Pacific Crossing: Panama to French Polynesia

FIVE WEEKS AT SEA. More than a month – 33.5 days to be precise – without contact to the outside world, other than our satellite phone and very limited credit to send one sms every few days with our position, to my dad who plotted our progress on google earth (Thank you Daddy!).

On September 21st, 2012, Rufus and I set sail with Melody across our first ocean together – 4 weeks across the Atlantic from South Africa to Brazil, with a half way stop at St Helena Island. Exactly 3 years and 7 months later we left Panama on April 21st this year, for what is most likely the longest passage we have and will ever do.

This was a very daunting trip for us to plan and prepare for, our first really long passage just the two of us. This time there was no half way stop. We didn’t go to Galapagos, like many cruisers do. The price is far too high for our limited cruising budget and we are on a deadline this year to complete our circumnavigation.

Nothing about this crossing was as predictable as so many cruising guides promised us. Probably thanks to El Nino, the winds and currents were not what we anticipated or hoped for but, despite all that, we had an unbelievably blessed trip with minimal damage to sails, our autopilot held up superbly the entire way and our “new” second-hand spinnaker literally blew us away with it’s phenomenal performance. Without it we would probably still be bobbing around in the middle of nowhere, despite repeatedly snagging itself on the spreaders and keeping us busy with repairs. We have now appropriately dubbed it “Patches” and love it all the more for it’s new character, every patch a story we will remember for years to come.

Thanks to the uncomfortably turbulent anchorage outside Panama City we already had our “sea legs” well before we left and mercifully sea sickness was not an issue on this trip. We did have to get used to the watches again, 3 hours on / 3 hrs off and the physical aspect of rolling constantly, always countering the movement even during sleep. After the first week our bodies started getting used to the new sleeping routines and fatigue and, by the second week we were happily into our new routines – cooking, fishing, daily tasks (cleaning/maintenance etc), frequent sail changes to get the most out of the wind, reading, watching series & movies and many hours sitting in quiet refection or chatting together and dreaming of what we will eat and do on land when we arrive!

Thank you to everyone who sent us messages to the satellite phone. We could not reply to everyone but we did receive and treasure every single word! Thank you for all your support!

More tropical island photos to follow, as soon as we get a chance 😉

fishing boats along the South American coast fishing boats along the South American coast stowaway hitching a ride from Panama stowaway hitching a ride from Panama SO GRATEFUL for our spinnaker on this trip!!! SO GRATEFUL for our spinnaker on this trip!!!

happy skipper, happy boat! happy skipper, happy boat! Rufus playing hide and seek... Rufus playing hide and seek… saw SO many of these guys, the babies were the cutest - always lifts our spirits saw SO many of these guys, the babies were the cutest – always lifts our spirits Ruf's outdoor nav station Ruf’s outdoor nav station crossing the equator for the second time! crossing the equator for the second time! almost every day we enjoyed Ruf's delicious freshly baked breads almost every day we enjoyed Ruf’s delicious freshly baked breads plotting our progress the old fashioned way plotting our progress the old fashioned way Ruf's favourite Ruf’s favourite “watch spot” – so he could keep an eye for boats and chat to me while i lay on the couch proudly South African! proudly South African! weather updates from our old Melodian team mate Wilhelm :D weather updates from our old Melodian team mate Wilhelm 😀 topping up my tan before we arrive in the islands topping up my tan before we arrive in the islands after losing quite a few lures we finally figured out the perfect combo for decent sized Dorado  after losing quite a few lures we finally figured out the perfect combo for decent sized Dorado its not the size that counts... its not the size that counts… passage food isn't too bad ;) passage food isn’t too bad 😉 Dorado ceviche and sweet potato Dorado ceviche and sweet potato cinnamon doughnut balls cinnamon doughnut balls Dorado done Dorado done “shark ‘n bake” style Pacific swell Pacific swell spinnaker repairs after a 7m hole ripped along the leading edge spinnaker repairs after a 7m hole ripped along the leading edge

our deck was like a seafood buffet every day, with all the sea creatures that got washed up by the waves our deck was like a seafood buffet every day, with all the sea creatures that got washed up by the waves painting the French Polynesian flag painting the French Polynesian flag calendar making and route planning calendar making and route planning our friends from S/Y Excalibur, who we crossed the Panama Canal with, sailing past us a few days before we arrived in Marquesas our friends from S/Y Excalibur, who we crossed the Panama Canal with, sailing past us a few days before we arrived in Marquesas washing on passage: bucket at the back of the boat ;) washing on passage: bucket at the back of the boat 😉 Pacific sunsets are unlike any we have seen... Pacific sunsets are unlike any we have seen… 10nm from land we FINALLY got to fly the courtesy and Q flags! 10nm from land we FINALLY got to fly the courtesy and Q flags! first sight of land - we were so excited we even prepped the tender while we were still at sea so we could launch it IMMEDIATELY when we arrived! first sight of land – we were so excited we even prepped the tender while we were still at sea so we could launch it IMMEDIATELY when we arrived! hello, Marquesas! hello, Marquesas!

3 Comments

  1. Vivian Arkcoll
    May 26, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    Amazing and another ton of memories to add to your bucket full of adventures. So incredibly proud and happy for you both, enjoy every moment. Xx

  2. marije den breems
    May 26, 2016 / 8:25 pm

    sooooooooooo cool to see the pictures!! and knwo what maybe is ahead of us, if we are lucky like you guys with the crossing!! really happy for you that it was so nice and calm and relaxt!! xxx

  3. Ken Corathers
    May 26, 2016 / 11:53 pm

    So exciting to see your pics! Looks like a pretty mellow crossing. Too bad Rufus didn’t get to do any celestial navigation, haha.

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