Adventures of Maia | Blog
An adventure, sailing and cruising throughout the world with Laura, Dick and Ellie.
Sailing, Blog, cruising, MAIA, Sceptre 41, sailboat, fun, adventure,
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We are at Anchor! We arrived at the Island of Hiva Oa (in the Marquesas) a little after sunrise. The supply ship arrived at the Tahuka harbor just before us. We saw a bunch of boats anchored outside and heard on the VHF radio (channel 16) that things were crazy inside, as all the boats were juggling to make way for the supply ship. We contacted a boat friend Nightide, who were anchored inside, and they said there is no room in the Harbor until the ship leaves.

We decided to temporarily anchor outside in a small bay (part of Traitor Bay). It was nice as our bow was into the wind and and the waves, we were not rocking and rolling much! We had breakfast and were thinking we would be able to move into the Harbor in a couple hours. Then on the radio we heard the captain of the ship say they were not leaving until 4:00 🙁

The wind was picking up and we heard other boats were coming towards the Harbor (One Fine Day, Cool Change). There was some radio talk and then another friend boat, Dash, appeared on the radio and suggested an anchorage about an hour away on the Island of Tahuata. We arrived at Hanamoenoa Bay at 2:30 and it was calm! We had a quiet afternoon and Hannah & I swam into the beach at Sunset and we walked on land!!!

How far did we go? April 23, 102 miles; TOTAL miles, 2860! 26 days!

We have been rocking and rolling for days now, ever since the wind really started to blow (13- 20 knots). The swell has been mixed, coming from the North, East and South East! We are very happy the wind is blowing, but rocking and rolling makes everything difficult; sitting, walking thru the cabin, cooking, sleeping…. We have come up with simple meals to eat and spend most of the time in the cockpit, except when we are checking in on the radio net and (trying to) sleep. It seems for most of the passage, we have had either calm with little wind or rocking and rolling with good wind. The other night I was sitting in the cockpit on my night shift and a wave came right over the side and landed on my lap. Surprise!

We have been looking southwest all day, hoping to catch a glimpse of the islands. We were about 100 miles out this morning and are now 35 miles out. Night is here, we have a beautiful half moon with mostly clear skies (until a cloud builds up and comes out of nowhere). At night, it has been amazing how you look around and it looks clear, then 15 minutes later you see dark clouds out in the distance, and before you know it you are shrouded in a cloud bank.

How far did we go? April 18, 124 miles; April 19, 148 miles; April 20, 148 miles; April 21, 140 miles; April 22, 132 miles

We’ve sailed 2050 Nautical Miles, over three quarters of our passage. Landfall is just around the corner! Getting excited, but still keeping our eye on the ball. Last night we got hit with our biggest squall yet. With a double-reefed main and staysail, we did well with winds up to 30 knots. We had rain for about an hour. Between the occasional squalls, the wind has continued to blow around 9 – 15 knots, so we have been able to sail at a steady 4- 5 knot pace.

During the planning stages of our possible new sailing life, Dick and I discussed where we would want to be during our 60th birthdays. Dick wanted to be at the Equator! Well, one year later, he became a shellback. Happy 61st Birthday Dick!

We had a quiet morning, around 11:30 started cooking coffee, bacon, pancakes, eggs & preparing our last mangos for a delicious brunch.

About 12:15 a beautiful pod of dolphins came to visit. We saw them swimming and diving towards the boat and then they swam around us for at least 15 minutes. I went up to the bow and watched as they swam along with the boat, also crossing in front, diving down, coming back up. Sometimes in pairs and other times individually. Such graceful creatures. Hearing them breathe, their breaths sound very human like. They were gray, had white snouts, some had spots and it looked like they had a white belly.

About 2:00 we finished up with our brunch. Dishes to do, a surprise cake to make. Before we knew it it was 5:00 and time to prepare dinner. By 6:00 we were all sitting down around the table in the cockpit. We decided to skip the radio net. It was really nice having the evening together. After tostadas and a yummy gf carrot and pineapple cake (thanks Hannah) we watched the sun going down and enjoyed the different figures we could see in the clouds. Then time to prepare the boat for the night, reef the main and the genoa, raise the staysail.

Once the sun had set we looked at the battery voltage and saw that it was low. We decided to run the engine for two hours to get the battery levels back up to a reasonable level. We have been running the engine about every other day.

How far did we go? April 17, 113 miles

The winds came back and the counter-current is no more! We appear to be in the South Eastern trade winds. We have been moving along nicely for two days. Winds have been up to 12 knots and our speed averaged around 5 – 6 knots. We have had a couple days of smooth sailing, which is awesome! We are all happy.

We are thinking about our Equator crossing ceremony as we are getting closer! What shall we make? How should we dress? As we will become ” shellbacks” the idea of a turtle shell came up. If it is big enough we could all tuck in behind it for a photo. Oh yea, we’ll also need Neptune’s Trident. We all went to work and the props are ready! Sign will be completed once we arrive!

How far did we go? April 14, 69 miles; April 15, 115 miles

-Monday, April 16 – Day 19 – We are in the Southern Hemisphere!

We had an exciting day, in the morning we had squalls and winds up to 20 knots, (but not much rain). Winds continued about 10 knots for the rest of the day.

At 2:53 MST (1453) we passed the equator at a longitude of 127*50’W and are now “shellbacks”!!! We had a fun celebration and ceremony honoring Neptune and acknowledging our right of passage. We drank Hibiscus wine, ate a little dark chocolate and shared it all with Neptune. We are so excited!!! We took lots of pictures, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny and windy afternoon.

How far did we go? April 16, 138 miles

Just after midnight, we began motoring as we noticed that we were actually being pushed backward in the equatorial counter-current. The Winds varied between 2 and 5 knots most of the day. Not enough wind to sail… putt, putt, putt.

It’s been a little bit trying for the crew, as we are going super slow. ( I am actually ok with the light winds and slow pace. It is soothing to my soul.) However, we are wondering why we are not to the Equator!? The group that left La Cruz / Puerto Vallarta before us made the crossing to Hiva Oa in around 22 days. It appears that the winds blew more steadily for them (and along with that, they had more squalls).

Late afternoon we took a break, furled the sails and went for a swim. Dick hopped in first and had climbed out onto the swim step, while I was enjoying a dip. He called out “there is a fish bee-lining towards you”. I look up and see this little yellow fish swimming quickly towards me. Next thing I know it is biting my baby toe! Why my toe? We are in the middle of a huge ocean, we had not seen any other fish while we were swimming. Why me? It was the strangest thing!

How far did we go? April 13, 61 miles

We have been out here 2 weeks! Holy cow, it feels as if the time has passed quickly, which is a good thing because we might have 2 weeks left to go! Yikes, that seems a little crazy! 4 weeks on our 41 foot Sceptre sailboat. The only times we will have gotten off is to go for swims. We saw another ship today, it was a freighter heading for South America.

It is really, really beautiful out here. The Water (a deep blue, yesterday when we went swimming you could see the sun rays beaming Deep into it.) The Sky, Clouds , a Green Flash, and Rainbows (we have seen rainbows the last couple days!) Yesterday and today we had Dolphins visit us. Yesterday, one jumped about 8 ft out the water, so amazing! We have seen quite a few different kinds of Birds, almost every day it seems like something new flys by. A couple days ago we had a pair of brown boobies hitchhike a ride on the boom overnight. We see flying fish almost everyday. Thankfully, only a few have landed on the deck. (Late addition, one landed in the quarter berth last night, next to where I was sleeping! Hannah was able to save it and throw it back into the Sea!) We also have seen one sea turtle!

We are very grateful for our Banderas Bay Pacific Puddle Jump radio net, where we check in every night and learn where others are and if everyone is doing ok. The group organized in La Cruz, we had weekly meetings to discuss the Pacific Puddle Jump and the radio net was organized thru the group. Marina La Cruz was an awesome place to be to get ready for the jump. If anyone is considering the Puddle Jump in the future, I would recommend La Cruz as a starting point. Besides our weekly meetings other talks were given that were of great significants to us. There are plenty of stores nearby to do your provisioning, a marine store, sail loft. It is a very friendly place for cruisers.

We have been sailing most of the day today, even though we had super fluky winds this afternoon (it was similar yesterday). We also appear to be in the equatorial counter-current which is flowing against us. We are feeling that we should soon be out of the ITCZ (the Doldrums) and into the South Eastern Trades Winds, where we are expecting more consistent winds. We still have over half our diesel in reserve, to use when needing to charge the batteries and move us in the case of little to no wind.

How far did we go? April 10, 100 miles; April 11, 120 miles; April 12, 35 miles (ugg!)

It is a beautiful clear night. The stars are out and are lighting up the Ocean all around us. I saw a shooting star! There is very little wind (1-2 knots). The Ocean looks like a big glassy pond, except you can still feel the dependable swell. It is the clearest starlit night of the crossing.

As we are still in the ITCZ, keeping our eyes our for squalls. This evening it looked like we might get hit by one, it came within a mile and then retreated. Lightening is lighting up the sky and it is very hot and humid. The weather reminds me of the midwest and Lake Michigan in the summers. Except there are no mosquitos!

It was a hot, hot day, in the 90’s. We had light winds and this morning Hannah and I gybed the sails as the wind had shifted. Winds were coming from the ESE (East South East) a sign that we might be entering into the Southeast Trade winds! Tonight we are motoring as the winds are very light, 2-4 knots. We are going at 6 knots and the breeze is helping cool things off.

We have somewhat settled into our routines, with our nightshifts and Dick & my naps during the day. Dick has been sleeping in half of the V- berth, the other half is storage, I have taken over the Quarter berth and Hannah is sleeping on the settee. When the wind is blowing and the waves are rocking and rolling the boat making it tough to sleep, we have all figured out how to get comfortable in our bunks. Hannah has figured out how to wedge herself with pillows between the table and the back of the settee. I use my feet and back against the different walls. Dick…..

How far did we go? April 9, 95 miles

We are in the Doldrums / the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). On Friday night Hannah noticed some lightning, it appeared we had arrived! (As I was laying in the cockpit, wondering if I was going to survive! I got hit with a headache, nausea and vomiting, earlier in the day, not fun!)

We altered course to head to 9* 117 W, as our weather map showed that as the eastern edge of a strong convection warning zone. We were able to steer clear of the storms overnight, then Saturday morning the clouds and storminess were all around us. We lowered the main, reefed the genoa, set up the staysail, and cleared the deck, preparing for whatever may come our way. Do we dive into the dark or steer toward the light? We chose the light!

Around 1000 we could see a storm that appeared to be coming toward the stern of the boat. (We visually look around and also use the radar.) Hannah and I rolled up the Genoa, took off the monitor wind vane and turned on the auto-pilot. By 1045 we were surrounded by the squall, the rain started, we had a small change in wind direction from E to ESE. We had wind up to 21 knots. By 1115 the wind had died, the engine was on and we were heading South. We had survived!!!!

By 1430 engine was off as the wind had picked up. We had NNE winds up to 20 knots the rest of the day and we were sailing by the staysail only! We continued watching for squalls and had a small one Saturday evening. Sunday morning we got hit with a strong rain, but not much wind to go with it. It was an awesome shower for Maia, she hasn’t been this clean in a long time!

How far did we go? April 6, 125 miles; April 7, 138 miles; April 8, 132 miles

We had a different day today, it was overcast and cooler. The clouds never looked threatening, just filled the sky.

We continued sailing wing and wing, throughout the day. At sunset we decided to change to a Port tack, to see if it will be a little easier sleeping tonight. (Last night we were rocking and rolling most of the night and I had a really hard time getting into a position where I was not getting knocked around. I finally put my back against one side of the quarter-berth and braced my feet on the other.) Generally, the swell is not too bad, until the set of the big ones come in and knock us all around!

Several more of the boats in our “fleet” from Banderas Bay have arrived or are arriving in the Marquesas in the next couple days. So exciting! We still have probably 2/3rds to 1/2 of the trip left to go. I think we are all doing ok, getting into the swing of things, but also excited to get there. We are starting to prepare more for the new weather pattern we expect to experience soon!

How far did we go? April 5 – 120 miles

It is a dark night, as moon has not risen. It is somewhat of a catch 22, for me, as I really like the moon shining, so I can see all around us. (It feels safer!) But tonight, there are millions of stars shinning even with the clouds around. I see the Southern Cross constellation to the South. The phosforessence in the water is amazingly beautiful, it is like tiny little stars lighting up the water streaming off the boat.

Dick and I made more sail changes first thing this morning. We were heading too far west so we needed to gybe (change direction, with the wind at our stern). Decision was do we just tack (put the sails on the other side of the boat) or sail wing and wing (with the wind directly behind us, with the genoa on one side and the main sail on the other). We decided to tack, once we did, we realized we would be heading to far east, so we reset the genoa and set up the spinnaker pole. We have been sailing wing and wing, with the monitor wind vane ever since!

Hannah and I reduced sail after sunset, as suddenly we were getting gusts up to 15-16 knots, when the wind had been staying below 10 most of the day. The boat was rocking and rolling a little to much. We generally like to be more conservative with our amount of sails out overnight.

We believe we have a couple more days of sailing in the trade winds before we get close to Doldrums and the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, (ITCZ), where the wind and weather will change. There is generally less wind and also squalls to contend with!

How far did we go? April 4 – 142 miles