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The Long Haul - Sailing 6000 km to French Polynesia Previous Log
Date: 1 May 2008 Next Log
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Day 3 - Eager Beaver; slightly bedraggled but otherwise healthy.Hello All. How was your month?

We've finally arrived to the Marquesa Islands after the 33-day passage from the Galapagos! It's hard to describe all the thoughts, feelings, moods, sights and experiences we've had along the way, but let me try.

Sailing from the Galapagos Islands (of Ecuador) to the Marquesas Islands (of eastern French Polynesia) is a passage of about 3000 nautical miles, or roughly 6000 kilometres. That's like taking a horse-drawn buggy from Thunder Bay to Dawson City - at about 10 km/h - with nothing in between. In those 33 days, we encountered 4 other sailboats, 2 ships, and 1 jetliner overhead. This is untamed wilderness!

Sailing double-handed on a 34-ft boat all this distance has been a unique Day 5 - The Day the Earth Stood Still! aka Those Damn Duldrumsexperience; it blends all the best parts about isolation, namely no cellphones, money, rushhour, or media, with all the worst parts, namely a lack of privacy, very few creature comforts, possible claustrophobia, and worst of all, no beautiful women to look at.

If you are unable to sit for hours on end, letting your mind go blank, staring at nothing in particular.. perhaps ocean sailing is not for you. Or at the very least you would need to bring along an iPod and a whole crate of comic books! Bringing along a spouse or significant other definitely has its advantages. Some sailors just drink a lot.

As far quality of life and meals, every boat is different. The most modern boats and "less rugged" sailors now enjoy all the comforts of home; air conditioning, e-mail access, movies hot showers, even dishwashers and washing machines!

Day 6 - The dreaded ITCZ - a perfect breeding ground for madness!We're very simple and macho and about 30 years younger/poorer aboard "Aries Tor", so a bucket of sea water serves as dish water, bathing water, clothes washing, and even a cup or two adds flavour to instant soup. Otherwise, all we have is our ham radio.

For grub, we eat with 2 knives, 2 spoons and a can-opener. we trail a fishing line and have even had some luck - hauling in a Yellowfin tuna and a Mahi-Mahi fish, in epic bouts of hand-to-fin combat to the death! Otherwise, some nights I collect flying fish that land on the boat's deck to fry up for breakfast. It might be the equivalent of scraping bugs off your car windshield and mashing them into burgers, but it's good, free-range protein - wash it all down with oatmeal and a big mug of freshly-squeezed Tang!

So anyway, here are some random semi-deep observations..

Day 6: The Night Sky of the Duldrums

The night sky is amazing - just like I imagined it. The moDay 7 - Cosmis Integration eh? Crowhurst was onto something!st dramatic being those nights with no moon but ten thousand stars surrounding us, from just above the horizon to directly overhead. Every constellation is there, but I make up a few new ones anyway. Below, millions of phosphorescence in the water light the surface as we ghost by, sometimes an explosion of light emits as we excite a drifting jellyfish - which look like nebuli. It feels as though we're floating through space. Where does the water end and sky begin?

Day 14: No Turning Back Now

Day 8 - Confucius says: Man who triumphs over sea monster eats well!We're really out in the ocean now, the closest land being 1500 kilometres away! At dinner, I said to Rob, "Well, there's no turning back now".

We both agree on an interesting phenomonen; our brains refuse to acknowlege our position as being in the middle of nowhere. You can "sense" land is just on the other side of the horizon! In reality, the horizon is only about 10 km away - so the closest shore is at least 150 times that! Maybe picturing land just over the edge is a coping mechanism. It's kind of like why people used to believe the earth (when it used to be flat) ended with a giant waterfall. Or when I was younger, I imagined a huge wall at the edge of space.

Day 22: Hearing Voices

I can hear voices! Luckily, that's common. The boat rigging and wind often make sounds similar to voices.Day 10 - Hyperspeed! Yes, 6 knots! I guess after 3 weeks, you become eager to hear some other humans. I suppose I wouldn't notice the sounds otherwise, or think they sounded human.

Sometimes you get startled by it - it sounds so real - like someone is yelling for you, off in the distance, maybe in a liferaft or a passing sailboat. But of course.. noone is there. Kind of disappointing actually - but then you laugh it off.

Day 24: Perfectly Normal Catastrophes

As far as glitches go, technically speaking, we have broken our fair share of gear - radar reflector, mast light, topping lift, jib halyard, battery charger and a sink strainer accidently thrown overboard. Our most major foul-up being a snapped forestay (note: the wire that helps hold the mast upright and from falling into your lap). We juryrigged a solution to get us these last 500 miles. I had the special privilege of climbing up the mast 3 times, which is like strapping yourself into a trebuchet and getting launched across the sky - but the view (when you're not hurtling towards it) is incredible; seeing just how tiny the boat is below you and how big the ocean is around you.

Day 26: Personal Development

Day 11 - Nice, big rollers for breakfast.It's so easy to seek mental shelter by slipping into a pissy or withdrawn mood. And of course disagreements are bound to happen in such a confined space, but I feel like I've failed so far in the expectations I've given myself for personal development. This really is an ideal place to deal with them though. This adventure has been about adaptation, learning patience and humility from the get-go and there's plenty of time to get it right.

Welcome to Polynesia!

Day 14
Drinking and boating?! It's International Waters - come and stop us!
Day 15
And now, a word from our sponsors..
Day 16
Cover of GQ Magazine, April 2008.
Day 17
No place for "a case of the Mondays"
Day 18
Goes great with flying fish and Tang.
Day 20
A new day, just like yesterday.
Day 21
Water, a portrait.
Day 22
Water, another portrait.
Day 28
Aries Tor, Polynesia-bound!
Day 32
Land Ho! Slack jaws replace knifefight! Handshakes all 'round!
Day 32
Yes Rob! We made it!
Day 32
A month of sea and sun finally take their toll on our plucky hero.
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