The Pacific passage to the Marquesas was so different from our Atlantic crossing. Apart from the ICTZ (Doldrums), we had no squalls, which are particularly unpleasant at night. We saw some large waves, but nothing on the intensity and size of the Atlantic, and yes we rolled, but apart from the last night, this was easy to live with.
We were a crew of three, compared to five across the Atlantic. Janet did a great job, and after the first two nights, we all did solo night watches, which meant that we largely got six hours sleep, which made a big difference.
We were in touch by HF radio with SuAn, Marionette IV and Pacific Bliss early in the morning and again late in the afternoon, exchanging our positions, ensuring that all was well on board respective yachts and having discussions about weather.
Our passage was good, 3043nm in 19 days, 26 engine hours, but the ICTZ area was horrible, with wind shifts through 80 degrees, torrential rain, and then no wind leaving a very confused sea. We managed to tear the mainsail during the night in this period, next to the luff and strangely below the 1st reef, which we had put in before nightfall. We repaired this temporarily on passage, and will get it done properly in Tahiti.
On the all-important fishing front, we caught mahi mahi, blue fin, skipjack and yellow fin tuna. So did not go hungry – the freezer was full to bursting!
Reportedly the most remote inhabited islands on earth (1,000 miles from anywhere), The Marquesas are part of French Polynesia, and French is commonly spoken, alongside their own Marquesan language. There is a strong French influence, and each Island has a “Gendarme” sent on an overseas posting from France. There are also military representatives from the mainland or ‘Metropole’ as well as teachers and professionals who work under contract for a certain length of time before moving on to a different ‘Territoire Outre Mer’ or larger ‘Departement Outre Mer’.
As one of its Overseas Territories, French Polynesia receives big subsidies from France, and the money here seems to have been well spent improving the infrastructure. There is a noticeable difference between the money each Island has to spend, and we understood it depends on the way the people vote in their local elections, rather than the size or population of the Islands.
Though the Euro is accepted infrequently here, the CFP (Central Polynesian Franc) is the common currency with its colourful, detailed notes and coins depicting South Sea Island scenes. Outside ATMs dispense notes of 10000CFP which we change into smaller more manageable denominations immediately with a cashier inside the bank. The sterling exchange rate is namely about 130CFP to the pound.