So we reached land...
Words by Bryson
Latitude: 08 deg 55' S
Longitude: 140 deg 06' W
Hugh was the first to see it, we had all been staring at the horizon for hours, pointing out many clouds that we were certain actually were land. A slightly darker line hidden under one of the sunset drenched clouds. Slowly, it began to grow shores, valleys and mountain tops. After 24 days of endless horizons, salt water dousing's, sail changes in the middle of the night and about 50 00000000 flying fish, we were anxious to reach land, to say the least. Even before we could make out much of the land, we could smell it. The smells of the wet earth, forest mist, and humans reached out.
Ryan had the sunrise night shift and was the first to see the mountains of Nuku Hivu rise up. I woke and climbed up the companionway and was just blown away by the severity of the coastline. Huge green cliffs rising out of the ocean, white terns circling in the thermals, and waves crashing against the first land masses the had encountered in 2000 nm. Picture the lost island in Jurassic Park and make it look more menacing. Wow, so this is the south pacific.
Cruising in Taihaoe Bay on the south coast, the hugest sense of relief descended on the boat. We had just sailed across the biggest geographical feature on earth, we had had some adventures along the way, but we had done it. Dropping the anchor and feeling the boat come to a rest has got to be one of the best feelings I have had in a long time. Immediately we all jumped overboard and swam to shore. Lying on my back, on the hard cobbled beach, smiling up at the sun was..... bliss.
Swimming back to the boat, I came across a floating plastic bag. Ah, back to humanity, I thought. However, it seems the Marquesians are very proactive about garbage. As the first landfall most cruisers and ocean crossing vessels see after weeks at sea, these islands are inundated with garbage coming off boats. Despite being a small island, and with all this garbage, one would assume overflowing garbage bins would be the norm. However, this is definitely not the case.
All shopping bags in the store are made of biodegradable plastics, recycling bins for glass are to be found every couple blocks, and there is hardly a piece of garbage to be found in the streams or beaches. We are going to find out more about their efforts in the next couple days.
The past couple days have been spend checking into French Polynesia, paying bonds, eating tomatoes and other fresh vegi's, and cleaning the boat after the crossing. Salt water found it's way into almost everything. Lockers were pulled apart to find clothing, food, water bottles and tools all covered with either rust or mold. Arggggghhhhhh.... Out come all the floor boards, dry everything out as best as possible and then swab them all down with vinegar and water. Things are starting to look every shipshape aboard SV Khulula and we all couldn't be happier that we have the biggest crossing of the trip completed. Now we get to be able to pursue other tasks and interests...