April 3, 1997
At 5 p.m., we pull the hook in from under a huge commercial fishing boat that is directly over our anchor.  Not a fun way to begin the passage. We leave Academy Bay and decide to head up towards Targus Cove on the other side of  Isla Isabella to sightsee.  The morning of the 4th dawns and we have absolute calm seas and no wind. We don’t really care as we motor along slowly and watch the numerous dolphins and seals that we have become used to.  Then, it happens!  A huge whale surfaces and blows a plume of water.  The whale’s course is going to take him directly across our bow.

Ua Pou

Aldo barely gets a video shot of our huge friend.  We make him out to be a 50 foot Fin whale. We have a book that identifies dolphins and whales on board and all the characteristics seem to match. Bill is very happy.

Later in the day, Sergei decides he wants to have the “Johnson Special Haircut”.  I oblige and shave his head down to the skull. Sergei decides he wants a “Fu Man Chu” mustache, and shaves his face accordingly. Alex also decides that, he too, wants the cue ball look. I promptly shave a Mohawk into his scalp before also shaving him all the way to the scalp.  Bill  is asleep during the proceedings and wakes up to find 3 bald men on board.  He states that the extra money for the sunscreen will not come out of the boat funds.  He also asks that we wear head gear during the day so that the glare off our scalps will not burn out his retinas.

Now we had heard that this trade wind passage can be very fickle.  Sometimes, you have to drop far down into the south latitudes to pick up the tradewinds. For the first 10 days, we have beautiful winds and make great time.  We post four 200 mile plus days, our best being 211 miles in one day! The winds get a little variable, but we can maintain course most of the time.  Our course plot says we should steer about 260 degrees to make landfall in Hiva Oa.

We fly a spinnaker for 5 straight days at one point.  We also take the gennaker and rig it as a straight spinnaker. It works amazingly well.  The days are hot and sticky while the nights are about the same. Sleeping is pretty miserable since we have all the hatches shut. We are taking three hour on and nine hour off watches.


Children mug for the camera on Fatu Hiva

The sunsets and sunrises are pretty phenomenal.  We catch another mahi-mahi and Al does his chef thing and feeds us a fantastic meal.

We have taken to calling Sergei Naked Man. Since it is so hot, Sergei decides to save on laundry bills by simply not wearing clothes for a good portion of  the day and night.  We warn him to be careful of catching anything important in the spinnaker sheets or halyards.  It would be a bitch of time untangling him from the halyard if he were to get caught on a haul up!

Since the weather is cooperating so nicely, we stage a James Bond Video Festival. Bill has received a complete James Bond video series and we start at Dr. No and continue up through Live and Let Die.  We  must have someone get us the remaining videos when they visit.  Other tasks fill the day such as reading, cleaning, and routine maintenance.

About 5 days or so out of the Marquesas, we monitor the SSB and hear that a Rally boat, Queen of Hearts, has lost their rudder.  We volunteer our assistance, if needed, and continue to check with them via the SSB.  It will be a slow passage for Queen of Hearts as they jury-rig a spinnaker pole rudder with some spare wood. They can only make 4 knots at best and they have at least 1000 miles to go.

On the 20th day after leaving Santa Cruz, we sight Hiva Oa in the distance.  Our passage time is 18 days as we left from Isla Isabella on the 5th.  The islands shoot out of the sea and rise to incredible heights. The view is almost too beautiful to comprehend.  As we make our approach off the coast of Hiva Oa, Bill decides to take a deck shower and I laze about on the foredeck.  I glance to the left and see a lone fin break the surface of the water.  Hammerhead shark! He has to be at least 10 feet long doing slow circles on top of the water. I yell for Bill and the boys to catch this sight. Bill opens his eyes at my yelling and gets a bunch of shampoo in them for his reward.  The shark hangs around a few minutes then dives for the bottom.

We throw the hook down in Atuona Bay, Hiva Oa, Marquesas and promptly head towards land and the adventures that await!

Jeff Johnson 1997


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