This is the sequel and complement to the previous post, with a pictorial update of our 3,111 mile voyage between La Cruz, MX and Taiohae Bay, French Polynesia. Hope you enjoy.
We made excellent progress during our first week at sea, catching the Trade Winds early on, and riding them at high speeds. With that, we were fast approaching the Intertropical Convergence Zone, an area where the Trade Winds of the North and the South converge, and all the humidity they wipe builds up and falls back in the form of Squalls.
As we entered Latitude 7N the sky changed abruptly, and as night fell, we knew we were entering squally territory:
The first Squall hit us in the night – of course – and already gave us quite a show, with wind gusts of up to 30 knots while we still had all of our sails up. As day broke, another Squall wrapped around us, and it felt like it was trying to “eat” us. We switched on the engine and motored away from it to safety:
Each Squall is a relatively small formation of clouds, but they discharge an incredible amount of rain, and are often preceded by strong wind gusts:
The rain is so compact in fact that they even show up clearly on the radar. On this picture, the Squall that tried to “eat” us early that morning:
Whereas this one gave us a “pinch”:
And things were about to aggravate. Nearly two days into the Squall zone, as we approached latitude 4N, we discovered a large area of Calm had settled South of us and were forced to turn back to latitude 7N and keep going West until the calm receded. That would add 350 miles and nearly 3 days to our voyage – all of it inside the Squall zone. This was the absolute low point of the trip:
Those were wet days …
… the torrential rain constantly washing our deck over …
… and the gusty winds requiring constant adjustment to the sails:
With all this activity day and night, we were soon very tired (and constantly wet):
And then, an unexpected and incredibly welcome surprise. On April 9th – Paulo’s birthday – day broke and it stopped raining. There was even some sun out. Nature’s birthday present to him:
Everything came up on deck to dry up under the little sun there was:
Mood improved onboard at an exponential rate:
Paulo worked with Adriana in preparing pao de queijo – the treat he chose for his day:
In addition to the dry day, he got a box of legos, and started playing right away:
Raquel also took advantage of it:
Afternoon came, and we were all on deck soaking in the sun:
Adriana even evoked a limoncello to celebrate:
And Paulo got a b-day cake in the form of a bunny (note to self and all – trying to light candles outside is a huge challenge, as we were about to discover):
Nature brought yet another present:
Followed by this beautiful sunset:
Before the end of twilight, though, Mother Nature made clear the celebrations were over, as this ominous thing approached us from the North:
We were lucky, tough, as we only got rain (our friends from sv Enough were clobbered by a 50-knot gust coming from that same system that night). Our case was the opposite. That thing sucked all wind from us and we stood still all night and the subsequent morning, floating hopeless some 200 miles away from the Equator. We were wet, sleep-deprived, and there was now an area of good winds blowing not too far from where we were. And we kept under the grip of that cloud, desperate to leave. That’s when I saw this:
This sequence of Squalls lined up on the direction we wanted to go. I asked Adriana if she was ok to get more wet – VERY wet, and she agreed. I pointed Pesto’s bow toward the first Squall, got its wind, and we were catapulted into the next one, and so on. We rode this sequence of squalls for all day and managed to get sufficiently near the Equator and far enough from the Squalls zone. The next day, before crossing the Equator, we took the Mexican flag down for the last time:
The Equator itself we crossed at night, on a bold beam reach and running fast straight to Nuku Hiva:
The next morning I prepared pancakes and offered the first one to Neptune, thanking Him for allowing us to have such a safe passage on his realm, and asking for fair winds and currents for the remainder of the voyage, and our stay in the Pacific Ocean:
That day we also hoisted the French Polynesia flag, and that wrapped up our Equator Crossing ceremonies:
We were now sailing fast under twin headsails, straight toward Taiohae Bay in Nuku Hiva:
Mind you, there were still some more Squalls to negotiate. But we were sailing so well – some of the best we’ve ever had – and were so poised to make landfall that nothing would deter us now. 5 days later it was Land Ho ! Adriana was the first to see Ua Huka on the horizon:
Nuku Hiva, our destination, was much more guarded, and only revealed itself under a blanket of clouds just when we were a few miles away, as we approached it from the North:
We were SO happy to make landfall.
Interestingly, we didn’t feel the overflow of senses that we have heard from fellow cruisers – the scent of land, the colors, the sounds. Everything felt quite natural and “normal” to us in fact, almost as if we were returning from a weekend sail.
On the other hand, we were all feeling in IMMENSE sense of pride. And that has been with us since then.
I don’t think we are the same anymore.
Probably won’t ever be.