Are We There Yet?

June 1, 1997, (Sunday)

We are now well past the half way point and we are micro-navigating. We are constantly calculating the miles remaining to the Marquises. We have less than 500 miles to go. I am getting anxious to put my feet on ground again. The swells have been consistently on our beam and we are getting bounced around quite a bit. Phill doesn't seem to mind the action but I'm less tolerant. I often wonder if I will ever be able to walk standing straight upright again. I'm so use to diving for a seat or leaning my head against a wall while I'm doing a chore.

As if we didn't have enough challenges already. The wind generator has started vibrating. I guess it is tired of running 24 hours a day. We noticed that the tip of one of the blades was missing a four-inch section. Another blade was missing about one inch. All three blades had small chips on the trailing edges. It appeared that the blades were disintegrating from use. We eventually had to discontinue using the unit to prevent permanent damage. We were not pleased with this situation because the wind generator was less than six months old and had only been use for the last two months. This was to be a real problem as this was one of our primary sources of recharging the batteries. Our solar panel was not doing a very good job of subsidizing energy. We eventually had to run the engine to maintain the batteries.

We also had noticed that there was water on the carpet just outside the door of the head. We assumed that the water was the result of splashes from our showers. However, I became a little suspicious of these spots. They seemed to be getting bigger no matter how hard we tried to be careful when showering. We decided to check the bilge now, rather than wait until we reached land. It was a good thing we did this. The bilge was full of water. We began checking the bilge switches and determined that we had a faulty wire, causing the bilge pump to not work unless it was turned on manually. We rewired the bilge pump and still could not get it to work. We replaced the float switch with a new unit. This was also a waste of effort. The pump still did not work. As it turned out, we had blown a fuse. It seems we rewired it for nothing. We replaced the fuse and put the old float switch back on and we were in business. We would watch this situation because we were not sure why the fuse had blown in the first place. Phill told me to not worry so much about water in the bilge. He has never had a boat with a dry bilge, no matter how hard he tries to create the right environment. I guess Mouse Pad will have a wet bilge and I should learn to relax.

The Autopilot is also getting tired. It now will not stay in gear. The clutch disengages at will. This is a true test of our patience. Neither of us were looking forward to hand steering even if we only had 500 miles remaining. We found that we could baby the unit and it would stay in gear for long periods of time. We could not leave it unattended as it gave us no warning when the clutch released itself. We would just begin to head into the wind and became aware that we were seriously off course.

During the night we had the pleasure of another guest. This time the guest (bird) flew into the cockpit. Again Phill decided to leave him alone. His reasoning was that the bird would find his own way out of the cockpit. This seemed reasonable to me. I guess I was less concerned because I was sitting a lot more forward in the cockpit than Phill and knew that I could duck down below if the need arose. The bird just settled into a corner and began a nap. Phill forgot about the bird until he stepped sideways and touched the bird's feathers with his bare feet. This sure caused a lot of commotion in the cockpit. I'm not sure who more scared, the bird or Phill. We eventually covered the bird with a towel and hoisted him into the wind.

The closer we got to the Marquises, the more we got pushed high of the rhumb line. We were constantly altering course and sailing more and more close-hauled. Little did we know but we wouldn't have to worry about this much longer. The winds were diminishing and we were forced to turn on the engine. We (me more than Phill) were anxious to reach land and found ourselves not so patient with light winds. We were not willing to add a couple more days to the trip just to take advantage of very light winds and save fuel. We opted to use the fuel. We were hoping that it would not be necessary for very long but as it turned out, we motored the rest of the way (the last two days).

We decided that we should run the water maker enough to fill up all three water tanks as we didn't know whether there was good water available at the anchorage once we arrived.

It was the morning of June 4 that we saw land. What a joy this was. We had successfully navigated our way from the northern hemisphere to a specific location in the southern hemisphere. The island (Hiva Oa) was a beautiful sight. Partly due to our desire to be on land but mostly because of it's natural beauty. We are here, safe and sound after 20 days and 2750 miles. As we rounded the island, we (I) became more and more anxious. I was dying to see other boats. Phill was less concerned with seeing other boats and people. He was assuming we would see a couple but not many because thought we were arriving in the Marquises late in the cruising season. Boy was he in for a surprise, this was actually mid-season. As we rounded the last point before the anchorage I was elated. There were probably 20 masts poking the little heads above the breakwater. I was so glad to see that there were other boats still out there. I was sure we were alone in the southern waters. I could hardly wait to talk to people and touch land. More importantly I wanted to sleep a full night and eat a properly prepared meal


NOTE: Comments and suggestions should be sent to Jerry Reese, Council Bluffs, IZ.


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