Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 12 to FP - Halfway to the Gambier Islands

Time: 2330UTC, COG 235T, SOG 6.5kts, Distance Remaining: 1269nm

When cruisers leave the Galapagos to sail west, they have two options to
make landfall in French Polynesia: the Marquesas, which straddle 10 degrees
south and the Gambiers, which lay near 23 degrees south, close to the Tropic
of Capricorn. Some "crazy" people decide to go the Easter Island/Pitcairn
route first. If we would have opted for the Marquesas from the start, we
would have followed a more northerly route, counting on a favorable current
and enough wind to comfortably push us from behind. Our favored destination
was the Gambier islands, so we headed southwest pretty quickly on a direct
course there, with seas on the beam (side), which is a less comfortable
point of sail. We were willing to give this course a try, despite having
learned that all the (much bigger) catamarans and some monohulls shooting
for the Gambiers before us, had bailed and "turned right" to take the nicer
sailing path to the Marquesas.
Even though the first few days were not that comfortable and pretty bouncy,
we didn't think it was too bad and, really, wanted to see the Gambiers
before heading to the Marquesas later this summer (or should I say winter?).
Unlike most cruisers, we are planning to stay 1.5 years in French Polynesia
and didn't have to pick. So, we committed ourselves to this route, and the
sailing circumstances turned for the worst - comfort wise. We chose to
suffer our way through massive seas and heavy winds, which last way longer
than expected and predicted. Not necessarily the wisest decision, but once
the conditions settle down a bit, we will be fine.
The biggest advantage of having a lot of wind is that Irie has been flying
along (I wouldn't say nicely). bouncily at around 7 knots (no favorable
current). Yesterday, we crossed the 1500 mile mark, which means that we are
halfway there; distant wise, which only means that much. When the weather
finally settles and life aboard becomes more comfortable, we will slow down
considerably and celebrate this milestone in style. Hopefully that will
happen well before we see land! :)

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