The GRIBs predict light and variable on the line headed north. Should be a slow trip. French bridge departure of St. Martin in the A.M. The wind is blowing well south of east and I could lay the east end of Anguilla, so this is the first time I took that route. Very pretty beach on the west of Scrub Island. After 3 days of good sailing, I’ve found the light winds. I took a look outside and a small whale surfaced a bit off the starboard quarter of my drifting boat. The beastie made a high speed run toward the boat and stopped 6 meters off to raise it’s head out of the sea and have a good look at me. Seemed quite curious of me. I dropped below for my phone and took a couple of pictures. Pancake days, easy to cook when the boat is this flat. Spending the hours building the next version of Nimble. Hell, have enough time to start painting the deck. More programming. More painting, deck and rail now. A lot of anvil head clouds out here, full of rain and lightning. Seeing water strikes, makes me nervous, spare GPS, handheld VHF, and computer in the oven. The nasty clouds seem to form only mornings and evenings. Some wind has arrived! After only 530 miles in the last 14 days. Maybe this wind is real. Making good time now. Can’t paint any more but still working on Nimble. 200 miles remain to Flores and of course the wind has to change. Light and on the nose. Going flat enough for pancakes. Wind back up but still on the nose. A day of tacking and I’ve arrived at midnight. One of my very few nighttime landings. Fiesta days here, and having a bit of fun.
I’ve had a good season in St. Martin. 40 more users of Nimble Navigator were added to the roles and I’ll go another crossing without starving. Time to head across before something serious blows through here. The Atlantic system this year is very confused. The Azores high has been everywhere except the Azores. Small low pressure systems fired off Cape Hatteras heading due east only to crash and burn on the high, leaving a wave of confused winds. But it looks good now and for a few days. So I’m off. Fortunately, almost everyone left before me, or I’d miss them.
Solo sailing means never having to say ‘I’m sorry’. Or maybe it just means ‘I am sorry’. But it also means that, after 26 days at sea, I can drink again. And after getting beat-up in a 30 knot east wind with a sea built from square boulders I was soon to be happy that the crossing from the Canaries was done. I entered into Simpson’s Lagoon at St. Martin’s Dutch side bridge and motored past the crowd at the yacht club, although the guy standing there seemed a little bored. It didn’t take long to find Ken and Gail from ‘Sangreal’ moored behind Dog Shit Island and after I hooked up near them, they gave me a proper greeting with coffee, rum, a few beers, and morning after pizza. I have wonderful friends. Called Uli and then I took a short nap. That afternoon, Ken, Gail, and I jumped into their new dingy headed for the latest addition to the pubs here, ‘Barnacles’. Because of the Super Bowl, they threw a 3 hour happy hour with beers at a buck a bottle. Need I say more? So here I am again. And most of my favorite crowd are still here, or have returned for another season. I’m planted till harvest in June, and am happy to be here.
I’m adding log entries starting back in 1997 when I left Mexico. Check out some of the entries. I’ll keep adding more every week until I reach modern times.
Building a program to forecast slack water in atoll pass. Based on BA formulas and location/time of moon. Strange to start programming again. Easy to slide back into sailing routine. Getting used to this. Damn tuna stealing my lures. GPS very cool, not so my atoll charts. Eyeball Mk. 1 when I get there. There goes another lure. Fish 3, Mike 0. Raroia in sight! Many breaks in atoll look like pass. Not so sure. Don’t like to go in so close to see. Found it! Slack water program not far wrong. Only 1 hour wait before overfalls go flat. I’m still a little nervous when I slowly approach the pass that I hope is really the pass. There’s no marks, no buoys, or anything I can see here but it seems right. The charts and the depth sounder agree at 65 feet, but the eyeballs say about 3 feet. The water is so clear that I can see every stone on the bottom and I’m afraid that I’ll hit one at any moment. Depth sounder, eyeballs, depth sounder, eyeballs, depth sounder, eyeballs, should have rolled more cigarettes before coming in. Depth sounder wins, I’m in! Charts show no detail in here. Navigation by water color. More depth, more blue, less depth, more white. Green/Brown for coral heads. Sun high in the sky makes this easy enough. Heading to the north of the lagoon. Anchored in another picture post card. Sand, coral, and fish in the 15 foot of water around me. Also 3 other boats. Bleached sand beach and palm trees. Kon Tiki the raft crashed on this atoll something like 50 years ago. No sign of them now.
3 days of good rest in Hiva Oa but big surge and crowded. Had to anchor fore and aft.Off to Tahuata tomorrow, good little party on the Prout tonight. Arrived Tahuata, I’ve got a whole bay to myself. Small village Vai Tahu here where the canyon opens on to a beach at the head of the bay. Strange mix of native huts, block houses, and Telcom antennas. For a week now, I’ve watched boats sailing from the bay north of here to the bay south, and I still have this place to myself! Start to Fatu Hiva, south east, in the morning. Sailing hard to weather. Squalls, rain, 40kt gusts. Major suckage. Anchored Omoa on Fatu Hiva. No one here. Now I know why. No good place to land the dingy. Only a concrete pad the swell surges up on. Ride the surge, slam on the crash pad, jump and grab before you’re back out again. What fun… Good thing I have a hard dingy. Weighed anchor for Hana Vave, picture postcard place north of here. Hana Vave anchorage is full. Tried to drop 3 times but no room. Guess I’m on to the next island instead. Good to run again. Yellow fin! Yellow fin! Munch, munch. Spotted Ua Huka with the sun. Cruised Baie D’Hane but surge in here looks bad, off to Vaipaee. This place is serious Capt’n Cook time! 500 foot wide with 500 foot cliffs on both sides. The bay runs in for half a mile to a small white beach with a village leading the cut into a jungle green as green. I’m anchored on a see through mirror in 8 foot of crystal. Local Doc Santi, bee keeper Vincent, wood carver Teki, visiting French girl Flore. Big celebration for opening of new local church, dancing with Flore all night. 10 sweet days. On my way to Nuka Hiva. No wind, motoring. Landed Anaho, north side. Boats here. Hiking days ashore with sailing crowd. Janette’s beach birthday pig roast. Hike, hike hike, my legs work again. Off to the big smoke, Taiohae Bay. Yellow fin! Yellow fin! Fed three boats. Then with ‘Nerius’ drinks at a bar at $5.00 each! (ouch) Good sail to Hakaotu on Ua Pou. Yellow fin! Yellow fin! More Boats. Too much tuna so I rowed around giving gifts and found ‘Mouse Pad’, a boat I met back in San Diego some time ago. Followed west coast down through many nice bays. Anchored in Baie Uapo, alone again. No village, but a valley full of fruit. Fishermen say take what I want. Tuamotus tomorrow.
Got out of town on a boat
Goin’ to Southern islands.
Sailing a reach
Before a followin’ sea.
She was makin’ for the trades
On the outside,
And the downhill run
Off the wind on this heading
Lie the Marquesas.
I got 28 foot of waterline.
Nicely making way.
Slightly modified lyrics from the song ‘Southern Cross’ by Crosby Stills & Nash
This will be my first ocean crossing, and I’ve got butterflies in my belly. Still solo, and this should be 4 times longer than my longest run so far. I wonder about the stories I’ve heard about long distance solo voyages. Can I handle it? I’ve heard it can play games with your head. My plan is to run through the Islas Revillagigedo, 350 miles of the coast of Mexico. I’ll be able to check my navigation. And there are anchorages in case of some failure. So far, the plan is running fine. Lots of humpback whales out here. Dorado every day, I’ve never ate so much fish before. The birds are starting to interfere with my fishing, nuke’em all. My twin headsails are drawing nice. Poled out, they look more and more like a big kid’s kite. Comet Hale-Bopp very bright tonight, maybe end of the world? There’s Isla Socorro, looks dry, like Baja. So, I’ve made the Revillagigedos in 4 days and all’s well. Can’t stop now. The Ville de Toulouse Rock 11 North 116 West (existence of which is doubtful) is my next shot. Winds are driving me too much west. I keep getting sucked in towards that damn rock, that sucks! 10 days now, sleep isn’t what it should be. The second mark is past, missed it by 20 miles (existence of which is doubtful). No more land planned till the Marquises. I have to start heading almost due south. The plan is to cross the equator at 120 west. Voice weather reports on the radio say that the ITCZ breaks there. The twins have had to come down because the wind is so weird, a lot of shifts and it’s getting lighter. Had to change sails almost every hour today. I’m a shellback! Crossed at 0200 hour local, at 122 West, 17 days now. One brandy shot for me, and one for the sea. Back to bed, I’m a tired party animal. Third mark done. Almost 3 days if a slow drift south. God’s own light show tonight. 21 days now and I’ve found the trades, 04 South 126 West, last mark. The twins are back and I’m making over 130 miles a day, steady, steady, steady . Days without touching anything, no sail changes, not even adjustments to the wind vane. I went to a Dolphin Party! If my navigation is right, only 2 more days. Too far away to land before dark tonight, slowing down. Land Ho! Hiva Oa on the bow in the morning. 27 days, anchored, and still sane. Damn good landing. At the store, met some local guy who took me and a case of beer to watch his kid’s soccer game.