Monday, July 25, 2011

How Can You Miss Us If We Never Leave?

We've got this whole Pacific crossing planned out. Having gotten such a late start on the season, and being in the mindset that this is half a delivery and half a cruise, we are standing firm against the temptation to dally. The major island groups that we will visit have all been allotted a planned amount of time so that we'll reach Oz on schedule.

Before making landfall in Fatu Hiva, we set aside two weeks for the Marquesas.

On the afternoon of our forty-third day in those islands we came preciously close to leaving. But just as our momentum for pulling the anchor was building, Yolene and a friend came out for an unannounced visit in a borrowed rowboat. At the end of the (delightful) visit it was too late in the day for us to leave. Hearing that we would delay our departure until the next morning, Yolene set up a night-time rendezvous on the wharf, where she absolutely buried Alisa in fruit - pamplemousse, mango, papaya, avocado (!), korosole. This was the third large gift of fruit that we were given in Taiohae. If Marquesans really like you, they give you lots and lots of fruit.

The next day, with stalks of bananas tied all over deck and Galactic deep on her lines with the weight of our quickly-ripening fruit, we finally picked the hook and made a couple passes by the wharf to wave goodbye to Yolene. We were leaving Taiohae! But the weather was crap. For days we had been blowing from side to side at anchor, and the only reason we even went out to see what it might be like was that so many other sailors had already told us it was too poor for travelling that we had to form our own opinion. At the mouth of Taiohae Bay we found howling winds and spray blowing off the tops of waves. So instead of the 540 mile passage to the Tuamotus we chose the six mile passage to Daniel's Bay and settled into a couple more days on the island of Nuku Hiva.

In Daniel's Bay we found that another beachside house that we knew from three years ago had been swept away by the Chilean tsunami.

After two days there, and a great hike with Elias through a valley as beautiful as any other in the world (impossibly steep lava cliffs above, bucolic village with groves of fruit trees and ornamental plants lining the road below, fairy terns over everything), and wonderful interactions with both the local giant freshwater eels and also Augustin, one of the ten-odd people living in the village of Hakaui, who gave a convincing impression of remembering us from three years before, the weather improved. Finally, on our forty-sixth day, we left the Marquesas.

Our course took us to the south, which meant that we were sailing into the trades and heeled over, which meant that Eric couldn't be left to wander around the cabin but had to be closely attended throughout his waking hours, which meant that Elias got the short end of the parental attention stick and threw those kinds of tantrums that I swore were passe at the age of four. Alisa and I found ourselves struggling through the days. But on the bright side we were making an easy eight or eight and a half knots and I got the strong impression that Galactic would be the boat to take us anywhere on the oceans where we might reasonably want to go. And the passage was generous with time to reflect on the place that we had just visited, and (at least when the kids were asleep) we revelled in the blue blue Pacific, and the endless stars overhead at night, and the magic of sunrise behind tradewind clouds, and the size and emptiness of it all. We felt the ineffable peace of the sea.

On our fourth day out we sailed into the Tuamotu Archipelago, a universe of low coral atolls. We transited the pass into our chosen lagoon at completely the wrong stage of the tide, but found it quite manageable nonetheless. And then with me up in the spreaders looking out for coral we picked the way to our first anchorage here.

And now we have a little rebirth, as we start everything anew in this completely different place.

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