And just like that – we’re here. After a last fitful day of slow down, speed up, and try to time a perfect arrival while trying to decide where that perfect arrival is. We were aiming for the southwestern tip of Hiva Oa but would still had to sail down the southern side of the island for about 10 miles to reach the anchorage,
which we could do in the dark but… was that the best decision? Oddly, as Melody expressed, after over two weeks in the open ocean we were more nervous about land then we were about sea. I guess familiarity sometimes breeds comfort. We spent hours staring at the GPS counting down the arrival time to our weighpoint, calculating the hours remaining into a local time so we could maximize our daylight hours in the anchorage.
In one of our slow down moments we sustained the worst damage we’ve had all trip – a partial tear in the mainsail cover system. Another boat has already asked to borrow the sewing machine on board so it was coming out anyway, but still it will require some work to get the cover off and on the boom where it permanently resides. And it is frustrating to break something just hours from arrival. Previously our damage consisted of breaking a loop of line that was anchoring one end of the main sail preventer, which was really inconsequential in the scheme of things. The day before we left there was some damage to the dinghy lifting system, but that didn’t technically occur while we were underway so I’m not sure if it counts (Jeff says it does).
Overall, last minute damage not withstanding, it was an amazing trip. We reeled it off in almost exactly 17 days, not bad for a passage that averages 24 days (give or take). We averaged 167 miles a day, and only sailed about 150 miles more than the rhumb line. The amazing thing for sailing such a short course is that we stayed in the wind almost the whole time. I don’t have the exact numbers but a rough guess is we motored for 12-15 hours, and two of that was getting out of Banderas Bay because we left before the daily breeze picked up. Leaving on Good to Go Friday really was the right choice. Throw in some savvy decision making and some dump luck, but I don’t think we could have timed things any better, or chosen a better course. Listening to other boats give their positions on the net revealed that we were passing up multiple boats, although at least one, Cherokee Rose seemed to be pacing us. I would be hesitant to sail this trip again because I suspect I’ll never have another ride this great, no matter how many tickets I bought. Other than the last minute sail cover damage, I feel like we had about a perfect trip.
Yes, there were some moments of hang on, but 34 knots was the highest wind speed we ever saw, and that was just a momentary gust. We did push 30 knots for a couple minutes, but overall we sailed on and on, and on in 17-20 knots of wind. Listening to boats just behind us talk of days of light to no winds in the ITCZ makes it all the more amazing – for the most part we slid right through this notorious area. We did battle an adverse current for a few days, but suddenly it was a positive current boosting our boat speed so in the end I imagine it all averaged out. There were a few brushes with squalls, but nothing severe and no sustained rain fall. It
wasn’t just great wind and weather, we all had fun, enjoyed each others company, ate great food and just generally reveled in our amazing trip. I’m sad to see it end, but looking out at the amazing view of the cozy tropical bay we are now anchored in, I’m excited to explore a new country, take a turn at some hiking instead of sailing, and hopefully catch up with some old friends as other boats arrive.
We’ll be spending today getting checked in, cleaning up the boat and ourselves, catching up on some rest and other such things that come with landfall in a new country. I’ll try to resume the more interesting posts once we get settled in and I get my creative writing juices going – and maybe have some new things to write about. For now, we are here, it was a wonderful ride and we are all safe and happy to be here, if slightly sad to be done with the sail of our lives.