Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 11, 2007 - Escape from Nuka Hiva

After the long leg across the Pacific, boats tend to get a bit stuck in the Marquesas. Nobody is in a real rush to tackle the 500 mile leg to the Tuamotus. But it is late in the season, and we're wasting time here that could be spent exploring the atolls.

Since Monday we have been trying to leave the Marquesas. First there were no eggs, so we had to wait a day for fresh eggs. I'm so glad we did. It is such a pleasure to cook with fresh eggs and firm yokes instead of the runny yoke, watery white, five week old eggs we had been using. On Tuesday, loaded down with 6 dozen eggs, 6 baguettes and six cartons of UHT milk, we set out for the Tuamotus. We only made it about 4 miles, motoring in light air, before we both looked at each other and the line of squalls marching across our radar, and decided to duck into Daniel's Bay for the night. Rather than waste diesel just for the privilege of flopping around in sloppy seas, we went snorkeling (we both saw a lion fish for the first time - spectacular), made popcorn and enjoyed a good night's sleep in a comfortable anchorage. After breakfast we made our break for it, and within a few hours we had finally managed to show the Marquesas our swim platform.

Just about 40 miles out, the autopilot started acting up. It seemed to be having trouble holding our course, and couldn't turn the rudder to starboard. Sten put in a quick call to Simrad to troubleshoot the problem (Suzy, thanks again for the satphone). Together they determined that there were likely air bubbles in the hydraulic lines. Sten set about bleeding the lines while I steered for about an hour. We so rarely have to hand steer. Sten steers while we send email, and we hand steer around harbors, but 99% of the time, Robby steers for us. He's like a third member of the crew, but better: he doesn't eat, sleep, or produce dirty laundry. With a four day passage ahead of us, we were both relieved when the bleeding seemed to solve the problem. Just a quick note about Simrad support - every time we have reached out to them they have been absolutely terrific.

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