Just two miles south of where we now lay at anchor in Taiohae Bay is the
point where, after over 18 years, we crossed our outward-bound track to complete
another circumnavigation. We had been at sea for 31 days after our departure from
Juan Fernandez Island, off the coast of Chile. Plus we had spent another six days
anchored in a lovely bay at Tahauta Island, so our provisions were running low,
and we were down to only three or four days propane.
To preserve propane, I had not baked bread in about five days and soon after
we anchored, at 0700 we sat down to have breakfast, debating whether to open a
vacuum pack of Chilean fast bread (like Mexican tortillas) or salt crackers and
jam. Just at that moment we heard an American voice calling from alongside. "Hi,
thought you might like this," said Al Gross from Evolution, handing us a
long crisp baguette from the local bakery. "Have to be on shore before 7
if you want fresh baked bread. Have to get ashore at 0430 tomorrow if you want
tomatoes - farmers have a market on the quay every Saturday morning. I'll pick
you up." Thus began a social whirl that included floating song fests, open
boat afternoons on Taleisin that stretched late into the evening and saw 8 or
ten dinghies jostling each other astern. On shore the local canoe racing club
held a fete, complete with a 9-course dinner for $30 per person and we celebrated
by dancing to the strains of Blue Bayou, played with a definite Tahitian sounding
As to the passage, no head winds, only 5 days with light winds, all the rest
fast running, dead downwind which meant tacking downwind. Best days run l68, worst
68, little problem with the boat or its gear other than the new propane tank we
bought last year. For some reason, this new tank which has an anti-over fill valve,
for some reason caused our stove to flare to the point I had our fire extinguisher
in hand. We then opened both that tank and the empty one (they are on an inter-connected
system) and the problem went away. When we reach Hawaii we will definitely try
to solve this mystery.
We did read a lot of books - some excellent, some just okay, talked about our
future plans, re-hashed the past few years exploits and to be honest, after 25
days we were ready for some fresh food; and nights in bed together. But can't
complain as we did cover the 4100 miles quickly using the old sailing ship routes
recommended by Ocean Passages For the World.
We are only staying here another few days; to enjoy some time with the interesting
cruisers we are meeting, to stock up on fresh provisions and bunk time. Prices
are very high, almost twice US ones, four times what we paid in Chile, but as
we spent nothing while at sea it all balances out in the end. Yes there are a
lot of cruising boats here, 31 at anchor today. Numbers have not changed since
our last visit in 1985, with the Gendarmarie reporting about 400 yachts each year.
What has changed is the facilities, which are much more complete now, including
easy access to butane, a sail repair service and internet - which at 12 dollars
an hour seems expensive to many. Also, today's cruising visitors are exploring
far more of the other anchorages in these lovely islands than used to be the case.
We could enjoy another month or two around these islands, but our goal is Port
Townsend's Wooden Boat Festival the first weekend in September; so in four days
we will set sail and aim toward the narrowest part of the ITCZ on our way to Hawaii.
It is only 2000 miles to Hilo, but with the potential for light winds as we work
north across the equator, can't hazard a guess at how long this passage will take.
Lin and Larry