The passage lasted a little over 19 days, which it turns out is about as fast as any monhull made it this year. So that makes Slick T. Rocketship, Fish-Killing Machine, a very happy boat. The passage across the Pacific was easier than expected, although very lumpy. We are happy to be in the Marquesas though, it is beautiful here and all the locals are very friendly despite the language barrier (French). We made a video of the passage again. It is quite long though so I split it into three parts. If you don’t make it all the way through, I won’t be offended and it is probably going to be boring for most people, although I think it gets better,. But after spending 15 hours uploading the videos today, youtube seems to have lost them. So you will have to wait, I will link them when I can.

As for the passage itself, on the day we left we saw a huge sperm whale about 500 feet off our port, it was easily bigger than Slick and I think it would have hurt to run into. That night we had to dodge some unlit fishing nets and had a bit of excitement when the fisherman came up in their pongas to tell us to go around the nets. Nothing like being 100 miles out to sea and having someone chase you down in a mini-speed boat at night. We went around the nets under motor and finally came back under sail and deployed Martin. Moments later Martin wrapped up the dousing line of a drogue that came about a half mile off the nets. We were sailing along in 10 knots of breeze, broad reaching and boat speed was only 4 knots, we thought it odd, and then 3 then 2 then 1 knot and finally 0 and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong as the sails were plenty full. We were looking in the water and saw nothing. Finally I looked behind us with the spotlight to see Martin’s line stretched tight. We dropped the jib and luffed the main and winched him in, which was really winching Slick and the sea anchor closer together. We cut the sea anchor dousing line and off we went. Evergreen left with us and they were about 5 miles behind, so we warned them and they made it through uncaught. Along the way we saw a few other fishing vessels. There was one that we think we saw several times that would pull up his nets when we got near and scurry off, only to be found a few days later.

Stuff broke, of course. If you think about 2950 miles in rough swell, that is like 3-4 or more sailing seasons all rolled into one passage. One night the autopilot stopped working and that was scary as we still had a couple thousand miles remaining. We quickly repaired it though as it was only a Raymarine Seatalk network issue. The real problem though was chaffing. Everything chafes. We chafed through a spinnaker halyard and that caused us some delays. We pulled the halyard out and repaired it, but tangled the messenger line in the mast head shiv, so I had to go up the mast to free it. All the halyards chafed in fact. They seemed to chafe on the mast head shivs. The very same that I asked the rigger to replace and he said they were fine a few years ago. I guess those chips on the edge really are an issue. I am not sure how I will change them with the stick in the air. The eye-strap that the vang attaches to broke, and so I made a replacement out of Amsteel, it chafed through, so I had to make a better one. The repaired spin halyard chafed through again, as did the tack-line. That caused some excitement as we had to wrangle Helga, the small spinnaker, in and tie the tack line on. On the main, the out-haul also finished chafing through and had to have a temporary repair placed on it. The sails also took a beating, I had to repair the 145% jib as well as Helga. Considering though how rough the seas were, I am surprised we didn’t have more problems.

The weather was OK for most of the passage, as we approached the Marquesas we had some squalls and the highest winds we saw were around 35 knots. There was also a full day of 32 knot winds. The main problem though was that the winds were almost entirely out of the east, so we had to run dead down the entire way. Normally the wind is from the southeast which would have made for one nice long reach but not the case this time. We were never fully becalmed which was nice. According to some boats they were stuck bobbing for days, but I think the definition of becalmed varies from boat to boat and a spinnaker made all the difference for Slick. Also, we had fair current from 1-2.5 knots the entire way which was really great. All this combined for a fairly fast passage, even though we lost an entire day as Marten costs us a half knot of speed, so over the entire trip that added up.

The fishing on the trip was pretty good, I guess. It was off and on though. We caught 18 fish in total I think, 16 on the meat lines which is amazing. We caught 15 Mahi-Mahi, only one that was of a size we could eat, maybe 15 lbs or so. We also landed 2 Wahoo, one of which we should have eaten. The real prize though was a 36 lb Big-Eye Tuna. We caught him on the last day, and he was a real fighter. It took me about 30 minutes to get him in on the pole Captain Tom gave us and both the fish and I were beat after the fight. Nate gaffed him in and we cleaned him right away. I must have ate at least a pound of him while cleaning and more later. We are still eating him in fact, he has been feeding us the whole week.

We pulled in about 1 am or so local time and made our way around the anchorage for awhile. It is interesting here, since there is a break wall and the harbor opens to the southeast, which is where the swell comes from. We anchored behind the break-wall in a crowded anchorage and found a better spot in the morning. We recognize most of the boats here from Panama and some as far away as Florida (and Evergreens, from Boston, or course). We were also happy to see Axle from Gudwin had made it, that was the boat that ended up on the rocks in Academy Bay. All in all, I don’t think this was a particularly challenging passage and Slick was fast and mostly comfortable in the swell, except when the wind was down and the waves were up, then we just got tossed a lot.

Hiva Oa is what I picture paradise to be like. In fact, for the first time, I can understand why people cruise boats like this. There are tall mountains and beautiful valleys and bays and very happy people. Some of the food is subsidized so it isn’t so expensive, although the stuff that isn’t subsidized is really costly. For example we paid $16 for a six-pack of beer, ouch.

We have gotten plenty of hiking in. One day we went up a trail that took us too some petrogliffs. It was raining quite hard and this damaged my feet a bit. Nurse Heather from Evergreen now describes them as Abby-Normal. She is a nurse so I guess she would know. Nathan just thinks they came from hobbits. In any case, Nate and I went on another hike the next day that was really challenging and more than we expected. We were only wearing flip-flops and this made it pretty painful, but the hike was really great and went up the side of a valley. We were powered by subsidized baggets and brie cheese. The trail started to be washed out so we turned around but today Jon and Heather made it the whole way (with proper shoes) and said it the view rivaled the national parks in the States. Now I am upset we didn’t make it. We also rented a car and toured the island, seeing the ancient sites and Tikis. I think that for such a small island population the sites were more or less impressive. It is also incredible how much the locals care about their property too, all the lawns are very nicely maintained and there is no trash anywhere, quite a change from Central America and the Caribbean. Fruit grows wild all over, so it is easy to go and pick limes, coconuts, pampanoose (giant grapefruit sort of things) peppers and other edible stuff.

As soon as we figure out how to get the Evergreens some diesel we will move on to the next island. Apparently there you can swim with some manta rays and the water is actually clean, so we can finish off cleaning Slick’s bottom of all the crossing growth. We are really looking forward to the rest of the South Pacific and hope that it keeps getting better.