Tuesday, 22 October 2019

PANAMA TO MARQUESAS September October 2019

PANAMA TO MARQUESAS September October 2019




PANAMA TO MARQUESAS September October 2019



With repairs and maintenance all done we were ready to leave Vista Mar Marina and head into the big blue Pacific Ocean. 
The departure date was 5th September. Late in the season, but the option of staying in Panama until December or January was not attractive. We half decided to head towards mainland Ecuador and see what the wind threw at us. The first 24 hours was very light and we motored. Several grey squalls appeared on the radar but we were able to navigate around them, however, the further south we went, the harder on the wind we were forced to sail. After beating and bashing our way south for 5 days we gave up on Ecuador and turned west towards Galapagos. 
Stopping in Galapagos wasn’t an option because we had previously visited and our Autograpo, ( the Ecuadorean Entry Permit) was cancelled when we left to return to Panama. To visit again we would have been required to re-apply and pay the not insubstantial fees all over again. Had not several failures conspired to force our return to Panama, we’d have enjoyed the rest and re-provisioning option provided in the Galapagos.

What follows is the daily log which pretty much summarises the passage conditions.


DAILY LOG

Friday, Sep 6th  
6’20,74N  79’28,78W
We left Vista Mar Marina, just west of Panama City yesterday at 0800 local time. Conditions during the past 24 hours have been ideal for starting a long passage. Very light wind, so we’ve motored for the first 24 hours and covered a mere 130nm to the south. We didn’t even put up a sail until dusk. There was no thunderstorm activity and the day turned from very light drizzle to sunshine. This inactivity has enabled us to start our watch routine without interruption.  Getting the first three days of watches established is the hardest part of all long passages for us. We’ve had the forestay replaced and a number of critical blocks renewed so lines needed to be checked to ensure they crossed each other in the right way. It’s like knitting out there on deck with preventers, (we use double preventers) two sets of sheets, jack stays, (they’re for clipping onto as you move forward up the deck) furling lines and running backstays. They all have to be deployed from time to time and their interaction with each other whilst they’re in use is important to avoid chafe amongst other things so we need to check and realign them if necessary after having everything off. The light conditions have made that an easy task. The passing of several ships in the night helped to liven things up slightly. Not that there was any need to alter course or anything, it just adds interest in an otherwise empty dark place. This morning it’s slate grey seas and skies only 8 knots of wind so we will probably be motoring again shortly 
So in all it pretty good out here. 

Saturday  September 7th
4 42.53N. 079 23.80W
Another 130nm in a southerly direction has not bought us any closer to the Marquesas which still  sit 3784 nm to the west. The past 24 hours has been a mixed bag with some convective cells around. Nothing with much wind in it, but many variations in direction kept the watch person busy with course changes and sail adjustments. We had a few light showers. The moon made a brief cameo appearance from behind dense curtains of cloud at 11 pm and that was the end of that show. Sea conditions are fairly flat, maybe half a meter and no chop. Progress is slow with mostly light noserlies.  The plan is flexible as we amble towards Ecuador. It will depend on how much fuel we use.


Sunday 8th September 
03 45,51N 080 10,81W
Travelled 400nm and we are now 281nm from our departure point as the booby flies. 
We are bouncing around out here now. Sea state is back up to over a meter with breaking tops and short periods so Taipan is dipping the nose in from time to time. Around 20 knots of wind and healed over with the rail mostly in the water. Makes moving around something you do with particular caution. We made another 135 in the last 24 hrs. Certainly not record-breaking stuff but we are clawing our way south to a position from which we can launch ourselves West and hopefully pick up the current, which is allegedly quite significant at up to 2 knots.
Yesterday was another mixed bag with the odd wind shifts and some gloomy, rainy, poor visibility stuff. No traffic and no wildlife so it’s a bit lonely out here! We sleep a lot when not on watch, so roughly 12 hours a day at the moment. As we get into the groove that will change but for now every job is exhausting as the G forces threaten to toss you into a heap should your concentration or grip loosen. We are still at the grabbing snacks stage with a reheated, pre-cooked, frozen dinner each evening. 
Nothing more to report from the big blue briny. 


Monday 9th September
Day 4 3 16,79N 81 18,07W
Coffee. Any of you who know David know that he loves good coffee and this morning, undaunted by the undue angle and irregularity of motion he proceeded with the morning ritual. Imagine standing on the back of a Ute at 40 km an hour going across a paddock full of mallee roots, standing at a stove juggling coffee grounds and a 5kg coffee machine whilst pouring milk, keeping the machine on the glass top induction cooker and cutting cake.  All on a 15 deg angle.
Well, an unusually large mallee root followed by the hole from which it came caused the whole shebang to get airborne. In an extraordinary juggling display, he managed to save both the milk and the coffee machine and its cooker, however, the grounds, all neatly prepared, still dry, went 360degrees with velocity. 
An hour later, after splendid coffee and cake and a thorough clean up, I am still at a loss to know how such a relatively small amount of coffee grounds could infiltrate so large an area, even though louvre cupboard doors into cupboards!
We’ve managed another 130nm day, and since leaving 530, still not getting much closer, 320nm from Vista Mar and 3623 from Nuku Hiva
We are still looking for the elusive west-flowing current! 
Yesterday conditions improved as the wind and swell dropped enough to allow the galley to reopen for dinner. Beef casserole. Still a one-pot job though. The sun came out from time to time and by nightfall we had mostly bright stars and moonlight. 
Now mid-morning it’s back to 20 knots hard on the wind, some oblique countercurrent pushing us east and a bumpy ride. But the sun is shining! 
I’ve decided you need to be a very optimistic person to go sailing! Where is that current. Stay tuned. By the way any hints are welcome. We have no current, current data.


Tuesday 10th September 
Day 5
03 06’57N 083 29’09W 2200 UTC
Visibility is crap. It’s overcast and gloomy. There’s a sea mist and it’s quite damp. It’s very bumpy and the rail is still in the water. Enough said. 
Western Honolulu, a Philippine registered bulk carrier just past astern of us, heading south. They were making it look easy. They even had a couple of deck hatches open.
We are heading due west now so at least we are getting further from Panama and closer to the Marquesses 3462 nm west. Galapagos 437 South West. 
Yesterday a wayward headsail sheet slashed a hole in the dodger quarter window and today the water-maker won’t start. Think it’s just a fuse but it too rough to check it out for now. We’re eating sleeping and hanging on.


Wednesday September 11th
Day 6
03 00,76N. 85 44,28W
2330UTC. Heading 260 deg at 6 kn
3333nm to Nuku Hiva 476 from Vista Mar. Sailed 851nm
Conditions have moderated a little this afternoon after peaking last night with 26kn and 2.5m seas. 18 knots close hauled doesn’t seem so bad. Seas are still up but the chop has moderated. A couple of boobies did a low pass over the bow several times before abandoning any attempt to land. They prudently decided they could drown in the attempt!  Skies remain grey but it’s drier and there was an occasional glimpse of sunshine. At night now there’s a fine moon but sadly it’s been totally obscured by the dense cloud.
David excelled in the galley this morning after deploying a strap to tie himself in. He drummed up delicious bacon, scrambled eggs and roasted tomatoes. We’ve never used a strap before, always concerned that being tied in front of the stove in rough seas could be dangerous if something hot became airborne. The stoves gimbal works well though so the danger is probably minimal.  (Thanks James T for the tip)
We hope to see a gradual wind shift towards the south and maybe even south-east in the next couple of days. That would be more comfortable. We are double reefed and have only a small handkerchief headsail. We can go faster with more sail but that becomes intolerably uncomfortable and tiring to keep up for days on end.
Basically we are warm, dry, fed and well-rested, and making progress in the right direction, albeit slowly.


Thursday 12th September 
Day 7
02 50,94N 88 05,10W
COG 266
2230UTC. 135nm in past 24hrs 233nm SW to SAN Cristobal Galapagos, 3193nm to Nuku Hiva. Sailed 992nm and we are 591nm from Vista Mar
It’s still rough. Close hauled, and seas are bigger. The wind stayed around 25kn after a brief lull yesterday afternoon. A booby braved a perch on the bow overnight

Galapagos northernmost island Darwin Isl

Friday 13th September
Day 8
02 17,93N. 090 23,46W
COG 250
2230 UTC 145nm in the past 24 hours, 3048 nm to Nuku Hiva  1135 nm sailed. 732 as the booby flies from Vista Mar The northernmost Galapagos Island is 103 nm away and just south of our current course.
Still hard on the wind. Wind shifting through  30 degrees as we go from 15 to 22 knots in shifts. Sail plan is a compromise with sails set for the average and we just hang on in the higher wind range and get frustrated in the lower ones! An electric headsail furler would be a nice accessory about now. Boat speed ranges from 3 knots to 8 knots in the fluctuating conditions.
Overcast skies persist with occasional light drizzle reducing visibility. Rarely do we get a gap in the cloud cover enabling the sun to lighten the persistent dullness. It’s been long pants and long sleeve tops at night as it gets cooler approaching Galapagos where several ocean currents meet which caused the amazing diversity of flora and fauna to colonise and survive in these latitudes.
A few more birds about as we near land, and the big breeding colonies in the Galapagos. Frigates, Terns, Boobies, Tropic Birds. White heron type birds fish the phosphorescence at night in Taipans navigation light looms. Small black and white swifts or swallows, often in pairs, dart between the waves, just inches off the heaving iron grey surface.
We’ve seen no dolphins or whales, ships or fishing boats.
We’d like to get into the lee of an island tomorrow to hove-too and make repairs to the water-maker. Hopefully just a fuse or air in the lines from the very bouncy passage. Meanwhile pretty severe water rations continue. 
Black Friday and a full moon. No sign of any moon and let’s hope no sign of Black Friday. Galapagos sail past tomorrow hopefully. Full moon party here will be toasted sandwiches and a glass of wine! Stay tuned. 

Saturday 14th September 
Day 9
01 46,93N 092 15,94W
COG 267 @ 7kn
2230UCT
Sailed only 117 nm in the past 24 hours. 840 from Vista Mar 3048 to Nuku Hiva. Sailed 1252 since leaving VM 
Today was very slow. Wind died in the shadow of Galapagos and we were able to attend to the water maker. It started without incident. Seems we may have picked up bubbles because we were severely healed over and although the WM inlet is down near the keel, in the rough conditions it’s likely there were bubbles. It's working fine now anyway. 
As we moved out from the lee of the islands the wind picked up to 20 again so we’re back close-hauled and it’s getting bumpy again. The respite was nice. We do finally have maybe a knot of friendly current thought so our spirits are lifted along with our speed. 
Isla Darwin, the most northern of the Gal├ípagos Islands, was just 7 miles to the south of us.  We were not close enough for a great photo but I’ll include one anyway 
We did 1013nm to San Cristobal Galapagos on our last run this way in May, all on the wind with no autopilot. This trip has been 1252nm and rougher but with autopilot. This is now our longest close-hauled passage since purchasing Taipan in 2001.  There are patches of blue above and it’s cool as we’ve hit the current. Plenty of birds fishing around us today. We’re not fishing. It’s too rough.  The full moon party was good so we’ll have another one tonight 


Sunday 15th September 
Day 10. 2230UTC
O2 01,17N. 095 28,58W
COG 270
196nm sailed in 24 hrs. 2743 to Nuka Hiva. 1034 from VM total track 1447
A pleasantly surprising distance covered. Still 55 deg off the bow so rail often in the water. A minor drama this afternoon when a block holding the dingy failed. It’s all safely tied back up but one more SS failure. Wind around 17 to 20knots and seas 3m. Not a nice day for fishing! Had one flying fish and 3 squid die on deck and two Boobies roosting on the bow overnight. Quite a feat to hang on up there. A bit like the old Octopus show ground ride. Remember that?  It’s still very overcast but the cloud is higher and visibility is better. We are trying to add some more south to our track but until seas die down a bit it’s very difficult. 
Let’s see how we do in the next 24 hours 


Monday 16th September 
Day 11. 2330 UTC
01 57,17N. 098 49,90W
2819 Nm to Nuka Hiva
Today we cracked the 200 with 207 nm under the keel. Think we’ve found some current. Still windy. 15 to 20 at 60 deg off the bow. Still hanging on
Boobies roosted on the solar panels last night and left calling cards. A ship passed headed to Singapore and a few frigate birds circling around. Tropicbirds fishing in the moonlight last night. The nearest a Galapagos island is 414nm astern. 
Another SS fitting broke on the dingy lifting system, an eye bolt snapped. Now David has drilled an extra hole and pot a big U bolt through it so that’s fixed. There is still the other side to do. We will review the whole system when we get in. This new dingy is heavier and some of the lifting fittings are ageing now. 
It will be toasted sandwiches again unless the wind drops or backs. 
Cheers from the big blue.


Tuesday 17th September
Day 12 2230UTC
01°50’85N 102°01’54W
COG 260° SOG 9 knots
2377 to Nuka Hiva
Today we only managed 194 as a long part of last night the wind dropped to below12 knots  
today we tried to make water again and to our dismay, it would not start. After 5 hours of tinkering David installed a temporary diversion hose from the thru-hull directly to the Watermaker and bingo  Away it went happily providing full tanks a few hours later. The problem remains. Bubbles, but from a leaking fitting… that will have to remain a mystery until we are anchored in a beautiful bay in the Marquesas. meanwhile, the diversion works. 
This morning I made a fruit cake and chocolate while David was troubleshooting. We are now out of fresh milk and its UHT from here on so Cafe Latte quality had plummeted. The only other significant activity today was removing  Boobie shit from the solar panels, as we’ve had sun to use.
There's a strange phenomenon out here. We’ve both noticed it. Occasionally, there is a strong floral aroma, really beautiful smell. We are totally mystified. Anyone have any ideas??? Maybe its when the Boobie is hiding on the solar panel doing its business?? That I doubt.

Wednesday 18th September
Day 13 2230UTC
01°22’23N 105°39’34W
COG 258 SPEED 9 kn
2164nm to Nuka Hiva 1617nm by boobie to Vista Mar Total sailed 2061

This past 24 hours has been good run with Taipan leaving 221 nm of wake behind. 
The conditions have been sporty and rising to the occasion Taipan has been revelling in it. We’ve had around 13 to 17 knots on the beam and still reefed with an 80% headsail. The wind is about 70° off the bow.
Well rested and well fed the crew are just along for the ride at the moment. May it continue.

Thursday 19th September
Day 14. 2230UTC
00°37’47N 107°38’56W
COG230° SOG 5Kn

Becalmed. Had the day off today. We only covered 114nm up to 4.30pm The wind gradually died out between 11pm and 8am. We drifted in the current for a while and did a few housekeeping chores then raised the whole main and sailed slowly south because our weather routing programme said there was more wind there. Well, they might be right. Maybe it's somewhere there, but not where we are. But who’s complaining. Beautiful blue skies and glittering blue sea with a low long period swell. Very soporific. A freighter passed by on business south somewhere and we relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful day. The fishing line has even been deployed for the first time. No fish, of course, they all swim faster than us today. Holes developing the wind ahead so might be here a while yet. That's it from Taipan today

A wobbly line


Friday 20th September
Day 15 2230UTC 
01°06’34S 108°59’02W
COG 240° SOG 6 kn
Another slow day. 131nm  We had to motor for 15 hours as the wind died to just 3 knots. Dawn bought with it very low clouds and rain with winds up to 22knots briefly during a couple of squalls. As the day wore on, however, its cleared and we now have that lovely blue up, blue down sphere. Our 6th Equator crossing in Taipan occurred at 130am this morning. Afraid I was asleep! We changed the clock again today. Its a 5 hour time difference between Panama and Nuka Hiva so we’ve changed an hour at a time twice. 25 hour days.  We are passed the halfway mark and the sailing ahead looks like it may be slow with lighter winds. Either way, we are heading in the right direction with 2088 nm to go to Nuka Hiva. 


Saturday 21st September 2019
Day 16 2230UTC
02°14’66S 111°15’43W
COG 255° SOG 6.5kn
1763 nm to Nuka Hiva
Steady plodding today Averaged about 6.5kn. 153nm under the keel. Overcast and patchy rain with the odd period of sunshine. The wind has been mostly in the 10 to 12 range on the beam, with the occasion spike in rain patches. We shook the reef out for the day but put it back in now for the night, unsure of unpredictable squalls in the dark You can see them in daylight but even the radar will not pick them up at night unless they are quite wet.  A Chinese freighter passed a mile behind us last evening but that's all we’ve seen. Haven’t had the line out.

Sunday 22nd September
Day 17 2230UTC
03°02’34S 113°46’67W
COG 265 SOG 6.5
160nm under the keel this past 24 hours in light conditions again with wind ranging between 9 and 14 kn on the beam. Skies were clear last night and a beautiful half boat moon rose astern. I can’t recall ever seeing a half boat moon before. By dawn, it was overcast again but it dispersed throughout the day leaving a scattering of puffy clouds. Still no fishing going. Somehow we are just maintaining watches and eating and sleeping, with plenty of food aboard, the urge to fish isn’t strong. Swell is quite big, at least 3 m, but long period, making work on the deck a little precipitous. The water-maker has been running again this afternoon. It's not up to spec but probably because the temporary intake hose is a little small. All well aboard and looking at around 1591nm to Nuka Hiva.

Monday 23rd September
Dau 18 2230 UTC
04°08’35S 116°21’41W
COG270° SOG 7kn
1439nm to Nuka Hiva
Bang crash snap! The wind has all but disappeared and we started motoring and turned west, at 1230 pm local time, today. There is still a big long period swell to keep us rolling and causing the sails to slap. We are making ok time at 7 kn and have put 172 nm under the keel on the past 24 hours. Its been a beautiful sunny day with sparkling blue seas and plenty of dead flying fish and squid on the deck. We have polled out the headsail but there is just not enough wind to fly it so we are ready when it comes back. Hopefully, just 24 hours of motoring should get us into some more wind. Not enough wind at the moment for a spinnaker either. We are making water again this afternoon as it got too rough and bubbles caused the thing to stop yesterday so it was not full. We actually have a lure out this afternoon but no bites so far. We’ve really settled into this now and ….. maybe we’ll just keep going! It is only 5200nm to Byron Bay!! 

Tuesday 24th September
Day 19 2230UTC
04°51’20S 118°36’88W
COG245° sog 6kn
Same as yesterday. Still motoring for the past 28 hours. 141nm under the keel Nuku Hiva 1296nm
Hope some wind comes in the next few hours…….. Meanwhile its another beautiful day with lots of flying fish but no fish to eat. It's warmed up with evening temperatures pleasant enough not to need longs and scarves in the cockpit. Nothing new on the big blue.

Wednesday 25th September
Day 20 2230UTC
05°53’59S 120°50’91W
COG 260° SOG 7kn
Well, a puff of wind arrived around 10pm last evening and we killed the motor. 8 to 10 knots keep us moving without the autopilot having a meltdown so we continued at 3 and 4 knots until gradually during the day the wind has picked up. Now around 15 knots on the beam and we are now making progress again at around 7 knots towards Nuku Hiva 1161nm away. We put 149 under the keel over the previous 24 hours which was satisfactory and about all we could expect with motor. There are still no fish and now that the wind is up we have the line stowed again. It's a bit too rough for fish cleaning etc on the wing deck. the water temperature is up to 28° so we are truly out of any current now and it's back into shorts. Bright clear skies with spectacular stars last night. Try as I might, there's really nothing to report. So until tomorrow.


Passing Fatu Huku.on the last day, our first sight of French Polynesia

Thursday 26th September
Day 21 2230UTC
07°23’23S 123°17’18W
COG 260° SOG 7KN
173 nm under the keel in the past 24 hours. Until 1830 we had been reaching south-west but as the wind has now come more east we’ve deployed the headsail on the pole and are now wing on wing heading 260° Wind strength is around 14 to 18 kn with a decent surfing swell. Nuku Hiva is 1003 nm away. This is the first time we’ve deployed the pole on this trip. That's been a surprise as we had believed wed be doing a lot of downwind work. The strap will probably be deployed in the galley again tonight. Today has been another sunny clear warm day with no wildlife except flying fish of course. Plenty on the deck along with small squid. Now it feels like we are on the home run.

Friday 27th September
Day 22 2230UTC
08°03’75S 126°15’26W
COG240° SOG 7kn
186 miles this past 24 hours. That more like it! Wind switching a little more easterly and after tweaking the settings on the autopilot we are running straighter. The roll is less frequent and it's overall faster and more comfortable. The autopilot settings had it reacting too slowly to the quite big quartering waves so we were slewing off course and constantly correcting. All good now. Nuku Hiva is 826nm away and we are not quite making the course but we can adjust that later. Today we had a pair of kakrattlekark red-billed tropicbirds accompanying us. They are so pretty with their long fine tails. There have been a few other birds infrequently but definitely more bird activity. We need a decent Bird ID App. Not fishing, It's still too sporty to be cleaning fish on deck. Again it was sunny and warm with the occasional puffy clouds and very sparkly if somewhat playful white horses on the swell. I think Taipan smell the barn!!

Saturday 28th September
Day 23 2230UTC
09°22’92S 128°33’88W
COG250 SOG 7kn
160nm covered in the past 24 hours. The wind has been fickle and shifty. with rain showers and wind shifts from 8 to 20 knots making for uncomfortable sailing and tense moments when during squalls we are overheated but in the lulls underpowered and rolling. We have a full main up and partial headsail.  687nm to Nuku Hiva. No fishing and the birds have abandoned us too. Hanging on but making progress.

Sunday 29th September
Day 24 2230 UTC
10°04’42S 131°07’43W
COG275° SOG 6kn
159 nm have been dispatched this past 24 hours. The wind died out leaving that darn uncomfortable swell for a couple of ours requiring the motor to stop the sails flogging again. Quite soon though the sea flattened out, the wind filled in and we were sailing again with a quite good angle to Nuku Hiva 540nm away to the west of us. It turned into the sort of afternoon we had been expecting to see more of on this trip. Fairly flat sea with 14 knots on the stern quarter. Not fast sailing but very comfortable. 


Monday 30th September
Day 25 2230 UTC
10°13’00S 133°54’20W
COG 275° SOG 7kn
169 in the past 24 hours. A beautiful night making decent progress during the past 24 hours. Seas back up to same ol rolly thing. Not fishing!. 379nm to Nuku Hiva. The new moon followed the sun over the horizon before the skies blazed with stars last night. We’ve not had to jibe yet as the wind has come around enough to allow us to maintain a reasonable course. We will have to jibe some time though. All well-fed, well-rested and settled into the routine. Seems a shame to stop!!

Tuesday October 1st
Day 25 2230UTC
10°17’56S 136°28’13W

COG 290° SOG 6kn
161 nm in the past 24 hours. Jybed this afternoon and we’re now on the rum line for Nuku Hiva. Pity we can’t stop at the earlier islands but with a French Long Stay French and the complicated Carte de Sejour to be activated we are relying on an agent in Nuku Hiva so we must pass Hiva Oa which would mean a daylight arrival tomorrow and sail on into the night for a night time arrival in Nuku Hiva.  We would be breaking the law if we stopped without clearing in and we are not prepared to risk the denial of the visa should we be discovered. So it looks like a night time arrival. Depending on whether we may have to slow down for a dawn arrival but there is still 221 nm to go and things can change in that distance.


WEDNESDAY 2ND OCTOBER
DAY 26 2239 UTC
09°28’23S 139°02’33W
COG 280° SOG 7kn
165nm  under the keel during the past 24 hours.  Squally and rough. Passed Fatu Huku and could see the outline of Hiva Oa in the far distance around midday. Safe to say we are in the Marquesas but yet to make landfall. Tonight before midnight we hope to be on anchor in Taiohae, Nuku Hiva. The weather has cleared this afternoon, so we are anticipating a decent evening with the remnants of the new moon to guide us in. We have arranged with our agent to meet him on Friday morning to conduct formalities so tomorrow, after a decent sleep, we will be able to, clean the boat and make water. Maybe do some washing and generally relax.

Arrived in Taiohae Bay Nuku Hiva at midnight. Dropped anchor. Celebration Pina Colada and a good nights sleep.
The passage from Vista Mar Panama 26 days and 17hours
Passage time from Galapagos 16 days
4334nm sailed. Average daily distance 166nm. Average speed 6.7knots.
Fuel used. YES! Generator twice daily and motored for 4 days in light wind.


Taiohoe Nuku Hiva Marquesas








No comments: