March 24 - April 14, 2002
Twenty-One Days at Sea

Stories in this section... Marquesas
Crossing the line
Island Tour of Hiva Oa
The Bloody Market


Passage to the Marquesas
by Lois Joy                      

This section encompasses a collection of stories and passage notes written while underway during the first leg of Voyage Two of Pacific Bliss, the 3252 nautical mile passage from San Diego, California to Atuona Harbor in the island of Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia.

April 9, 2002, 2400
1º10'S, 134º 06' W
70 miles south of the equator, 582 miles to the Marquesas
Wind from the ENE at Force 4, 13 Knots True
Crossing the Line

"We're at 0.8º North Latitude, come quick," our captain announced.

I had been seated in the pulpit seat at the starboard bow, staring into the sea and analyzing the clouds far on the horizon in front of us, as if I could see THE LINE. The layers of cumulus clouds had taken on all kinds of fluffy sheep shapes; they combined with bands of wispy mare's tails, all strangely sheared off to the same horizontal lines. Through polarized sunglasses, I could detect sections of amber, wondering if this coloring is unique to this part of the world. (Earlier, I had been able to capture this effect on the NIKON digital.) Just as a land traveler might marvel at how the colors change from the flat road ahead, winding up to the foothills, receding into the faint layers of blue and mauve in the distant mountains, I marveled at the dark blue ripples on the sea, leading to the pastel clouds on the horizon, and into the light blue beyond, for as far as I could see.

The Line.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version...

We gathered around the nav station as Ray called out the latitude on the multiplex and the B&G displayed the complete data. 0.4N, 0.3N, 0.2N…get your cameras ready…0.1, 0.0…we have crossed the line! Our longitude: 133º31.3'W. Speed: a respectable 6 knots under sail. High fives all around. Grins and congratulations.

What a feeling of accomplishment we shared! We were all pleased and somewhat relieved to have made it this far. We had traveled 2,534 nautical miles since San Diego, according to ship's log. All but a little over two hours of the voyage to date had been under sail only. At this rate, we would arrive with diesel to spare.

The readout at the equator.

The clock

We decided to take our salt-water initiation in the heat of the afternoon, and kept the champagne cooling in the fridge for early evening festivities. Gunter stretched the awning from the hard-top bimini to the lifelines and we settled in, finding the cockpit, with the breeze on the stern quarter, to be the prime siesta location.

After siestas, we actually welcomed the initiation rites. We could cool off. Captain Gunter had transformed into Neptune, god of the seas, with his flowing deep blue robe (looking suspiciously like a sheet) and his staff (looking suspiciously like the boat hook) adorned with fishnet. He never explained the bright yellow "So'westerner" he was wearing, but we assumed it had something to do with entering Neptune's southern territory.


Doug was christened first, and given the name, Old Salt Doug. As the bucket of salt water was heaved at Armin, Neptune called out, "As a dutiful crew member of Pacific Bliss and your first time crossing of the equator, I hereby give you your official sea name, Ironman." And then, I begged Neptune to give me a nice name. "It is predetermined," he said. "No special requests allowed." He heaved the bucket full of seawater, and pronounced, "Lois will have three names from now on: the first is Digital Lois. The second is OUT OF MEMORY. (I think this one had something to do with the fact that I had requested a delay of the rites while I rushed to load another compact flash card into the camera.) And the third is…Island Queen.

Ironman gets the bucket.

Old Salt Doug.

                                                     The Island Queen

Then Doug took the bucket of sea water and added more to fill it to the brim. "I wouldn't want to shortchange the Captain," he said. Dumping the contents of the entire bucket over Gunter's head, he said, "You are now Capitania." Then it was back to the swim platform and a fresh water rinse. Water temperature: 82º F

Gunter gets the salt.


As the sun began to lower, taking the intense heat off the starboard hull, we busied ourselves with last-minute party preparations. I noticed the crew making furtive forays into the innards of Pacific Bliss to find last-minute additions to their costumes. I set out hors de oeuvres, each with a special meaning: foie gras and crackers (it's a French boat, after all); smoked oysters representing fruits of the sea; dates rolled in coconut to represent the south sea islands.

Then out of the depths of the fridge arose a magnificently chilled bottle of champagne. We do not drink while underway, except for special occasions, so the first sip was utterly delicious to the palate. But before we took that sip, Gunter dutifully poured a little into the sea for Neptune; then we all toasted to Neptune and to his sidekick, Poseidon. Then came toasts to our crew, to each other, and of course, to Pacific Bliss and to Ray for getting us this far.

But our sundowner festivities were just the beginning. The grand finale was steaks, smothered with a creamy pepper sauce from Madagascar (purchased in France), grilled by Armin and served just as the sun turned a golden glow and began to rim the clouds on the horizon with shades of amber turning to mauve. A perfect end to a very rewarding day.

The Island Queen presides over the evening festivities.

Ironman Opens Champagne

Gunter Gives to the Sea

Old Salt Doug Grills the Steaks.

Sunset at the equator

Crossing the line certificate

Next Section: Hangin' in There





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