“Leaving Gambier in a storm, that seems to be the way to go,” said Rick from the catamaran Duplicat. The front’s ESE wind was favorable, and the rain had cleared; but the ocean was quite turbulent once we left Gambier’s lagoon. To our north, 760 nautical miles away, was Fatu Hiva, our destination in the southern edge of the Marquesas archipelago.
Fatu Hiva is a mythical place in the lore of sailors. The majority of sailboats land in the Marquesas after their 3000 mile Pacific crossing — whether leaving from California, Mexico, Panama, or Ecuador. In an archipelago of astounding islands, which has been described with as much flair and poetry as anywhere in the world, Fatu Hiva is the most remote and transcendent island.
“Fatu Hiva has the most beautiful bay in the world,” claim many sailors. “It touches a virginity of sense,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island.
Despite our excitement at finally heading north, with the rough conditions, Aldebaran’s crew were experiencing a new phenomenon: sea-sickness.
“It’s the rum’s fault!” “We’ve gotten soft from 3 weeks in the lagoon!” “It’s just a lumpy cross-ocean!” All these excuses were claimed, but whatever the case, everyone aboard was nauseous; and all but the captain fed the fish.
Under a double-reefed mainsail and 110 genoa headsail, we galloped through the night, averaging 6.5 knots in our first 24hrs. The total passage was expected to last 6-7 days, but we were going to try to stop halfway in the remote atoll of Reao, on the far eastern side of the Tuamotos — if the winds cooperated.