Tag Archives: passage

Passage: Easter to Mangareva

As sad as we were to leave Easter Island early, we were super excited to get to French Polynesia.  This passage from Easter Island to Mangareva, Gambiers is about 1500nm and should take us 12-14 days.

Trip Details:

  • Departed Easter Island on Sunday, 31 March at 10:30am
  • Arrived Mangareva, Gambiers on 11 April at 0900
  • Miles Traveled 1,482
  • Max speed 11.7
  • Average speed 5.6
  • Sailed most of the way, had a few motor sailing days

I know you are already caught up with details of this passage as Matt posted “Real-Time blogs” between 31 March and 11 April.  But here are a few more highlights:

The first 3-4 days were crap!  We got stuck in a whirl pool of confused seas and raging winds.  It was an unbelievable set of days bashing in and day out.  It was uncomfortable and nerve racking hearing our boat smash into these waves and get tossed side to side.  According to our weather forecasts, there was a HUGE southerly storm causing the problems.  We were able to stay away from that particular large stormy beast, but it did cause smaller squalls and poor weather conditions for us.

Storm on passage to Gambiers

Storm on passage to Gambiers

At one point, a smaller storm formed off of our port side, screwed up Otto (our auto pilot), and made the boat do all sorts of crazy stuff.  It took us about 2 hours to get the boat “right” and back on course.  And per usual, this was around 2am.

Storms all around us

Storms all around us

The one that got away

On our 6th night, just before sunset and as Matt was taking a nap, we heard ZING!  We had been trolling for the past 800nm and had no nibbles or bites, nada!  I woke Matt as the reel let out more than ¾ of the line.  It kept on going and going and going.  Damn, a big fish.  It took Matt 1.5 hours to reel this guy in to the boat and he fought him the entire time.  We finally got a look at the fish under water and it was a 400lb Marlin.  Crap.  One: how do we get this guy on board? Two: we don’t have enough space in our freezer for this big of a fish.  We didn’t want to gaf him as that would severely injure or kill him but we did want our lure back!

Matt trying to reel in a 400lb Marlin

Matt trying to reel in a 400lb Marlin

Sucker swam under the boat, got the line caught on either our sail drive or prop and broke the line.  Well, I guess that solves our two problems.  I was riddled with guilt that the poor fish was stuck with our lure in his mouth.  Matt assured me it would rust out within a week.  We did not even get a decent photo of him.

Marlin that got away

Marlin that got away

Another beautiful sunset to end our day

Land a Ho:

For some reason, this passage seemed to drag for me.  Maybe because it was back to back with the other 11-day passage or maybe because of the foul weather, but I struggled.  It was a great relief to finally see the Gambiers on the radar, just before dawn.

Arriving Gambiers

Arriving Gambiers

The feeling of relief was quickly replaced with the feeling of dread as we entered the channel.  It was blowing 35 knots, with choppy seas, and a 2kt current.  We buried the bows at least 2’ in the water multiple times.  Yikes!  Reefs all around us made this a bit treacherous.  However, we arrived with out any issues to an anchorage with white caps.

An anchorage is an anchorage and we were happy to drop 90 meters of chain in 18 meters of water!  Done!  Whoop Whoop!

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Land a Ho: Arriving in Antofagasta, Chile

Imagine arriving into a new country at 0400 on New Year’s Day.  Brilliant, right?  How the heck are we going to get officials to clear us into the country on a National holiday?  Ugh.

Our new IridiumGo enabled us to communicate with the marina and local officials before our arrival.  However, because we motored in at 0100 Galapagos time or 0400 local time, nothing was open and everything was pitch black.  So, Matt dutifully drove us in circles until sunrise.  Once the sun the came up, we headed over to a shoal where we dropped anchor in 15 meters of water.

Land Ho:

Antofagasta is a much bigger city that any of us anticipated.  In this photo below you can see all of the foam that surrounded us prior to getting to the marina  entrance.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Unfortunately, the red tide has found its way to Chile and has turned the water a dark muddy red.  In addition, there is a huge pocket of foam floating around as we get closer to shore – very unappealing.  The photo doesn’t show the red tide, but trust me when I saw it aint pretty.

More foam ahead of us

More foam ahead of us

There were also dozens and dozens of jelly fish.  Their sizes ranging from the size of a lemon to the size of a basketball.  Huge, swirly tails trailing behind them.  I could not get a decent photo with anchoring and other activities going on at the time.

Giant jelly fish all over the marina entrance

Giant jelly fish all over the marina entrance

Entering the bay requires local knowledge.  The marina said they would send someone out to meet us at 1030 so we had some time to kill.  We set a temporary anchor and hit the sack for a few hours.

True to their word, Theo, the marina manager came out to greet us, explain the mooring process and guide us in.  There are shoals and large shallow patches all around, so we were grateful for the help.  We came in, turned around, dropped anchor, pulled back to first buoy where we tied bow lines and pulled back more to a stern buoy.  We tightened up all the lines, thanked them profusely and wished them a happy NY.    They informed us officials would be on board at 1530 and we had 5 more hours to burn on-board.

Formalities:

Three officials came aboard.  They were extremely professional, efficient and friendly.  Lucky for us, I had been in communication with SAG, the local official, before arrival so I had all of our paperwork prepared ahead of time.  In addition, we had made sure we had no live plants, animals, organic food, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, nuts, coffee beans, and limited frozen meats.  All part of the dance you do when you enter a new country.

After forcing some of my cookies on them, we wished them a happy NY and sent them on their way.  It did not take us long to hop in the dinghy to go to shore.  We were all in need of a good walk!

We have some new neighbors.  Giant “Lobos” call the marina home and make an awful lot of noise.  These enormous sea wolves are some of the biggest sea creatures I have ever seen.  Most of them well over 300-400lbs a piece.  In order to get up on to the dock, they dip under and burst up and then sit on the edge to catch their breath.  Sometimes it takes two or three times before they make it up.

Los Lobos playing in the marina

Los Lobos playing in the marina

The sea lions like to sit half way up with their noses in the air.  Might because they are posturing or declaring their dominance.  Maybe they just like to stretch their necks or dry out their underbellies.  Who knows.  Either way, sometimes they just look like a giant, hairy turd.  Still, they captivate us.

What’s Next?

We explore Antofagasta, find a movie theater, bowling ally, two markets, and a well-stocked hardware store.

Sugar Shack at Dawn on the Pacific

18-Day Passage: Galapagos to Chile

This passage from Galapagos to Chile was our second biggest passage.  The first being across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia.  Matt and I have done several shorter passages by ourselves, but they were all under 700nm (or 6-8 days).  This journey is about 1700nm as the crow flies and is scheduled to take us 14-15 days.  Unfortunately, this passage is a beat.  What does this mean?  We will get beaten up on the way to Chile and can’t go “as the crow flies”.

As you know, a motor boat can go directly into the wind if they have enough fuel for the entire journey.  As a sailboat, we tack back and forth using the wind.  Because the wind was pointing directly on to our nose, we ended up going 800nm out of our way – to get to our destination.

During the entire trip, we had a heading of 32(s) and 44(p).  Translated for non-boat people: 32 degrees apparent wind angle on starboard tack or 44 degrees apparent wind angle on port.  Beating into the wind and waves the entire way made for a bit of a rough ride.

STATS:

  • Departed Thursday, 13 December 2018 at 0845.
  • Total Miles Traveled: 2,608
  • Max Speed:11.4
  • Average Speed: 6.0
  • Average Wind Speed: 15-18kt
  • Arrived: Tuesday, 1 January 2019 at 0400 (local time)
  • Total Travel Time: 18 days
Heading out from Galapagos to Chile

Heading out from Galapagos to Chile

ROUTINE:

With limited space, you tend to get into a routine.  Eat, sleep, shift work, read. Rinse and Repeat.  Not much you can do on a boat underway, so you eat, sleep, shift work, read. Rinse and repeat.

Of course, you have daily sail changes to adjust for lack of wind, big gusts, or squalls.  But those take all of 10-15 minutes from start to finish.  You get into a habit of cleaning the deck, coiling the lines, and general up keep. We reefed each night for bigger gusts, as they usually occur between 2300-0400 when you can’t see anything, and you are bone tired.

PASSAGE SHIFTS:

  • Sally:  1800-2100 and 0600-0900
  • Christine: 1500-1800 and 0300-0600
  • Matt:  12n-3p and 1200-0300
  • Ron: 2100-2400 and 0900-1200

Everyone is awake at odd hours so you rest when you can.  We did a lot of this:

Nap, sleep, rest, repeat

Nap, sleep, rest, repeat

We did some of this: reading and planning.  Matt stretched out on the boom a few times to adjust our reefing lines.

Entertaining ourselves...

Entertaining ourselves…

As you can tell from the photos, it was cold and wet.  We did lots of this…

Shift work

Shift work

FISH AND SEA LIFE:

On our first day out, we caught a huge wahoo.  Unfortunately, we were going too fast and were not able to slow the boat down before the bugger broke the swivel and got away.  About an hour later, we had a huge marlin sneak up behind the boat to take our teaser away from us – he had a field day trying to get rid of that hook.  First day, 0 for 2.

Catch and release

Catch and release

Believe it or not, those were our only fish encounters.  Not counting the tons and tons of dead flying fish and squid that landed on the deck each night.  It was a morning routine to bury them at sea and clean the deck and tramp.

We did see a few pods of dolphins but for some reason they did not want to play with us. It was the birds that kept us company most days.  We saw a lot of beautiful birds, boobies and sea birds.

Boobies on the crossing

Boobies on the crossing

SHIPS AT SEA:

Remarkably, we did not see a lot of other ships considering we were at sea for 18 days.  On day 3 we saw three barges, day 6 we saw 3 barges from China, and day 8 we saw one more barge.  That was the extent of our ship sightings…strange, right?

First barge sighting on day 3

First barge sighting on day 3

We celebrated Christmas on board with a tree and gingerbread cookies.

Christmas at Sea

Christmas at Sea

COOL HAPPENINGS:

We were blessed to see meteor showers for the first several nights.  Each evening brought loads and loads of falling stars to wish upon.

We had lots of beautiful, breath taking sunrises and sunsets.  Including one beautiful rainbow.

Gorgeous Sunrises and Sunsets

Gorgeous Sunrises and Sunsets

RANDOM THOUGHTS

You tend to think of the strangest things when you are trying to stay awake in the middle of the night.  My shift was 3p-6p and 3a-6a.  So, during my early morning shift, I set out to solve the world’s problems.

  • Are phosphorescence in the water all the time? You just can’t see them in the daylight?
  • How did early explorers sail around with no navigation? When there are no stars out?
  • Do flying fish get a headache when they hit the wave?
  • Why do the flying fish come aboard, did they miss our 47’ boat?

Warm clothes on Sugar Shack.  At one time, Matt promised me we would never be anywhere cold.  Because he reasoned, why would he want to see women all covered up when he could see them in bikinis?  Made sense at the time, but it also limited our wardrobe choices.  We were not prepared.  We all had foulies (foul weather gear), but layers were needed to fight against the cold wind and rogue waves.

My nightly routine consisted of putting on: (2) pairs of pants, (2) shirts, (2) sweatshirts, (2) jackets, shoes, socks, scarf, and a hat.  I looked like the Pillsbury dough girl.  See above shift work photo.  Eventually you just get used to the chill.

At times, I would try to squeeze behind the helm to avoid the rogue wave splashes and cold wind.  Keep in mind that it is a whopping 10” wide.

Port helm at night

Port helm at night

Most times, being on this trip felt like being a cowboy riding a bucking bronco or being a coffee stir in a Venti Starbucks coffee.  Bash, bash, bash, swirl, kaboom.

We introduced Ron and Sally to the joys of pressure cooking and gave them their first of many meals.  Including:  Feijoda, Pad Thai, Black Bean burgers, Chicken Roti, Toad in a hole, cheesecake bites, and mint/chocolate chip cookies.

ARRIVAL:

All said and done, we made a safe passage to our marina in Antofagasta, Chile.  Nothing major broke or was damaged, nobody broke any bones, no blood was shed, and everyone got along.  Super grateful to have reached land after such a long journey.

It was with great joy that we had our first land sighting.  We took photos of all the instruments, charts, and shore of course.

Land Ho! First sighting of Land

Land Ho! First sighting of Land

At one point, the Garmin GPS reset itself so we did not have an accurate reading off the unit.  However, we took daily numbers so we had all the data.  Sugar Shack at the end of our trip on the chart, Garmin not in motion and land during the night and morning.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

Antofagasta from our temporary anchorage.

COMING UP NEXT:

Clearing into Chile and exploring the town of Antofagasta.