Saturday 21 March 2015

Pacific Crossing, Landfall

Dark shapes appear ahead out of the night, suddenly very close; a rich aroma of earth and vegetation is carried on the air towards us, pungent after the pure neutral air of the ocean.  A faint light blinks on, then disappears.  The wind has died and we are motoring towards land, wholly reliant on our charts until daybreak when the veil of darkness will be lifted and our landfall will be revealed.  After 3,000 miles and sixteen days at sea we are approaching the Islas de Marquesas, named after their chance discovery by Alvaro de Mendana on a voyage financed by the Viceroy of Peru, Marquis Hurtado de Mendoza.

Our plan to sail to victory, using the wind angles to beat the competition, is all to nought as the wind evaporated yesterday. Even our big lightweight spinnaker just collapsed without the breeze to fill it and reluctantly we started engine with still 150 miles to run. Despite our disappointment of not being able to sail the last few miles, we had a glorious restful day, motoring over calm water under a clear blue sky, fishing, cleaning and preparing for our arrival.

This morning we stand off the anchorage in the dark, our engine idling, drinking tea and watching dawn slowly break to reveal the dramatic landscape.  The island of Hiva Oa is a series of towering volcanic ridges and peaks, covered in lush jungle plunging down to the deep waters edge. This is not a land of white beaches and palm trees, but of mountains, waterfalls and forests.

In the early morning light we motor slowly into the small port of Atuona, drop our anchor next to our friends on Makena, and finally we stop, out of the swell and everything is still. We made it!

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