onsdag 13 augusti 2014

The Pacific Ocean

Day 28: Friday 11 July, 10:14

The sea anchor is thrown in, the waves are crushing over the boat and transform our little 27 feet vessel into a first class roller coaster. We have 1364 nautical miles (2493 km) to Marquesas, french Polynesia, which is our destination and also closest piece of land. We are located in the absolute middle of the Pacific ocean when the most terrifying thing occur. The fore-stays, the wires connected to the mast and to the bow are falling down. These make half of our rigging and are very important in order to keep the mast in place aswell as holding our sails up to be able to move anywhere. 

Will we be able to make it? Will we have enough of water for this unfortunate delay? Will the mast hold or are we going to drift at sea forever?

A slight feeling of panic rose on board Yoldia as we with all our strength managed to get the pieces of the rigging on deck in the crazy waves of the pacific ocean this Friday morning. When the adrenalin got weaker me and my crew member Adeena looked at each other and thought, what do we do now?

The Trip to Marquesas

Here is the boat that crashed in to us. Awesome guys,
but they need to learn how to drive
We left the very calm anchorage in Tumaco, Colombia the 13 of June. As we were sailing towards the open, beautiful, humongous ocean, we waved goodbye to our friends and also the very helpful coast guard patrol boat. Everything was perfect, we picked up speed, the sun was shining and we were finally on our way after all these preparations. We had not come far when the same coast guard boat was close behind us again. They said that we needed to turn back to talk to the harbor master in order to clear in properly, some papers were missing. They also asked permission to board the boat which was approved of course. As they approached our boat with their 900 hp speed boat a little maneuvering failure made them crash right in to our bow spread and bent the powerful steel like nothing. 
Tumaco, the military is guarding Yoldia day and night. Quite safe anchorage id say.

We went back to fix the papers that were missing due to a misunderstanding and the coast guard repaired what we thought was the only damages of our boat. Ready to hit the ocean again and slowly slowly we moved out towards what would become the most mind muddling trip of our lives.
The fish in Pacific are crazy, here is a beautiful Dorada

Just a few days had past when I one morning woke up and made a discovery any sailor approaching the longest passage in the world are dreading. We had lost the bottom part of the wind wane, the auto steering the wonderful mechanism that makes it possible to do anything else but having your hand attached to the tiller 24/7 in order to go in the right direction. I summoned a crew meeting, me and Adeena had a serious discussion, we were a couple of days off the coast of Ecuador and a change in course could easily be made. The big question was now if we were going continue the 30 day long passage with 12 hour hand steering each every day or if we were going back to safety.  

We decided to continue.

Due to some new regulations and extra fees for yachts clearing in to Galapagos made us sail pass it without any stop. Close to one of the islands one clear night ten dolphins were swarming in front of the boat making a huge carpet of phosphorescence. The glow was amazing and lit the whole boat up, like sailing in another universe Yoldia bounced over the waves. What an ocean, I have never seen anything like it. Birds, lit up from underneath by the phosphorescence, crazy amounts of shooting stars and massive beautiful fish around the boat.
I had to eat cereal...

A few days later we passed the equator and I had now sailed to boat from cold Sweden to the south part of the globe. Quite crazy when you think of it. Another mile stone of this journey was the 1st of July, I had now been out sailing for one year which is even more crazy. This day was also the day when our next horrible discovery was made. As I was cooking breakfast to celebrate this particular day we ran out of propane. There must have been a leak in the connection or it had not been filled up properly in Panama. Either way we would now have to face the rest of the trip without a functional stove. Since I love to cook and also appreciate a hot nice meal more than few things in this world I did not give up that easy. From now on we had to improvise, cleaning alcohol, kerosene and diesel. When we started with petrol the fire extisningher crawled out of the cubbard and was placed right next to the stove. 

It was a mess, it took hours to heat something but I refused to lower our standards. Depite our duty at the helm, lack of sleep and all the other circumstances that are included when you are sailing a 8 meter boat from the 70s on the biggest ocean in the world we managed to eat a hot meal every day. We even baked bread, high life.

The Pacific ocean is truly alive, we caught a few massive Doradas and loads were dropped due to our under sized fishing hooks. One morning though when we were chilling outside in the sun, 50 squids about 10 cm big attacked the boat. Within a couple of seconds the deck and the cockpit were covered with these slimy little creatures, squirting black ink making a mess you can not believe. You had no time to react before everything was covered, very weird indeed. It made you wonder what was hidden underneath the blue surface.

After a couple of days with strong winds we finally saw the light, we were almost there. Less than 1400 nautical miles to go and Yoldia was flying. Then it happened, the incident that truly changed the trip. 

Quote by Adeena Gerding, from the blog BareFoot Gypsy

"With another big squal moving in, we decided to reduce our sails - a task made rather difficult with our jib no longer furling and the massive waves crashing around us. As the captain tried to bring in the spinakker pole, we noticed something was very wrong... and when he started bringing the jib, the whole of our front rigging came in too. 

Both forestays that held up the mast as well as the sails were completely detached - the only logical reason could be our collision back in Columbia... but we'd never thought of checking the mast head... The sails began flapping around like crazy. As the ocean threw us on a crazy rollercoaster ride, we tied everything up and threw in the drift anchor before the next big squal hit.

the rigging is coming down, quite unpleasant

It took the whole day to bring all the rigging onto the deck and secure it. And when we finally sat down exhausted, doom settled on us like a plague . Our trip was no longer about speed or enjoyment - it was now about survival. We were 1346 nautical miles (2493 km)away from land and at very real danger of loosing our mast. Without a mast we'd have nothing to keep sails up - we'd have no choice but to drift at sea until we finally, hopefully washed up on land somewhere... We had 80 liters of diesel on board - but that wasn't going to get us very far.

We had adjusted to a life of constant steering- we had adjusted to making fires to cook our food - but this was too much - this we could not handle!!! We talked about calling a mayday or plotting a rescue mission. We talked about leaving Yoldia to float off into the abyss. We knew our chances of finding another boat were slim - but we'd be ready for it."

Sailing with the main sail only is quite tricky

It is quite facinating how the mind works,some way or another we managed to adapt to all these crazyness. Every little minor sucess was counted as something amazing and in the end I have to say that the trip wasn't too bad. The Pacific treated us with perfect weather, fair winds and a lot of sunshine. Ofcourse a special thanks must be given to my lovily crew member Adeena . We were an absolute dream team in my point of view and whenever I had a bad moment or felt down she was there to support and the other way round. 
Almost there, what a feeling

On the 3rd of August land was rising in the distance. After 50 days of sailing, it is hard to explain the feeling to see such a beautiful saviour on the horizon. Among luxuary as fresh water showers and scrambled eggs we were also going to be able to leave the area of 8*2.5 meters after this eternity at sea. As we motored into the bay of Hiva Oa we saw quite a few other sailing boats and the sight of other people was actually pretty strange. When the anchor was dropped we both sat down totally exhausted, just looked at each other and thought, we made it.

Hiva Oa

1 kommentar:

  1. You really made it! A fantastic sailing! We are very impressed over your adventure!
    We did sail over 2 month before you guys! Our sailing was easy ... no problem and did take only 15 days and 20 hours from Galapagos to Fatu-Hiva. We are for the moment in Tahiti. Hope to see you on the road! We will go too NZ beginning of December.