Sailing Four Weeks from Ensenada Mexico to Marquesas Island, French Polynesia

Crossing the Equator and Sharing Wine with King Neptune. We are now two Shellbacks!

(Sunday, April 30 to Saturday, May 27, 2023) At the beginning, we were excited about crossing the Pacific and exploring the beautiful islands of the South Pacific. It had been our plan to do it in 2015 and 2020. We didn’t do it in 2015 due to El Nino and in 2020 due to the COVID Lockdown.

Before this trip, I had sailed 20,000 NMS (nautical miles) and John had sailed 25,000 NMS. We had both previously crossed the Atlantic Ocean round trip, experiencing good winds and smooth sailing. We had often heard that crossing the Atlantic was more challenging than crossing the Pacific. Some even referred to the Pacific Crossing as the “Coconut Milk Run” because it was considered relatively easy. But, is that really true?

How much truth in the Sailing videos on the YouTube? How accurately do the sailing catalogs describe the beauty and romance of retiring on a sailboat or working while sailing? Did we only read the positive stories and miss something? Or did we simply encounter bad weather? My pacific crossing turned out an eye popping experience.

The story in between was at times beautiful or at other times frightening. I found myself contemplating life and death, facing physical challenges despite my relatively healthy body at my age, and feeling mentally exhausted. I consider myself adventurous, but during this trip, violent waves often prevented me from sleeping or resting, even after taking Xanax.

After four weeks at sea, we safely arrived on an island called, Nuku Hiva, the closest destination when sailing from Mexico. I am thankful to all the guardian angels and to Neptune, the greatest of them all, for allowing us arrive without any broken bones. John got hurt with his left-shoulder and developed a heat rash all over his back. As for me, I suffered from back pain, pain in my left-elbow and right side waste, crashed middle finger nail (although it have been better if it had been a non-middle finger as the longest finger is more prone to hit something), and a minor foot injury.  Despite feeling tired and in pain, we did everything necessary to set up the sails and perform other tasks, even during the violent movements of the boat. In the middle of the ocean, you are truly on your own.

The closest and direct distance from Ensenada to Nuku Hiva Island is 2900 nautical miles. Our Garmin Tracking Device (inReach) shows that we sailed a total of 3,033 NMS, while our Garmin GPS device shows 4,280 NMS. I concluded that the wave movement added extra side swings because our GPS antenna is located at the back of the boat. That added 40% more distance due to wave movement.

Upon arrival and dropping anchor, the first thing we did was let our two cats out. They know nothing but boating life but they were locked inside of the boat for four weeks as we didn’t want them overboard by cat’s curiosity. They started to smell fresh air and slowly walked all over the deck.

Our quarantine (Yellow) flag is up, we will check-in tomorrow to clear customs and immigration. As US citizens, we will have 90 day permission to stay in French Polynesia. Unlike 2020 before COVID lockdown, we didn’t apply for a long-stay visa this time.

John is always proud of his boat, S/V Bad Bunny, a US-Built Variant 47, which is a strong and reliable ocean crossing vessel. Bad Bunny, you made it!

(Day 1: April 30, 2023, Sunday) After staying in the Marina Coral in Ensenada for the last 10 months, we left the dock assisted by Marina’s service boat. It was sad to say goodbyes to Marina employees and fellow cruisers. We think Marina Coral is the best managed marina. The toilets and showers are always in clean condition. Electric power and water were functional 100%. Trash bins timely emptied. Office employees were always kind and maintenance guys were proud of their jobs. Impressive management!

Marina Coral’s GPS position is N31.51.732/W116.39.705 (Northern Hemisphere). Our destination is near S08.55/W139.55 (Southern Hemisphere). There is only one waypoint which I read about in “The World Cruising Route” book. The waypoint was N00.00 (Equator)/W 130.00.

We had north-northeasterly (NNE) apparent winds 10 kts 45-50 degrees. We set the 1st reef mainsail and a130% full jib sail. We set the autopilot to the waypoint. Both autopilot and sails are working. John and I stayed inside, reading a book, I crocheting a hammock for keeping fruits outside, studying French Language Lessons, and so on. Awesome!

A day before our departure, we found that our AIS was half-working. It sent our position to other boats, but we didn’t receive other boat information. We were uneasy about this issue but decided to depart with the problem. A day or so later, we noticed the AIS is working 100%. We think all the Baja land dust got stuck in the AIS antenna and now got cleared.

The cats were playing with their toys. Everyone is happy. When changing our watch schedule, John told that he found an egg on the floor and threw it overboard. I told him that it was a cat ping-pong ball toy, as I saw one playing with it last night.

(Day 2: May 1, 2023) We are sailing nicely fast with 1st Reef. We made the first 200 NMS day sailing in Bad Bunny history. The moving average was 8.3 kts. What a good start! John was excited and took a picture of the trip gauge for this historical moment.

It was cloudy all day yesterday. We felt cold. When we left, I wore four layers of clothes, including foul-weather jacket and pants. John noticed his foul-weather pants were dropping white plastic pieces everywhere. He had only wore once before. They still look new, but the plastic layer inside is breaking into pieces. He decided not to wear them.

Our watch schedule changes every 6 hours. When I am on watch starting at 2am (Pacific Daylight Time), I saw many stars briefly coming out in between clouds. The Big Dipper always makes me think of the direction, North! Once we crossed the Equator, I will look for “Southern Cross”.

I like to see other boats on the AIS screen. There are freighter ships heading to the West Pacific, Asia. I saw one going to Japan and another to Taiwan. Strangely, the rest were heading to the ports of Pusan (Busan), Ulsan, etc in South Korea. Why not to China! I guess that they stop in South Korea first then, proceed to the next country, China.

We always take motion sickness pills before big sailing. I am usually okay after a day of taking them. Today, I still feel nauseous. When it happens, I cannot eat anything. Today, I ate one apple and two pieces of cheese. The cats are not eating or drinking. The waves are high with choppy seas. This time, I tell myself that crossing the ocean sailing is a test of “how one can be patient and overcome difficulties.”

John was very happy first time in three years (COVID Lockdown) until he found his new generator had stopped working. We depend on the generator making water, running the fridge, charging the battery, making hot water, and so on. I quietly planned my water consumption conservatively. John fixed this problem days later as he found the kinked cable caused the problem. Whenever there is a boat issue, the main thing is finding an access to the problem location. We had to remove all sorts of heavy stuff to access the generator problem. After it was repaired, we put everything back in place.

(Day 3: May 2, 2023) I couldn’t get rid of motion sickness. Last night, John let me go to bed one hour earlier. I rested well and got up two hours earlier. When it comes to boat repair, I heavily rely on him. I am strong and independent, but there are certain things that I have no clue!”

The winds slowed down. The waves are still crazy. The jib sail was not staying put as the waves bigger than the winds. We switched to a smaller sail (Stay Sail) because it collapses less. The cats are still not eating. One of our cats has had a kidney issue since it was a kitten, so we feed both of them kidney diet food only. As they haven’t been eating much since departing, I gave them regular cat food, which they like it better. They ate some.

Finally, with two motion sickness pills and a Xanax, I no longer felt seasick and became very hungry. I enjoyed eating my youthful food, Ramen Noodle with Fresh Kimchi that I bought at H-Mart in San Diego. Good food changed my mood, and I felt very content. I am responsible food provision. I checked boxes of fresh produce that I bought from the Wholesale Market in Ensenada. They are in good condition.

(Day 4: May 3, 2023) We are about 117 NMS southwest of Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. A while ago, a friend told me about their “Cage Shark Diving” experience near this island. At this stage of my life, I have learned that the world is too big to see it all. I limit myself to the main places I want to visit and things I want to do.

There aren’t enough winds. We decided to roll the sail in and just float. Water is a clear deep blue, maybe 65f. The weather temperature is pleasant, with sunshine. A couple of our sailor friends kindly send us daily weather update. A friend in Florida who was recently diagnosed with cancer and immediately started chemo, kept checking on us and sending us encouraging messages. Another friend from New York texts us a concise daily weather report.

I made my first coffee and enjoyed the sunrise. In this big blue ocean, there is nobody around. We are all by ourselves. A sailboat goes slower than a motorboat. However, when crossing the big ocean, sailboats can do it but not all motorboats, due to the limited fuel storage space on the boat.

We had good winds later and sailed with jib, main, and stay sails. At midnight, we dropped all the sails and decided to drift again. We left with 154 gallons of diesel and we don’t want to use it in the beginning of our trip.

(Day 5: May 4, 2023) Bright moon looks like a full moon. We are drifting in the opposite direction. We need to go south west, but boat is floating north east instead.

John has been feeling cold since the beginning and he has sore throat. He took antibiotics and got better two days later.

In the afternoon, I felt winds picking up. We slowly rolled out all the sails: jib, stay sail, and main. Apparent wind speed was10-17 kts at an angle 56 degree. Good winds for us.

I started studying “Audio French Lesson” again. My goal is to study one chapter each day. While listening to it, I crocheted my fruit hammock. Crocheting made me a little nauseous, so I stopped.

So far, John and I have been getting along well, except for one issue. He thinks wearing a “Harness” for safe movement on the deck is more harmful. We argue about it every time. He decided not to wear it, and I decided not to mention its importance. It worried me greatly every time before I go to bed. A year ago, he went overboard while motoring. I was able to rescue him. At that time, we were motoring relatively calm seas. Here, the sea is rough, and we have three sails up. There is no way either of us can rescue a person at sea in this condition. Each night when we change our watch schedule, I tell him to wake me up if he has to go out on the deck. The most fearful thing for me during this sailing trip is losing him or one of the cats. After I rescued him at the Sea of Cortez, he learned that anything can happen at sea, but now he seems to be ignoring it. After the incident, he even bought/installed two portable AIS beacons that attach to on our harness and send very loud alarm to our AIS device on the boat if activated it at sea near the boat.

Our augment on wearing harness kept going on and off. By this time, John has refused to wear it. Later, both of us started wearing it about half of the time. Sometimes, it can be more dangerous and other times it can save lives. I wore it whenever I can. It takes twice as long to complete tasks on the deck when wearing it.

I sleep deeply but John does not. He has had sleeping problems all his life. Around 9 PM, we started feeling like we were inside of an industrial laundry machine. We rolled all the sails in and drifted again. From the beginning, John has been saying that we don’t need to keep our watch schedule. There is no other boat and we cannot see much at night anyway. I mentioned him I prefer to keep our 24-hour watch schedule. As we have a conflict on this topic, I told him if he can do the 8 PM to 2 AM watch, I don’t mind doing the rest. For me, six hours deep sleep is enough.

(Day 6: May 5, 2023) As we rolled in all the sails last night, we were rolling and rocking crazily side by side. My body can handle a certain amount of uneasiness. I have learned during this trip that if the stress exceeds my endurance level, I can’t rest. As we both need sound bodies and minds, I took John’s advice and took a Xanax. It helped. We do what we can. I am a person who listens to my body and adjusts my behavior accordingly to maintain in good condition. John is the type of person who takes medication when his body signals a problem. East and West philosophies or two different personalities! It’s interesting how our approaches differ, but ultimately, we both want to maintain good physical and mental condition for the voyage.

While slowly heading south, the weather has been changing. I am now down to three layers of clothes from four layers.

Drifting caused us to go in the wrong direction 7 NMS last night.

(Day 7: May 6, 2023) We are at about the same latitude of half of Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. We have been in Mexico for two years and learned a lot about the country. One thing is for sure, Mexico is a big country. I love Mexico and its people.

When changing my shift at 2 AM, I came out in the cockpit and saw a big shooting star; I made a wish, followed by three more right after.

We saw a freighter ship loaded with so many containers. It was heading to Pusan, South Korea, making 18 kts, about three times faster than us. John thinks the containers on the ship are empty.

The wind speed has decreased to 6 kts changing between 5.7, 5.6, 5.7, and 6 kts.

Before leaving, I downloaded audio books from a library: “Courage to be Free” by Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor and “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. They expire after two weeks, so I decided to listen to them repeatedly until they automatically expire. I learned about Governor DeSantis by listening to his book. I like that he worked hard to become who he is. I admire hardworking people make their dream come true. I still believe the USA is the land of the opportunity. If one works hard, they succeed. In most countries, it doesn’t happen.

It was a tough decision not to get a StarLink internet service. Most cruisers who installed it told us the internet worked all the way from Mexico to the French Polynesia. StartLink offered a discount on the antenna and monthly service rate in Mexico which was cheaper than in the USA. Our reasons not getting StarLink were (1) we couldn’t’ decide where to install the antenna on the boat and (2) there is no phone call support in StarLink company. It was also mentioned that it will cover French Polynesia by the 1st quarter of 2024. We have an iridiumGo (Satellite Phone) to get the weather update/simple emails. We also have a Garmin inReach device for tracking us and texting. These devices are small enough to take with us if something happens, we can just carry them. StarlLink would be impossible to take with us in case of an emergency come.

Before changing our shift, John told me that he is no longer sick and only has an occasionally cough. This is good news as we rely on each other’s healthy bodies. My goal during this trip is to provide “TLC (Tender Loving Care)” whenever possible. TLC for our bodies, Bad Bunny, and cats!

We are sailing comfortably today. Cat Happy started playing with an earplug and a flying fish toy. I played with her laser light and a string.

At about 3 PM, we are sailing with main sail only, broad reach, a little off the desired direction. We want to go SSW (200 degrees) but our Course of Ground is SSE (160 degrees). John started talking about setting up a Jib Pole for downwind sailing but neither of us likes the setup. The process can be dangerous at times and requires powerful muscles and balance at the same time. We decided not to setup.

(Day 8: May 7, 2023) We are passing at N23.02/W120.36. The seas are rough with big waves. I slept for three hours and couldn’t sleep anymore because of the wave movement. John wears earplugs and takes sleep-aide. Now, he has started wearing headsets on top of the earplugs.

We have sailed 25% of the total distance to our destination. With little sleep, I started worrying. The closest land (Mexico) is about 600 miles away. There is no way (no favorable winds) we can make it back if we have to. The winds kept pushing us more toward southeast instead of southwest. As the waves are big, the main sail bangs from one side to the other whenever the waves change from high to low. The sound and movement make me feel the boat’s pain. We want Bad Bunny to stay healthy without sails/boom banged by smashing waves.

I started to feel queasy again. It seems that when waves reach around 12 feet, my body automatically reacts. It is like the altitude problem I have, if I go directly from sea level to an altitude of 8,500 feet, I experience altitude problem.

(Day 9: May 8, 2023) I woke up to John’s loud sound. My initial thought was that John got hurt or fell into the water. It turned out to be it was his sneezing. He said he is sick again. Sailing a long distance, both of us have to stay healthy, but sometimes it’s not a choice.

The sea water temperature is 71f. John said you can see “Mahi Mahi” fish in this temperature. I convinced him not to set up the fishing reel because we don’t want to get stressed by cleaning fish and cockpit afterward. Thank God, he agreed!

No more washing machine ride. The night before was bad. Last night, I was able to sleep for 5 hours though. The boat is heading in a more desirable direction now, but still a little off.

Thinking about the planet as a round ball, when flying in an airplane from the USA to South Korea, it passes over Alaska because it is a shorter distance. The equator (latitude zero) is a distant part of the latitude. I realize it would have been better if we had gone westward at a higher latitude and then headed directly south. However, we are moving with winds, so we take whatever winds we can catch.

Auto pilot is steering, and sails are powering. Our hands are free. The calm of the morning is my favorite moment. My brain works best, and ideas pop up in my head at this time.  As the boat is sailing beautifully, I am enjoying some “me time” in the early morning.

I saw a freighter ship on AIS. It is heading to Ulsan in South Korea. I think this is the port when Hyundai Shipping Company first started “Ship Building” in the early 1970s or so. Chairman Jung, Ju-young (deceased, high school diploma) was able to get a contact to build a ship from a Greek Businessman and convinced the British Bank to loan him money without having a proper shipyard. Chairman Jung’s insight, intelligence, and energy made it happen. I told John this story. John said, “Thomas Edison has no high school diploma”. History starts from somewhere, mainly with a passion of work.

While checking the produce, I peeled off some rotten layers of the cabbages. I learned from experiences that golden apples stay longer. Mangoes, bananas, pineapples don’t stay long. Oranges and Grapefruits last longer. In Mexico, people eat Jicama (a root vegetable) for salad. This stays long and has mild flavor mixed between pear and tomato. I bought a box of each. For limes, Key Limes (small ones) stay longer but I didn’t know that. I bought regular limes, so I started picking out the bad ones. A Korean friend in Ensenada introduced me to “Ice Plants” and gave me a box from his backyard. I like the salty taste of this plant.

John is very easy on food. He has been eating Costco Rotisserie chickens. I packed a meal portion in a small container and froze them. He still loves eating the chicken. I made instant mashed potatoes for him here and there. As for me, rice/miso soup and Ramen noodles are more comfortable, despite the variety of food we carry on the boat. John is out of his Monster and Diet Coke drinks. He loves Coke, and I love coffee. I use instant coffee at sea. When changing shifts, I see plastic wraps of protein bars, Kit-Kats, drops of Goldfish, Cheez-It, and Party Mix Snacks. He was busy. He also likes beef jerky.  Today, I am planning to heat up BBQ ribs in a pot, adding a spoonful of water. We both like the ribs.

True wind speed NNE 15-20 kts, Sailing Speed 5-6 kts with main sail only. We are not using jib sail because it periodically collapses when a big wave hits the side of the boat.

(Day 10: May 9, 2023) The autopilot is amazing. So far, we haven’t steered the wheel. It allows us to stay inside. I periodically peek out and check if it is overpowering or not. Another thing I do is to check under the floor of my cabin and engine room to see any water or oil leak.

Today, John told me an interesting story. Why did old sailors wear earrings? The story goes that when they sailed around the Cape Horn, they would add a bead or something to their earring. Based on which direction they sailed, it would be added to one side of the earring. If they did it five times in the same direction, the bead’s color or size would change. So it was an indication of how many times and what direction they sailed around Cape Horn.

(Day 11: May 10, 2023) This morning, I changed into a tank-top and shorts. It is getting warm. Our current latitude is about same as the Mexican/Guatemalan border line. The water temperature is 76f.

We have been getting small suicidal squids on the deck. John hates this as they dry on the deck and imprints of their body shape with black ink. Cats love fish but not much into Squids.

The other day, we noticed small amount of engine oil leak in the engine room. He told me that it is self-fixed now. Strange, our AIS issue in the beginning fixed itself as well. So far, John is extremely happy that Bad Bunny has stayed out of major issues.

We picked up some free flying fish on the deck, a good size. I cleaned them and made small bites. Cats go nut eating them.

(Day 12: May 11, 2023) Broad reach downwind sailing. Winds 19-25 kts. We are at about the same latitude with somewhere in Nicaragua, Current GPS Position N14.32/W123.54.

It is getting warmer. We have to wear birth suits because we closed all windows (Portlights) except a couple to prevent cats from escaping. Inside of the boat is getting toasty. We started to run the fans inside.

Looking behind (north) at night, the Big Dipper looks like touching the horizon. We are getting close to the Equator.

During my shift, I started making a ditch bag. This is a hard decision, deciding what to take and what not if the boat sinks and we have to be on a life raft. I did my portion and asked for John’s input on this. He said, “It won’t work. The best thing is a 5 gallon jar with a cover like one from Home Depot. Otherwise, it won’t work.” I responded “That is easy. We don’t have a jar with a cover so we don’t have to make one.”

In the evening, we changed main sail first reef to second reef. It was rolly, and I mentioned to him about wearing a harness, but he complained. When we tried to bring down the main sail, we had an issue. It turned out while the first reef ring was attached to the hook; John tried to bring it down to the second reef, which is impossible. We both didn’t realize the problem in the initially. He overused his arm muscle and has been experiencing ongoing serious left-shoulder pain since then.

(Day 13: May 12, 2023) The sea conditions were even rougher. Waves crashed against side by side. Sails collapsed each time. We got tired and sometimes disagreed to each other’s opinions. Inside the boat is a nice warm, 87f. That adds to our tiring bodies. Later winds died, but it made the boat move even more uncomfortable with the big waves.

Cat Happy found one flying fish on the top of the window (hatch) screen in John’s cabin. That flying fish managed to fly into a small opening gap and landed for Happy’s happiness. Happy tore the screen off and ate the whole fish and leaving a murder scene with blood and scales on the bed sheet and ceiling.

(Day 14: May 13, 2023) I slept so well. Smooth and beautiful sailing. True wind speed 17-23 kts NNE and following waves. Beautful water slush sound. Boat speed 5-8 kts. Course of Ground is 160-190 degrees, about 30 degree off from our Rhumb line. Waking up, I told John, it is like riding waves rhythmically and smoothly, like surfing. He responded to me it is all because of him. As always…?

We are about 700 NMS from the Equator. We will face the Doldrums, no wind zone. I prayed to Buddha, God, Allah, Jesus… for good weather.

Around 6 AM, winds changed from NNE to NE. Waves 3-12’, mostly 9’.

(Day15: May 14, 2023) I received some messages from friends wishing me a “Happy Mother’s Day!” When John got up I told him it is Happy Mother’s Day. He said “What? Happy Miles Day?”

So far, we covered about 60% of the distance to the destination. A challenging ride is ahead of us. Looking at the weather update, we will pass the “No Wind Zone (Doldrums)” in a couple of days. We have about 150 gallons of Diesel; we can use some if we get stuck by no wind.

Before the trip, I bought a “Power Tube”, a rubber starching, to do exercise on the boat and keep muscles on my body. I was not able to use it during this trip. We can barely take a shower in the cockpit because of the waves.

In the dark, I slightly stepped on cat Happy’s tail. She will remember it for a long time. From there, we made sure leave courtesy lights on inside the boat. A couple of days later, cat Swat’s tail got stuck by the fridge door when John closed it. As it gets warmer, they have been shedding a lot. I decided to comb them daily and frequently run a portable vacuum cleaner.

This morning, I made veggie omelets. We finished the routine morning chores done; running the generator to make water, freezing the big freezer plate to keep food refrigerated, running the hot water heater (John’s favorite), charging the batteries, and cleaning the inside of the boat.

Around 10 AM, I lay down to take a break. As I was ready to take a nap, I heard SNAP!!! “What is that?” John said “Autopilot RAM popped. This is a big problem. I don’t know how to fix it. It took three weeks to fix it in the marina when it happened in Colombia last time with his worker who can work well with him. You and I don’t work well when it comes to repair. Pacific crossing was my dream, a weird kind, but I wanted to do it and worked hard for it. This is the worst thing that has happened. I don’t know if we can make it.” I responded to him, “I will do what it takes to get us to the destination. Let us try. We will fix the problem, if not, we hand-steer.” He responded to me “You don’t understand!”

We started to tackle the problem. While I steering the boat, John troubleshoot with an electric meter. Steering for an hour, when I felt natural rhythm of hand-steering, we got a fish hooked. Not this time… We stopped the fishing reel and continued working on the autopilot issue. At the same time, I saw tons of dolphins moving with us. Right, you guys… it is perfect time!

John carries a spare set of autopilot. He first replaced “Auto Pilot Control Box”. Because of the waves, putting a screw in the right place was even more difficult. The new control box didn’t solve the problem. Now, he wants to replace “Autopilot RAM.” To do this, we had to move the bed mattress (almost queen-size) in my cabin. The spare RAM is under my bed. We moved everything in my bedroom to take out the spare RAM. We also had to empty two lockers in the cockpit, all heavy stuff including extra fuel containers, toolboxes, ropes, etc. We needed many hands. Once while cooking on a moving boat, I mentioned to him that I wish I have three hands. He said he wishes he was an octopus when he repairs.

As we both need to work together, John set the boat at “Heave-To (Time-Out Position)”. We replaced with new RAM. John’s shoulder injury affected his normal repair power. At those times I had to squeeze myself in the back of the small access where the RAM is located. Then, I reached out my arm to screw the part. All our efforts didn’t fix the problem. He said, “I am about ready to give up the boat activate the EPIRB (Emergency Signal Device).” “No, John! I don’t want to die at sea. We can manually steer to the destination, regardless how long it takes.” He said again “You don’t understand!” We took a long silent break.

After a little conversation, he decided to check the “New Auto Pilot Control Box”. Reading the manual, he disconnected the wires and started troubleshooting step-by-step. Then, he reconnected the wires. The cable numbers had to go a certain location. While watching, I noticed he was connecting to the wrong numbers. The numbers small and boat was moving. We are tired. Any mistake could easily happen. After putting the control box back, he measured the wires with an electric meter. The meter didn’t respond. The numbers didn’t move. “Nope, it is not working. I don’t know how to fix it”, he repeated. I suggested him to reset the meter. After that, the meter magically responded. Back when I was a computer programmer, we solved lots of problems by rebooting.

John put the control box in and started turn it on. The autopilot is WORKING!!! We are LUCKY, he said. Certainly, a huge black cloud disappeared from our heads and sunshine was with us. From this moment, I became a little nervous about the autopilot and religiously monitored the steering wheel to see if the autopilot was overpowering or not. Now, I am double sensitive, in addition to “Man Overboard Worry”

We didn’t know how thirsty we were. We were sweating like in hell as it was very hot. While drinking so much water, I reminded him of my input on “The Electric Meter Reset and Correcting the Wire Mismatch Issue”. I don’t usually mention this kind but it hurt my feelings when he doesn’t count my help on the boat repair whatever I do. I was the only available human resource at this moment and he said that “We don’t work well together”. He agreed with my comment.

(Day 16: May 15, 2023) Mother’s Day fiasco was huge. We both got good rest/sleep after. I even dreamt of being in a first class in an airplane. Bunny was moving comfortably with first reef main and stay sails. At around 6 AM, I looked at the sky and saw lots of dark clouds. Checking on the radar, I saw squalls ahead. I changed the direction here and there and avoid the worst.

We got the first rain today. I stood up in the rain and felt each cool drop of fresh water. It rained on and off all day and I enjoyed each time washing my hair and body with the best water in the middle of the sea.

Later, when I had enough energy, I started organized the mess on the boat. Certainly, our water pump started run and I felt warm water splashing on the floor. The hot water heater has an issue. We temporally turned off the water pressure pump and decided to repair next day. Guess what, the hot water heater is under my bedroom. This means we had to remove everything again including the big mattress, to identify the cause of the problem.

5:04 PM: COG 210-230 degrees, 3-4 kts, Apparent Wind Speed 9-11, Jib Sail Only. Boat is very clean from rainwater. Today is the first day I can sit in the cockpit comfortably because it is warm/hot, no crazy waves.

(Day 17: May 16, 2023) We made 22 NMS during the night, a 9 hours period, averaging 2.5 NMS/hour, daily total is of 60 NMS. No winds. Waves banging side of the boat.

We have three water tanks, carrying a total of 200 gallons of water when they are full. 80 gallons each side under the couch and 40 gallons under the front cabin. With the hot water heater still an issue, we couldn’t use the water because we shut off the water pressure pump. We scooped the sea water in a bucket for the toilet. Some dishes piled up.

When changing shifts, John mentioned to me that a bird pooped on the deck, slimy undigested squids. I wasn’t sure if it was poop or they tried to have squids eating party on the boat. I scooped sea water and cleaned it all.

11:04 AM: Passing at N05.07/W126.08, we started to run the engine.

11:37 AM: As we are running the engine, I often checked the engine room and floor in front of the engine room. I noticed one of the engine room light bulbs was out.

It rained on and off all day. Inside of the boat was like a sauna as we had to close all the windows because of cats and rain. After we had enough rest, we moved everything out of my bedroom and repaired the hot water heater under my bed. One of the hoses was busted. John got the hose in a regular store in Mexico as he didn’t find a marine grade one at that time.

By this time, I was thinking this trip reminded me of the TV programs “Survival” by CBS and “Naked and Afraid” (?) program by Discovery Channel.

6:49 PM: Since 11 AM today, we ran the engine on and off to conserve fuel. Right now, waves are choppy. The seas are like a washing machine. I noticed the wind instrument is not working 100%. John thinks all the dust in the Baja got washed down by the rain and maybe some got stuck somewhere in the wind instrument. In order to fix it, he has to go up to the top of the mast. That is not happening while moving at sea with these waves.

Early in the night, I saw a sailing vessel on the AIS display, the first time since we left Ensenada. She was about 10 NMS away from us but moving 5-6.5 kts speed while we were moving at 3.5 kts. The captain contacted us on the radio. We are going to the same destination. He left Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. That brief conversation, I enjoyed talking to the captain as we are in the same situation.

(Day 18: May 17, 2023) At 1AM, I woke up. We started feel the Doldrums at N8/W125. With the motor running, we were going 2-4 kts. Not having the downwind sailing pole set up, it was impossible to sail because of the high waves. Since beginning of this trip, we tried to figure out the direction the waves were coming from. Each time, we concluded at least two different directions: One from Port Stern and the other from the behind the boat, When combined, the waves made the boat move strangely. The sails collapsed due to this strange wave movement. (*Once we arrived at Nuku Hiva, I asked other sailors about the waves. Four out of five boats had same issue about the waves regardless where they started sailing from: Mexico, Panama, or Galapagos.)

At 4:09 AM: We are passing N04.17/W126.35. Our bearing is setup at Equator/W128. The estimated direct distance to Nuku Hiva is 1,116 NMS. I assume we are losing 1-2 knots speed due to the current.

At 5:22 AM: Earlier, the winds came from the N, NE, NW. Now they are coming from the West

At 11 AM: We felt the sea was a little calmer, so we turned off the engine to refill fuel container. When we were in Ensenada, John bought a blue container and filled it with 17 gallons of Diesel. He calls it the “mini-me 50 gallon drum”. It looks exactly like a blue 50 gallon drum but can only hold 17 gallons. We managed to move the container from the starboard side of the boat to the cockpit. John took out a brand new siphon that he bought on eBay. It worked well at first, but then the hose of the siphon got stuck and didn’t work as it was supposed to. We took out a funnel and poured the fuel into five gallon container, then transferred to the fuel tank. Each time a wave hit us hard, we ended up getting diesel shower. I think we lost about 2 gallons of diesel on our bodies. After we were done, I used body shampoo, but it didn’t clean me. John suggested using “Concentrated Laundry Detergent”. It worked well but I experienced a burning sensation on my skin for next three days.

At 1:30 PM: We sailed for 30 minutes, but winds died down.

At 8 PM: Started sailing second reef main and jib sails. It was good sailing until 2 AM the next day.

John broke off the handle of the small hatch in my cabin and badly injured his hand causing it to bleed. He likes to use Gorilla tape top of the gauze to cover his injury.

(Day 19: May 18. 2023)  At 2:30 AM, I woke up to John’s working on the deck. The sea was calm, but I still don’t like him being alone on the deck at night. He took down the Jib, and we lowered the main to the third reef to stabilize the boat’s movement. Weak Winds.

During the night, John broke the engine lever off. He tried to fix the problem but had to quit because it created another issue. Temporarily, he attached a “Vice Grip Pliers” to operate the engine.

At 3 AM: We started motoring again.

At 6 AM, at N02.52/W126.49, still motoring. The sky was crystal clear for the first time. I checked my log and calculated our daily sailing distance in the Doldrums: Monday 58 NMS, Tuesday 75, Wednesday 63, and Thursday 69 NMS.

When I am on my watch schedule, I like to monitor our AIS device. After so many days without seeing a boat, I saw one boat on AIS today. It had the longest boat name I had ever seen, a Fishing Boat called “Lurongyuanyuyung678”.

(Day 20: May 19, 2023) There were squalls here and there, which helped us sail better sometimes with favorable winds. We still have 1,000 NMS to our destination.

At night, when John opened the entrance, a tired seagull managed to get inside the boat. The two cats were thinking “Ugh… what happened”. John immediately grabbed the neck of the scared bird and let it out fly again. I cleaned up the scared bird’s poop from the floor inside.

Later, I woke up to John’s cursing. The engine oil completely leaked out. The black oil was under the floor of my cabin, under the front entrance floor area, and all over the engine room. We had replaced a newly designed “Low Oil Pressure Switch Oil Pressure Gauge”. Since Volvo discontinued this part, John had it made in San Diego. However, the fitting broke off to pressure. He removed the gauge and decided to run the engine without it. We cleaned the engine oil from everywhere, refilled the engine oil, and started the engine.

At midnight, while I was sleeping, I felt the boat was moving all over. I checked the Garmin “Earthmate” App on my phone. The boat was going in the opposite direction, northwest. John was reading his Kindle without knowing any issue. It turned out that because of vicious waves, the autopilot got disengaged and boat was going wherever. We set the right course at 217 degrees with the stay sail and third reef main.

This morning, the squalls were right above us for a long time. They added to our sailing speed for half of the day. New weather update looks promising.

At 3 PM, we raised the main to the first reef and let out the 130% whole Jib. It looks like the hardest part is done, and we have a nice sailing to our destination.

(Day 21: May 20, 2023) We are about 70 NMS north of the equator between W127 and W128, experiencing smooth sailing. I call it normal sailing. I slept well last night. Today, we will cross the equator. I saved a bottle of Port Wine from Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean for last 5.5 years to celebrate for this once-in-lifetime special moment, crossing the Equator by sailboat.

Around 7 AM, we crossed the Equator. John was sleeping, so I decided to open the bottle of wine at noon to share with King Neptune. Neptune got a shot, both of us only sipped a little as we don’t drink while sailing.

(Day 22: May 21, 2023) It has been three weeks since we left Mexico. I thought that if we passed the doldrums and the Equator, it would be easy sailing onward. Not… Today is another difficult sailing day because of the waves.

(Day 23, May 22, 2023) At 4:23 AM, at S03.02/W130/07. Cat Happy is going crazy again, wanting to escape through the front entrance. She must’ve heard the flying fish landing on the deck.

At night we opened about one portlight (window) that we thought cats cannot reach. At 7AM, while I was in front of the navigation desk by the entrance, I started smelling fish. Finally, I looked the 1” opening gab of the entrance door which cats cannot escape through. Cat Happy was outside trying to get in there with a flying fish in her mouth. When she escaped at the second time, I noticed, she jumped to 5’ high window to get out. On her third escape attempt, she hit her head on the window and fell on the couch because I closed it. John calls her the “Escape Artist”.

The winds are from ENE. We are sailing 60-70 degree off from the Rhumb line.

(Day 24: May 23, 2023) At S5.12/W131.19, I couldn’t go back to sleep because it was too rough. We are about 40 degrees off from the Rhumb line. Both of us decided to setup a pole today. The winds constantly come from ENE occasionally E. We need ESE or SE winds. We have bad memories of setting up the pole before. As we want to avoid the setup, we decided the main sail all the way out to the starboard side so we can sail somewhat to the right direction. However, waves from various directions ruined our plan.

It took three hours to setup the pole with full extension. Two hours later, after some good sailing, I heard loud sound and found jib sail collapsing all over. The Jib Pole extension line broke off, and the pole was swinging around. While retrieving the pole, John accidentally unlocked the Jib sail Halyard and let the jib sail down about 10’ out of the track, dangling the Luff (?) Groove at the bottom. With the 130% jib sail out and powered by the winds, I had hard time to fit the sail edge in the groove while John was trying to crank with his hurting left-shoulder. We decided to switch our roles as his shoulder was hurting him a lot. It was still impossible to put the Jib sail in the track. John asked me to bring WD-40 and sprayed in the edge of the Jib sail. Out of desperation, I was able to crank the winch to bring the Jib sail up as he put the sail edge in the Luff Groove back on the track.

After putting back the pole next to the mast and setting up the Jib sail correctly, we decided to take down the Code Zero sail. It was setup in front of the Jib Furler. We had some problems during this trip as Jib sail lines get tangled in and/or with Code Zero Furler. When we tried to use the Code Zero Sail with the light winds, it didn’t work for us because of the waves collapsing it. The Code Zero was useless because it collapsed from the waves. We think Code Zero Sail only works with light winds and calm sea conditions.

The wind is coming from 70 degrees. We need ESE or SE winds, preferably coming from 130 degree. As we cannot go to the right direction, we changed our COG heading NW but we were mostly going northerly for four hours. Later, we jibed and sailed for a while to the right direction. We didn’t gain much by doing two jibes but we were able to sail for a while.

(Day 25: May 24, 2023) John did a haircut during his watch, very short. He got a flying fish landing on his face in the cockpit. He saved the fish in the fridge. Every morning, I cleaned our nightly catch of flying fish and chopped them as treats for the cats.

(Day 26: May 25, 2023) Starting 2 AM, we are sailing perfectly for the first time during this trip. We are going SW as winds come from SE+/- 20 degrees. We were making 7-8 kts at S6.29/W135.22.

(Day 27: May 26, 2023) I am watching “Southern Cross” stars at night. John has “Sky Guide” app installed on his iPad. I read about “Mimosa” star and “Southern Crux” on Sky Guide.

At 10:30 AM, we decided to run the engine and let stay sail out to follow the Rhumb line. Otherwise, we have to sail off the right course. We still have about 100 gallons of diesel. We just wanted to arrive at the destination badly and we have enough fuel for it. The only issue is the slight engine oil leak problem. We attentively monitor the engine. When we change our watch schedule, we turn off the engine and refill the engine oil.

(Day 28: May 27, 2023) At midnight, it was again too rolly to sleep. I slept for two hours but I decided to get up and let John sleep. Going out in the cockpit, I felt good winds. I rolled the stay sail in and let Jib sail out. Since then, we have been making 6-9 kts with the engine running.

At 3:11 AM, we are at S8.30/W139.11. We have about 50 NMS to the landfall waypoint @S8.55/W139.55 . There is another 10 NMS from this waypoint to our final destination, Taiohae Bay in Nuku Hiva Island, Marquesas, French Polynesia. We were worrying about the anchorage availability, but we know that we have to find a space for us. We are both tired. John has a serious left-shoulder issue and I have pain in my left elbow and upper arm, right-side waste, and mid-back. My crashed infected finger nail is healing and my infected left foot bottom was already healed.

At 2:15PM (Pacific Daylight Time) = 11:45 AM (Marquesas Time), we dropped the anchor at S8.54.975/W140.06.200. Over the last four weeks, we were alone, relying on the Bunny and ourselves. I briefly feel a lot of mixed emotions. Looking other boats and activities on the island, I felt safe and I slowly realized “we made to the destination!” After putting the main sail cover on and organizing/cleaning the Bunny, we opened a bottle of Champaign and gave the cats special treats. We are now Shellbacks! Simply Cheers!

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