Pacific Sailing

GATEWAY TO OCEANIA

GATEWAY TO OCEANIA: It’s hard to explain how it feels to sail across an ocean to someone who hasn’t experienced it. The trips are long, in confined spaces, sometimes in less than optimal conditions that lead to frustration and even arguments in the crew. And yet we go back because we are drawn to the ocean and its infinite wonders, from the dolphins to the turtles, from the sunshine to the showers, from the calm seas to the big waves that accompany us on our journey to reach another side of the planet.

Our adventure started in Panama, where we landed after a long day of traveling with so much luggage that the border officers couldn’t believe it. After a long interrogation on the purpose of our trip, they decided we were good to go and we set off to Shelter Bay, where the boat was waiting for us. We spent a week prepping, shopping, and enjoying the air conditioning and swimming pool the marina had to offer. On a lovely, sunny afternoon, we slipped our lines and turned our engine on to reach the designated meeting point where we would get our pilot for the Panama Canal. As a small yacht, we were not allowed to do it all in one go so after the first couple of locks and an alligator sighting, we were assigned a buoy on lake Gatun, said goodbye to our pilot and told we would start again in the morning. The second day was long, we had to get through all the remaining locks, refuel and buy some last-minute supplies. As we motored through the canal, we admired its incredible construction. Some enormous cargo ships were in front and behind us, making our already not so little catamaran look like a tiny little bug that could be squished at any moment. After numerous locks and 51 miles, we made it to the Pacific Ocean and once we completed the last errands, we set off on our first crossing until Galapagos.

Galapagos Bird
Galapagos Bird

The first few days were rough. Choppy sea and hot, humid weather didn’t make for a very pleasant start to our sail, with members of the crew sick and the general morale needing a boost. After a few days, however, the conditions improved, and our patience was rewarded. We started fishing and caught big tunas and Doradas that made for some delicious meals. Sunnier weather also allowed us to admire beautiful sunsets and synthesize some much-needed vitamin D. As we adjusted to our life on board, time went quickly and the miles to our destination started dropping. Our final day of sailing was a gorgeously sunny one. We crossed the equator and shortly after, we spotted the island of San Cristobal. Stepping on land after over a week of sailing was not easy. Suddenly everything seemed to be moving, and the Earth’s gravity felt a thousand times stronger but all of us were happy to head out for a meal we didn’t have to cook.

Our week in Galapagos went very quickly. We explored three different islands, San Cristobal, Santacruz and Isabela. All of us were impressed by the incredible nature, especially sea lions which could be seen chilling anywhere from the benches to the sidewalks and even hopping on boats for a rest in the sun!

As the week ended, it was time to lift our anchor and hoist our sails for the long crossing down to Polynesia. This time, the conditions were much more pleasant. We read books, caught fish, cooked, played cards, sunbathed but most of all, we admired the beauty of the ocean again. One day, in particular, we were surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, all jumping out of the blue water as if they were celebrating our passage. Every day we woke up to the infinite sea around us and every night we paused to say goodbye to the sun as the sea quickly filled with oranges like a canvas in the hands of an experienced artist. We were reminded of the greatness of nature and it was a truly humbling experience!

16 days and 3000 miles later, we spotted Fatu Hiva. The last few days were a little bit tougher on all of us, perhaps because the small space was finally getting to us, so our arrival led to a general sense of relief. For days, we explored the raw beauty of the Marquesas islands, bathing in waterfalls and hiking in jungles before we set off to the larger and more populated islands, wondering when we’d go back to the ocean.

by Chiara @chiarasadventures_