Land ho! Land ho!!! LAND HO!!!!! At 2300 UTC we spotted the island of Hiva Oa through the haze.
Deeply immersed in a Gillian Flynn novel, the moment from haze to right in front of my face passed in an instant. We arrived with enough remaining sunlight to see this small island in all its glory. A volcanic rugged rock formation springing up from the sea with monumental spikes. A jagged razorback ridge lined with teeth. Explosions of water smashed against the rocks below. A windward side unfriendly and barren, hints of a leeward side lush green.
This is unbelievable. How do I label this feeling? Surreal. Indescribable. Joy with a side of awe, a hint of sadness and a sprinkle of disbelief.
Happy, introspective, and crazy crew
Once the sun set, we lowered our sails and motored the last hour into anchorage. We ate dinner under a clear beautiful sky, comparing notes on constellations. As I thought “this simply can’t get any better”, God smiled down on us, said “here, hold my beer”, and bestowed onto us a last visit from a pod of dolphins, playing at our bow, visible in the dark through bioluminescence. Seriously?!
We traveled 2852 nautical miles in 19 days and 8 hours, endured 16 squalls (most small, some big), maneuvered away from dozens more, hit a top speed of 16 knots under sail, took 2 dips in the ocean (Matt did 3, all on purpose), lost 4 lures, ate no fish. Only 13% of our passage was assisted by fossil fuels, the rest was powered by nature. How cool is that! Some of the most beautiful islands in the world are ahead of us, and we earned our way to them.
In the days before we left our friend Giselle interviewed us for her podcast Why We Spin Yarns (available on iTunes and sednastories.com check it out!). She asked what we looked forward to the most, and I blanked…was it fair to say “land ho”? In that moment fear for the unknown and uncertain overshadowed the highlight of the upcoming weeks… the journey. As our passage southwest comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on this question and asked Matt and Andy to do the same. With it behind us, what has been the crossing’s most memorable experience?
That was fucking cool.
Holy shit man.
(Yeah…deep, I know)
When dinner flew off the counter and splattered into the locker making a massive mess a few days ago, I was certain ‘land ho’ was the right answer. But with morale now restored, I’m sad this crossing is coming to an end. This was really fun. There was something so natural and right about being out there, and the solitude at sea was never daunting. We’ve worked so hard and planned for this for so long, it’s unbelievable to be on the other side. Except this isn’t the end, it’s barely the beginning. The longest open ocean crossing we will ever experience is behind us, and exploration, new cultures and new connections await. I am so excited. I can’t narrow down to one memorable moment so this being my blog and all I’m going to break the rules and give you three:
- The sailing itself was incredible; hours on end on a consistent tack, sailing 8 knots at night with just the mainsail (did not know that was possible) hitting 11-16 knots surfing waves with the spinnaker, deep blue sea as far as the eye can see, and the peaceful doldrums.
- Taking a mini dip in the ocean, 12,000 feet deep and thousands of miles to the nearest piece of land
- The wildlife. Although visits were scarce, they made up in majesty. A giant (marlin?) following our wake, two (tuna?) surfing waves for an hour at our starboard quarter, a fluffy booby hitching a ride for 18 hours, and spinner and common dolphins at sunset ridding waves alongside Bravo. It doesn’t matter if you are 14 or 40, when dolphins come and play at your boat’s bow, you turn into a kid again.
Bravo and crew held their own. We left with a group of boats, and not only did we NOT get left in the wake by larger vessels, we managed to close a 350-mile gap with our friends who left before us.
Over these weeks some of our buddy boaters commented on Bravo being a fast boat. There’s a story (I paraphrase) about a photographer who is told by a chef “your pictures are so great, you must have a really good camera”. They go to the chef’s house for a dinner party and he makes a terrific meal. The photographer then comments “my goodness this meal was amazing, you must have a very good stove”. Bravo is no ordinary stove, she’s a stellar piece of classic engineering and we love her dearly (more and more each day). She handled herself beautifully, kept us safe and dry. But mostly, I’m incredibly proud of my +1, Captain “please-pull-your-pants-up” Andy. He devoted every waking hour to ensuring a safe and successful passage, hand-steering us in precarious waters, strategizing, trimming and adjusting based on current conditions. Our fate was his responsibility, and our success is his doing. We worked brilliantly as a team, but would have not made it out the bay without him. I love you boo, now go take a shower.
Matt had no idea what he was getting himself into but that did not deter – he knows how to identify epic in the making. With a copy of Sailing for Dummies in one hand and his wit and good humor in tow, first class helmsman Lukens picked this up quickly and conquered the sea. We are incredibly grateful for his time at the helm and for helping keep the morale high.
Time to break out our 3 ice cubes and make a toast you guys…we made it.
So, goodnight everyone, thank you for following us along. Until tomorrow… wait, no…until we make memories and have cool stories to tell…Bravo out
- Date: 4/5/18
- Position: Hiva Oa, Marquesas (9° 48.25’ S, 139°01.93’W)
- Status: Ecstatic
- Distance traveled (nm): 2852
- Total days at sea: 19 days 8 hours
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