Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore

What A Voyage! What Memories!

Contributed By Taylor Williams

Call me a shellback! It's difficult to find the words to express my joy sailing the Pacific with two dear friends on a passage that began in La Paz, Mexico and proceeded to Cabo San Lucas and then across the Pacific to Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia. We were accompanied by our almost identical sister ship manned by Jake and Jackie Adams. They provided technical and moral support and served as our SSB link to the outside world.

     I've always been one who gets fulfillment from adventure and this voyage was capital. I knew beforehand, or at least thought I knew, the enormity of the Pacific and can now personally attest. It was all put into perspective when we encountered only three small fishing trawlers on a 3200 statute mile passage. It still gives me pause. The first few hours out of Cabo we were rudely introduced the the Pacific with its power and majesty. We were buffeted by 25 kt winds for a day and a half. We sailed with the main sail double reefed. Movement about the ship was extremely difficult and even the most simple tasks required double effort and extreme caution. The Solstice however, sailed with ease and grace. She seemed to enjoy the heavy winds and seas. We sped along covering over 200 statute miles the first 24 hours. The winds then settled down to a consistent 15 kts for most of the remaining passage. I enjoyed the daylight hours working and chatting with Bill and Tony. I was entertained with countless stories and embellished yarns. Bill was our most nimble galley hand and did most of the cooking. I still don't know how he found the time to chop all the garlic that found its way into our tasty cuisine. Tony and I semi-deftly took turns with galley cleanup always holding onto something for balance as the Solstice gracefully pitched and rolled. We put out a fishing line most days and were lucky to land a nice Yellow Tail Tuna that we promptly cleaned, seared and devoured. We also caught and released a small shark and almost landed a nice Wahoo that wriggled free just as we were hoisting her to the boat. Tony took a great boyish pleasure reeling in the fish.

     Nights at sea were an almost other-worldly experience. Being alone on watch with only the Moon and stars for companionship was surreal. It was impossible  not to ponder the universe and your existence. I beheld the Moon in all its glory, rising, setting and sometimes casting its reflection on the sea right up to the boat. The stars lit up the night sky even on moonless nights. I would gaze at Polaris and attempt to estimate our latitude, by its position above the horizon.

     Our arrival into the doldrums (ITCZ) was just what I expected. We lost our trusty tradewinds which were replaced with periods of calm, frequent squalls, and the associated microburst winds that unnerved us at times. I received a real equatorial shower while on watch during one nasty squall that somehow penetrated my goretex jacket, soaking me to the bone. No problem, I needed a bath anyway. We zoomed through the ITCZ with the help of our diesel engine and by the time we neared the equator we had reaquired our trusty easterly tradewinds. Excitement filled the cockpit as we talked about and planned our equatorial celebration. As luck would have it, our crossing occurred near midnight which precluded my planned swim around the boat and across the equator. Tony and Bill, with the help of some 12 year old scotch managed to baptize me a shellback by dousing  me with a pail of sea water. I was
excited to arrive in the southern ocean. The Southern Cross replaced Polaris as my north-south beacon.

     Our last few days at sea we endured  20 kt winds that made for challenging sailing, but good progress. I especially enjoyed my night watches, gazing at the southern sky and looking forward to our Hiva Oa landfall. Finally, on Sunday morning, 29 May we sighted land and called "Land Ho". We spent the next few hours sailing into our harbor and finding a suitable anchorage. I was totally exhausted, but mentally and spiritually energized. What a voyage! What memories!

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