Ok. I take back everything I wrote about tough sailing passages. Was that me moaning over rough seas and flogging sails? And did I really write a tongue-in-cheek remix to the lyrics of Crosby Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross?” (See below for the remix written about 3,000 miles into the Pacific crossing.) Sorry, David Crosby, for dissing your happy sailing song — we finally discovered the joy of “sailing a reach before a following sea” during our 4-day crossing from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus. Turns out that tradewind sailing is awesome.
We had a blast with Ben and Sarah cruising west and south. It helped that Kayanos, a 40-foot C&C, is a fast racing boat, and that Ben is a stellar sailor who loves flying the spinnaker (and, like us, hates running the engine). We flew along at 6 to 7 knots, even when the winds were a mere 7 to 10 knots. And it really helped that the seas were almost flat for the entire 550 mile journey.
But the main reason this crossing felt like such smooth sailing is because it was only FOUR DAYS. Yup. Since Rob and I decided to make our first ocean passage the longest one on the planet, everything from here on out feels like a cakewalk. In fact, the Marquesas to the Tuamotus is the second-longest crossing we’ll make this season. After this, we should be able to hop between islands in just a few days.
A few highlights: dolphins off the bow for a full 30 minutes, including plenty of babies flying along next to their mamas. Only having to cook for 4 people instead of 7. Catching (and eating!) a yellowfin tuna. Sailing right up to the bottom of a rainbow. Racing along at 8 knots on the last night in 20 knots of wind with a triple-reefed mainsail and a tiny staysail as we dodged coral atolls. Entering our first motu, Kauehi, through a narrow channel with an 8-knot opposing current and standing waves — kind of like paddling upstream in a Class IV river rapid but in a sailboat.
Kayanos is the exact opposite of Llyr in many ways. It’s been great to learn different systems for sailing, boat maintenance and passage-making. Although Llyr was a wonderful comfy boat for the long passage, Kayanos feels like a familiar friend. She’s more like Spindrift, the 26-foot Paceship that Rob and I sailed for 6 summers on Flathead Lake.
In fact, after our recent brush with tradewind bliss, Rob and I are once again talking about buying out own boat down the line. For a while there, sweating under peeling deck paint on sloshing swells, we were dreaming only of land-based mountain treks through Nepal (which still sounds awesome). Nothing like consistent winds and calm seas to reignite the romance with sailing. Oh, and arriving in one of the most beautiful lagoons on earth after the passage probably helped seal the deal on why having a sailboat would be rad.
SOUTHERN CROSS REMIX
ala ON THE HORIZON LINE
Left the mountains on a boat bound to southern islands
Expecting a reach and an easy sail
We searched for the trades with a motor
Flogging sails and a 10 foot seas
1,000 miles before we reach the Galapagos
We had 50 feet on the waterline, windward all the way
48 hours in port to worship hard ground
And after 2 weeks sailing west, there was no turning back
Think about how many waves we have rolled over
Slingshot beam seas send our asses flyin’
Don’t believe that shit you read about the coconut milk run
We are sailing cross the Pacific Ocean
Wonderin’ what we were thinkin’
And if we’d ever do it again…
And you know we won’t. And you know we won’t.
When we saw the Southern Cross for the first time
It didn’t look quite as big as we’d hoped
And the cross waves off the beam, they were not small
And winds were fickle, as fickle as spring day
So we’re sailing for tomorrow ’cause there’s no choice
Fighting down the seasick, and fending off boredom
We have a nice steel ketch, but her flags are tattered
Only 8 more days left, until we can kiss land
So we sat, and we napped and we bounced
We ate oatmeal and rice, and longed for cheese and fruit
We will survive this ocean crossing
But we’ll remember there are more ways than sailing for 32 days
To see the Southern Cross.