Approaching Fatu Hiva

6:30am. The rising sun lit up the sky around us. Up ahead, a dark mass loomed like a sentinel: the incomparable island of Fatu Hiva. Arriving here is a long time dream!

Fatu Hiva’s powerful nature starts from afar. The fluffy clouds from the easterly trade winds, that truck steadily across the ocean, are lifted by this sudden topographic barrier, with its peaks over 3000 feet tall; they morph into charcoal grey, rain sodden pillows of air, spilling into the lush western valleys.

As Aldebaran sailed herself well-balanced, we watched the approaching island from the deck. “I’ve been waiting 15 years to see this,” said Spencer. “I’ve had a picture of it on my wall, ever since I first looked at a sailing magazine.”

We savored every minute as the island grew larger. Its vertical bulk, in the middle of this ocean expanse, was awesome to behold. But most impressively, it acted as a meteorological phenomenon, affecting the weather for miles around. Like a supernova exploding in the sky, Fatu Hiva is the black hole; a minuscule land area of 8 x 3 miles, in comparison to the Pacific’s enormity, exerting a disproportionate gravitational pull.

Everything felt intensely alive. The headsail pulsated under the gusts as I held onto the forestay, the boat arcing under the swells.. Eons of tradition are weaved into this moment; from early Polynesian navigators and European explorers, to the modern community of international sailors.

Approaching this island via sailboat – instead of arriving by ship, or if it were available, by airplane – is a truly special experience. We are going 7 miles per hour, the speed of a slow bicycle, yet it still feels too fast to digest it all!

Especially after a multi-day passage, the gamut of emotions are vast… and in our particular case, with Aldebaran wounded as she is, having suffered bad damage, this is the epitome of Yin-Yang. We are in that white circle of blissed out excitement, yet there is a dark spot of lurking uncertainty. It is good beyond good, and it is bad… how bad? We are not sure yet. Living in harmony with these wildly opposing feelings was our reality as we approached the supernova of Fatu Hiva.

7 thoughts on “Approaching Fatu Hiva

  1. If any description can capture the powerful emotions of personal discovery and the feelings across millennia of adventurers, migrants seeking a better life, fishermen, explorers, traders, colonizers, warriors, families, clans from afar and individuals who just had to know what lies beyond the curve of the horizon… this does it for me.

    • I often think about how hard it must have been to cross oceans, deal with damage to their crafts, and then survive in new lands, for those groups your just described. So to arrive in rough shape seems like a nod to the long seafaring tradition!

  2. Kristian, By the way congratulations on the nice write up in Surfer Magazine…it was so fun for Matt to open us his latest issue and see you featured there….way to go!!!

  3. I’ve been feeling much the same as you at the immense difficulty of sea wanderers of the past.
    The dark cloud you discovered below might even been seen to existentially balance the delight and wonder you’ve experienced above. If you were to throw the I Ching, a hexagram like Completion might pop up. How could it be otherwise?

    Good luck repairing the wing in Hiva Oa!

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