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Marquesas Passage 2002

March 30 – April ??, 2002

Marquesas Passage - Raven crew - 127KThis page is our daily log for the Big Passage across 2,800 miles of the Pacific from Puerto Vallarta to the Marquesas. But if we happen to miss a day or two, please don’t worry about us. It’s probably just a temporary radio problem.

Tuamotu lagoon (Felicity photo) - 121KAs we sail along on this two-week passage you can always click on the Where’s Raven? button on the red border at the left. That will take you to a page with four maps showing our location, as of the last time we used our radio email system. We usually do radio email a couple of times a day, so the maps should always have fairly recent info.

Marquesas prep - Mark climbs up the reacher - 70KWe probably won’t be able to send photos for this page until after the passage, when we get to an internet café in the Marquesas. But we’ll start off New Raven logo - 99Kwith a few photos: two you might entitle: “The Crew” and “The Goal.” And one of Mark shinnying up the reacher. Oh, and here’s our hot new tropical Raven logo, just in time for the South Pacific . . . coming soon to a T-shirt near you.

Friday, March 29

Today is our last day in Puerto Vallarta . . . we hope. Not because we don’t like it here, because we do. It’s just time to get moving.

By the time Mike arrived last night, we were more than ready to get “on the road.” Mark, Signe and I had already been working for the last month to get ourselves and Raven ready to go. The Puerto Vallarta spring weather was getting hotter by the day, so it was sweaty work in the blazing sun. Signe made her last big provisioning trip yesterday, for all the fresh vegetables and fruit. It took three of us to lug it all on board — Signe doesn’t skimp on the meals!

Today, we’ll hoist Mark up to the top of the mast for final inspections and to replace a worn shackle on a spinnaker halyard block. We’ll put up the reacher, rig the spinnaker gear, deflate the dinghy and lash it on deck, lash down the anchor, deflate the dock lines and fenders (won’t need them until New Zealand in November!), and all the rest of the last-minute stuff.

This evening, there’ll probably be a round of goodbye visits to friends, with the obligatory libations. Better get all the work done today . . .

Day 1 - Saturday, March 30

"It's the bananas!"

That was Signe's comment after we had our second breakdown in an hour, still inside Banderas Bay and not even sailing yet. Everyone knows you should never leave port on Friday, so we didn't. But it seems that sailors also think carrying bananas is bad luck. And we have three bunches!

First, we stopped the engine for a few minutes and then it wouldn't restart. Seems to be a corroded electrical connection in the starter circuit, but we'll fix that later. We were impatient to get moving, so Mark just used the old "screwdriver across the starter terminals" method and away we went.

Then, as we were putting up the main we noticed the top batten was broken. Regatta casualty, probably. Down came the main, out came a spare batten and a hacksaw to cut it to length, and up went the main again after only 20 minutes' work with saw, pliers, and socket wrench. A versatile crew, has Raven.

Please forgive the technical jargon, which the sailors among you understand but which may confuse many of you. We'll try to explain as we go along.

We also had to motor over to the anchorage ten miles away in La Cruz, to pick up an electronic instrument that someone wanted delivered to a boat already headed to Hiva Oa. The Cruiser Cargo Line strikes again! This is considered normal, as boats are always carrying mail and equipment for others, often people we don't even know.

Our departure from Puerto Vallarta was very emotional, with friends bearing gifts coming to the boat to say good-bye. There were people waving and taking pictures from the docks and the jetty. One friend gave us flowers to toss into the water as we left. We could still see them about half a mile out. We have to admit to a few tears. (Well, for Signe it was a lot more than a few!) We were leaving behind a country that we really like and lots of very dear friends.

Just talked with three nearby Puddle Jump boats on the PJ Chat Net: Cardinal Sin, Onnetar, and Scheherazade. All are doing fine, having a good time, and sailing well. But we're moving at about 10 knots to their 6, so it looks like we'll overhaul a bunch of them in the next few days. By the way, a "knot" is a measure of speed used by planes and boats, equal to one nautical mile (which is one minute of latitude on the Earth's surface) per hour. Ten knots is FAST for a sailboat.

Marquesas Passage - the guys model their pareos - 74KMark, Mike and I are having a great time tweaking the set of the sails and watching Raven carve and surf her way through the waves. We've been smoking along under full main and reacher (a big jib, out in front of the boat) since we left Banderas Bay. Our top surfing speed so far is a spectacular 13.4 knots. Even Signe seems to be getting into it and enjoying the comfort and speed. We pumped all our fresh water into the windward (starboard) tank, which gives us 300 gallons of ballast, weighing about 2,400 pounds. It makes Raven heel (lean to one side) less, keeps her more upright in the puffs, and makes onboard living more comfortable. The waves are about six feet high and from two different directions, so we're still rocking and rolling quite a bit. But no one is seasick, which is a blessing.

Video - Raven under spinnaker (5.4MB)

Video - Raven under spinnaker (from bow) (5.4MB)

Later . . . in only 10 hours, we've traveled over 100 miles. Whew. It's dark now and the moon hasn't risen yet, so being on watch on the cockpit gives you amazing sense of speed and power, as Raven charges along at 10 knots. I've just gone off watch to send this off and then get ready for the Pacific Seafarer's Net. The beauty of night at sea has to be seen to be appreciated. We'll tell more about that in future installments.

Cheers . . . Jan

Day 2 - Easter Sunday, March 31

Marquesas Passage - Easter bunny arrives - 99KIt was a big day today! The Easter Bunny found us 300 miles out at sea! The guys even got big plastic eggs with matchbox cars in them. They were talking about having races, but they were too busy eating their chocolate eggs. The other treat to arrive were several baby mackerel and squid that flew onto the deck during the night. Mike could not be tempted to have them with his cereal.

The winds and seas have calmed down considerably. The wind has been up and down all day, from 10 to 15, and our speed continues to be 8 to 10 knots. This is all money in the bank, as our serious sailors say. As for the wildlife, we saw a huge sea turtle, some dolphins, a pair of white boobies chasing flying fish, and some other tiny birds. Where do they go at night? Probably the same as we do, they just keep on flying.

Marquesas Passage - Signe beading in mid-Pacific - 50KIn our first 24 hours we have covered 214 miles. Sailing wise, this is closely akin to cruising on I-5. In fact, it is so smooth today that I got out the beads on the main cabin table and started working on some jewelry. Big improvement over yesterday's rockin' and rollin'.

This was also the first day of Fishing Season, at least aboard Raven. It was a bit disappointing even though Mike put out a huge hand line with a feather lure in the Mexican national colors. He even kissed it for good luck. This is traditional for Mike, who usually sleeps with the fishing gear too. No fish so far, so he'll try something new tomorrow.

We finally got to talk to our friends on the Puddle Jump radio net today. We couldn't hear anyone from our dock in the marina, so for that, we are glad we got sprung. It was nice to reconnect with our friends. Most of them are a little tired, especially the couples who are doing the passage alone. Our watch system is working out really well, and everyone seems to be getting plenty of rest. This is especially for me, Signe: I don't have to stand night watches at all, and just one three-hour watch at noon. Now that it is flatter, I can even cook a reasonable meal. (Those quesadillas at lunch were great!! - the crew)

We saw one big ship today that passed about a mile ahead (that's close when you're at sea) and that is it. The Pacific Ocean covers a third of the Earth's surface, and it sure feels empty out here. But we are always watchful lest a ship come too close for comfort.

Marquesas Passage - frayed spinnaker halyard - 102KThe one technical issue, and there is always at least one on a boat, is that on Mike's chafe inspection tour, he noticed some red fuzz coming from the reacher halyard (the rope that holds the sail up). On closer inspection when we dropped the sail, in 24 hours something had worn through the leather protective cover, the cloth protective cover and was hard at work on the strong core of the line itself. Luckily we have several spares, but  simply must find a solution to that problem, because the reacher is important in our sail plan. It will probably mean a trip up the mast for Magnificent Mark, who always can bail us out.

Mike is tuning up his 12 string guitar, so I will finish and have a concert while I fix dinner - Chinese style beef with broccoli. Life is really good!

We love your messages. Keep'em coming.

Love, Signe

Video - Mike's concert under spinnaker (5.4MB)

PS: Conjure up this picture: A guitar concert in the cockpit, while the sun is going down in a cloudless sky, and the boat is easing along at 8 knots. That was us for the last hour. It's tough out here.

Day 3 - Monday, April 1

Another boring day at sea.

You need to understand, though, that out here at sea 'boring' is good and 'exciting' is very bad. The ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times" has a nautical equivalent: "Have an exciting passage." We prefer to have passages where the fascinating events are meals and happy hours.

Absolutely nothing happened today - zilch, nada, rien du tout. This is a good thing, I hasten to add, especially since nothing broke.

I got to take parts of Mark's and Mike's night watches last night because they were nodding off. We're all just getting into the watch system rhythm, and working off the sleep deficits we brought on board. We'll be far more rested in a couple of days. Our watch schedule has worked perfectly. Mike, Mark, and Jan each stand a three hour watch, then have six hours off, and the cycle repeats. Signe only stands (officially) one watch, the noon-to-three, in place of one of the guys. So all three guys get to have a nice long sleep at night, then a nap or two in the daytime. Getting lots of sleep on a passage is even better than having ice cubes in your drinks (no ice until we eat down through a layer in the freezer!).

We ran out of wind at about 10 last night, so down came the chute (spinnaker) and on went the Iron Jib (our beloved Yanmar diesel) to keep making progress toward the goal. About 6 a.m. there was more wind, so Jan and I put up the spinnaker, turned off the engine and got back to normal. The only other living thing we've seen, besides each other, was a booby who decided to rest on our spreader. He was too stupid (or smart?) to be discouraged even by shouting or banging the shrouds. Finally we changed the angle of the mainsail, which offended his dignity and ruffled his feathers, so he took off. It is now 5:30 p.m. and he seems to be circling the roost again. If he only had better toilet habits!

One of the nicest things about a passage is seeing the sun and moon rise and the sun set. They are always incredibly beautiful and peaceful. Somehow we never have time to appreciate such things on land. I remember an article in the local Tacoma paper about the new rabbi who began a prayer cycle with a prayer to be said on the first spotting of Mt. Rainier during the day. That's How I feel about sunrises and sunsets. One tends to get a bit philosophical out here.

Marquesas Passage - Mark on watch with autopilot - 71KWe're bowling along under main and spinnaker at 8 to 9+ knots, in 11 to 15 knots of wind. The seas and the motion are beautifully smooth and easy. Jan's says it's like cruising the freeway in a '60 Coupe de Ville, with a suspension so soft you can't feel the road. The person on watch just sits in the cockpit with the autopilot control on his lap, twiddling the dial up or down a few Marquesas Passage - The Autopilot Grip - 111Kdegrees to follow the wind shifts and puffs. Strenuous, eh? We've been joking about getting carpal tunnel syndrome from twiddling the dial and thumbing the winch controls.

We haven't seen any ships for 24 hours, and no sailboats since we left PV. I think we've passed through the North-South traffic lanes between the West Coast and the Panama Canal. We're still extremely cautious, however, and keep a close eye on the radar screen.

The water is beautifully blue and clear, but seems to be devoid of fish, at least as far as Raven is concerned. Mike still has his fishing lure out, but no luck except for a scrap of blue fish net. We were hoping for tuna sushi for dinner tonight, but the guys are just going to have to settle for lasagna and fresh pineapple. I can hear the complaints already. (Correction from the guys: We have NO complaints about Signe's wonderful cruising cuisine!)

We all did a couple of boat projects today, took naps, cooked meals, stared out to sea, listened to the rush of the water passing by, talked to other boats on three nets and calculated our progress and the route ahead. Somehow the day passes quickly without accomplishing a lot.  Thus it goes. Not terribly exciting, but we have over 400 miles under out belts. Only 2,400 miles to go!!

Love, Signe

PS: From Jan -- During last night's guitar concert courtesy of Mike, and again this evening, Signe said she really enjoyed the day! If you know Signe and the love/fear relationship she's been developing with this passage, you know that's a major admission. Well, she did have a beer in her, but she hasn't disowned the remark yet.

Day 4 - Tuesday, April 2

Distance sailed: 661 nautical miles
Distance to go: 2,125 nautical miles
Winds: NE 16 to 18 knots
Boatspeed: 9 to 10 knots
Course: 235 magnetic
Water temperature: 78 F

Yesterday nothing happened. Today all kinds of funny things happened. Mark stays alert during the midnight to 3 a.m watch by listening to all the MP3 music files on his laptop. (Yes, sailing has changed a bit over the centuries.) This was all well and good until a Kamikazi flying fish hit him right in the chest and scared him to death. Bit of a shock, coming as it did in the middle of a mellow David Grey recording. Later a booby decided to take up residence on the stern rail, so Mark had to chase him off with a boat hook. I tell you life out here is really tough!

Early this morning we sailed right past a white float with a red pennant, which set us to speculating. What was it? Why was it there? Then at lunch time  a helicopter suddenly appeared, circled around us twice, waved and took off. It had pontoons, so we half expected a visit of some kind. Conjecture on these two incidents kept us amused all afternoon. (It doesn't take much!) There was a boat on the radar screen, 15 miles away, for most of the afternoon, so we've decided the helicopter is a tuna spotter from a big trawler. This has also provided Mike with an excuse for not catching anything, believing that all the tuna are in hiding. Or maybe that ship was a drug runner. Or maybe they're pirates who will come back to get us tonight!!! Ha! We have a contest going for for the most original explanation. All entries gratefully accepted. This could keep us entertained all the way to the Marquesas! Yes, we are easily amused out here.

In the little-known boat information category: think about four people being on a boat for more than two weeks, and you realize there is a mountain of trash to deal with. We're 500 miles at sea, so international rules say food waste and biodegradable paper get chopped up small and thrown overboard, but it's never OK to throw plastic overboard because it takes so long to decay. We see evidence of this ignorance all the time on the beaches and at sea. So we collect and wash all the plastic wrap and plastic-coated paper, recycle all the ziplocks if we can, wash out all the plastic bottles and store them up forward with the sails. They'll probably be a real smelly treat by Hiva Oa. And we  thought we were being so clever buying things in plastic bottles when we could, to avoid glass breakage. It's all a learning experience.

Marquesas Passage - red night lights at nav station - 45KMore useless boat info: After dark, all of the interior lights are red so that the watch keeper doesn't lose his night vision. This means everything that is naturally red in color disappears. This makes for some interesting experiences. How do you tell if the meat is done if you can't tell if it's still red? Jan can never find his red Colgate toothpaste at night, nor his red swimsuit. And forget reading a magazine with color photos!

At the moment, we're broad reaching under spinnaker in 18+ knots of wind, doing 9 to 10 knots. This is a major treat after a long night of motoring at 6 to 7 knots because we had lost the usually-reliable Trade Winds. Well, the Trades are back in spades, and we are loving it. It's Happy Hour and Signe has some great Zydeco music blaring out of the cockpit speakers. Life is just fine, thanks.

Warm regards from your Raven crew

Note from Signe: In the Sheer Elegance Department - I will probably be thrown out of the Tacoma Chapter of the Martha Stuart Perfection Club, but serving our usual one-dish meals on a heeling, bouncing sailboat requires some special feeding containers. Last year we used big, deep, plastic cereal bowls - for everything.. This year, Jan found what he considers the perfect solution - plastic vegetable serving bowls, which have affectionately become known as The Troughs. They work extremely well, but I do have to restrain myself from calling " Soooooeeee!" when I serve up a meal.

Day 5 - Wednesday, April 3

Distance sailed: 866 nautical miles
Distance to go: 1,950 nautical miles
Winds: NNE 13 knots
Boatspeed: 7 to 9 knots
Course: 175 magnetic
Water temperature: 79 F

Squid, flying fish, and jibing. That's the Raven entertainment for today.

Marquesas Passage - flying fish in cockpit - 57KThis morning, we found four flying fish and three flying squid on deck. Some boats would immediately prepare some kind of seafaring dish, but we're a little more squeamish. Or maybe just better fed by Signe! Later in the morning, another flying fish, in a very desiccated condition and with one fin waving in the air, was found behind one of the cockpit cushions. This was actually a relief, as it provided an innocent explanation for strange odors that kept us all silently wondering about our shipmates' bathing habits. We'd love to send photos, but the radio link doesn't allow it. Then again, maybe that's a blessing . . .

We're all moving just a little slower today. Maybe the watch-standing fatigue has caught up with us. We're no longer zooming along at a great rate, but just keeping moving in the right direction is a good thing. The trade winds are a bit lighter than we had foolishly hoped, but they are just what the books predict. Last year's fleet had much stronger winds and thus faster passages, but it looks like this year -- which may be the beginning of an El Nino cycle -- will be normal-to-slow.

We jibed onto port tack this morning, which means we turned south about 80 degrees and shifted the sails, including the spinnaker, from the left side to the right. The wind had been moving around clockwise, which put us on an unfavorable angle, so we were actually going west and slightly north. Since North is NOT where we want to go, it was time to head south. Now -- at 7 p.m. -- the wind is going back the other direction, so our angle is again looking less than perfect. We may have to jibe again before sundown. Besides, we found out toady that we can't run the watermaker when we're on port tack. Such are the trials and tribulations of the seafaring life.

Oh, I forgot to mention the sudden BANG we heard from the bow earlier today, then we watched the spinnaker collapse back into the boat. It seems that a shackle at the end of the bowsprit (the long pole sticking out from the bow -- see the 'Raven' section of this website) had worked itself loose, the pin fell out, and the tack (bottom front corner) of the chute went flying. Half an hour later a new shackle was back in place, wired shut this time. That'll teach it to misbehave.

Signe is working on another feast in the galley. We can hardly wait. (Then they decided we had to jibe again right in the middle of the Sweet and Sour Pork. The nerve!  Signe)

Cheers from your brave Raven crew.

Day 6 - Thursday, April 4

Position: 11 deg 12 min N, 118 deg 17 min W
Distance sailed: 1,064 nautical miles
Distance to go: 1,788 nautical miles
Winds: NE 15 to 19 knots
Boatspeed: 9 to 11 knots
Course: 195 magnetic
Water temperature: 80

We've been at sea just over five days and we're one-third of the way to the Marquesas!! A mere 1,788 miles to go. This in spite of staying on the wrong jibe angle for over 12 hours last night. Just didn't have the energy to get the chute down and put it back up on the other side in the middle of the night. We finally jibed this morning when we found that our latitude numbers on the GPS were actually going UP! Still, we made good distance to the west, which we'll need later. Right now, we're charging south at 9 to 11 knots and racking up lots of miles in the right direction. We're solidly into the trades now, and the winds are strong and steady, pushing us right where we want to go. These are the conditions that Raven loves, and that she was built for.

We've already passed two boats that left three days earlier than we did, and are closing in on two more. They're all good friends, of course, so there's a lot of radio banter about looking in your rear view mirror, throwing water balloons and eggs as we pass, etc. In fact, we never saw the other boats and they never saw us, and the only reason we know we passed them is from the position reports we all give during the two radio nets every day. Even though we won't see another boat until our landfall in a week and a half, we feel like we're cruising in company and can help each other.

For example, our good friends Bob and Lesley on North Road somehow toasted their alternator the other day. Happily, they carry a spare, as electricity is essential for the autopilot (without which the entire crew would quickly become exhausted), GPS, refrigeration, radios, sailing instruments, and other essentials. Bob and Lesley had never changed an alternator, so they got on the radio with Paul from Avventura and Biaggio of Lil Gem (each about a hundred miles from North Road), who coached them through the entire process. It took nearly all day, with Bob crammed into the tight engine space as the boat rocked and rolled in the trade wind swells and the heat. But thanks to their friends they got it done and are now happily sailing along again. The cruising community is, as we've often said, the best part of cruising.

Today was big on wildlife sightings. A huge school of dolphins, maybe 200, went flying by flipping and jumping in their pursuit of lunch. This was preceded by a flock of small birds performing the same routine. It must have been some pretty tasty bait. Today we've seen an amazing number of birds -- what the heck are they doing way out here, almost a thousand miles from shore?!

The air and water temperatures are definitely going up. The sea temp started at 77 degrees F, and now it's up to 80. We had to wear fleece to keep warm on night watches in the cockpit, but now you only need a T-shirt. As we go south to the equator, it's going to get a lot warmer. We've been drinking water and Gatorade like crazy just to stay hydrated. It is pretty hot here during the day, so the fans are going full time down below. We've put up side sun screens in the cockpit which helps considerably in the morning and afternoon. Bathing suits are the uniform of the day. And night, for that matter

Marquesas Passage - Mike & Jan at Happy Hour - 58KAt Happy Hour just now, we celebrated The First Ice. We don't have an icemaker on Raven, so Signe made us eat our way through a layer in the freezer before we were allowed to make ice.  Our ice system is rather primitive, consisting of some great plastic bags with little pouches to make individual ice blobs -- a European invention. Of course you know how stingy Europeans are with the ice, so the blobs are a bit small. Still, ice is a major luxury aboard, and we really appreciate the little that we've got.

We tried making water today, but we're sailing too fast on port tack and were getting too many air bubbles in the system, which the high pressure pump hates. Such a dilemma! We'll resolve that issue when we jibe next, because the Captain insists on showers Marquesas Passage - Jan showering at the stern - 73Kfor all every day. Mike has discovered shower nirvana on the stern of the boat, harnessed in. Signe has not actually seen this, since she has tried to preserve his modesty, but he says its the best shower he's ever taken (alone, anyway). We are the lucky ones to have enough water to take showers every day. Many boats don't have watermakers and only small water tanks. One boat had a ration of less than one gallon of water per day per person for the crossing. Yuck!

Marquesas Passage - Signe bracing herself in the galley - 98KSigne is bracing herself in the heeled-over galley, preparing another of her gourmet feasts, and Jan is going to send this off via the radio email system. See you tomorrow!

Cheers . . . Jan & Signe

PS: Oh, this morning's body count was ten squid and three flying fish. The deck is getting a little gooey, with black spots where the squids have shot their ink. Gotta make some fresh water so we can do a washdown tomorrow and get all the salt off. We need it. The guys decided all the squid were attracted to the deck lights we used to jibe this morning.

Day 7 - Friday, April 5

Position: 11 deg 12 min N, 118 deg 17 min W
Distance sailed: 1,126 nautical miles
Distance to go: 1,597 nautical miles
Winds: NE 14 to 20 knots
Boatspeed: 8 to 9 knots
Course: 235 magnetic
Water temperature: 82, up 2 from yesterday
Daily Squid Score: 20

To quote Robin Williams, "It's HOT, DAMN HOT!" The air and water temp are up again and only the breeze keeps us sane. In the cabin, it's 88 in the daytime with 75 percent humidity. And it's going to get hotter before it gets any cooler south of The Line. Good thing we have lots of water for lots of showers.

Big News of the Day: Squid. Twenty one of them found their way on deck during the night. One of them was headed into the salon and on top of Signe, but she was saved by the sun awning! It's only a matter of time before one finds its way through a hatch and terrorizes one of the sleeping crew. For lack of fish, Signe's been going through the cookbooks for appropriate recipes: curried squid on skewers, Mediterranean squid, squid tempura, squid salad, etc. The crew unanimously voted them all down, so we'll just have to suffer through Caribbean Tomato Pasta tonight.

Remember that old Crosby, Stills and Nash song, "Southern Cross?" Well, we're living it. They were singing about seeing the Southern Cross in the sky for the first time on the way to the Marquesas, "80 feet of waterline, nicely making way." So we only have 64 feet of waterline, picky, picky, but we did see the Southern Cross last night for the first time. It was quite thrilling. The Milky Way is a solid band of stars, and there is also a constant barrage of shooting stars. Pretty beautiful.

We've been out almost week now and have covered 40 percent of the distance, but with still a long way to go. I think that idea took its toll a bit today, and also we lost some sleep last night because of our boat speed and the waves. The sun is brutal and you can only get away from it by going below, where it's hot and humid. We put up sun screens in the cockpit yesterday, which has helped the on-duty helmsman considerably.

Marquesas Passage - Ravens Kontiki rig - 72KWe're trying out a new downwind rig today. Raven is not designed to sail dead down wind, so are always reaching under spinnaker, reacher, or jib. The spinnaker chewed through the leather cover on another halyard, so we have started getting creative for a while. Jan calls our current format the Kon Tiki Rig. Trying for all the downwind speed we can get, we have the main to port, the reacher to port, and the jib poled out to starboard. This gets us 8 knots or so, not as much as with the spinnaker, but the chafe problem is in abeyance for a while so we can stop worrying.

Because the watch system has worked out well, and because Signe does such a great job with the meals, we all have managed to get together for lunch, Happy Hour (note the caps, befitting its importance), and dinner. Some days, like today, we're pretty tired but enjoy relaxing together in the cockpit, especially at the end of the day. Everyone is getting along well, joking all the time.  Oops, I've been called for Happy Hour. Gotta go.

Cheers . . . Jan & Signe

Day 8 - Saturday, April 6

Position: 6 deg 40 min N, 122 deg 31 min W
Distance sailed: 1,277 nautical miles
Distance to go: 1,444 nautical miles
Winds: N 19 knots
Boatspeed: 8 knots dead downwind
Course: 215 magnetic
Water temperature: 83 degrees, up 1 from yesterday
Cabin: 90 degrees with 75% humidity

Those !@%#&*% squid!!

Marquesas Passage - squid in the scupper - 62KFor the last few days, there has been a foul, fishy smell in the main cabin. We've searched high and low, and checked each others' shoes, clothes, and hygienic habits, to no avail. We checked the deck around the hatches, we searched under the settees and tables, just in case a squid or flying fish flew in through a hatch. Nada. Then this afternoon, all four of us went on a do-or-die hunt and found the evildoer, an elderly dead squid, inside one of the dorade vents (those air scoop thingys you see on sailboats). Copious applications of Simple Green brought an end of the smell and cross-accusations among the crew (joking, of course), with sharp improvement in the 'atmosphere' aboard.

Spent most of last night and a good part of today motoring through a light air patch. We love our Yanmar diesel and it gets us there reliably, but it deadens your senses after a while and the ride is unstable with lots of rolling in the swells. Thankfully, we're now back under way with the main and jib pulling us directly toward Hiva Oa at about 8 knots, dead downwind in 19 knots of wind from the North. Ahhh. What a pleasure to hear only the swoosh of the water and the creaking of the rigging. Once again, this is what we came for. Can you tell when we've been under motor for a while? Do we get a little cranky?

We're starting to get preoccupied with the Big Question of where to cross the ITCZ. That's what we, the great unwashed, have always called the doldrums, but the scientists didn't think the name was complicated enough so they renamed it the Inter-Tropic Convergence Zone. It's a wide band of unstable air just north of the equator, divided between zero-to-light winds and squalls with too much wind. We can spot the ITCZ using infrared photo downloads from the satellites that pass overhead (you knew we'd have that kind of gear, didn't you?), but the trick is to find the place where it's narrowest and with the fewest squalls. This is no easy task, as the ITCZ moves quickly and frequently. This morning, we used the Iridium phone (technology is wonderful) to call our global weather routing service to ask the same question. They admit it's a gamble, and we'll just have to pick a spot and take our chances. Not that there's any big risk, as the winds only rise to maybe 25 knots; we just have to keep Raven under a rig where it's very easy shorten sail quickly if a squall hits us. We can track the squalls on the radar, but we can't necessarily avoid them, so we have to be ready.

After the ITCZ, we'll be back into the trade winds, this time the Southeast Trades. Our friends aboard other boats that are already there (ah, the joys of these twice-daily radio nets!) tell us they're having a great run under fair winds and clear skies. Can hardly wait to get there. We should break through within two days, even if the ITCZ doesn't cooperate.

You can tell we're on the downhill part, because Signe has broken out the cruising and tourist guides to the Marquesas. This is also a good sign, as it shows she thinks we will actually live long enough to arrive there. A definite improvement from some of her previous worried states, and we are duly grateful. The worry hasn't affected her cuisine, though!

Marquesas Passage - spearfish sushi - 104KMarquesas Passage - sushi aftermath - 92KFishing News: We have tuna!!! It's sushi tonight! The galley was so hot last night that we are having cold stuff for awhile.

We have found about the only way to keep cool: we hose off in the cockpit then let the air dry us and cool us off. We've all done that at least three times today, and it works really well.

We just saw another huge school of dolphins cavorting. Or maybe it's the same school and they're going to the Marquesas, too.

See you tomorrow.
Cheers . . . Jan

Day 9 - Sunday, April 7

Position: 4 deg 54 min N, 124 deg 39 min W
Distance sailed: 1,484 nautical miles
Distance to go: 1,245 nautical miles
Winds: E 10 knots
Motorsailing at 8 knots
Course: 215 magnetic
Water temperature: 83 degrees

Somehow today got away from us. We had a very rolly, noisy night, so none of us got much sleep, thus a late start to the day. It was so bad at one point that Jan slept on the main cabin floor so he wouldn't get rolled right off the settee, whence he had retreated because the forward berth was untenable. All of the berths have lee cloths, which are heavy webbing screens we can put up to hold bodies into beds when the boat is heeling. It's still not very comfortable to sleep that way, since you are unconsciously flexing to keep in a comfy position. We did have fresh-baked cinnamon buns for breakfast, however, which sort of made it worth while. Lest you think The Chef has gone all out, our dear friend, Sara Lee comes to the aid of sailors fairly frequently.

We are getting close the ITCZ, which we mentioned yesterday. Thus the seas are confused and we're seeing lots of potential squalls on the radar. Nothing significant, but we had a few minutes of spritzing rain this afternoon, which felt just like home. Except it was still HOT, DAMN HOT. We all stood on deck enjoyed the cooling drops, and Mike said, "Who would have thought that a group of Northwesterners would actually be looking forward to clouds and rain?"

Marquesas Passage - Mike's big spearfish - 104KThe Big Event of the day was the arrival of a gorgeous 5 foot long, "short-billed spearfish" (that's what the book calls it) on Mike's line. Signe missed the whole thing since she was in full nap mode, but we have the photos as evidence. We would have released it, but it was so tired out after being dragged by Raven for several miles before we discovered it on the line, that we didn't think it would survive. Needless to say, we're having barbecued spear fish for dinner tonight.

Later . . .

My, how plans change quickly when you're cruising. I (Signe) noticed that the refrigeration system display lights were out and the ice cubes had melted. CRISIS!! This led to an engine room expedition, getting out service manuals, etc. Jan finally figured out that the water cooling system had lost its prime, shutting down the system. Simple fix, and all is well now. But we'll keep a close eye on it in future, if we know what's good for our ice cubes! Not to mention a freezer-full of food.

As I type, Jan is again in the engine room trying to find the source of an engine oil leak. Haven't heard the story yet, but all three guys are hovering over and there are many plastic bags and rolls of paper towels going out. It's so messy and sweaty that Jan took off what little clothing he had on before he dived into the fray.

Latest update: the oil filter was leaking so the guys replaced it. Big mess to clean up, but that's the end of that problem. Cruisers say the best definition of cruising is: "Fixing your boat in faraway places." Well, you can hardly get farther away than the middle of the Pacific!

So . . . quick change of dinner plans: the spearfish will be a treat for Mike's birthday party tomorrow, so the freezer will come to our rescue for dinner once again. Followed by friend Sarah Lee's cheesecake, just to brighten the day for all of us.

With any luck, we'll have some more interesting adventures for you tomorrow, and fewer repairs to report.

Cheers . . . Your Resourceful Raven Crew

PS: We phoned our son and daughter-in-law tonight, just for evidence that there is, indeed, something else in the world besides seawater. Our memories of dry land are fading, and we're starting to feel like we're the cast of that Kevin Costner movie, "Waterworld." See any Smokers out there . . . ?

Day 10 - Monday, April 8

Position: 3 deg 2 min N, 126 deg 35 min W
Distance sailed: 1,636 nautical miles
Distance to go: 1,084 nautical miles
Winds: SE 10 knots
Boatspeed 7 knots
Course: 215 magnetic
Water temperature: 83 degrees

Marquesas Passage - brithday boy Mike - 94KWow! Our tenth day at sea!!! Your mind does weird things out here. Tonight as we were sitting in the cockpit eating spearfish sushi (Mmmmm . . ), it felt like we were just out for a day sail and we'd be going back to the dock as soon as the sun went down. Actually we've had a very mellow day. It's Mike's birthday, so we've been making a big fuss over him. It all began by Mark taking the first hour and a half of Mike's 6AM to 9AM watch, which meant he got to sleep in, a rare opportunity. Then we all got clean sheets and towels. Whee Hoo!!! It takes so little to make life good out here!

Marquesas Passage - squall approaching - 39KWe had a squall this morning that brought some serious rain, enough to do a fine job washing all the salt, fish scales, squid ink, etc. off our decks. We're not clean enough yet to start collecting rainwater in our tanks, but one more rain like that should do it. The winds got up to about 26 knots briefly but that was kind of fun, as we bore off and accelerated. We have all been rather nervous about crossing the ITCZ because it has a reputation for bad squalls with big winds, big seas, etc. According to the satellite photos tonight, we may have passed through it with that one little squall. If so, it was relatively painless, and we're clean besides. The other benefit is that it seems slightly cooler, maybe because we've got the trade winds back again, which makes the heat bearable.

One of Mike's gifts was a "finger kite," about eight inches long. He had fun flying it from various areas of the boat. Then he decided what he liked best was tying it to his hat with a big red Marquesas Passage - Mike's head-kite - 51Ksail tie in a bow under his chin and the kite flying out the top. He has also been putting plastic ants and a big rubber beetle where some unsuspecting sailor will find them in the middle of the night. We have laughed a lot on this trip.

I made Mike a chocolate birthday cake today, and it is probably the ugliest cake I have ever made. Even though the stove is gimballed to keep it relatively level in a seaway, it doesn't really work for cakes. I thought I could finely balance the two lopsided layers to make one fairly decent cake. I failed to factor in the heat's effect on frosting. It smells great, but it is very ugly and very tilted. I think they'll gobble it up anyway. Talk about an easy to please crowd!

We've really mellowed out on the sailing. For the first week, we were hell bent on setting new passage records to Hiva Oa. Well, today we sailed along all day at a slow-for-us 7 knots and loved it. No more of those "Are we there yet?" questions. The seas have been mild, we've crossed into the Southeast Trades so the wind is more off the bow now, it's cooler on the boat, and our enjoyment has gone up enormously. At dinner time, we headed off in a less-than-optimal direction, just to level the boat for barbecuing the fish and to make the watermaker happy. This will cost us some time at the end, but no one seems to care. We're just enjoying the smooth, quiet, easy motion.

The next big event will be crossing the Equator in a day or two. We've imagined all sorts of parties to hold, because we're all pollywogs, never having crossed the Equator by boat. On the old sailing ships, we would all be tarred, feathered and shaved bald by the more experienced hands. These days, most cruisers find civilized ways to celebrate and to propitiated King Neptune, but we found out that Mike brought along a set of haircutting clippers, so who knows what's going to happen? Watch this space.

Warm regards from your mellow Raven crew.

PS: Oh, yeah. No breakdowns or crises today. Another reason to feel mellow.

Day 11 - Tuesday, April 9

Position: 0 deg 20 min N, 128 deg 27 min W
Distance sailed: 1,826 nautical miles
Distance to go: 890 nautical miles
Winds: E 10 knots
Boatspeed 8 knots motorsailing
Course: 214 true
Water temperature: 84 degrees

Yes, it is starting to get long now. We are almost to the equator and will cross over it around midnight. It slows down our big celebrations, but we'll do something after the fact when we are all awake tomorrow. 

The winds blew pretty well today, so we sailed for most of the time. Just about dinner time, the wind slowed way down and we had to turn on the engine. Thank goodness we have enough fuel to be able to do that from time to time. The winds have been so light this year that we have used the engine for quite a few hours.

Marquesas Passage - spectacular sunset - 55KThe cloud formations are spectacular out here with all shades of pink, blue, yellow, grey and white. We feel like we have taken nothing but cloud, sunrise and sunset pictures, but that is all we are seeing, except for each other.

Nothing much happened today except lots of hose-offs in the cockpit, more spearfish sushi and chocolate cake for lunch. We're watching the fresh veggies and fruits dwindling rapidly. I still have a freezer full, but the salad situation will be a little lacking.

Mark and Mike have a tournament going on their "bass fishing" handheld computer games. It passes the time until the real fish come on the line. Something large ate Mike's favorite red feather lure today. We now have our Alaska bear bells announcing any nibbles on the line. Jan laughed when I wanted to keep them aboard. I knew we'd find a use for them.

Love . . . Signe

Note from Jan: Last night was one of the best for sailing. Mike, Mark, and I each had watches with good breezes, gentle seas, and magnificent skies. The stars were a solid mass overhead, and about 3 a.m. the moon rose as a thin sliver of silver. It was easy to just sit there in the dark, drinking in all the beauty.

Day 12 - Wednesday, April 10

Position: 1 deg 40 min SOUTH(!!!), 130 deg 8 min W
Distance sailed: 1,984 nautical miles
Distance to go: 732 nautical miles
Winds: ENE 9 knots (it's supposed to be SE!)
Boatspeed 7+ knots motorsailing
Course: 220 true
Water temperature: 82 degrees (down two degrees!)

Notice the SOUTH latitude reported above!

Marquesas Passage - Raven at the Equator GPS - 89KDay 12 began early -- midnight to be precise -- for your Raven Crew when we were all awakened by The Captain, who happened to be on watch at the time. We were two miles from the Equator! We stumbled sleepily from our berths, dressed nattily in underpants and rumpled t-shirts to celebrate Marquesas Passage - libation to Neptune at Equator - 46Kthe crossing of The Line. A tot of rum was offered to King Neptune with the Ode to the Sea given by Pollywog Mike Hudson. Then appeared Signe/Aphrodite (OK, so our command of Greek mythology is weak), dressed up for the occasion in a Raven t-shirt over a lovely tie dye night shirt. She was chosen as Chief Anointer and Representative of King Neptune, because she was definitely the loveliest and most mature of the crew, not to mention the odd woman out, as it were. In this role, she anointed each Pollywog in turn with her scepter, gave them a Big Smooch and magically turned them into Shellbacks. With that, a tot of rum was doled out to each - well, some more than others - then we trundled back to bed, except for Shellback Mark Lindeman who had the midnight-to-3 a.m. watch.

The Equator humor thick on the radio, back before we left PV. "Does anyone know where to find one of those propeller reversing sprockets? You know, the kind you need when you cross the Equator." "Help! I need a southern hemisphere toilet conversion kit." Well, we're all watching the toilets and sinks very closely today. And as far as the propeller reversing sprocket is concerned, another cruiser told us we're supposed to exchange one with a northbound boat, if we can find one. We saw a ship today after going about a week without seeing anything but flying fish, but the duty officer declined the exchange.

Marquesas Passage - Aphrodite at the Equator - 75KWe continued the festivities at brunch with mimosas all around, including some for King Neptune. As a last bow to Mexico, we also had Huevos Rancheros. This prepared The Crew for the head shaving ceremonies. I know you are all waiting with baited breath to see if Jan really agreed to it. He kept us all in suspense as long as he could, then declined the honor, as did Mark. Mike, having a beard and in need of a haircut, volunteered. Don't worry, Marsha, we were kind to him. He is now beardless and with a very elegant haircut - a group effort. Aphrodite even got into the act.

Mike has continued with his surprise gifts. This afternoon he hung a disco ball in the cockpit. (Every boat needs one!) And he hid a rubber rat in my galley cupboard. He got the desired scream from me in reaction. I've been watching for his plastic bugs, but wasn't prepared for a rat!

Marquesas Passage - Mark barbecuing - 88KTonight we are having US Prime sirloin steaks on the barbie after passing a very sleepy day of motorsailing. We will try to stay awake long enough for a movie, but we have planned to do this for many nights with no success. It is still hot and the interrupted sleep takes a toll after awhile. We still have four or so days before we make landfall. It is a long way to go!!!


Day 13 - Thursday, April 11

Position: 3 deg 0 min S, 132 deg 19 min W
Distance sailed: 2,178 nautical miles
Distance to go: 540 nautical miles
Winds: ENE 6 knots (Trade winds? Hah!)
Boatspeed 7+ knots motorsailing
Course: 223 true
Water temperature: 83 degrees

If I tell you that finding another deceased squid in a dorade vent was the highlight of the day, it may convey to you some of the boredom we are now facing. We are now motoring for the third day in a row. The noise gets to be quite annoying, as does the wallowing in the seas. There is even less wind than there was yesterday. We were down to 3 knots of wind at one point during the day. Thank goodness we have enough fuel to get there from here, even if we motor all the way. The reports from boats ahead of us talk of lack of wind too. The weather reports say there may be more tomorrow, but there's no sign yet.

It's too hot to do boat projects or any kind of projects. We nap, we read, we eat - that's about the sum of it. Big activities today were: shutting the engine down for a short time to check its vital signs, taking down the reacher to see how our halyard chafe problem is coming along (still doing OK) and putting it back up, transferring fuel from the starboard tank to the port tank to balance the load, lubricating the gooseneck (joint between the mast and the boom) which has been squeaking unmercifully. Such is the life of a sailor. No wonder they took up scrimshaw.

It has been our first totally overcast day, which was kind of a relief from the days of hot sun. We have watched squalls all around us, but haven't had any scupper-washers yet. We're watching one good one right now that may be just the ticket. Of course, then we will have to scramble to close all the hatches.

Mike had a big fish on the line this afternoon, but it got away. We were all ready for more sushi too. Tomorrow!

Please think of us and send us some better wind. Not too much, though!!

Cheers . . . Your Raven Crew

Day 14 - Friday, April 12

Position: 6 deg 26 min S, 134 deg 27 min W
Distance sailed: 2,374 nautical miles
Distance to go: 327 nautical miles (getting close!!)
Winds: E 12-15 knots
Boatspeed 9-11 knots
Course: 223 true
Water temperature: 83 degrees


What a difference a day makes. We woke up to the same old, same old this morning with another day of motorsailing ahead of us, or so it appeared. Grumble, grumble, moan, moan, "Can't wait to get there," etc. When what should happen, but at breakfast time we saw a steady increase in wind from 8 to 12 to 15 knots! We dropped all thoughts of blueberry pancakes, and Jan & Mike put up the spinnaker. (The mainsail had been up to keep us from wallowing in the seas while motoring.) With that we took off downwind at speeds of 9 to 11 knots. Whee! And we've been going strong all day, eating up those miles toward Hiva Oa. Yes!

Marquesas Passage - Popeye the mascot - 55KTalking about hours, we have definitely fallen into the rise with the sun and sleep with the dark syndrome. The only issue is that we have kept our watches on West Coast time, so as we go farther west, there is some discrepancy. We're not really lazy bones who want to stay in bed all day, and naps don't count. There is a two-and-a-half (half?) hour time zone difference from Pacific Daylight Time to Marquesas time, so eventually we have to get caught up.

Have we told you about the wonder of our Iridium handheld satellite phone? This is one of life's little luxuries that we have indulged in for this trip. It is so reassuring to our families when we can call them. And it feels pretty wonderful to hear a friendly voice who cares about us. Even out here in the Pacific, there are satellites that will take care of our needs. It is really complicated and pricey to call us, so don't get your dialing fingers out quite yet. In emergencies, our son Paul knows how to page us (also by satellite), then we can call him back. Combined with our radio email system, Iridium has made our cruises much more enjoyable.

Our latest scientific question is the Missing Squid Dilemma, which has taken a good deal of mindshare aboard Raven recently. (Yes, we are easily distracted.) For several days now we have not had our usual nighttime flying squid visitations and we're wondering why. Not that we're missing their smelly, decaying bodies, but we do wonder. The theory currently in vogue aboard Raven is that we have not had a moon for several days, so they are not attracted to the light and our white hull. Other theories involve hypotheses such as lower squid populations in the southern hemisphere, lower water temp, etc. If anyone has any resolution to this dilemma, please let us know. Inquiring minds and all that.

So that's it from Raven for today. We are looking at a possible arrival in Hiva Oa on Sunday, April 14th. You'll be the first to know.

Love . . . Signe

Day 15 - Saturday, April 13

Position: 8 deg 37 min S, 137 deg 15 min W
Distance sailed: 2,374 nautical miles
Distance to go: ONLY 115  nautical miles to go!!
Winds: E 19 to 22 knots
Boatspeed 8 to 9 knots
Course: 223 true
Water temperature: still 83 degrees

"Hinano! Hinano!"

That was the chant from the cockpit this morning. A prayer to the Polynesian winds gods? Well, sort of. The wind had already piped up to 20-25 knots, Raven was blasting along at 10 to 12 knots, and The Crew had started hallucinating about the first frosty Hinano, the signature beer of French Polynesia.

At that point I had to appease them with mindless games to keep things under control. So out came the portable basket ball net with three little rubber balls. It was suction-cupped to the forward end of the cockpit, and a lively game of Horse ensued. Of course, Mark was the one who kept losing the balls over the side. (His secret weapon?) The winning point was a roll down the shorts leg into the basket. This has been a humor filled trip! At least it was more successful than my portable billiard table. I didn't think there would be this much motion. What was I thinking?

We just reefed down for a second time, after flying all day at 10-to-12 knots. The downside is that the seas have been lumpy, making navigating around the boat a bit tricky. Now I know why we have all these handholds. I've used them all and done a bit of crawling on all fours too. Hey, I'm not proud, but we all have some prize winning bruises. We always wear our harnesses at night, but today has been rough enough that we have worn them during the day to go on the foredeck to reef the sails. The cockpit is very protected, so for most of the day we haven't worn them. For sail changes, the Harness Police (C'est Moi!) insist.  Sleeping last night was like being in a Mixmaster. A flat, quiet night in harbor is really going to be a treat.

So anyway, a check on the computer navigation software showed that, at these ridiculous speeds, we'd reach Hiva Oa at 2 a.m., then have to heave to offshore and wait until daylight. Rule #1 is no landfalls in the dark -- too dangerous. So, we'll just slow the boat down, right? Easier said than done. We already had one reef in the main, and just the small jib, and still she was doing more than 10 knots. Then Mark and Jan put a second reef in the main (for the first time ever), but that only cut our speed a fraction of a knot. This boat refuses to slow down! So then we furled the small jib and set the tiny staysail. That did it, and we're down to a a reasonable 8 knots, which will get us in at daylight. The motion is a bit better, too.

Tomorrow . . . LANDFALL!!! Watch this space.

Love, Signe

Day 16 - Sunday, April 14

Total distance traveled: 2,846 miles
Passage time: Exactly 15 days
Average speed: 7.9 knots
Best day's run: 243 miles
Worst day's run: 162 miles
Raven anchored in Tahahutu Bay, Hiva Oa

Nous sommes arrives! We're here! We did it! We survived!

Marquesas Passage - Hiva Oa landfall - 62KWe arrived just before noon today, after exactly 15 days at sea. I wish we could send you a tape of the scene at dawn when we first spotted land. Even though we knew that our computer navigation was going to get us here, it is still a very small blip in a very big ocean and what if we'd made some error of calculation.  It was very reassuring to hear the age old cry, "Land Ho!"

As it became lighter, we realized that King Neptune had one more little surprise for us - a huge black squall cloud bearing down on us. Mike had been watching it for a couple of hours and had all the preparations made to slow the boat down if the wind really piped up. He and I rolled in the reacher (our big "fronts'l") and unrolled the smaller jib. The main was already double reefed from the night before, when we wanted to slow down so as not to arrive before dawn. The big cloud finally gave us 30 knots of wind and buckets full of rain, but only briefly. During the strongest gust, Raven accelerated up to 12 knots!

Marquesas Passage - Jan hoists courtesy and Q flags - 91KAfter the squall cleared we had full sunlight on the beautiful island of Hiva Oa. It is all volcanic, so it looks a lot like those mountainous parts of Maui and Kauai with green jungle on the steep slopes, but without all the roads, houses, hotels, or people. It is very green with groves of coconut palms going up the mountainside. The highest peaks had rain clouds hovering over them, adding to the dramatic effect. Oddly enough, after not seeing another sailboat the whole time out, we followed a catamaran, Pacific Bliss, into the bay. They had come down from San Diego and were making landfall after 21 days.

Marquesas Passage - entering Atuona harbor - 84KThe entrance to the small harbor is very hard to distinguish, but one of our friends guided us in and told us where there was room to anchor. There are about a dozen other boats here, anchored fairly close together. We are all anchored bow and stern, which saves space and keeps the boats' bows pointed into the small swell entering the harbor. There are four other Puddle Jump boats here, so I know we will be seeing a lot of them once we get rested up.

We had big plans to splash the dinghy and take a long walk ashore, but instead we all spent the entire afternoon taking naps. I guess we were more tired than we thought. It is also strange to realize that we are really here after all our travels. Haven't quite gotten used to that part. It is definitely nice to have the boat only rocking gently in the swell, instead of flying all over the place.

The Marquesans are quite religious, so everything was shut today, Sunday. Tomorrow we will go to town, about a 30 minute walk away, check in and see the sights. The check-in process may take awhile since it is our first check in in French Polynesia. First we will visit the gendarmes to turn in our "zarpe" (check-out paper from Mexico) and have our crew list checked. Then we will get a boat "passport" that we will show to the gendarmes in every other port that we visit. We have to post a bond to the equivalent of air fare out of here for each person (so the French can ship us out of here, if they want!), so a trip to the bank, figuring out how to pay it, etc. will be in order. But that is the only fee we'll pay.

Marquesas Passage - Jan & Signe rejoice - 54KWe will send out one or two more daily logs, summarizing our passage and telling you what we discover ashore. And as usual we will be writing longer episodes of our adventures from time to time. Thanks again for being faithful Raven fans.

Cheers . . . Signe

First Day in Hiva Oa

Marquesas Passage - Raven anchored at Atuona - 138KAfter a good night's sleep, your Raven crew woke up early and our thoughts went "Hiva Oa . . . FRENCH Polynesia . . . French bakeries . . . French bread!!" So Jan and Mark immediately hopped into the dinghy and buzzed off to the local store. After a short wait for it to open at 7:30, they came back with TWO fresh baguettes!! And, yes, they were just as good as in Paris. Guess what we had for breakfast.

Then off into town to check in with the gendarmes, do a little shopping, have some lunch cooked by someone else, and so on. The town of Atuona is a half-hour walk uphill from the harbor, but the Marquesans have a reputation for giving rides to tired cruisers, who haven't walked farther than the length of their boats for several weeks. We didn't even hold our thumbs out, but a Toyota pickup driven by a smiley Marquesan woman, already having picked up several other cruisers, stopped and the four of us piled into the cargo bed. Zip and we were in front of the Gendarmarie, which was closed, naturally. No problem, we're in Paradise so we'll just relax.

Walked right through the cute little town, which took ten minutes, and saw all the tropical/colonial architecture, with lots of flowering shrubs and hibiscus hedges. Changed money, bought a plane ticket for Mark, and then Signe's unerring craft radar locked onto an "artisanat" shop and she bought a gorgeous shell necklace. Then a Marquesan wood carver and his wife picked us up, sort of at random, and drove us to their home to see his wonderful carvings. Of course, we succumbed to a beautiful turtle carved in rosewood. It was only 11 am, and already Signe's day was complete!

Had a delicious lunch at the Snack Make Make ("mak-ay makay"), including raw fish salad, chicken curry, lemon chicken, and for Mark and Mike a couple of burgers and fries. The raw fish salad ("poisson cru") was the big hit, as were the frosty Hinanos. We're really getting into this place. Split up after lunch, with Jan going to the internet service and then back to the Gendarmarie, and the crew doing the food, beer, and soda shopping. Jan got us mostly checked in, but still has to go back and buy stamps ( as in tax stamps) at the Post Office when it opens again, and then back to the Gendarmarie for a final time. Sigh. But at least there's no hurry and we can get it done any time in the next few days. Tomorrow we've signed up for an all-day tour around the island in an air-conditioned truck, with special stops at the archeological sites. We'll tell you more later.

This will be our last daily update. In a few days, after we've had our full quotient of full night's sleeps and done a little more touring, we'll send out another regular website update. We'll give you our final thoughts on the passage, too. For now, we'll just say . . . it was easier and more comfortable than we expected . . . we had some of the best sailing of our lives . . . the nights were unbelievably beautiful . . . and a few days and nights were uncomfortable, but not too bad. Overall, we'd rather not do such a long passage very often, but we have to do it to get somewhere as wonderful as the Marquesas, we'd sign up in a minute.

Warm regards from Jan, Signe, Mark, and Mike

PS: Learned a little general-purpose Marquesan: "Kaoha" for Hello, and "Te ko'u ta'u nui" for Thank You, Goodbye and lots of other things. This has earned us some nice smiles from the various Marquesans we've tried these phrases on. Over the next few days, we'll find out if they like our making the effort to speak their language, or if the smiles result from the fact that we're really saying "My left shoe is deaf."

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This page was last updated on 04/13/04.


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