Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 2: Marquesas Magnifique page 38 of 109

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Taiohaie Bay, Nuku Hiva

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Nibuk sails smartly into the bay

Listing to the sirens' song of distant islands, we were eager to get under way. The next leg of our voyage would take us through the infamous Tuamotu Archipelago, a region notorious among mariners. Low lying in the extreme, such atolls are visible from the deck of a yacht at a distance of no more than eight miles. And the encompassing waters are fraught with strong and erratic currents, necessitating the mariner to exercise the utmost navigational precision and vigilance. Unequipped with sat-nav or radar, Jenny and I planned to synchronize our passage through the archipelago with the onset of the next full moon, three weeks hence. And we could only hope that the weather would cooperate.

Cyclone Nano

“The roads were washed out. The bridges were destroyed. The town's water-supply reservoir was wrecked. And much of the domestic livestock perished.”

Mid January, we were anchored in Taiohaie when torrential rain began falling many times heavier than before. The downpour half filled our dinghy in the first six hours. I emptied the ponderously sagging dink with a siphon hose before turning the boat upside down. The rain continued for another twenty-two hours, causing the rivers to flood and disgorge their murky effusion into Taiohaie's already troubled bay. Bill and Janet aboard Kalakala reported watching a small house carrying out to sea. The few roads were washed out. The bridges were destroyed. The town's water-supply reservoir was wrecked. And much of the domestic livestock perished. The local egg ranch lost forty chickens.

We watched dozens of landslides, as the permeated soil with its profuse vegetation lost its grip and slashed long swaths down the precipitous mountainsides. We learned later that none of the locals, in living memory, had ever seen rain this hard. Ironically, the American weather station WWV was broadcasting "no warnings for the South Pacific." Frank Courser, an American who with his wife Rose had spent four years on Nuku Hiva laboring to establish a resort, said that he "smelled a hurricane." The sky was dismally overcast and the weather threatening, and Jenny and I missed our planned waxing-gibbous moon departure.

Tenth Day of Foul Weather

On the morning of the tenth day of foul weather, our neighbor Bill rowed vigorously our way and relayed a disturbing message. The French meteorologists in Tahiti had sent a warning of a hurricane heading for the Marquesas. Truly, the weather system seemed to have run amok this year. French Polynesia lies well to the east of the usual hurricanes that hammer other portions of the South Pacific. Even Tahiti was supposedly safe from these monster storms, and we were far east of Tahiti.

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Kalakala in the eerie light of the impending cyclone Nano.

“Nano - a Tahitian word meaning 'explosive force'”

Jenny and I scurried about the brig, preparing for the worse. After moving her to a more favorable location in the expansive bay, we set three opposing anchors, each with 300 feet of rode, and each marked with a float.

Within a few hours the front-running wind began lashing across the bay, catching us stripping Suka's exterior of any removable items. The gusts subsided by afternoon, but the night-time conditions remained extremely unsettled.

The next morning came terrific gusts, mainly from the mountains. These thrashed the bay into angry columns of hard-driven spume, and heeled our little band of sailboats far over. Our neighbors aboard Kalakala were worried about dragging onto the reef licking fairly at their stern, so Bill sat at the helm motoring ahead in situ, easing the strain of his yacht's bower. The crew of one sailboat, equipped with a masthead wind meter, reported gusts of 80 knots. Fortunately for us all, the wind was blowing off-shore. Had it blown directly into the bay, the fetch-spawned waves would have brought real trouble.

By late afternoon the storm began subsiding, and it was then that reassuring word came over the air-waves that Hurricane Nano was turning away. No further problems were expected for Nuku Hiva. And with the coming of evening, the air fell to an eerie calm. We later learned that Hurricane Nano - a Tahitian word meaning "explosive force" - intensified after leaving the Marquesas and swept through the southern Tuamotus with 140 mph winds and 30-foot seas. We had tangled with only the infant Nano, it seemed.

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Nanu, the brig is still in good shape. Taiohae, Nuku Hiva.

The following morning Jenny and I worked for three and a half hours hours retrieving our anchors. They had deeply embedded, and the three lines attaching them had tangled together, along with the lines of their marking buoys. During the later phase of the storm, the wind had changed directions many times, spinning and wheeling Suka in every direction. The lesson was clear. Had we drug anchors, no doubt they would have come together, and probably tangled and rendered one-another useless. In future we determined to use only a single large anchor.

Prudence suggested we remain in the Marquesas another three weeks, waiting for the next full moon that we hoped would illuminate our passage through the dangerous Tuamotu archipelago.

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Another full moon leaves without us.

A Visit to the Dispensary

“After looking into Jenny's ear with the otoscope, the doctor reached for a slip of scratch paper, held it toward us, and thrust his finger through it, piercing a hole.”

Having been troubled with persistent earaches, and after using the antibiotic Keflex with minimal results, I switched to Septra DS, and this proved effective. Then several days later Jenny complained of a painful ear, and I took her straight to Taiohaie's dispensary. The cheerful French doctor's attire was a curious blend of modern professional and tropical casual, as befitted a doctor working in a remote, sultry jungle. He wore the usual white smock, and stethoscope draped about the neck. But from the waist down he wore shorts and walked barefoot. He spoke no English, so our conversation was mainly one of gestures. After looking into Jenny's ear with the otoscope he reached for a slip of scratch paper, held it toward us, and thrust his finger through it, piercing a hole. We gathered that Jenny had ruptured an eardrum. My ears received the same diagnosis on both counts. The damage had presumably occurred while skin diving, although we could not trace it to any particular occurrence. As an experienced skin diver I frequently dove to 50 feet and more, but Jenny never ventured deeper than a fathom.

The doctor gave us each a course of antibiotics, a sulfa nasal antihistamine spray, and a small bottle of large aspirin tablets. And he said we were to keep our heads out of the water for a month, in order to allow the eardrums to heal. The visit cost us nothing, and for that we were very thankful. Unfortunately, we were going to have to forego the snorkeling in the Tuamotus - something we had been looking forward to.

One day, a French Naval vessel anchored in the bay, and a half-dozen troopers drew alongside Suka, boarded and searched the boat stem to stern. The only item we had aboard illegally was a 38 special, which they failed to find. I had built it into the woodwork near a chainplate, and made it accessible only by a hidden quick-release. From our yacht they preceded to the others.

Another morning, Janet rowed across from nearby Kalakala with a plea to help take her husband to the hospital. Bill was suffering acute abdominal pains that he believed indicated appendicitis. After Janet, Jenny and I had loaded poor Bill into the dinghy, I rowed him along the shore to the far end of the bay, and from there we all walked to the infirmary.

This was not Bill's first round of gut trouble. For two years he had endured lesser attacks. The previous one had occurred during their passage from San Diego. They altered course and called in at Cabo San Lucas, and Bill related that after seeing the substandard facilities there he decided to grit his teeth, increase the dosage of antibiotics, and return to sea.

But this time the pain was far worse. The doctors removed his appendix, albeit under less than ideal conditions. And subsequently he was in and out of the little hospital fighting recurrent infection for the next two months.

Bill had built his ketch from a factory bare hull, intent on sailing her around the world. But Janet was more interested in her grandmothership, so after a subsequent four-month stay in the Marquesas they sailed Kalakala to Hawaii then back home to Seattle.

Waiting for the Trade Winds

The recent cyclone Nano had disturbed the usual weather patterns. The normally reliable trade winds had ceased; the air was dead calm. This climatic abnormality persisted for many weeks. Twice we missed departing with the full moon, and finally having abandoned that plan, we now waited only for the trade winds to reestablish themselves.

Departing the Marquesas

One morning the winds began blowing, lightly but with promise. So on February 2 we departed the Marquesas, bound for Tahiti.

We sailed for only two hours.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 38.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
> GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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