This is it.  After sailing almost 900 miles to get to the Galapagos, I will now sail 3055 miles to the
Marquesas Islands.  Joining on in the Galapagos for the crossing is Amy Wilson, a 20 year old
South African girl who is making her way around the world crewing on sailboats to get to where
she next wants to be.  Amy started crewing on sailboats in the Med and then found a good
crewing opportunity sailing from France across the Atlantic to the Carribean where she spent
about four months in St Barts.  From there she crewed on the beautiful 85 foot classic ketch
“Velecarina” to Panama and on to the Galapagos.  With sailing experience and a very pleasant
personality, it will be nice having her on for this part of the journey.

After spending a couple of nice days at Isla Isabella, it was time to get started with the crossing.  
Everything on Free Spirit was ready.  The weather was perfect and we were hearing that a
couple of the boats that had left a couple of days before us were picking up really nice trade
winds just to the south of the Galapagos.  Anyways, about this time Amy reminds me that it is
Friday and, of course, no sailor in his right mind leaves on a Friday. Then we realize that not only
is it Friday, but it is also the 13th!  Oh well, we were stuck in a beautiful anchorage for another
day.  As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones.  There were six boats waiting to leave the
anchorage same as us and all headed to the Marquesas.

The morning arrived and of course…no wind.  We took our time eating a nice breakfast and
going for a swim and still no wind.  It is common to have to motor for the first several hours
leaving the Galapagos before hitting the trade winds, so we decided to just go ahead and get
going.  We left on a south southwest heading hoping to pickup the good trade winds we had been
hearing about to the south.  After several hours, what we found was no wind and very unsettled
and confused seas.  I told Amy that I remembered reading in one of the pacific cruising guides
that there was an area to the south of the Galapagos which was described as light wind with
unsettled seas and an area to avoid.  We got out the cruising guide and sure enough, it said to
avoid the exact area where we were now sitting as it was part of an extension of the doldrums
with very unsettled seas.  Well we were off to a good start and I am sure we were probably not
alone because everyone else was talking about going this same way with the good fresh weather
reports of wind.  It was decided that we don’t carry enough fuel to just keep on motoring for
hours more so we decided to just sail… very, very slowly until we worked our way out of it.  It
didn’t take long before we were motoring again looking for wind.  Finally after a day of drifting
and then motoring then drifting some more, we finally picked up a light breeze and made some

A couple of frustrating days of light to no wind and finally the wind picked up and we were sailing
with 7 – 8 kts of boat speed right on course.  Trade winds at last?  The fishing lines were now out
and just before sunset we picked up a double strike, almost immediately losing one, hook and
all.  The second one was a large sailfish which provided us with a good show, jumping completely
out of the water at least five times before spitting out the hook.  What a relief!  I was having
serious trouble just thinking about how I was going to handle bringing in a fish that large.  Oh well,
with the evening setting in, the wind began to increase and the big nasty looking squalls that were
in the distance began to approach.  This was not exactly the trade wind conditions we were
looking for.  The seas were rapidly growing with the increasing winds and the rain was now
pouring down.  Before long we had winds in excess of 30 kts and found ourselves with a double
reefed mainsail and reefed genoa for storm conditions.  Then after a couple of hours the wind just
died and we were back to drifting again in even larger seas.  Luckily this was short lived and we
did get the wind back.  The problem is that we got back the 30 + kts of wind with heavy rain
squalls and wind gusts approaching 40 kts for the next 20 hours or so.  Although not exactly the
conditions we had dreamed about, we were looking at it from the positive stand point, that being,
that we were now averaging 9+ kts of boat speed, on course.

Before making this voyage, I read all the cruising guides and pretty much everything I could get
my hands on so as to get an idea as to what I should expect.  The books all seem to talk about
the same thing, that being, an easy dream type crossing to the Marquesas.  So much for that
happening, the first third of the trip was not quite that dreamy perfect crossing I was looking for.  
Oh yea, I almost forgot to mention that the second day out the impellor on the generator decided
to fail.  Of course the generator is in a tight spot in a forward port compartment under the
forward berth and the impellor itself is also difficult to get at.  In bumpy seas, this turned out to be
about a 4 hour sweaty job replacing it.  A good mechanic could have probably done it in half that
time, but oh well, I was taking my time and being careful.

After this challenging start, things did improve greatly.  The systems all seemed to be working
well, the weather was much nicer with the sun shining and good trade winds blowing us along at 8
– 10 knots.  Our only real complaint was that the seas just never seemed to calm down.  It was
choppy from every direction.  I felt like I was riding the little toy boat in the kids bathtub while
they were splashing and playing.  The sunsets were now like what you dream about.  The nights
were absolutely incredible.  As the sun set, then Venus would follow it brightly in the western sky,
then followed by the new moon.  In the southern sky we had the Southern Cross guiding the way
and to the north, of course, the Big Dipper.  The stars were shining from the horizon in every
direction with the Milky Way so bright it looked more like a cloud lighting up the sky.  On one
night with no wind and the seas a glassy calm, the stars were reflecting off the water making it
look as though the stars came right up to the boat.  It seemed as though the only place you could
look and not see stars was on Free Spirit herself.  What an awesome site!  To really top it off, we
had the phosphorescence sparkling in the water.  The boat wake was lit up bright from the
phosphorescence as well as the white caps across the water.  Occasionally a big fish or porpoise
or something would swim by leaving a bright streak through the water.  Oh well, as I said, it was
truly beautiful at night.

We also brought books, lots of good books.  I think Amy finished at least five books as well as
scanning all the cruising guides at least another half dozen times.  I finished four good books and
got a good start on the fifth one and also studied all the cruising guides just in case she missed
something.  By the time we got to the Marquesas we pretty much knew everything there is to
know about them and what there is to do.  We also had several movies which were nice in the
afternoons or early evenings.  Thanks to Kristi and Sean’s friend Joe and my brother Rick, we
had two i-pods loaded with good music.  Amy did a great job of cooking us a hot meal most of
the nights with the exception of the really foul weather ones.  We stocked up on food and basic
supplies so well in Panama that we really didn’t have any shortages except for fresh fruit towards
the end.  I pitched in by doing the clean up after dinner which worked out well and seemed to be
satisfactory for us both.  Did we get bored?  It seems like on a 19 day crossing that you would,
but I have to say that I really didn’t, at least not too bad anyways.  If Amy is being honest about
it, she says that she never really got bored much either and at times she said it felt so good to be
out on the water sailing on such a big ocean crossing that she almost hated for it to end.  The last
two or three days this feeling did change for both of us as the excitement of arriving was just too

During the second half of the crossing the weather was very nice and sunny with good trade
winds blowing.  The seas remained choppy, confused and at times just down right
uncomfortable.  Everything was going along just fine while we were headed on a southwest
course, but as we started changing to a more westerly heading we developed a disturbing
problem.  The auto pilot quit working on any heading from west to north.  We now wanted to sail
west and the auto pilot would just shut off.  It had no readings on this westerly course we wanted
and so it meant we were stuck hand steering the boat for hours at a time.  With strong trade
winds and rough seas this was turning into work, especially at night when we were tired and it
was dark and hard to see anything.  It required constant attention and meant constantly staring at
the compass and chart plotter. No fun!  The problem was really confusing to us because it
seemed to get worse at night.  During the day we would just go back to our old southwest
heading for much of the afternoon and let the auto pilot do the work for awhile.  We figured that
we were sailing off the course we really wanted, but we were on a much faster heading and it was
giving us a much needed rest.  The west course was almost dead downwind and much slower, so
we felt as though we could make up the extra distance with the extra speed, at least to some
degree.  For some reason the auto pilot then began shutting down completely after dark, but it
would start working again after the new day heated up.  Anyways, we ended up hand steering for
about the last 500 miles as we now had to sail the west to northwest heading.  Oh well, we now
had a moon that was becoming really bright and full which  did keep the sky well lit up at night.

Finally, after 19 days of around the clock sailing, Fatu-Hiva came into sight just before sunset.  It
was a great feeling to watch a beautiful pacific sunset over the island with perfect weather.  As the
sun was setting over Fatu-Hiva, the now full moon was rising behind us in the eastern sky for the
final few miles into the anchorage.  As we rounded the south end of Fatu-Hiva just after midnight
the moon was at its brightest and had the huge volcanic rocky peaks lit up.  What a sight and
good feeling.  Amy was so excited, I thought she was going to start dancing on the deck.  We
arrived at the Bay of Virgins and dropped anchor near a dozen other sailboats.  We got a couple
of hours sleep before awaking to the most beautiful anchorage I think I have ever seen.  It turned
out that several of the boats in the anchorage we knew from either Panama or the Galapagos and
they were quick to come by and welcome us in.  The crossing, although long and at times
challenging, was great.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  The big reward… Fatu-Hiva.  This is the
really remote southeast island in the group and gets very little in the way of visitors during the
course of the year making it one of the truly special unspoiled places left in the pacific.  The island
has two small villages, one on the northern end, the other on the southern end, and they are
connected by a very rough trail/road which can be walked in about 4 -5 hours if you are in good
condition and up for the challenge.  The scenery is nothing short of beautiful.  There are about
600 people living on the island and they are very friendly and welcoming.  Wow, what a place!  
More on Fatu-Hiva later.

The plan is to spend a few days at Fatu-Hiva and then sail 45 miles to Hiva-oa and pick up Jerry
and Conciacao as they return from Hawaii to rejoin Free Spirit for awhile.  We will spend the
next 3 weeks or so in the Marquesas before heading south to the Tuamotus Islands where
hopefully Kya, Rick and Dick Beauchamp will fly in for a few days of sailing and surfing around
the islands.  So on we go!