"Land HO!!!" called the captain about mid-way through his watch this morning.
The family boiled out of our cabins and the salon to stand precariously on the deck. There it was! A dark smudge on the horizon still many miles away. But it was big and it was decidedly not blue. More like a dark grey. While the girls cavorted and screamed on the deck, DrC admitted to me, "Did you ever think it wouldn't be there?"
I smiled wryly, "I've been thinking about that since I got off watch this morning without seeing Hiva Oa on the radar."
"I mean... we've come all this way and maybe our GPS is wrong..."
"Or the charts..."
We grinned at each other. Maybe every boat has this fear. Maybe after three weeks, it's almost impossible to believe that we've navigated directly to a relatively small spot of land in the middle of nowhere. Even with all the modern technology on this boat, Google satellite images, charts both electronic and paper, after all this distance and all this time, it seemed quite possible that we could have somehow 'missed it.'
But we didn't. Today, we make end our journey with a shlep down the south side of Hiva Oa to a safe harbor. From sighting land, we figured it would take at least 12 hours to get into Atuona where our buddy boats Imagine and Loose Pointer await us. It is not the best place in the Marquesas to make landfall. Fatu Hiva is reputedly more beautiful. Nuka Hiva has more services. We chose Hiva Oa because it is a port of entry and positioned mid-way in the island chain. It will let us bash 50 miles south if we really want to see Fata Hiva, while giving us a relatively easy downwind sail to Nuka Hiva.
Tentatively, the plan is to spend a few days in Atuona. We have to check, find a place to get Polynesian money, do laundry, clean our boat and ourselves, load up with water, get whatever fresh food we can beg, borrow, buy or scavenge, and recover a bit physically. Then we will head slightly south west to Tahuata for a week or so of snorkeling and deep recovery time. We may venture south to Fatu Hiva if conditions permit. In any case, eventually we'll work our way south through Ua Poa and on to Nuka Hiva. After a few weeks in Nuka Hiva, it will be time to leave the Marquesas and head west for the Tuamotus.
PPJ NOTE: SAVE SOMETHING FOR LANDFALL. Rum, fruit juice, and either ice cubes or frozen fruit is my recommendation. We're making the kids apple juice spritzers and I'll bake cookies. I liked Dan's (Loose Pointer) approach the best. He made landfall at 8:45 AM local, sent an email to family and friends, and then he had a rum cocktail and went to bed. Heh. Perfect.
S09 45 W138 44 230T 5.75
May 9 20:30 UTC
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