We left San José del Cabo on April 30th, after having spent 3 amazing months around the waters of the Baja Peninsula, in Mexico. We said goodbye to the Sea of Cortés, to delicious fish tacos and carne arrachera and headed for our long crossing to the Marquesas.
We had very light winds the first 5 days, which gave us a great opportunity to get our sea legs and used to the daily duties: exercises, ballet or yoga in the morning on the trampoline, thereafter homeschooling session, lunch, reading and playing time in the afternoon, dinner and watches at night. Thanks to the flat sea, we were able to follow a pod of short finned pilot whales that were cruising around. We saw many sea lions that were having a break of their unknown voyage, holding their legs high up into the air while sleeping away on the ocean’s surface. We saw a few turtles migrating through oceans to lay their eggs to the beach where they were born and even a couple of hammerhead sharks that swam by our boat, curious to see if we were going to fall in the water.
The nights were very calm, but we did not gain many miles towards our destiny. We even sailed under engine, using the diesel we would not be able to replenish before we get to Tahiti, several months down the ocean.
And then, finally the wind showed up!
And we started sailing, fast, faster. The waves increased at the pace of our speed and our mileage went up from 85 nautical miles/day to around a 190. The noises inside the boat made it feel as if we lived in a drum, was Lumbaz going to withstand getting so battered? But the fears, one holds up for his own…at the end, what we needed was resilience and that is what we got.
We were amazed by the kids who were able to go on with life as usual, despite the rolling and bashing we were going through. Dance and gymnastics in the morning had to be practiced in bed now and living space got confined to cockpit and saloon for the rest of our journey, that is 2200 nautical miles.
We truly enjoyed those magical moments nights at sea have to offer while on watch. The wind hitting your face, seeing the light of the full moon shining over the waves and the roaring of the water on the stern, the Southern Cross above the horizon,….you sit on the wheel and let your mind fly free. And then you think about your life, your family. About what you are doing, you dream about the future and enjoy past moments looking at such bright and promising horizon.
During daytime we did also enjoy our routine.
Every Sunday, we cooked our own bread to prepare a “pa amb tomaquet” (catalan speciality consistent of spreading tomatoes on bread loafs) with jamón de jabugo that our grandma’s had brought on board during their visits in the Sea of Cortés. What luxury and what a feast!!!
The girls have really improved in school. They study on their own and taking full responsibility of their duties, enjoying the learning process which is great to see.
On Mondays we have Project Day. Each one chooses a theme on her own to prepare and eventually put forward to the rest of us. We have enjoyed lectures on the Middle Age, Egypt, Volcanoes, Why does it rain?,….
For them it was their favorite day and we parents/teachers felt very proud. We have enjoyed the excess of weight we took on when we loaded Lumbaz with books!! Specially the kids so, for we, once we had gone through daily maintenance, various routines, night watches and some short naps during the day did not have much time left to go through many books.
We passed the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) better known as Doldrums very quickly. This zone is a region of high temperatures and low pressures along the equator that changes between very light winds or calms and hot and sultry weather to heavy rainsqualls and violent thunderstorms.
We were fortunate to have Pete and Sue from Neos, guide us with their weather routing and knowledgeable hints. Not only was it a great help to cross such symbolic line but also a very important moral support. We cannot be more thankful to you guys!!
WE crossed the equator at 0400 local time and woke up the crew because Neptune in person has come on board to celebrate and teach the first crossers. After that we set Lumbaz for the final leg of our trip.
Ahead of us 1100 miles on a broad reach. We kept averages of 7,5 knots, really enjoying the rides. If all went well, we were enjoying the last nights of our crossing and very starting to feel nostalgic about what we were leaving behind. How powerful and strong this crossing had been, how powerful and strong we had felt as a family, so many experiences, emotions, feelings, learning…
We were looking forward to the moment of dropping the anchor in Fatu Hiva, which is where we decided to head to. To sleep a whole night and have a good rest, to relax.
And yet, we knew we’d miss what we were about to leave behind us, the time onthe ocean, full of pride and longing at the same time.
Few miles left, the excitement of arriving increased by every watch but also the weariness of days with little sleep and much tension.
The last 100 miles where difficult. The wish of our arrival and the harshness of the wind, that was blowing stronger than ever on a close reach got on our minds and bodies. Winds averaged 25 knots gusting into the 30’s and we wre caught by big waves breaking on our decks, filling the cockpit with water. It felt as if bombs were hitting Lumbaz on her port quarters. It was a very intense night and we thought about abating down to Hiva Oa, which would have been an easier course. But we only had 70 miles to go!!
The night went through sleepless and we kept our course. And with the first light from the sun came the sight of land. Majestic and imposing stood Fatu Hiva ahead of us!!
We kept looking at those high volcanic cliffs drop into the sea, covered by tropical vegetation and thick stormy clouds hanging over the island peaks.
The sight was dramatic and beautiful.
We felt very proud, specially of our young crew, and thankful for the safe journey we were leaving behind.
And so, after 22 days of sailing and more than 3000 miles behind us we arrived in Fatu Hiva
We had a triumphant entry into the bay of Hanavave “Baie de vierges”. Since there were a lot of boat anchored in the bay we looked for a nice spot on the eastern side and started dropping the hook to a depth of approx. 25 meters. When we had eased about 20 meters of chain the windlass stopped making noises. It would’t turn, nor lifting nor dropping any more chain than the one that was already out.
After a quick check (unsuccessful) and some maneuvering, we decided to drop the rest of chain we had (100m or 300 ft) in a depth of 40 m to stay away from the other boats. We obviously did so by hand, leaving Lumbaz with little scope to hold the anchor. But we hoped it would hold for the night.
It is hard to describe what we felt in that precise moment, our hearts tumbled on the floor. The excitement of being anchored close to shore was big, but knowing that without a windlass we could not do the cruising we envisioned (Marquesas, Tuamotus) felt like a cold shower, even worse, like a sword stuck on our back. We spend two nights doing anchor watches, since Hanavave is probably, apart from one of the most beautiful, also one of the gustiest anchorages in the world. Katabatic winds funnel down the hills, hitting the yachts with up to 40 knots. They do not last long, but we had more chances of waking up in the middle of the ocean with 100 m of chain hanging from our bow than to still be anchored in the bay. But the anchor held.
The sailing community consists of a bunch of people from all over with different histories and diverging futures. But we all have something in common. Our situation can turn from heaven to precarious in any moment and we mostly only have each other to help. So we do help. And so we found a lot of good people willing to help solve our problem.
The first thing was to gather the strongest guys in the bay to hoist 100 m of chain linked to a 40 kg anchor by hand.
Ariel, Adrien, Jon, Eric and Ulf pulled like no one had seen since the Romans and it took 2 hours to get the anchor on deck. We then proceeded to anchor in 15 m of depth in a spot a departing yacht had left. We now could enjoy Fatu Hiva and go ashore in peace.
The next days were spent by Dani with Eric’s and Ulf’s help to demount the windlass, clean and prep it and change a brush that Damien on Zouk had as a spare.
Our windlass was working again!! That was a big party and joy. The Marquesas and Tuamotus were open to us again. We now have a windlass that works spotless and a bunch of new friends.
In the bay there were 7 boats with kids. At one stage we had 12 kids on board, Swiss friends for Nils, French friends for Noa and Luna and Swedish ones for Ainara.
We have enjoyed Fatu Hiva with their dances to the sound of the Taburé, it’s incredible walks along the cliffs with stunning views, swims in the rivers.
We befriended with Simon, a Tiki’s sculptor with whom we walked into the forests to gather manioc, bananas, uru or breadfruit, pampelmouse, papaya and ginger. Money has little use in Hanavave, since there is only a small supermarket that gets filled every 3 weeks when the AraNui3 ship arrives from Papeete. What works here is the exchange and so we changed fruit and veggies for pencils, shirts or books. We also went to the school to read stories and to church on Sunday. Everybody dressed up and the woman wear flower crowns and collars. The mess is sung in marquesian language to the sound of ukeleles.
Our door to Polinesia could not have been a better one!!