Day 20. We’re about 175nm from Eiao (Ay-ee-ow) with about 26 hours to go until we are anchored and just a short dingy ride from our first terra firma in 21 days. We have been going much faster than expected the last several days with daily runs of 151, 156 and 160nm which was welcome for the ITCZ but, totally unexpected. This extra speed will have us arriving around 10PM on our 21st day which will be too late to approach the island with safety. We’ll most likely end up “hove to” letting the boat slowly drift once within 20nm off the coast waiting for sunrise to make our final approach.
The island Eiao is overrun with wild goats that are destroying the uninhabited islands native vegetation and hunters from other islands regularly visit the island to cull the herds. Karl is entertaining ideas about going goat hunting (with a knife) and cooking the goat in the traditional method using a Umu or sand pit filled with hot rocks, banana leafs, the goat, more banana leafs and sand. I’m all for it if he does the dirty work but, at the end of the day I think the idea just the result of 21 days at sea and will fade quickly upon arrival.
The only big event of the past few days was our Equator crossing on day 17 just after midnight. I was on the 9 to 12PM watch prior to the crossing which gave me some time to secretly prepare for this momentous occasion as Julie and Karl slept. Preparations included a short speech to show my crew some appreciation for their contributions, a short ceremonial speech thanking King Neptune for allowing us safe passage across his seas, and a King Neptune costume complete with aluminum foil crown, trident and arm band for conduction the traditional ceremonies. The ceremonies included a toast to King Neptune where we first each poured half a Pacifico (Mexican Beer) into the sea and then the ritual of anointing each “Pollywog” (those who have not sailed across the equator) with the esteemed title of “Shellback” (those who have sailed across the equator). We were hoping to swim across the Equator but, the nighttime crossing and 15 knots of wind foiled the plan.
The Marquesas are in a unusual time zone which is GMT or Zulu time minus 9.5 hours (the half hour is the unusual part) and when we adjust our watches for local Marquesas time it will be the third time during the voyage, having started in Central time GMT minus 6. After a few days in Eiao we will proceed to Nuka Hiva for the official check in procedures and some provisioning. We tentatively plan to spend 3 or 4 weeks in the Marquesas before heading for the Tuamotus.