Just like the previous weeks, the fourth and last big week went well. When we wrote the last weekly, the wind was picking up, which was a good omen for our arrival. Unfortunately, the wind was not with us all week, far from it.
We start this last section with a lot of wind and a big swell. Strong point, we are making good progress, weakness : it's sporty to steer; you can't have everything. Some waves are so big that the boat lies down at more than 45°: crazy! We also saw dolphins jumping in the afternoon. Our friends seem to appreciate our presence and are not afraid to swim near the boat.
The next day, the conditions have not calmed down. We always have wind on the beam (about 18 to 20 knots) so we are making good progress. So much so that we are making 150 minute days. That's 50 minutes more than our average in the Atlantic! With this speed, we should reach the Marquesas in 7-9 days! We still have less than 900NM to cover and today is the day when we pass under the 1000NM mark. We do not see any boat, and this, since the second day of navigation for my part. We are alone in this ocean.
Alone, not really. We always communicate with our families. We are happy with the feedback on the articles and to know that they please the people who discover our trip. That was also the goal: to make you dream through our stories. More and more people are following us and the stories bring the community together. Sometimes I don't feel like writing but I never regret. It's easier to write at sea: every day I have time to sit down, something almost impossible on land.
After such a good start to the week, we had to remember that all good things must come to an end. Everything is still going well on the boat, but the wind has weakened and turned. We are now downwind so we are not going as fast. We have to pitch the genoa to prevent it from fanning and flapping.
In fact, we use a sort of large beam, the spinnaker pole, which we attach to the mainsail mast and to the genoa at the other end to tension the sail. With this configuration, the genoa is moved to the side of the boat, to the front, which makes it unbalanced. Thus, the boat rolls from starboard to port, helped by a cross swell from behind... And if the boat rolls, we also in our beds. But it doesn't matter because we are coming soon.
Also, I almost took a flying fish in my head. Emilien and Lucas have already experienced this painful experience and I had the right to a warning. The fish came so close that its fin touched my face! Overall, we regularly have flying fish that land on the boat and therefore, they sometimes play kamikazes with us. The worst thing is that these attacks are from two kinds : physical and olfactory because these fish smell really strong !
Apart from these small animations, not much is happening on the Noddi, we are moving more slowly than usual and the weather conditions are really calming down. As a result, it was time to act.
The batteries were low. The fridge was in off mode at night. This happens when you pull too much on the batteries during the day, so we put ourselves in energy saving mode. Then we had to give the solar panels a little boost: there was only one solution, run the engine to get the alternator to do its job. For those of you who have been following along, you will remember that our good old Perkins diesel was on the fritz, but that it shouldn't be a big deal. So it was time to check it out and start the engine again!
At the beginning of the afternoon, we spent 2h30 with Emilien to repurge the diesel circuits, to empty again the decanter bowls, to check that the engine was not seized... There was still a lot of water in the tanks and the operation was long.
Finally, after a snack break, we tried to restart it: but without success Even with the start-pilote. Of the blow, rebelote, we repurge the circuit which still had a little air in. One repeats the starting: bingo ! The engine starts but immediately stalls. So, for the third and last time, we repurpose the circuit and restart the engine. This time, it comes to life! The good old Perkins is running smoothly! What a joy. We shout with joy at this moment: the engine is repaired, the batteries are recharged and the arrival in the Marquesas will be facilitated. We still have to empty the decanter bowls regularly to avoid putting water back in the engine. We were less than 500NM from the finish, the wind was picking up and everything seemed to line up for us.
The last three days of the crossing were spent without a hitch. Despite a capricious wind that did not want to move us forward, or at least not in the right direction, we had to be patient. We were so excited to arrive! We didn't have many fresh vegetables left, the conditions weren't perfect, but just the idea of arriving soon filled us with joy. And, as a sign of hope, we saw our first sailboat! It was behind us and moving more towards 300° than us.
D-Day, we know that we will arrive at night. This is not normally a problem, but on that day there were a lot of wind.
We are in the night of May 9 to 10 and Lucas is at the helm. He will be the first to see the land. Then Emilien during his watch and finally me. It is there, on our starboard side. Majestic, Hiva Oa stretches out all along its length and the immense dark mass disturbs the immensity of the ocean. After 30 days in the middle of the water, the show seems unreal.
The island is almost not lit which reinforces its wild side. The shapes that appear on the starry sky are steep and we can imagine a primary, unexplored land.
We lowered all the sails and turned on the engine. First small victory since it starts unhindered. Then, we take the course towards our supposed arrival, a cove which is used as an anchorage for the sailboats arriving from the Pacific. This one is not lit at all, so we decide not to go too deep into it because the chart indicates that the maneuver is complicated.
As soon as we enter the creek, the smell of the land embraces us. The earth, the flowers, the vegetation, the seaweed... We feel everything! We had probably forgotten how everything smelled so good and so strong. After a month without smells, our senses are on fire. For me, the best moment of the crossing.
It is thus in this olfactory explosion that we maneuver the boat and that we put the anchor. That's it, we made it, we are in the Marquesas Islands! After 30 days of sailing, we drop anchor in the bay of Hiva Oa, one of the islands of the archipelago. Moment of intense joy, at 4:30 am, we savor our victory. We hear the waves breaking on a seawall, the cliffs are all around us.
The next day, after a very short night (under the blow of the excitement, it was difficult to really sleep) we discover the landscape which is offered to us. We are in paradise! We see the Polynesian houses with colored tin roofs, they are placed on steep and green hills. We also discover a fauna and a flora that we had never seen before. Large black birds with a red protuberance under the head fly above us. In front of the Noddi, especially, we see a movie set: an immense green cirque, made of cliffs falling into the ocean. The top of the mountainous formation is in the clouds and the cliffs seem never to stop climbing. In the distance, we see what looks like banana trees.
Everything around us is wild, beautiful and primitive. We knew that these islands were among the most beautiful places in the world but we didn't expect this.
We move the boat of about thirty meters to get us out of a trap and, finally, we inflate the dinghy to go ashore. We leave to discover Hiva Oa!
Our thoughts are also naturally with Mr. Cuilleret, designer of our beautiful sailboat. His name: Noddi obviously suggests that this man has imagined it to get here, so it is with great humility that we renew our thanks, with a thought for the man and the work.