Day 20: LAND HO!

*** Totem has made landfall, but didn’t get our daily blog updates posted after our radio stopped working. Here is the last of our written-but-not-posted updates sea. ***
position: 9*48′ S, 139*01′ W
24 hour run: 178 miles
Distance to go to Hiva Oa: it’s right in front of us!
This afternoon, vague shapes from Marquesan mountains begain to take focus on the haze. We all squinted at the horizon from the deck, straining to make out a complete island sillhouette. LAND HO!
How can I explain what it feels like to see land after 20 days of nothing but water? I wondered how we’d all respond. There was euphoria on board: We all felt uplifted by these distant, hazy shapes. As my friends know, it doesn’t take more than a cute puppy to make me cry so naturally I had happy tears. The kids decided this meant breaking out precious treats to share (why not!). We all had big grins on our faces! Everyone is so excited. I especially can’t wait to see how this place *really* looks, and breathe in the rich earthy aromas after weeks of the simple clean air of the ocean.
We’ve been watching our mileage and daily progress carefully. If we make good enough time, it means the difference between arriving in daylight or in the evening. With that in mind, we’ve really been working ourselves and the boat the last couple of days. The nights have been tough- Jamie and Ty splitting night watch, because with my gimpy arm I’m not much help in these conditions…any sail change (and we’ve been doing a crazy number of reef in, reef out repetitions) would mean waking one of them up anyway. The guys took on more than their fair share without a second thought and focused on speed, speed, speed- getting us closer to our destination.
To be clear, arriving at a new port in the dark is generally a bad idea. We had heard our charts of the anchorage, unlike those of pretty much everywhere we’ve been in Mexico, are actually accurate. The harbor lights are working (another novelty, after Mexico…where you never knew what lights you’d find and if they’d operate remotely like the charts indicated). We have excellent moonlight- it sounds strange to say, perhaps, but it is amazing how miuch you can see under the moonlight, especially without any land-based light pollution. And of course, we do happen to have a Class A Pilot on board. That might be giving us just a bit of an extra dose of confidence!
The sun disappeared behind the surprisingly tall peaks of Hiva Oa as we came down the channel on the south side of the island. With a swell nearly on the beam and the wind coming ahead of us, we fired up the Yanmar to power in the final stretch. Sloowwwly into the harbor, then setting bow and stern anchors outside the breakwall, we settle in for our full night of sleep.

3 Responses to Day 20: LAND HO!

  1. Seven C's April 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    I can feel the excitement and emotion of seeing land after so many days at sea 🙂
    What a wonderful experience and a fantastic description!
    Enjoy a bit of the islands for us also 🙂

  2. Jeanie Campbell April 28, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    You’re giving me goosebumps!

  3. Ellenjohnrubicon April 30, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    amazing. wow!

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