From Panama to the Marquesas – in 37 days through the pacific

First week in the Pacific

On Saturday, march 4th, finally the big moment is there – we think that we have done everything that had to be done, in the morning Reto had to go up one last time into the mast to secure the new “lightening antenna”, we tell our parents that we are leaving now, and then we go anchor up heading towards the marquesas.

The pacific welcomes us in a very friendly way, the first sailing day we have excellent wind, a calm literally flat sea and so make 163 nm (nautical miles) in the first 24 hours.

After half a day we get our first 4 fish

On the first morning we catch two times two tuna within one hour, all of them in a nice size of around 2 kg each, giving me a lot of work on that day…the next few days the menu is full with tuna carpaccio for lunch and tuna fillet for dinner…

with the parasailor into the sunset
And another beautiful sunset
sunrise in the doldrums
our first bird using SHE SAN as cleaning station
while he is cleaning himself
…and after a while he is dry and clean

Then already on the second evening the wind turns completely off, but Reto takes it cool, he puts the alarms on and sends us both sleeping… in the morning at 2 am we continue sailing, but the coming days we move with a rather disappointing speed and only make 70, 74, 94 nm per day..

We stay cool and enjoy the width of the pacific, the sunsets and sunrises, the weak wind sailing with the parasailor during the days and find a lot of sleep due to the calm conditions.

Our wind forecast shows us the zone of a low east of Galapagos, which apparently should bring us some nice sailing winds in the north of Galapagos going west. We adapt out course and go a little bit faster, but still only make 101, 106 and finally 128 miles per day.

In that region quite close to Galapagos we get a series of visits from birds.

The first one comes on board and is totally wet and looks like he just got out of bed.

We then watch him cleaning himself thoroughly for many hours, then he uses our beam and bimini as his toilet, moves a bit to the next clean spot, takes a good nap and in the morning hours he goes off again.

The first of this days birds dares to land..
…should I really land there?
, yes, now it is done
then they are three…
In the end it’s more than 8 on board…

Two days later his colleagues come, the first two with blue “mouths” and red feet.

After the landing of the first one it takes quite a while that the second one also dares to land, then they happily kiss, clean themselves and take a nap. Then a third one comes of the same kind and still everything is fine.

But soon after other kinds come on board, they start to fight between them and when we have a total of 8 or nine of these rather large birds on board, we have to take the decision to send them away.

The first four come back after a while and we let the stay on the bow where the cleaning is not so problematic…

Other than that we are busy with the routines on board, that means sleeping and eating, the kitchen and cleaning (me) and making the communication via short wave radio (Reto). In addition I have to do the daily check on fruits, vegetables and eggs, and especially the eggs are disappointing this time, the daily turning of them only works for a part of them…

Second and third week in the Pacific

Slowly we move further westwards because the promised winds generally do not appear.

sunset with cloud towers

Most of the time we move with the current of up to two knots and only a little more dire to the flapping of the sails in the little wind that there is…

a beautifully squall next to us 😉
And another squall

In addition we regularly get squalls, mostly at night but also quite frequently during the day. In the meantime I am even sometimes happy about them because they bring some wind, at least for a short time…

The first large dolphins visit us

One evening just before sundown we are visited by a school of large dolphins, heavy animals moving slowly but they are also able to jump up and turn completely out of the water. We are fascinated and follow them with our cameras, but they only appear from time to time and therefore t is quite hard to take a picture of them.

after two weeks we pass the equator!

After 15.5 days we finally cross the equator! We both follow the event staring at our GPS, but since it is 2 am we only give Neptune a nice rum but for ourselves we save the “equator beer” for the next day 😉

The sea is flat, that’s really the doldrums
and another beautiful sunset in the doldrums

On that day we really have the doldrums feeling, the sea is completely flat, we use the engine for more than 24 hours.

But also the following days the situation does not improve much, on the contrary, we get in addition a strong current from the side, and even with the engine at cruising speed only move with 4 knots…

a squall behind us seen on the radar

Then, on Thursday, Mar 23rd, we have a great wind but from the other side than expected. During the night we pay the price and heavily get haunted by squalls the whole night through.

Unfortunately we still have the main sail up without a reef, therefore we have quite a lot to do not to get too much pressure in the sail during the 25 knots wind peaks in the squalls…

Then the next morning the wind takes a break again for a few hours and then finally starts from the right direction. We think we have made it now, we are in the steady trade winds!

Fourth and fifth week in the pacific

A rainbow comes out after the squall

Unfortunately we learn that there is a new additional ITCZ and unsteady winds are going down to 10 degrees south and even further. so we change our course, also go further south to 11 degrees south, but again we only have little winds for the coming ten days and the speed is rather at 4 knots than 5 or 6 which we would have in “normal conditions”.

Well, what is normal, in today’s world? It seems that there is a chance that 2017 is the third El Niño year in a row, that for sure is not really normal…

Our first two wahoos

But in order to keep us busy we at least have quite a number of bites and most of them we are able to bring in. After two wahoo (nice to have some white meat for a change…) we catch another small and medium Bonito with 3.3 kg.

Then one morning Reto calls me urgently while I have my hands fully covered with bread dough, as the Genua seems to be flying off the boat. We take it down and recover it from the see and quickly realize what has happened: the shackle of the new profurl furling system is broken. We are surprised, the thing was not inexpensive and should last a bit longer we should think. A replacement is quickly found, but how to get up the sail again, as it normally is taken up rolled in? In the wind shade of the beamed out main sail and with the help of a rope serving a a kind of a provisory forestay we get it up the same day and are happy to have found a solution and that nothing more broke or happened.

On one of the evenings we forget to take the fishing lines in, and just after sunset we have a bite, a big one we immediately realize. We take one hour to bring him close to the boat, then the line rips off. I a happy, because the huge shade most probably belonged to a rather large animal, I presume that it was a shark…

Almost lost the rod with this catch
the 2 6 kg thunas just fit into the kitchen
cleaning, cutting out the filets etc. is getting routine
air dried Thuna, just like BĂŒndnerfleisch 😉

Next catches are again tunas with 4 and 5 kg, and two days later another two with each 6 kg.

The last catch almost costs us our fishing rod, since the line goes out to the end and in the end rips the rod out of the fixation, only the line securing it still holds it attached to the boat…

Now we are really full with tuna on board… the two fish are the new record on SHE SAN, we never had such a big catch before, but only seconds after taking the fish in board we have a new speed record as well. Because of the fish we didn’t pay attention to the weather and a squall coming over us makes our SHE SAN accelerate up to 15 knots of speed, well luckily only for a short time…

The last couple of nights we get in addition some terrifying lightenings all around us, but thanks god they stay away from us far enough.

Finally Land!!

Reto is very proud of his self made flag

Then, on Monday, April the 10th we finally we see land on the horizon! We are approaching Hiva Oa!

A few hours later we struggle to find a place in the anchorage, move 3 times and finally stay outside the harbor where there is a bit more swell, but at least enough space.

After 37 days out in the ocean a good feeling! We have a couple of beers and go to sleep…

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Pacific crossing from Panama to the Marquesas
Pacific Crossing Panama to the Marquesas

One thought on “From Panama to the Marquesas – in 37 days through the pacific”

  1. Thanks again for sharing the blog and your experiences! You both are very resourceful at handling events!
    Have fun, rest up and I look forward to the next experiences!

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