Today was another beautiful day on the water. I woke up to the sun shining and a crew member shouting through the port hull, “Ala mai, la ua vaai matou i le motu!” Several of us jumped out of our bunks and climbed the ladders up the hatch to the excitement up on deck of seeing Marutea Nord about 400 meters away from Gaualofa! Seeing land after being at sea for 27 days is a joyful experience, especially with the crystalline blue and turquoise green of the lagoon waters around the island. Unfortunately, the inviting white sandy beaches and swaying coconut trees were just a tease. We watched in anticipation as the island got closer and closer, took a few photos, and then watched it get farther and farther away. Our Skipper reminded us, as we all begged to stop at the island to grab just a couple of nius, “We are on a set course (with no scheduled stops), we must stay with the fleet and continue to Tautira, Tahiti Iti.” We were a bit disappointed to see land pass us by so quickly, but, the good news is that Tautira is only 253Nm away!
After the 3,500Nm we have already traveled from Galapagos, there is an infectious excitement on the va’a that increases with each nautical mile that we gain towards Tahiti! The food rations are getting low, but the spirits are high! The 27 days since leaving the Galapagos have truly flown by, especially with the help of the steady winds from the North East. Looking back, our time in Galapagos was truly wonderful. I am still amazed that we as a fleet had the opportunity to explore and discover the Dr. Seuss like flora and fauna of Galapagos Islands. Seeing large tortoises roaming in the wild, marine iguanas lounging in the sun, penguins swim by Gaualofa and blue footed boobies pose on lava rocks are all images that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I’m sure others will too. I also had the unique opportunity of swimming with a sea lion, only several meters away from Gaualofa, it did summersaults in the water next to me, so close that I could feel its whiskers brush up against my feet!
Since leaving the Galapagos, we have had a few minor hiccups along the way including an overheated solar panel, a ripped head sail and a long streak of no fish! The solar panel we will have to repair in Tahiti. The head sail, the Gennaker, we repaired successfully on our va’a! We have been using the Gennaker regularly on this leg, since the wind has been almost directly behind us for most of the way. The repair we made held up well for more than a week, until just yesterday, when we were caught off guard by a gust of wind while hoisting the Gennaker up. She got pulled down by the wind and now has tears that cannot be repaired by our crew. Unfortunately, two other va’as have also ripped their Gennakers during this long stretch down to Tahiti! As for the 18 day streak of no fish, thanks to all the prayers from back home, since Uncle Charlie’s blog on April 9th we’ve been consistently catching fish including skip jack, mahimahi, wahoo and short bill fish. Today, just before the sun set we caught two lovely wahoos! With each catch, the crew cheers in excitement.
Now, only hours away from Tahiti, we are excited for the welcome back to Polynesia! The va’as are returning to familiar waters. We are excited and proud to bring them home and anticipate the return to Samoa. They have traveled many miles and the crews have gained many valuable, eye-opening lessons while out at sea. These lessons, to name a few, include the fragile state of our oceans, important sailing traditions of our ancestors, the cultural richness of Polynesia, and the importance of unity and teamwork in tackling challenging tasks. It is our hope that the “Te Mana te Moana” message successfully unites the people and countries we have encountered in this journey to work together to address and tackle the issues our oceans face. The ocean is a great teacher and has much to teach anyone who will only dedicate time. We are moving at roughly 8 knots right now with a heading of 270 degrees (Sisifo) and my turn on the foe is fast approaching. Thank you to all our family and friends back home for your support. We think of you all often and look forward to calling you when we get to Tahiti.
Fa’afetai tele and Fa Soifua,