are 7hrs behind GMT (UT) or 8 hours behind BST. The next time zone will be at 112.5* W, so we will lose another hour just before our arrival in the Marquesas. During the course of the day we have had sightings of ‘Into the Mystic’, ‘Walkabout’, and now Solis has appeared on AIS. The wind has picked up so now moving slightly faster. Another problem! The wire rope that I had attached the block to at the midship cleat to run the Genoa sheet through has broken. Replaced with a bit of rope but will change in the morning to a shackle.
Change of watch, change of weather. Just as I got settled at the helm at 04:00 the rain decided to come. Not for a sustained period but enough for me to put on my wet weather clothes to prevent a complete soaking. The wind has also changed direction, more from the stern, so we are having to go further south in order to stop the sails from flogging. Rain continues when John came on watch a couple of hours later but by the time Karen was due to take over the sun decided to make an appearance. Very welcome. However, with all the squalls came confused seas, making holding a straight course and keeping wind in the sails a bit more challenging. It did bring higher wind speeds and as a consequence, higher mileage. The temporary fix on the water generator seems to be having the desired effect but constant monitoring of the batteries is vital. Walkabout has disappeared off the AIS screen but we still have Into the Mystic and Solis for company, even if they are ahead of us. Despite giving the water maker a clean yesterday there is still a smell of ‘bad eggs’ when the initial water is feed through the system. We will give the pipes a thorough clean in a couple of days time when we next use it. Just as we were bringing in the fishing lines at the end of the day we had snared another dorado, a good size one too. Only for it to make an escape before we could get it to the back of the boat. Three fish lost, two lures lost and only a return of three fish caught. We must try harder!
Another day, and the start of it has seen a drop in the wind speed. What’s happened to these constant trades that we should be seeing? Wind speed fluctuating between 10 - 12kts so our boat speed is down as well. Cedric covered 10nm on his watch and we need to see an average of at least 12.5nm if we are to arrive in the Marquesas by the 20th day! Have picked up a flying fish off the trampoline which I will use as bait on the second fishing line. Today I shall attempt to make bread in my Mr D’s cooking pot. I have a recipe but nothing to measure out the ingredients with and I have never used this method before. It will be interesting to see how it turns out! Mr D’s bread has been a disaster. It was difficult to get exact measurements without scales but it doubled in size, at least, when proved. It was then left to ‘cook’ for a further four hours in the pot. I was expecting to see a nicely cooked loaf of bread. It turned out to be undercooked, doughy and not very appealing. I’ve placed it in the oven to see if I can salvage it! No fish caught today and a badly chafed genoa sheet that needs replacing. Not a very good day. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
04:00. The winds have been blowing all night long, between 15 - 17kts and gusting to over 20kts. We have managed to clock up a few more miles than usual and have also been able to get closer to our rhumb line. No sooner spoken and the next two watches have increased the gap between heading and rhumb line. When we get to the next waypoint in 36 miles I’ll then set a course to go directly to Nuku Hiva. Another book I’ve started to read, Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut. Having visited a couple of the islands it will be interesting to see what he writes about them, although he bases the story between 1986 and a million years on!
04:00. At the start of my watch I could see that we were getting further away from the rhumb line. In the last eight hours we have dropped 15nm. We have only got another sixty miles left on the southbound aspect but a further 1725nm in a westerly direction. On current course, by the time we get to the Marquesas we would be at least 200nm lower than we need to be. I have therefore set up the sails in a ‘goose wing’ fashion, the mainsail on the leeward side and the genoa (headsail) on the windward side. With the wind directly behind this will allow me to take advantage of the wind from the southeast and I will be able to sail on a northwesterly path, meaning I can get back to the rhumb line, and back on course. Well, we have tried to gybe to sail up to the rhumb line but this is putting us further north than west, not ideal. Then goose winged, with the engine on. Better line of attack but we cannot keep the engine on for long. Now we have goose winged with engine off. We have gone north of the rhumb line, which is good, and we are going more west than north, even better. We still have over 1680 nm to go, which is another 14 days if we can only cover 120nm per day. NEED MORE WIND AND SPEED!!! Have made another loaf of bread today using the traditional method. It didn’t rise as much as it should so it will be interesting to see what it turns out like. Hopefully better than the first one! Another yacht passed by this afternoon, Mo Pea. Not in the Arc but heading to the Marquesas as well. 20:00. Having tried everything we are resigned to just going slow until the wind develops. Hoping to see a meteor shower this evening / early morning. The Lyrids reach their peak on the 21st / 22nd April with a burst of (usually) 10 meteors per hour. More visible in the northern hemisphere but as we are just south of the equator they ought to be seen. The night is cloudless so is perfect weather for them.
04:00. Another disappointing night’s sailing. The wind is now blowing directly astern so we are sailing goose winged (still!). However, with little wind the boat is being turned from side to side which collapses either or both sails. Not good for distance making nor for the fabric of the sails. During the course of the previous watch we decided to gybe to see whether that would hold the sails well, and to a certain extent it has. But it means we are going further north than required. Later this morning when it gets light I shall get the parasail ready to hoist. This is the perfect downwind sail but it does need some more wind to hold it flying comfortably. With the lack of miles being clocked up daily what I thought was going to be a 20 - 22 day passage now looks more likely to be 25 days. I hope the food lasts! By this evening we were just bumbling along, the wind speed had dropped to single digits and the miles covered per watch also into single digits. However, I was reminded by Cedric, when he crossed the Pacific in his own yacht, that on one occasion they had covered 15nm in five hours. Thankfully we are not that slow… but pretty close to it!
Imagination is as good as many voyages - and how much cheaper!
George William Curtis (1824 - 1892) [taken from Galápagos, a book that I have just finished reading].
I’m not sure I fully agree with this quote but it’s certainly a damn sight less expensive. My running costs are increasing with each day that passes with the more damage caused to the boat and contents.
04:00. We still have light winds but at least they are coming from a south easterly direction, which puts us on a broad reach, ie, the sails are no longer flogging. The engine (starboard) is on and has been for the last 10 hours, allowing us to cover 10nm per two hour watch. Without it we would be down to 8nm or less! Engine off at 07:30, has been on for 14 hours. The wind has started to blow, not significantly, but just enough to get the engine off. Last night I made the decision, from two options, to head directly for the Marquesas, following the rhumb line. The other option was to head COG for 280 degrees. If we were to do this then we would have to gybe, and then the COG would be close, if not, above 300 degrees. I feel like Captain Von Klein from the book ‘Galápagos’, heading aimlessly between north and south but never getting where he (we) needed to get to! Yet another course change. Four models suggest that we go north, not an option. One model, PWE, suggests a more southerly route, so we are going for this one. We shall see if it is a good option, but I think that my crew are getting a bit concerned about the number of changes. Wind has steadied out at between 10 - 14kts. We’re not getting anywhere close to a daily rate of 150nm, but each mile covered is one less to do. Still have concerns about the batteries. During the day they charge up, either due in part to the solar panel, the wind generator or the water generator, some of these or all of these. The battery monitor, main panel gets up to 13.5 - 13.8v. However, before the evening arrives this is down to 12.1 - 12.3v. I cannot see how it drops so much in such a short period of time. I think I might have to run the engine later, for an hour, just to see us through the night.
04:00. The senses play all sorts of tricks on the mind. I was woken up by Cedric’s alarm clock going off at 01:50, but also what appeared to be extremely strong winds whistling through the rigging. The boat felt as though it was screaming along at a fast rate of knots. Concerned that we had not put a reef in the previous evening and that she was being overpowered I got up to see what was happening at the helm. Karen was on watch and she said that everything was fine. Boat speed was between 5 and 6 knots and wind speed hadn’t gone above 15 knots., but had changed from a broad reach to a beam reach. That was a relief, so back to bed I went, only to be woken up by Cedric at 03:40. A ship had come up on AIS, giving no details of it, which he thought was a long line fishing vessel that was going to pass by across our bow. He had tried calling them but had no response. I got on the VHF and called them. This time they answered and said they were going to pass us on our starboard side, ie, going astern of us. Checking them again on AIS, there was still no name, other than HBY 4908, but now it was showing as a sailing vessel, 12m long. When Cedric had started to call them he couldn’t see any navigation lights, now they were lit up like a Christmas tree! Come to think about it, our navigation lights are now on! The batteries are back charging again. The battery monitor is showing 12.5v so the extra speed through the water is giving the water generator a bit of a power boost. I’m not sure if the wind generator is adding to it as the wind strength has not increased significantly. Bread making again this morning, third time lucky! I had asked Helen to send me a basic recipe and I’ve adapted it to what I think I am able to measure out within a degree of accuracy. This time the yeast is being added to sugar and warm water. First batch is taking too long to ferment so I’ve made a second starter. This is bubbling up nicely so will add it to the flours in 20 minutes time. This should give me time to prove the mix twice and put it in the oven before I go on watch at 12:00. The bread is an improvement on the previous two loaves. It rose quite a bit to the extent that the shelf I put it on in the oven meant that the top made contact with the grill! It was eaten by all at lunchtime with a variety of fillings. Mine was a salad made with apple, tuna chunks (from a tin!) and a red onion. I think it needs to be kneaded for a longer time when I make it next. As the evening draws in and the boat speed drops because the wind is dying down, so has the voltage on the battery monitor. Now down to 12.3v. Let’s hope that the wind picks up so the engine isn’t required and we keep clocking up the miles per watch.
Oh dear, no wind and the batteries are down to 12.1v. The engine has been running for an hour on an earlier watch and I have had to turn it on for the start of my watch. No sun (at this time of day) to generate power, no wind to run the wind generator and little speed to get the water generator to produce enough power to charge up the batteries. The power consumption is coming from a fridge, a freezer, the navigation instruments and an anchor light, rather than the navigation lights. I wouldn’t have thought that would drain the batteries but obviously they are! During the day the wind made a brief appearance, not a lot of it but sufficient to keep us going at around 5kts per hour. With the sun shining it has meant that the batteries are being charged but as the sun rotates from east to west the solar panel gets shaded by the main sail and drops its ability to continue to charge fully. It looks like the engine has to be run again during the night. Another loaf baked. This time the yeast fermented first time but I was running out of time before my watch at 12:00, so I reduced the proving time. On top of that I added minced garlic which made the dough too wet, so more flour was added before its second prove. Cooked for 35 minutes but yet to be tasted. In the evening I noticed that the outhaul sheet had chafed through and was no longer connected to the foot of the sail. Fortunately I had previously added a secondary piece of rope to the clew and had secured it to the end of the boom. Yet another sheet that will need replacing when I get to an island that has a chandler’s on it. The genoa sheet was badly chafed a couple of days ago when the sail wasn’t taken in properly and this will also need to be replaced.
The wind, what wind there was, has dropped even further. Cedric, on his 2 hour watch, covered only 4nm. That’s worse than when he crossed the Pacific in his own yacht, and covered 15nm in six hours! Decision time. Engine on for at least the next 12 hours and maybe even more, until we get the wind back. My brother, Frank, who has been working on the weather forecast, tells me that it should be with us around 04:00 tomorrow morning. The main sail has been dropped as it was just swinging from side to side and not giving any forward motion and I have let out most of the genoa, hoping that as this has a clear view of the wind coming from across the stern, it may give us some forward momentum. We shall see! Not really, our speed is down to 6 - 7nm per watch. Nowhere near enough for us to get to the Marquesas by 22 days. At best we are looking at 25 days, and that’s provided the winds pick up. More chafe has been seen at two further locations. The topping lift, at the point where the halyard attaches to the boom has been worn away quite significantly. The other place is on the 1st reefing line where it attaches to the boom. This one we can leave. However I need to sort out the topping lift as I can’t afford to let it snap, and then have to go up the mast to replace it. Not that I have a rope long enough to replace it! The easiest solution is to drop the sail and re-tie the halyard at a point further up the line where it isn’t damaged. So, engine on, sails taken in, boom centred and secured, boat facing into the wind, I then straddle the boom to re-tie the topping lift. That completed, we reverse the operations to get back on our sailing course. More problems, this time with the fridge and freezer. I went down to get some drink (non alcoholic) from the fridge only to find that they were not working. I had this problem when we were sailing to Bonaire from Trinidad so I thought I knew what the fault was, a loose connection at the back of the 12v socket. Emptying the contents from the cupboard in the cabin to see if the wires were still in situ, it appeared that they were. The only other thing I could think of that I had charged during the day was that I had switched off the anchor windlass. Turning this back on seemed to work, the fridge and freezer were back working, but not for long! I checked the two fuses in each unit and they were fine. Then the fuse where the new wiring had been connected to the source of power to the batteries. This too was good. A freezer was then brought up to the navigation table where there were two 12v sockets. Plugging them into either of them did not solve the problem. I then realised that there was another fuse in the plug that goes into the 12v socket, this being a thermal fuse. Next question, did we have any? None to be found in the electrical toolbox so I looked in the box containing all of the documentation relating to the boat. In the brochure on the fridge / freezer I found a packet stapled to it containing three fuses. First one replaced and the freezer began to come back to life so I then replaced the one in the fridge. This also started to work again. I now need to buy replacements just in case the problem arises again. What a day!
Another start to the day with wind less than 8kts! I’ve just taken in the genoa as it was just flapping back and forth, with the wind now coming 30 degrees from the port stern. The engine (starboard) has also been switched on as the voltage was down to 12.1v. Hoping for a better day today but will we get it! Woke up at 08:00 to the sound of a strange noise coming from the port engine, which had just been started to charge the batteries. Not sure what caused it, engine and transmission oil checked and they were fine, water was fine. The alternator belt was squealing, but only slightly, and this was a more grinding noise. Alternator belt tightened, and once everything else was checked, we started the engine again. Both the squeal from the belt and the ‘other’ noise were no longer there. Has the problem been solved, I hope so, but for the time being, the sun and wind are charging the batteries. All I know is that when I came on watch at 04:00 this morning I found that the port engine gear lever was not in neutral. Could this have caused any damage. Time will tell!
04:00. The port engine has just been run for an hour and there were no expensive sounds coming from it. That’s a mighty relief as we still have 1000nm still to go before our arrival in the Marquesas. Although we still have a second engine to fall back on it would mean having to transfer diesel from one tank to the other, if the port engine was not working, and I’m not sure how easy that would be. We have three yachts around us at present. Two are visible by eye but only two are appearing on our AIS monitor, Escapade of London. 10nm off on our starboard side and the other, just coming up on the AIS with their MMSI number. This one is 9.9nm away on my port side. The expected wind has still not arrived. My weather guru, (my brother Frank) has been sorting out my passage since leaving Aruba. According to all the models he has been using, and the weather buoys in the Pacific, he has been telling me, to the hour, when we should expect it. We have also been in contact with Escapade of London, one of the Arc boats, and they have said the same. It is due today. Well, today has only 4 1/2hrs left of it and we are still waiting! Quick News Flash. 21:07. That long awaited wind I think has just made an appearance. Earlier this evening we were struggling to find wind speed in excess of 10kts. Now we are seeing 11, 12 and even an odd 13kts making an entrance. We are still seeing single digit wind speeds but hopefully as the night progresses these should develop and become more consistent.
During the course of the night the wind did blow, not to the expected gusts to 16kts but to the low 20’s. Together with the wind came the squalls, not during my watch, although I did feel a few drops of rain fall, but in the watches that came after me. The squalls also brought with them a choppy sea, so the boat was bouncing from one side to the other. At 09:00 this morning these had moderated and the yacht is holding a better course.When I got into the cockpit I noticed that the helm had altered the course by 35 degrees lower than when I had left it. In terms of how far we need to travel in a southerly direction to that of a westerly direction, the amount is minuscule. We only have 25nm to go south but still a further 850nm west. We cannot afford to lose this 25nm as by the time we start to approach the Marquesas we will find it more difficult to reach our destination,whereas it will be much easier from a northern approach. I keep on telling the crew of the importance of this fact , but to some, it isn’t getting through! Bread making time again. This time I have left myself plenty of time to prepare everything and not be in a rush to get the bread in the oven before my watch. Last bread I made I added crushed garlic, this one I will add crushed chilli flakes! Having taken the loaf out of the oven it looks delicious. Will have to wait until the old bread has been used up before cutting a slice off. The afternoon has seen the wind pick up and then die down again, in the low teens and high single digits. Mileage has increased but not enough.
We wanted wind and we have got it. The trades appear to have started and we are now seeing a constant 12 - 14kts. However, in the early hours of the morning we have seen gusts up to 25kts with frequent squalls. All the crew have had a soaking when they (and I include myself) are on watch. Under 750nm to go and that should be in the 600’s before the end of the day. Winds have increased again and now around the 20kts mark, gusting up to just under 30kts. As soon as first light reaches we reef the main and continue with a ‘postage stamp’ genoa, just to give the boat stability. There is no need for us to try and get extra speed (although it would be nice considering the last 2 weeks of little wind). It is better to get there safely and minimise the risk of damage than try to cut the passage time by a few hours! More squalls throughout the day and my brother informs me that we will this weather for the next few days. Winds and huge seas are dying down and this makes for a more pleasant day. Speed is good and we are now covering over 140nm per day. Not as high as I would like but it’s better than the previous week. A success. The chilli bread was a hit. I will definitely be making this one soon.
The wind has steadied and is more consistent around the 15kt mark. In the last 24hrs we have covered the highest daily mileage, 157nm giving an average of around 6.5kts per hour. Good but if only we had this from the start we would be in the Marquesas by now. As it happens, we still have just under four days before we get there, but only if we maintain our current pace. Bread making again this morning. I seem to have found the right balance between ingredients and time. Both first and second proves have the bread rising to twice its original size, and the addition of chilli flakes makes a welcome change from the traditional method. Maybe I ought to try the garlic bread again, but this time knowing that time is of the essence. There was one experiment that I tried today, which will not be repeated. It was my turn to cook again tonight and we were going to have pasta with mince and a tomato and mushroom sauce. Using my trusty Mr D’s cooking pot, my one pot for everything, I thought it was possible to cook the mince first, add the sauce and then add the pasta. Leave to self cook in its insulated container and be ready for this evening. When I took the inner ‘cooking’ pot out of the insulated pot I could see that the experiment didn’t work, the contents had all amalgamated into one semi solid matter. I tried to loosen the mass up by adding water, which helped to a certain extent. I can only say that it tasted a bit like the glue we used to make as children from water and flour! At least I had success with the chilli bread again today. This evening the wind has dropped off, just making double digits. Speed is down so the high mileage covered in the previous day is not going to be matched. Still, a little under 500nm to go, around four days.
We are within touching distance of the Marquesas but the wind is being a little bit fickle with us. When it wants to it can drive us forward and the miles are dropping off quickly. But, as like now, the wind has decided to have a rest and not push the boat along quite as fast. This makes for a disappointing watch because when I started it the wind was around 19kts. Now it is in the low teens, and lower. I just hope, with all the Arc boats and the other independents, they leave some beer for us straggling at the rear of the passage. I’m told that there are currently 80 boats headed (or arrived) in the Marquesas. I said that the wind was fickle. Shortly after the end of my watch it began to increase, and then some more. With it came an enormous downpour. Winds gusting up to 34kts, and so strong the downpour that my cabin hatch window has started leaking. Another job to sort out in the Marquesas. Last night’s disaster of a supper has been rescued this evening. A couple of nights previous I had made a beef stew which had plenty left over. The congealed pasta dish was added to this, together with some cabbage to bulk it out and plenty of water and spices. Mixed together it turned out surprisingly good, to the extent that three of the four crew had seconds! In the afternoon I made some more bread, this time trying to improve on my first attempt at garlic bread. Proving went well but I was a bit disappointed that the loaf had reduced in size after it was baked. Let’s see what it tastes like tomorrow when I have it for breakfast.
Still having charging issues with the batteries. This morning when I got up to go on watch at 04:00 they were down to 12.1v. Despite running the engine for an hour the previous night (20:00 - 21:00) they do not seem to be holding their charge as I expected. We have switched off the freezer to conserve power, and really the only other units that are running are the navigation; chart plotter and gauges and the autopilot. Are these heavy consumers? Breakfast has been taken with the garlic bread made yesterday. It was satisfactory, a little bit heavier than expected but still palatable. However, not a favourite of mine and for future projects I will concentrate on the chilli bread. Now this one has been everyone’s favourite. Still worried about the battery bank and why it’s necessary to charge the batteries using the engine, I checked the fuse for the water generator. It had blown! Admittedly the gauge of wire that I used to circumvent the wire from the water generator by passing the charge regulator and dump valves is much smaller than they should be. When I took the fuse out yesterday it was very hot, so I’m assuming that the excess heat caused the fuse to blow. I have replaced the fuse but with one of a lower amperage. So it’s quite likely that this one will also blow. Once the fuse had been changed and the generator returned to the water it quickly began to charge the batteries. Is this the case now that everything has been fixed? I’m not too sure. Time will tell! Talking of time, we have around 36hrs before our arrival in the Marquesas.
Wind is holding up well and the miles are being crossed off. We have a little over 150nm to go and talk is has begun as to what to do and where to go once we get there. John and Karen have decided to stay a night on the island, so Cedric and I will have to entertain ourselves by a visit to the watering hole or two(!). I’ll be making some more chilli bread this morning, which should be the last bake before our arrival in Nuku Hiva where we will be able to get fresh baguettes. It is French Polynesia after all! Had to run the engine again as the battery monitor was showing 12.1v. It’s unlikely that I will be able to get someone to check out the electrical issue until we arrive in Papeete, Tahiti. Before sunset we should start to see land. First time after 23 days at sea. We didn’t see land before the sun went down, it was quite hazy where we expected land to be, even though we were within 36 miles of it.
Birthday greetings sent to Helen. Well they were sent yesterday afternoon as the UK is 9 hours ahead of where we are (in the middle of the Pacific Ocean). Land seen (by me) at 04:00 when I came on watch. It was a further seven hours before we entered the head of the bay and finally, after 23 days and 23 hours, dropped the anchor. But more problems with the boat. Approaching the bay the engine alarm went off, the battery wasn’t being charged. Fortunately I was only running the one engine so the starboard was switched off and the port engine turned on. Something to get my head around before we depart. Formalities to be completed but we need to get the outboard engine off the hanger and on to the tender. Next is a visit to immigration and customs and try to find an agent to get a fuel tax exempt certificate and to pay the bond of €114 to say we will leave the island rather than stay. The port police were excellent, extremely friendly and very helpful. A visit to the post office to buy a local SIM card and then back to the dock to drop off our washing. Provisions next. Prices are higher as everything needs to be shipped in and fresh produce was virtually nonexistent until the ship arrives on Tuesday. Lunch was had at one of the handful of restaurants, not particularly inspiring or good value. Back on the boat it looked like a Chinese laundry room as all the washing was not dried. An extra couple of days for drying and folding! Supper was light but the drinks were heavy. Plenty of red wine and then a start of the rum. Oh well, we hadn’t had a drink for 23 days!
A trip back to the supermarkets to provision before the Arc boats arrive. The freezer is now full and so is the fridge. That should keep us going for a week or so but we do need to get some vegetables. We have frozen veggies but it’s not as good. Back on the boat it was time to clean the sugar scoops. There had been a buildup of seaweed, barnacles and other detritus since leaving the Galapagos. It was not an easy task cleaning but it’s looking better than it was. To get it perfectly clean will require a pressure washing down. Back ashore Cedric and I went for a walk while John and Karen went to find their accommodation for the night. After wandering around for a couple of hours we called in at the second of the limited eateries in town and had a pizza. On returning to the dingy dock our tender was not where we had secured it. Someone or somehow it had been untied but fortunately it had drifted into the corner of the dock. I had to lower myself down to another dingy and the grab an oar from another dingy in order to retrieve mine. The oar was returned to the dingy and the my fears of what were we going to do if we couldn’t fine the tender finally abated. On the boat Cedric and I had a beer to discuss why / how the tender had become detached from the mooring!
To prevent any further problems with the tender I decided that it would be secured by chain and padlock in future. All I had to do was to find the padlocks and keys that initially came with the boat. I could only find one but I could utilise that one until I bought a second. I then noticed that the choke was broken and when I tried to start the engine it wouldn’t fire up. More engine problems. I managed to fix the choke and eventually the engine started. What a relief. At 09:00 we met John and Karen at the dingy dock as we had hired a car for the day and wanted to explore the island. A drive round the island, stopping at some amazing scenery to get some photos brought us back to the dingy dock some five hours later. Back on the boat it was time to find out why the starboard engine was not charging. The leads to the battery appeared to be securely attached, and it had a charge of 13.27v! Trying to start the engine from helm it just ‘clicked’ as though the starter motor was not working. The alternator belt was tightened, but only slightly, the port engine run for 30 minutes to try charging the starboard battery but without success. I think it’s going to take more than my knowledge to get this working again!
Nuku Hiva, Marquesas
Hiva Oa, Marquesas
Depart: Monday 08.05.23
Today I couldn’t sleep because of the problems with the starboard engine. After reading last night that there was a method for bypassing the MDI, the black box that regulates the starter, batteries and the preheat for the engine, I decided to watch some YouTube videos on how to do it. With a few views of the same video, to make sure that what I was about to do was correct, I made the first step to using this technique. The MDI was removed, and the two rubber cable covers pulled back to expose the cables that I needed to bridge. A short piece of heavy duty wire was attached to the terminals. Initially it started to click but then stopped. I tried it again but to no avail. Should the ignition be switched on? Nothing to lose so it was turned on. The wire then bridged the terminals and the engine started to turn before coming back to life. It was run for a few minutes before switching it off to see whether it would then start running again using the normal mode. It did! Has the problem been solved. No, I don’t think so but at least we now have a method of starting the engine if the problem recurs. Satisfied that we have full working engines we decided to up anchor and go to a new bay so that those who want to, can trek up to the waterfall. Me, I’m staying on the boat to make some more bread. We will need some for tomorrow as we are setting sail later this evening to head for Hiva Oa, the next island to visit in the Marquesas. Well the intrepid adventurers came back to the boat looking like drowned rats. The heavens had opened up and we had a tremendous deluge of rain. A hot cup of tea before we set off. I had measured the distance between the two islands to be 92nm, maybe 16 to 20 hours depending on the speed of the boat. At 15:15 we raised the anchor, after starting up the starboard engine using the‘bypass method’ and set off for Hiva Oa.
The estimated time for the passage didn’t factor in the following; light wind on the nose, swell opposing the direction of travel and adverse currents. At one point, and it may well be the case still, that we were looking at taking close to 40 hours for the crossing. Sails had been swopped over several times to try and find the best and fastest route and now, with both engines on, we have taken in the sails and heading directly for Hiva Oa. Let’s hope they have had a fuel delivery! Batteries are still playing up. We will not be able to get them checked up Tahiti, in about three weeks time. Finally, we arrived in Hiva Oa and dropped the anchor at 22:00, a passage time of 32 3/4 hrs, with an average speed of 3.28kts over a distance of 106.35nm. There was apparently no space inside the breakwater wall so we anchored outside where some five other boats were at anchor. It seemed that the anchor was dragging each time it was dropped so rather than all of us disappearing to bed an anchor watch was set up. Good night.
04:00, my turn to sit for a couple of hours to keep an eye on whether or not the boat was moving away from its anchored position. The anchor alarm on the chart plotter had been set and over the course of the last six hours had gone off a couple of times. Whether this was due to drag or the boat was swinging around its chain and had exceeded its boundary I couldn’t tell, but thankfully we are no closer to the other yachts or the shore! Daylight showed that we were roughly in the same position as we were when the anchor was dropped. However, still not keen for all of us to abandon the boat I suggested that John and Karen explore in the morning and Cedric and I would go in the afternoon. In the meantime we would clan the cockpit. After a light lunch we set off to walk to the town, virtually uphill all the way, and even further uphill to visit the cemetery of Paul Gauguin and Jacque Bril. Afterwards we went to the Paul Gauguin museum. Very interesting, but no original pieces of art were on display. Also that he and Van Gogh were friends when in Arles, France. A visit to the Mango Bar, the only bar this side of the island and an interesting chat with a couple who sailed from Panama, taking 45 days. The walk back was easier, mostly downhill, and the distance covered by walking that day was 9.4km. Light supper was followed by a few glasses of red wine and one one that was knocked over by by waves that needed cleaning with bleach in the morning. I slept in the cockpit to check the anchor alarm when it went off!