Ecuador, Crossing the Pacific, and Polynesia

by Drew on April 11, 2009

I got a few emails from people who read the old blog asking how I ended up in French Polynesia so here’s a brief summary of last years events and the Pacific crossing.

Dosia was stored in Ecuador at Puerto Lucia Yacht Club for a total of 20 months from December 2006 to August 2008.  I was really happy with that boatyard for the long term storage.  Their weather has the perfect elements for boat storage: little rain, overcast skies, and dry air.  They also have tremendous security set up there and they seem to keep running logs of each boat in the yard.  I left Ecuador in April 2007 and  I returned last July.  A thick layer of dirt and airborne dust covered every inch of her but the paint job beneath was still in good shape.  No bugs, mold, or mildew and the only thing missing was small fender that fell off the back of the boat.  There’s some pics below.  I painted the bottom and did all the normal boatyard stuff while I waited for my crew to arrive in early August.  Thankfully, the managers of the yard and some of the marina residents warned me to start the paperwork early.   That process turned into a whole debacle and took something like 37 days to complete.   It took every bit of patience I had to get through it and I vented on the message boards around the web as it was happening.  You can read all about it here.

Dirt After a long storage in Ecuador

Once that was done, the crew and I set off for the Galapagos.  Aaron is the cousin of a friend I had been doing deliveries with back in the states.  He didn’t have a lot of experience but it wasn’t needed since I can pretty much sail Dosia by myself and downwind sailing in the Pacific doesn’t get any easier.  At the time, I had semi-budgeted out all my money for the rest of the year so I needed someone who could basically pay their own way.  Aaron had the added benefit still being in school and used the trip as a “semester abroad” where he’d sail with me and then continue on to the Cook Islands and New Zealand after we arrived in Tahiti.  It worked out well and I think Aaron would still be in New Zealand right now if it weren’t for school.

In the Galapagos Galapagos Sunset
After a short stop at the Galapagos, we started the Pacific crossing on August 31, picked up the tradewinds on day 3, and averaged 145 miles a day for the three-thousand mile crossing.  That’s fast for this size and type of boat and I couldn’t believe it when we pulled into the harbor at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas after only twenty-one days.  The crossing itself went smooth but wasn’t without problems.  Somehow a rocker arm broke on the engine 750 miles from the Marquesas.  We could use the motor but it sounded like a freight train was driving through the cockpit so we didn’t turn it back on till we were a mile from the anchorage where we could get it repaired.  With the engine, we would have done it in twenty days cause I know of at least two instances I would have turned that sucker on!

After twenty-four hours of flying and a two-hour mountain drive with Jean-Pierre, the French throat-talker, Margie arrived in Taiohae Bay on her first ever excursion out of the U.S.  We were stoked to keep moving so after touring Nuku Hiva by car and hiking the waterfall we headed back east to catch a glimpse of the Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva before heading to the Tuamotus.  We intended to stop at the island of Ua Pou for the day to grab some fresh bread and use the ATM but when the engine died a mile outside the entrance to the main harbor, we found ourselves stuck.  And we almost found ourselves on the rocks after the wind died behind the mountains!  Two weeks later with a new fuel injection pump but still no functioning engine we left the island much wealthier than when we arrived.  We had made our first friends in French Polynesia.  Fara, Youri, and the family helped us with the engine, showed us around the island, partied with us, and loaded us down with more fresh fruit than three people could possibly consume.  Aaron went goat hunting with some of their friends from town.  They took us deep sea fishing.  We helped them sand the bottom of one of their fishing boats.  We even had a Marquesian slumber party at their house one night.   I don’t hesitate to call them lifelong friends and I’m excited at the prospect of seeing them again this year.

P1050119 P1050229

After the 700 mile engineless sail to Tahiti, I pulled Dosia into the harbor with the dinghy and started looking for help.   Aaron left on October 25th.  I remember this because it’s Margie’s birthday and we ate the most expensive meal I’ve ever had in the company of Vince Vaughn, John Favreau, and Jason Bateman at the Intercontinental Hotel.   A week later, we found ourselves boarding the boat…not our boat…a cruise ship.  For 10 days, we lived in the lap of luxury aboard the Tahitian Princess while Pascal, my godly mechanic, replaced the entire lower end of the motor in Papeete.  It was less expensive to grab a cruise for $700 a piece and eat for free than it was to stay in or around Papeete plus we got to visit many of the islands we were missing due to the mechanical problems.  After the cruise, we spent a few more nights in a hostel before the motor was complete.  From there, it was a quick sail over to Raiatea to haul the boat out and store her at CNI for cyclone season.  We made our way back to the states, bummed a room off my parents for a few months, worked odd jobs, and traveled up and down the eastern seabord.  Now here I am again.   Twelve more long days till Margie gets here.  Kinda wish I wasn’t on island time…

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