Marquesas – Day 19 – Baby Steps


28 April 2010 | Pacific Ocean

As predicted, the winds died down and kept turning. It was actually coming out of the northeast which is unheard of for this area. We adjusted course to catch more wind and we were still moving along pretty well, but not directly at Fatu Hiva. As far as distance covered to our destination, it was our worst day only covering 126 miles, but it’s much easier to take a light day when the end is so close. And we’ve officially entered French waters, so another baby step on this huge voyage. In the afternoon, the wind really started to die, so we decided to raise the spinnaker. We were able to raise it and get it filled, but we weren’t moving any faster than with our regular setup. It looks beautiful when you get the sail out and I got some great shots. We had it up for around an hour and decided to take it down before sunset. The spinnaker is a perfect sail for light downwind sailing. It’s huge and very lightweight, so it doesn’t take much wind to keep it up and pulling you along. However, it’s kind of a double edged sword because those two traits allow it to sometimes catch too much wind and make it a tough sail to manage. The sail is so big, that any substantial wind gusts can really pull the boat around. Unlike the other sails, it actually can generate the power to pull the boat right over in fairly light winds. On the way from Panama to the Galapagos, a friend of ours was flying the spinnaker at night and had a quick gust come up that nearly capsized their boat. For that reason, we have made a point to only fly it during the day and in light winds with the full crew on deck. So after 2700 miles of religiously using only the wind to propel us across the Pacific Ocean, we finally flipped on the diesel engine and pointed the boat straight at Fatu Hiva. It would have been cool to say we didn’t use the motor the entire trip and probably would have impressed some sailing traditionalists, but that would have meant spending another day or two out here waiting for the wind and we’re all ready to see some land really ready. We had planned on using the engine any way and we’ve just been extremely fortunate with the great wind we’ve had. Everyone else that we know of has motored, so we were more of the exception. The swell is pretty small (=good cooking weather), so Alex cooked up a big pot of chili and Diego made desert. This was one of our hottest days at sea and I wouldn’t have thought a hot bowl of chili could taste so good when it’s so hot, but our last supper on the open ocean was great. With the engine on and the current behind us, we should see land prior to the sunset tomorrow. And if not before the sunset, it’s a full moon, so we’ll just see it in the moonlight.

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