Friday tortured us a little. Every 15minutes or so, somebody would pick up the binoculars and scan the horizon for land, hoping to be the first one to spot it and shout "land ho!" But brutally, or first siting didn't arrive until juuuust before nightfall. A bunch of little clouds scattered across the horizon so we picked through each of them with our binoculars, knowing that at 70 miles away, we should be able to see land by now - meaning one of those clouds was our island. We found it and shouted to our delight, but we soon found the real treat would come at sunrise the next morning when we were greeted with a clear view of the approaching island and a setting full moon. It was absolutely breathtaking - and surreal knowing that our reward for such a challenging month was before us. It was well worth every broken boat piece, every plan that fell through, every night spent in uncomfortable heat, every 3am watch that we reaaaaally didn't want to wake up for ... this was where we were supposed to be.
We slowly inched toward Fatu Hiva and arrived at " Baie des Vierges" ("Bay of Virgins") around 11am on Saturday...but not without a little drama... The bay was incredibly crowded, so we attempted to anchor twice and succeeded on our third try. Our second attempt however, was quite stressful. We had an issue with our anchor chain and nearly ran into a catamaran (fenders out) while we worked it out. When all of that was over, our flags broke off and went flying up their pole. We had to duct tape two long boat hooks together to pull it back down again... Arctic Loon always likes to make a memorable entrance....
But oh what a relief! We did it! There were towering lush green mountains, vertical plates of rock that would be a rock climber's dream, goats grazing in little fields of grass far up the hills, and round trees poking into the sky that looked like they popped right out of a painting of an apple orchard.
We broke open our second bottle of champagne.
Some recent highlights:
The ghost rainbow: A few days ago, we hit some minor squalls in the middle of the night (no big deal at this point - we've become masters at dealing with them). One cool thing about this night though, was that it was almost a full moon, and the whole sky was lit up. We could even see the squalls in the distance and didn't have to rely only on the radar. When one squall had passed, we looked up and noticed something we hadn't thought was possible. A moon rainbow. It was a full rainbow exactly like every other rainbow we've seen out here... except no color. Totally grey. It was eerily beautiful.
White tropical birds (that's their actual name): We started seeing these birds a few days ago too. They're elegant, snow white birds with luxurious long tails. We started seeing them as often as the boobies, and we knew we must be close to land. We'd heard though, that you really know you're close to land when you see the "frigets" like the ones we saw in abundance at Isla Isabel. We were constantly on the lookout for those, but didn't see any until about 10 minutes before we anchored. "Big whoop," we thought, "we already know we're close!"
Playing guitar at sunset: Friday was a calm day of easy sailing, so we pulled out the guitar and played it for a while around sunset. We've been too exhausted to play it much lately, but this felt like the right time and it provided a perfect way to welcome ourselves to the Marquesas.
Our first swim: After working all of our first afternoon at anchor dealing with our anchor chain issue, the flag issue, a clogged toilet, and inflating our kayaks, we finally plunged into the turquoise waters of the bay and enjoyed swimming beyond a couple feet from the boat. The perfectly cold water felt rather cathartic. We played in it, laughing and spinning around in circles. We deserved the bit of fun, and what a beautiful place to get to relax.
Well we've had many incredible adventures on land since then, but the same adventures have made me rather sleepy, so I'll post this now and leave you with a few teasers for next time: Easter mass at the local church, a meal with an incredibly friendly Marquesian family, a hike to a waterfall, and who knows what else is in store for us! The adventures continue.