Marquesas Islands Sailing Society Islands

Pacific Crossing:
Marquesas to Society Islands

Sunset south pacific
Written by Renato Matiolli
This leg of the Pacific Crossing was our fifth longest crossing until todayIt was around 750nm from Nuku Hika in the Marquesas islands to Tahiti in the Society Islands. This was the crossing we planned the least and the one with the smallest crew. It took us 6 days and we had all types of weather from perfect easy sailing with the gennaker to some strong winds where we had to have the sails fully reefed. However the highlights of this crossing was our crew member Bia and the most incredible bio luminescent spectacle ever.

Since we arrived in the Marquesas a few things started to fail on the boat. We had problems with our outboard engine, anchor winch, generator, diving compressor, main engines, etc. So instead of following our plan to sail around the Tuamotus for six months we decided to go straight to Tahiti. The Tuamotus are quite isolated atolls and it’s very hard to find spare parts. We thought that in Tahiti would be slightly easier to find what we needed and get things fixed. So we suddenly decided to make this long crossing in a reasonable short notice period.

Sunset at the flybridge

As our crossings record goes. We’ve had two really big crossings so far, the main leg of the Atlantic crossing and the main leg of the Pacific crossing:

  • Cape Verde to Barbados: 2,070nm
  • Galapagos to Marquesas: 3,017nm

Then we’ve had four crossings that were quite long and took about one week to complete:

  • Portugal to Canary Islands: 660nm
  • Canary Islands to Cape Verde: 880nm
  • Panama to Galapagos: 964nm
  • Marquesas to Tahiti: 750nm

For all these six crossings above we had at least three more crew members helping us. Except for this last one, which we had only Bia. Luckily she kicked ass. She has the best attitude possible and is super helpful, brave and at the same cautious. In a nutshell, perfect! Thank you so much Bia, this would have been a nightmare without you!

Bia starfruit  Bia jumps

As a reward she got to see probably the most spectacular night we have ever spent at sea. It certainly matches the night with the zigzagging green glowing under water comets on an acid trip”. And I think this one was even more incredible.

The evening started with an amazing sunset.

Bia at sunset

It was a dark night, the moon wasn’t out yet, the wind was weak and the sea surface glassy. We were sailing easily, chit chatting on the flybridge with only the navigation lights and few instruments on. It was when we noticed some green glowing bubbles just bellow the surface close to the boatBut they would pass us by really fast and we couldn’t really tell what they were. We decided to turn off the navigation lights to see better in the dark for a while, but then there was nothing. When we turned the lights back on, the bright green bubbles would show up. It was like our navigation lights were powering them.

So we turned off all the lights and picked up our strongest flashlightturned it on, aimed at sea and then turned if off to see what would happen. And the most amazing thing happened!!! The sea brightened up with hundreds of green glowing bubbles in all different shapes and sizes exactly where we had pointed the light. We were sailing on a sea of green glowing bubbles, a perfect scene for an acid trip in a Hollywood movie. It was crazy. But this was real. The bubbles were really really bright green and were everywhere, all around us. Some were as big as a basket ball, like a giant jelly fish with no tentacles. It was such an amazing moment, so peaceful. I guess none of us could believe what we were witnessing. I have never heard of anything like this so I was mesmerized.

We played with them for hours. You could aim the flashlight at a certain area and it would be illuminated for a while and thaslowly dim off as we sailed by. You could even write your name with the flashlight, turn in off and see the result in the bubbles. The light from them would last a few seconds and then disappear. With so much information today it’s so rare to see something you didn’t even know existed. I guess it’s because it’s virtually impossible to film this with a normal camera. We tried! Well, we certainly recorded it in our brains. This is one of those nights I will never forget. Ever.

As per the sailing, the first few days were perfect. The wind was weak and coming from 80 to 100 degrees angle. This is the only condition that I like to use the gennaker with a full main sail (the max windage area we can have). And this is certainly the condition that the boat’s speed gets closest to the true wind speed. There was probably 8 knots of wind and we were moving at 6 knots effortlessly.

Full sails plus

However in the final days of the trip, as we were cruising though the Tuamotus, the wind and waves picked up a lot. We brought down the gennekar, opened just a bit of the genoa and reefed the main at its minimum size. 

It was a really quick passage through the Tuamotus, but it made us want to go back next year even more.

Passage through Tuamotus

Sunset at Tuamotus

And then we just waited until we arrived in Tahiti. What an island. We won’t want to leave this area anytime soon.

Arrival in Tahiti

About the author

Renato Matiolli

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