Friday, April 11, 2014

At anchor, Hanavave, Fatu Hiva

I'm in Hanavave Bay, also known as Baie de Vierges or Bay of Virgins, on Fatu Hiva. I arrived yesterday after an overnight sail from Taiohae Bay, 125 miles away. The upwind sail was beautiful in parts, hard work in parts and straight out ugly for the last five hours. Most of the sailing was in 12 to 16 knots from the east. As I sailed 8 miles behind Hiva Oa and Tahuata the wind weakened until I sailed out of their wind shadows. As I approached Fatu Hiva, from about 35 miles away the wind started weakening and veering to the south. This left me making little progress on my port tack. When I tacked I was bashing NNE across the east swell as the light wind and steep waves didn't allow me to make a very good angle east. What would be a nice upwind sail in calm waters was difficult sailing in the waves and swell. I tacked back and forth for a while, and finally at 11am, 25 miles away, I turned the engine on so that I could arrive before dark. I started motoring in 8 knots of wind and over the next 5 hours the winds varied from 8 to 20 knots, from the east. The swell was wrapping around Fatu Hiva from both sides merging where I was. I had foolishly sailed into the washing machine area, downwind of many islands. Anyway, after much bashing, Luckness and I arrived in Hahavave. Its a gorgeous bay, pictures will follow. I'm so glad I decided to make the effort to get here, in spite of having to sail against the trades.

There were eight boats in the bay when I first arrived. I found a good spot in 75 feet of water, put a bunch of chain out and ended up in a pretty good spot. This anchorage lives up to all the praise I have heard about it, however at the same time, its fairly small and deep, so anchoring can be tricky. You wouldn't want to arrive here and anchor at night.

Fatu Hiva is the anchorage you would want to arrive in as you were finishing a passage. Its positioned in the SE corner of the Marquesas so all the other islands are downwind from here. However, there is no Gendarme here, so you aren't supposed to arrive here as your first stop. You are supposed to arrive at one of the two approved towns, check in, and after that you are free to move around as you please. Those are the rules anyway. At the moment, seven of the twelve boats are flying their yellow quarantine flags, showing that they have made this their first stop. I have mixed feeling about their being here.

I spent the day doing a few boat chores. I've rid my hull of the gooseneck barnacles. They didn't grow on my bottom paint at all, the paint worked well. However the barnacles did attach on my hull above the paint, at the stern. I've also started to look at a problem with my water maker, the gear oil from the motor is leaking and the motor housing is getting quite hot. I have replacement gear oil but there are no directions in my manual for what to do with it. I'll need internet or a phone call to solve this one. The carb on my outboard also needs to be rebuilt, as its leaking fuel. One of the jokes you hear about cruising is that its "boat maintenance in paradise." There is some truth to that saying.

I'll head to shore tomorrow. At the moment, I'm planning for my next stop to be Hane Moe Noa Bay on Tahuata.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

From Nuka Hiva

I've been in Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva for a week now, and am finally feeling normal again. It took a few days to recover from the passage.  My first nights sleep was a solid 12 hours, after which I woke and felt pretty good. I felt progressively better each day for about three days in a row - it seems to take me a little while to recover from a passage.

Some stats from the passage:

The water temperature rose from 68.9 in Mexico when I left, to 85.1 where I am now.

I burned something like two gallons of diesel getting here. I ran the engine for just over two hours after leaving the marina, and then for just over an hour coming into the anchorage and anchoring. Sweet!

Its rained several of the days that I've been here, which is good and bad. The boat is clean again! There has been enough rain, and hard enough rain, to have cleaned all the decks and canvas.  However when it rains I need to close the boat up, and that can make it pretty hot and humid inside… I need to work on rain covers for Luckness so I can leave several of the hatches open when its raining.

Tuesday morning, the morning after my arrival, I spoke with Kevin from Yacht Services, the Pacific Puddle Jump sub-agent here in the bay, and arranged a time to meet him on shore to start my checkin procedure. I arranged to meet him at 1pm, giving myself a leisurely morning to get ready. I put the dinghy in the water, cleaned up a little, ate and went to shore. Checkin is a breeze. I met with Kevin for 1/2 an hour or so and filled in the paperwork. The Gendarme was closed by then for checkins and Kevin offered to go the next morning to finish my checkin and have me pick it up later at his office. I decided to meet him at the Gendarme then next morning at 7:30am. That process took about 10 minutes. There were no questions, no boat inspection, no questioning the amount of alcohol I had onboard (its cheaper in Mexico) - completely painless.

I've had some time to find out where things are here now. There is a nice cafe on land right at the dinghy dock. They have free wifi which is fantastic. They also have fresh juice of various sorts, pastries while they last in the morning, coffee and some food. It seems to be the yachtie hangout.

When I first pulled into the anchorage there were over 50 boats at anchor. The world ARC boat rally was here and they had a party on shore on wednesday evening. After the party the fleet has been slowly dispersing and there are only 14 sailboats at anchor now, and a few of those are local boats which look like they don't move. This is a huge anchorage and even at the peak, finding a spot to anchor was not a problem at all. I'm really glad I arrived here, rather than Hiva Oa, as I've been able to have stress free nights at anchor - plenty of room around me.

The town has several stores with a variety of food. I haven't timed my arrival at one of the stores with their having eggs yet - I guess they are available sometimes, not always. Vegetables in the stores is in short supply, although there is a fruit/vegetable market here six days a week, with Wednesday and Saturday being larger markets - the market has a good selection of fruit/veg. The prices, outside of the market, are on the high side. Items which have traveled a long way to get here are expensive, which is not surprising. You can buy baguette's for less than a dollar each, and they are fantastic. I haven't seen brown rice here, but provisioning won't be a problem. There is a nice selection and some items I don't recognize and will be trying. One thing I couldn't find in Mexico was sweet chili sauce such as Mae Ploy. Both of the stores here have an equivalent, along with black bean sauce, and so on. Its not a huge selection, but its good.

I will probably leave here on Tuesday or Wednesday to continue my adventure. I plan to spend roughly a month here in the Marquesas, a month in the Tuamotus and then a month in the Society Islands. My visa is only good for 90 days, so I have to travel through these beautiful islands faster than I would have liked.

A few pictures:
Out there, one morning.

Ua Huka.  The first island I saw from the Marquesas
Nuka Hiva!
So happy to see land again!

Part of my welcoming party!

Luckness in Taiohae Bay
s/v Discovery arriving!
The crew of Discovery!
Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva

Monday, March 31, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva: Done!

Date: Mar 31, 2014
08° 54.909' S 140° 06.097' W
Previous 24 hour run: 143nm (strangely, same as March 29th!)
Water Temp: 85.1
Log: 13032
Distance to go: 0!

The previous day's run (March 30th), over 24 hours, was 109nm.

The passage length was 20 days and 8 hours. I anchored in Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva at 4:10pm.

I'll keep this short, as I am starting to crash. Its funny - while underway I always feel alert and not tired. If I feel tired on passage, I just have a nap or two. I arrived at the anchorage feeling fine, not tired at all. After anchoring I started to work on a few chores to get Luckness into shape for being at anchor. Putting sail covers on, etc. As I went through these tasks I just got more and more tired. There is something about being underway that charges me up. Once the boat stops, I start to feel how I should feel after being on a passage for 20 days, sleeping in 20 minute intervals.

This bay is absolutely beautiful. The hills start almost at the waterfront, and are steep, lush and intensely green. There is a sweet fragrance in the air. This place reminds me a little of Hanalei Bay, on Kauai, Hawaii. Only more so. More intense, more green, more lush. I'll try to post again in a couple of days when I've had a chance to sleep, figure out the wifi situation on shore, and started to explore a little.

All is well! Luckness is in fine shape, I don't think anything broke on the passage and my list for further improvements is very short.

More later.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 19

Date: Mar 29, 2014
06° 09' S 136° 55' W
Previous 24 hour run: 143nm
Water Temp: 84.2
Wind: E 8. Boat: 3.5 @ 200T
Log: 12847 (*)
Distance to go: 255nm

I've been out for over eighteen days. The previous day's run (March 28th), over 24 hours, was 132nm.

One more milestone I passed recently, is that I can now turn on my engine and motor my way to anchor. My motoring range is something like 400nm. I have no intention of doing this, but its nice to know its an option.

The wind I've been enjoying has started to fade away. Since 8am the winds have diminished from 13 knots to 8. At 13 knots, the boat moves well, with the sails full. At 8, on the broad reach that I am now on, the boat moves at around 2.7 knots with the sails flapping back and forth as waves move under the boat. Luckily I have a current working with me, so my speed over ground is 3.5 to 4 knots. Unfortunately, its not the 6 to 8 knots it was yesterday.

As the winds died, the sails started to flap in the wind more and more. Once I realized this wasn't a short term phenomena, I put the second reef in the main in order to keep it from slatting so badly. This slows me down a little more, but reduces the chafe on the sails and stress on the rig. I'm now running with a full genoa and a double reefed main, on a broad reach, making slow progress toward my destination.

Luckily I haven't yet been becalmed on this passage. My wind vane self steering continues to steer the boat reliably.

With the boat slowing down, I now expect to arrive sometime between late monday or tuesday. The light wind conditions I am in now are forecast to last for a few more days, perhaps improving on monday.

All is well aboard.

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