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 so far. The sailed around 750nm from Nuku Hika in the Marquesas islands to Tahiti in the Society Islands. This was the least planned of all our long crossings and the one with the smallest crew. He had all types of weathers from perfect easy sailing days with the gennaker to to some quite strong winds with 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 our boat. We had problems with our outboard engine, anchor winch, generator, diving compressor, main engines, etc. So instead of follow our plan to cruise around the Tuamotus for six months we decided to sail straight to Tahiti. The Tuamotus are quite isolated atolls and it is very hard to find spare parts there. We thought that in Tahiti would be slightly easier to find what we needed. So we decided to make a quite large crossing in a reasonable short notice.

Sunset at the flybridge

As our crossings record goes we have had two really big crossings so far. The main leg of Atlantic crossing and the main leg of the Pacific crossing:

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

Then we have had four other large crossings that are quite long and may take 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 have had at least three more crew members helping us. Except for this last one, which we had only Bia. Luckly she kicked ass. Bia has the best attitude possible. She is super positive, helpful, brave and at the same cautious. In a nutshell, perfect! Thank you so much Bia, this would had been a nightmare without you!

Bia starfruit  Bia jumps

Bia at sunset

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

He had had an amazing sunset and this magic night was a really dark one. The moon was not out yet, the wind was weak and therefore the sea surface quite glassy. We were sailing peacefully and we had only the navigation lights and a few instruments on. Suddenly we started noticing that every now and then we could see some green glowing bubbles bellow the boat. However they would pass us by really fast and we couldn’t see very well what it was. We decided to turn off the navigation lights for a while, but then we saw nothing. When we turned the navigation lights back on again and the bright green bubbles would come back. It was like the like the navigation lights were powering them.

We turned off all the lights and sailed in complete darkness for a while. Then we brought our strongest torch, aimed its beam at sea and then turned if off to see watch would happen. And the most amazing thing happened!!! The sea became complete bright green glowing with hundreds of bubbles in all different sizes and depths. It was like if we were floating on a sea of green glowing bubbles. It was a perfect scene for a acid trip in a Hollywood movie, but this was real. The bubbles were really really bright and they were everywhere, all around us. Some bubbles 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.

We played with them for hours. You could aim the torch at a certain area, turn it off and it would be illuminated for a while until dimmed off. You could even write our name with the torch, turn in off and see the result in the bubbles. The light would last a few seconds and then disappear. With so much information today it is so rare to witness something you did not know existed. I guess it is because it is virtually impossible to record this with a normal camera. Well, we certainly recorded on 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. This is the only condition that I like to use the gennaker with the full main (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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