20 March 2020 0500 hours
position 10 ° 31 ′ south 134 ° 09 ′ west
Restless weather, with a perturbed front that has been following us since yesterday afternoon with puffs of wind the strong 30 knots, sometimes torrential rain, or lighter, but constant, despite the strong wind.
A very different situation from its Atlantic brother, less disturbed on a large scale; Pacific in this night in name only; but we knew, the further west you go the easier it will be to meet rains, thunderstorms, which will be interspersed with tropical sun, at least we hope so. It all depends on the temperature of the water at the origin of the Pacific, whether high or higher than the previous year, we expect a so called year with a heavy Nino, which means persistent rain on our way to Australia, vice versa a Nino weak, when the temperatures stabilize and the Humbolt current mitigates the rise in temperatures, then we can predict a year with a milder and more comfortable climatic condition in the Central Western Pacific, but also with the imagination of the famous “Southern Seas “.This year the models gave a weak Nino in October. We navigators can not help but take note and proceed towards the west in fact taking what nature offers us.
The curtain falls on the World Arc.
Unfortunately it is not only with the weather and the sea that we have to deal with, but also with the pandemic from Covid 19, a tiny virus, however weak, that cannot resist common disinfectants and not even 20 seconds of soap and water, which becomes weak at high temperatures, and can only survive on cool metal surfaces. In short, a big pain in the ass, which is turning the entire planet upside down, especially because the correct and unambiguous information to the populations has been lacking, who have largely underestimated its potential effects. Everyone is experiencing the result at home, like us, in our houseboat. The problem for us is that the government of French Polynesia has decreed that the sea and air borders have been closed since yesterday 19 March 2020,that we sailors in the flotilla are not welcome with them due to the theoretical risk of introducing the virus. Polynesia cannot afford to manage a mass infection due to poor health facilities across the islands.
French Polynesia means Marquesas, Tuamotu Islands, Society Islands, our next stops. It seems that the other local governments, those of Tonga, Fiji and the Cook Islands are also aligned on considering potential dangers to both those arriving by sea and by air. In practice what happens?
The World Arc organization, to which 34 crews from all over the world have relied on to make this “journey of a lifetime”, literally abandons us at the next port, which, moreover, was modified just yesterday, from Hiva Oa to Nuku Hiva.In fact, only one stop will be allowed to the Marquesas, and the authorities have allowed to anchor only in Nuku Hiva for the customs entry procedures and for the necessary supplies after 20 days at sea. We are considered Covid free as our navigation has been compared to an actual quarantine, but it will no longer be possible to proceed with the stages scheduled by the World Arc. So end of games. Everyone will think for themselves. The only possibility they offer us is to sail up to Papeete (another 1100 miles) without intermediate stops, and there, for those who believe it, leave the boat and go home and we will talk about it again, perhaps, in a year. We understand that organizing the movements of 34 crews with the authorities who are rowing against and no longer offering the scheduled hospitality is not an easy management element,but also feeling literally given up on one’s fate in the middle of the Pacific, where in fact no one wants you, is not exactly pleasant, butwe will turn apparent adversity into a great opportunity.
In fact, we are navigators and the choice to rely on the World Arc is linked to the fact that every bureaucratic aspect (read the entry clearance in difficult places such as the San Blas or the Galapagos, the organization of the passage of the Canal, this year very complicated ), as well as the organization of landings, marinas, the various and innumerable complications that a sea voyage entails, having an operator who takes you a rope when you arrive after 1000 miles, as well as sharing aspects of pure regatta, and knowing crews of every corner of the planet is something much appreciated. But now this is all over. At first the sensation is that of abandonment and as such it has the usual psychic implications of human nature, how we will do it, where we will go etc.all complicated by the fact that it seems that at every possible stop two weeks of quarantine are required, before going ashore. But in reality, a new scenario opens up, that of the real navigator, who without pre-ordered programs travels in total autonomy to really remote and distant places, referring only to the books or diaries of others who have already done it, or who are doing it. , alone, just like us from tomorrow onwards.
This is fascinating, the journey within the journey, the adventure that from planned becomes wild, perhaps more authentic, and that from here to Australia or New Zealand (at this point, having no more routes and pre-established appointments, every destination is certainly possible). we will have the opportunity to explore and know. To obviate the request for mandatory “quarantine”, what better than your own boat to guarantee it? Nobody can prevent a boat from sailing or anchoring in an atoll, since we are a “covid free” island, if we keep routes and destinies in remote covid free atolls, the problem does not exist. And that’s how we will move. Now the first stage has been extended by 80 miles, because we will go to Nuku Hiva, the largest island of the previous Hiva Oa, with a protected bay that will welcome all the crews and where we will stay about a week,before pointing the bow towards Tahiti, and in the meantime I think we will join in a small flotilla of Italians, we, the Tuscan friends Valerio and Lorenzo di Milanto, (who among other things have a contact with the radio broadcastCaterpillar every week and who will certainly be able to inform listeners of the news and above all of the future of this adventure), and friend Giuseppe Lasalandra (Pino) Roman hotelier of Laura IV, the great catamaran we had near Las Palmas. We will update you soon, and soon on the site, as soon as we smell wifi (because one of our most reliable satellites – inmarsat – no longer reads satellites and was the only one able to allow images to be sent to our site – www .arielhr53.com -) we will forward the most significant photos of this crossing and the arrival in Nuku – Hiva.
see you soon from Ariel