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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thursday May 8, 2008 - In the Marquesas at Last!

Since crossing the Equator our radio signal has been next to nothing. If we get connected we generally only have enough signal to get one or two very short messages out, and if lucky receive 1 or 2 messages before losing the connection. So I don't know when we will get our blogs updated. Alright, OK we made it! 21 days after leaving Manzanillo, Mexico we have arrived in French Polynesia. We have traded "hola" for "buon jour", "gracias" for "merci", and "si" for "oui".
After crossing the Equator we experienced more of the ITCZ with the engine chugging us along through 12+ ft. rollers and very little wind. The clouds once again painted the skies with artful creations that fired our imaginations. We watched the squalls repeat their march across the horizon, giving us occasional showers, and momentary gusts of wind. After two days as if by magic, the spell broke and we hit the SE Trades. Well, well! We cruised in 20+ knots of wind averaging a ground speed of around
7.5 knots. At night we could see the Milky Way so clearly and watched dozens of shooting stars in the sky, and in the bow's wake we watched the beautiful phosphorescence setting off brilliant light displays in the water. I kept wishing there was some way to take a picture of this phenomenon, but it is not possible with our camera at night.

We vacillated on which island to make first landfall; Hiva Oa or Fatu Hiva. Hiva Oa is the capital of the southern group of Iles Marquises, better known to us Americans as the Marquesas Islands, where we could officially check into the country and go through quarantine, buy our bond (required of cruisers it is a deposit of several thousand dollars at the bank to show that you have enough money to fly out if you are not able to sail out by your appointed departure date), and re-provision. Fatu Hiva
is the southernmost island in this group and is the most logical first stop, because arriving there would put us on a course to head northwesterly toward the other islands along the area. It is reputed to be the most beautiful of this group of islands, although not an official entry point. We chose Fatu Hiva. We chose paradise, as untouched by commerce and western culture as it gets. We arrived and set the hook at 21:30 UTC (or GMT/Greenwich Mean Time), or 1:00 PM Fatu Hiva time. The Marquesas
are 30 minutes ahead of Tahiti time, and 9.5 hours behind UTC.

We are exhausted and thrilled to finally be somewhere. Frank is happily having a cigar on the back deck working through a six-pack, which he has well earned. I am nursing something awful that befell me about 2 1/2 days ago and has me down for the count. Extreme fatigue, muscle aches all over and a fever, clammy and aching joints have overcome me like nothing I've ever experienced. Yesterday I could barely get up to man my watches; I told Frank if I fell overboard I doubt I'd have the strength
to swim back to Destiny. I'm taking regular rounds of Advil hoping it will pass soon! I want to get out and enjoy this magnificent island. We don't know how long we will be able to stay here. We've not yet gone ashore because we are spending the rest of the day getting our boat and ourselves back in order. We've heard that right now 3 days is the norm for those not checked in. We would like to be able to stay to see Imagine's arrival, which should be about 5-6 more days from now. There 6 other
boats in the bay, one Canadian, one French, one Dutch, one German, two other American. Very international, eh? Oui!

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