Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Si Si to Oui Oui

Adios (y mucho gusto) Mexico….Bonjour la polynésie française!

We’ve spent the past week swabbing the decks, arranging for fuel, dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s. To make this job easier, and in anticipation of the arrival of our crew, we’ve parked ourselves in a marina here. Not much time went by before we were meeting new people, sitting on the dock and accepting tequila shots from our neighbors on either side (m/v Aurora and s/v Tequila Rose). We’ve also spent most evenings regaled by our new friends from s/v Easily Amused, Mike and Tony. When at anchor we combined our puttering little outboard motor with their sleek and manly dinghy to make for some downright capable transport through the wind and chop of the bay. Other exchanges of services with Mike and Tony have included their help in hoisting Ben up the mast (bonus for me!) and, well, some perfectly illegal medical care. (I may consider a career change). Tony lacerated his finger into a deep and lonely flap of skin and came ashore in search of a skookum vet. Mais, oui...But, of course. Why not? I was happy to comply, and so started a fun and unexpected morning project. Nine sutures later (and with the help of Ben, my shady anesthesiologist) and I may be open to lawsuit. You know those Canadians….

I’ve been looking for a nice colorful piece of artwork to hang in our cozy but otherwise unadorned salon and found just the thing to fit the bill. The Huichol Indians in Mexico create compositions and sculptures made from colorful yarns or beads, pressed into a thin layer of wax mixed with pine resin. The figures in these pieces are fantastical and dream-like, humanoid or animal, and inspired by shamanic visions.

In the meantime we settled in to relax for a few days, as most of our chores were completed, and my dad and Kristin were delayed 4 days in their arrival. Kristin experienced some untimely dental pain and luckily is feeling back in form.

Now that my dad and Kristin have joined us here in La Cruz, we’re busy with the final provisioning, stowing, fueling and, of course, the official clearance of Mexico. Ben keeps a watchful eye to the weather fax, trying to gauge optimal wind for our departure. Then, of course, we prepare to say our goodbyes. Today we arranged for delivery of water from Jose and Carmen, owners of Talia, Sorillo and Coyote. Talia was my biggest worry, and she still seems anemic, but she’s eating well and energized, so I’m cautiously optimistic. We drove with them to the marina – Ben, Jose and Talia all in the back of the truck, and hauled jugs of water to the boat. Talia explored the boat while we watered up, and then we said our farewells. Mexico has given us a warm welcome and we hope to return.

The passage from here is roughly 2800 nautical miles. We’ll be aiming southwest, toward latitude 7° north, longitude 130° west (or wherever the wind dictates nearby), positioning ourselves for the turn south, to cross the infamous ITCZ (intertropical convergence zone), or doldrums, zone of weak wind, rain and pesky little squalls. We’ll be pushing to get there, and then slogging our way out as fast as we can, taking the shortest path we can sail. And then, voilà! The equator! From there, just another…….. to the Marquesas. Sounds simpler than it is, no doubt.

Here’s what our references tell us to expect: clear blue waters, lush vegetation, rugged peaks and spires, tall waterfalls, and the warmth and welcome of the Polynesians (ie, paradise). For those whose geography may be a little rusty, French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France consisting of four island groups: the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Marquesas and the Austral Islands, in total 109 islands spread over an area of 1.5 million square miles. The Marquesas are high islands, young in geologic age, too new to have developed any appreciable fringing coral growth. At the other extreme, the islands of the Tuamotu Archipelago are true atolls – lagoons ringed by coral reefs that long ago swallowed up the remaining land masses. Somewhere in between are the Society Islands, which have mountainous peaks, fertile coastal plains of volcanic ash, plus a protective barrier reef that shelters the shorelines.

Sounds good to me!

So, some reading to get in the mood: Melville’s Typee, which catalogues his journey along a valley in Nuku Hiva, and the months he spent living with the natives there. And, Bligh’s Mutiny on the Bounty – tips in case I need to mutiny on Ben’s ass.

We won’t be checking our email until we get to the other side, but we’d love to hear from you, and it would be a treat to land ashore, search out an internet café, and catch up on news from home to penetrate the self-imposed isolation of Pangaea’s crew during our Pacific trek. We’ll try to post a mid-voyage update or two, so check in when you can!