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Pacific Crossing, Days 21-23
Landfall in Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia
Day 21 - March 12
Distance sailed: 115 nm
Total distance sailed: 2,496 nm
Distance to Hiva Oa (as the albatross flies): 191 nm
Wind: E 3-5 kts
Weather: Sunny and HOT
Sail Plan: Spinnaker and mainsail up from first light to last light then motor sailing with all 3 white sails
Oh Captain, My Captain
I can count on one hand the number of people I would trust to sail me safely across an ocean. Lucky for us, Andrés Jacobo is one of those very few.
Here’s why he is such a fantastic Captain:
He is so smart. Ana María is an amalgamation of many complex systems sailing in an environment of complex systems (wind, swell, current, squalls, etc.). He understands them all and how they all interact.
He is strategic, able to foresee and avoid problems as well as seize opportunities. We’re reaping the benefits of this strength of his, avoiding the worst of the swell (‘If we jibe tomorrow at 9 a.m. then for the entire time we are in the trade winds we will have our swell on our stern instead of our beam.’) and making the most of the wind. When you examine our achieved average speed and minimal use of the engine, you’ll see the proof is in the pudding.
He’s got a sailor’s intuition. All those afternoons learning to sail in alligator-infested Florida lakes, all those Saturdays sailing a Laser on Lake Washington, all those evenings sailing the wooden boats on Lake Union - all that time invested is paying major dividends now. He instinctively understands how to get the most power and comfort from Ana María.
He’s a skilled problem solver. Our friend Seth once told us, ‘The most important skill in sailing is being able to quickly figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it.’ Time after time, Andrés Jacobo demonstrates this skill.
He’s an economist. Most people are surprised to learn he majored in Economics at the University of Florida, not Computer Science. He is an economist at heart, always thinking on the margin. Every decision he makes is made with the utility curve in mind. Sure there may be some folks who cross an ocean using less fuel or who use more fuel to get there faster but I can’t imagine there is a captain who has maximized the utility of the fuel better than Andrés Jacobo.
He’s so handsome. If you’re going to look at only one person for 21 days, it sure helps that he’s cute.
Many people have helped get us where we are today. For instance, Captain Phyllis Woolwine taught me to sail. Luke and Emily Jost showed up for dinner one night and ended up helping us mount Paulita, the Monitor Windvane, on the back of Ana María. My father-in-law dedicated weeks to helping us prepare Ana María for an ocean passage.
Then there’s Hal, our South African Rigger. The most experienced ocean sailor we know. We would not be the blue water cruisers we are today without him.
Hal was generous towards us, always willing to share his expertise and experience, never leading us astray but always nudging us in the right direction with an ‘If I were you…’
‘If I were you, I would fix that crack in your rudder.’
‘If I were you, I would replace that pitted shaft before it breaks and punctures your hull and sinks your boat.’
‘If I were you, I would refurbish that whisker pole so you can run wing-on-wing.’
Many times on this trip when the conditions have challenged us, I’ve found myself asking ‘What would Hal do?’
We’ve felt his spirit of patience, graciousness, and wisdom present with us on this crossing.
Day 22 - March 13
Distance sailed: 95 nm
Total distance sailed: 2,591 nm
Distance to Hiva Oa: 98 nm
Wind: ESE 5-8 kts
Weather: Sunny and hot
Sail plan: Spinnaker and mainsail up from first light to last light then motor sailing with all 3 white sails
‘You may discover that time spent alone on the vast ‘ocean wilderness’ is equally magical – some might even say spiritual. In any case, you are in for a grand adventure, which you will not soon forget.’ Pacific Puddle Jump Fleet Letter #2
As a person of faith, when I read that, I wondered ‘What kind of spiritual experience awaits me in the Pacific?’
Now I can say the most profound experience has been a humbling of my spirit.
With the impending achievement of a colossal goal, there is no accompanying sense of conquer. I don’t feel we have been victorious over the wild ocean. No. If anything, a simple relief and gratitude that we’ve been allowed safe passage.
I have been humbled by this ocean that is mighty and expansive and terrifying and authoritative.
I have cowered in fear against the electrified power of the squalls.
I have been amused by the sight of our dinky little masthead light paling in comparison to the brilliance of all the stars in the universe.
I have been amazed by the birds, fish, whales, and dolphins we have seen thriving here in what to us is such an inhospitable environment.
We have come out here and found we have limits, limits much more constraining than those of the natural world surrounding us.
‘You have made us finite creatures that we might be held and known.
You have made us finite creatures that we might exult in the infinite wonders of your beauty, your majesty, your love, your power.
We have traveled this day to the bounding sea, O Lord, to the far edge of the habitable land, as to the utter end of our own measure and ability and strength,
to find here reminders of your limitless presence extended immeasurably beyond us.’
A Liturgy for Arriving at the Ocean
Thank you to Jan D., Susann & Hannes H., Judy P., Dean & Barbara on s/v Nanook, Bob H., Deborah G., Jennifer K., Jacky P., Jackie N., and Bonnie & Austin H. for providing this week’s encouraging words and dinner time entertainment!
We so appreciate every single person who took the time to send us a note of encouragement for this journey. We savored every word, laughed at all the jokes and movie quotes, sang your songs, remembered those stories long forgotten, enjoyed reading of your own adventures (Norway, Italy, passage to Hawaii, deciding to have a baby), and shed a couple tears at the heartfelt sentiments.
Even the simplest best wishes brought smiles to our faces knowing you were thinking of us.
Day 23 - March 14
Distance sailed: 112 nm
Total distance sailed: 2,703 nm
Distance to Hiva Oa: 0!!!!!
Wind: Dead calm
Weather: Partly cloudy and stifling
Sail plan: Motor-sailed with mainsail and staysail
For the past two days, my mind has been anxiously flipping through What If’s.
What if North Korea hacked GPS while we’ve been out here and we’re not actually close to land at all?
What if our engine gets flooded with salt water and bites the dust?
What if our sails get tired, give up, and rip to shreds?
We’re so close yet it feels like we’re never gonna get there. It reminds me of when my pregnant friends get to the point in their pregnancy when they’re convinced they won’t ever have the baby and they’ll be the first woman to be pregnant forever.
It’s probably normal to be going stir crazy. I mean, imagine if you drove from Miami to Seattle (about the same distance we’ve just sailed) at only 6 mph without ever being able to pull over and stop. Wouldn’t you too be going a little mad?
The light winds and flogging sails haven’t helped morale much.
But now I have come into the cockpit for the last night watch and see we’re only 17 nm away from land.
The anxiety melts into excitement as we sail the final miles towards Hiva Oa, the Southern Cross serving as a guidepost to Port, and Mars its counterpart to Starboard.
Towards the end of my shift the time on my phone abruptly and automatically changes from 6:40 a.m. to 3:10 a.m. Marquesan time. The first official sign that we’re close. Real close. My heart starts to beat faster, but no land visible yet. Twenty minutes later, red splotches start to appear on the 8 mile radius of the radar screen. I don’t think it’s a squall!
Half an hour later, I get my first whiff. Dirt. Earth. It’s true what they say, you really can smell land. It’s a smell you don’t even realize you’ve missed, a smell you don’t realize you can identify until it fills your senses once again after a long absence.
I watch the radar and my AIS target map but avoid looking at the horizon. I want to wait until Andrés Jacobo wakes up to actually see land so he can share the moment with me, but I’m more impatient than a kid on Christmas morning. Turning my back to the direction of land is the only way I can contain my excitement and keep a grip on my last ounce of patience.
To buy some time I shut off the engine and trim the sails. We’ve lost a knot and a half of speed but the sails are still gently pulling us toward safe harbor.
Finally at 14:27 UTC, 04:57 local time, with the sun rising behind me, I can’t wait any longer. ‘Bud, you’re gonna wanna see this.’
‘Ok, I’m coming,’ he mumbles from his sea berth below.
He climbs out into the cockpit and we turn to look to Starboard. The steep cliffs of the Eastern point of Hiva Oa stare back at us.
A squeal of excitement bubbles up within me as my arms instinctively shoot up in the universal sign of victory.
We made it.
WE MADE IT!!!
Weighed anchor in Los Frailes, Baja California Sur, Mexico on 2/20/23
Made landfall in Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia on 3/14/23
Total Distance Sailed: 2,703 nm
Passage Duration: 22 days, 4 hours
Average speed: 5.08 kts
Engine hours: 56 hours
Fuel used: 17 gallons
Max wind speeds: 40 kt squalls, 32 kts sustained
Spinnaker days: 9
Ships seen: 19 (only in the Northern Hemisphere)
Squalls: Dozens, felt like hundreds
# of times divorce was mentioned: 0 :)
Crew injuries: 0
Items broken on passage: Autopilot compass*, tear in mainsail at reef 1, chafed genoa foot, Monitor Windvane sacrificial tube*, boat speed instrument, screws in genoa furler*, wind instrument on masthead*, rudder bearings, screws in boom vang*, head exhaust fan, SeaTalk data connection*.
*fixed at sea
Make sure to check out our route and read Andrés Jacobo’s log by clicking on the track at https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/AnaMaria
THANK YOU for reading and being on this wild adventure with us!
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P.S. BIG thank you to my sister, Anne Marie, who made sure these logs made it all the way from Ana María in the middle of the Pacific to your inbox!
And special thanks to Dirk and Silvie on s/v Lison Life who surprised us in the Hiva Oa anchorage and treated us to a celebratory landfall ice cream.
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