ARRIVAL MARQUESAS - HI LIFE AND LO LIFE IN THE PACIFIC

Thank you for all your fantastic emails which really lifted us when we were
alone
in mid Pacific and feeling a bit down (at times). But for real highs and
lows you
cant beat 15 tonnes of boat surfing at 7-8 knots down
12 foot waves. When Intrepid does this, we balance on the top of a wave,
then tilt dooooown until the bow
is actually some 12 feet lower than the stern, with the person  on watch
looking
down at the bow rushing towards the bottom of a wave that seems to have no
end, and the whole boat wiggles her stern like she is enjoying it as
well.......... In addition to gravity pushing us down
the wave we have the  big genoa out to left, jib out to right and main
sail also out to right with usually 25 knots of wind from behind pushing us,
3/4 moon, stars, squalls on either side of us. Then we reach
the bottom and she gives one last roll and we wait for the next one.....Its
easy to get hooked on this (which by the way is more than you can say for
the fish....out of 4 boats we asked, they only caught a total of 2 fish
...maybe overfishing is not a myth...)

Only 1000/500/292/200/120/75... miles to go just 7/4/2/1.5/1/0.5 days
sailing,we are just
allowing ourselves to
think of what we
will do when we arrive - Christian - a bar an ice cold beer a hamburger,
repeat as often as required. Nicky- just to stand still on a surface that
does not move. Caroline - listen to the quiet (she has been hearing voices
in
the rigging at night). Me - slowly let the
realisation sink in that we have sailed to a new culture - Pacific Culture,
and the 3000 miles have been worthwhile. If you have an atlas nearby, you
will find the Marquesas at 10S 140W, roughly 4000 miles west of South
America.

Even at the speed we are going barnacles are still managing to hang on
and thrive. Think of the worst place they could be ---yes they seem to have
successfully formed a colony over the aft
toilet outlet. Opening the seavalve to have a look in 4000 metres of water
seemed unwise, so we unblocked the pipes from inside...oh the joys of
cruising!!

Caroline used our sextant for the first time under the tutelage of
Christian yesterday and got our position to within 0.2 of a mile.
Brilliant!!!
We have thrown away the GPS......(only joking).

Almost all  the boats in a 3000 mile crossing have some breakages; its
probably the main challenge, and involves having spares and being able
to mend things at sea. For example one nearly new HR yacht had their
generator cooling break last week - jeopardising all their frozen
food and navigation - they currently have the cooling water pumping through
a bucket - then
their battery charger broke. 3
days ago Intrepid broke the slider on the mast holding the 4 metre
long pole that we use
to keep our genoa pushed out.  Fortunately we had a spare slider, but we
want to replace the broken one. Chris and
Jill (from Sydney) who are joining us in Marquesas have done wonders finding
other stuff
but there are no replacement sliders in stock in Aus or NZ - however I
managed to
repair
it  by tapping in new oversized screws in place of the smaller ones that
failed. We'll test it tomorrow.....(and it worked fine)

The only injuries so far have been Caroline stubbing her toe against a
door, and my thumb which I must have ground lava into in the Galapagos while
snorkelling.

2 evenings ago 30 naive dolphins met us - smaller than Atlantic ones - they
cant see many boats -
they kept their distance at first but later came closer and showed off doing
belly flops, and stayed almost the whole night. This was our first contact
with another  mammal for a whole week so I am afraid we clustered around the
bow trying to communicate.........Pathetic isnt it?

But we did manage to watch Finding Nemo and Shrek 2 on DVD in 2
special movie evenings with popcorn (and a designated watchkeeper but no
usherette); no a.c but we have 4 fans where we sleep and at the chart table
which cool us when the wind is insufficient.

I am sorry to say that the cabbage continues ( we threw the remnants away
today) - and a rather fetching orange
fleshed calabash which has come all the way from Panama and tasted
excellent. Its good to be actually using the tins we provisioned with - we
could still go another month or 3 if we had to.

People often ask how we get on, 4 people of different ages, characters in a
small space on an ocean. Its difficult to answer really - part is just like
a kindergarten (or an office - much the same) -  we structure the day with
events like radio net,
night watches, regular
little competitions like estimating
distance travelled, then add some shared work activities like fishing, etc
and shared socials like sundowners and meals. We
then define individual space by
conventions that include a person in bed or sitting on the foredeck is held
to be in private space and therefore not to be disturbed. We each volunteer
as things need doing eg cooking, cleaning, repairing, tidying and generally
find that supply and demand equate; (when we get bored we want to do
something, anything.......). We give praise for good results eg great fresh
baked bread! or 'well executed sail change' and are careful with criticism
when the
result is not so good, (a trifle overdone maybe, a little noisy....?)
because
 on a boat it pays to be polite, and criticism provokes a counter attack and
is difficult to defuse....I
know.....we try to avoid giving advice when its really our personal
preference for how things are done, as it can be
perceived as interfering...
..its really about professionals sharing the same objective which requires
teamwork to achieve. But it is a long time on passage.........I hope we are
still
speaking when we arrive! We are at the moment........and its a lot more
enjoyable for the many ..............interactions .

I have my own private game - walking round the boat without hanging on,
trying to balance just by anticipating the roll of the boat. Its a thrill
when you get it right and walk right across the boat, pick something up and
walk back just
balancing....(can't you just see me - the little kid in the playground doing
a funny walk....) I think its a
bit like
tuning into a new environment where everything moves as a matter of course,
and still is the exception. I am
pretty sure I will fall flat on my face when we hit dry land.

The radio net we started is going from strength to strength on 8A at 1030
UTC - as the net controller nears land, he passes it on to a yacht further
back and we are already on our 3rd controller with very high check in rates.

Intrepid has done magnificently - she has been totally dry in some pretty
awful weather, and has looked after us well - we  have tried to do the same
for her.

I asked everyone on Intrepid for their advice to anyone considering a
similar trip: a selection: take pot noodles and a laser pointer for the
stars, more
drinks mixers (as you see life was tough), bring a skill to teach others,
GSOH, set up a radio net, enjoy trying out new things especially cooking and
new sailing rigs, .......

But thats for the future, what really matters is that we are almost there,
we should be able to see Hiva Oa at sundowners time (6pm) a real real cause
for celebration....Well we celebrated (what's the point of spoiling a
perfectly good celebration just because we couldn't actually see Hiva Oa at
6pm?)
and then the wind continued to remind us that its only
thanks to it that we have got this far anyway and it can turn on and off
at any time and change its direction. So we spent a fitful last night trying
to miss squalls and coax a few knots out of little wind, but at 8am on
Saturday 2nd April, a day late for April Fools Day we came up on deck and
there was Hiva Oa the first of the Marquesas, high (3800 feet), steep,
volcanic,
green, took in the empty fishing lines, swore at Pacific fish in general,
and entered the tiny harbour (1 ship every 3 weeks) and dropped anchor for
the first time in 22.5  days.

It felt really strange - we were all a bit scared I think, after all that
Pacific nothingness there were cars and houses and people...(not many to be
fair, the total population is only 1800 in an island 25 miles by 15).
Outrigger canoes zoomed round Intrepid paddled by 4 or 6 Marquesans, and
ukulele music wafted over the water (really). We made everything secure,
then cracked champagne, and because the only bank on the island isnt open on
Saturdays, went up the long long hill to Hanakee Pearl Lodge, where we ate
hamburgers on credit cards (if you see what I mean) , and the earth didn't
move, we listened to the silence, swam in fresh water, and lounged around
looking at the sea...and I didn't fall over (not until the 6th beer
anyway...) and felt we had finally arrived.

So that's it, we don't have to do any longer sails ever, and we can now
enjoy the unique Pacific way of life (and by the way the girls do look like
Gauguin painted them, the trees are mango, papaya and guava and it does rain
..in torrents). We really thank you for your emails and if you would like to
experience the Indian Ocean in 2006, let us know. Christian and Caroline
leave us here, but Chris and Jill arrive from Sydney on 10th April. C and C
have been real professionals and very good friends who have achieved what is
a long difficult exposed crossing.

With all best wishes from the crew of Intrepid, Andy Nicky Christian and
Caroline.

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