Islas Marquesas

The Marquesas are the northern most high islands of the South Pacific and are part of the French Pacific territories. Out of the 10 island only six are inhabited. During the 19 and 20 centuries most of the Marquesian population were decimated primarily to disease introduced by Europeans.
There are no fringing reef on this inlands and the water is deep to the shoreline.
Most people lives in the narrow fertile valleys between steep rugged hills. The interior is largely inaccessible to humans with wild horses, cattle and pigs running free.
The waters around the island have an abundance of lobster, fish and sharks. The remoteness of this island and the expense to get there have kept these islands away from the general tourist.
Nuka Hiva is the largest and most populated of the island with 2375 inhabitants. It is mainly visited by on route yachts seeking to cross the South Pacific from East to West as a place to rest before continuing further to Tahiti.
The most annoying thing on this island are the insects that will bite you to death and will even come and pay you a house visit on your boat. Included are big wasps, small wasps, small flies, large flies, sandflies ticks, and a few others that have not been baptized yet.
So after a longer than expected rest I can’t wait to leave these nasty bugs behind.
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Ecuador to Marquesas

The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the planet, that for most part is a huge expanse of water with a few group of small islands scattered through it. The deepest part drops down more than 11 kilometres in the Mariana Trench.
To cross the Pacific from South America to Australia on a small sailing boat requires primarily a sense of adventure and very few expectations.

Oceans are moody and your passage could be the luck of the draw and luck is not following me lately

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Having departed with a few issues that I was not happy with, such as my navigation equipment that was returned to me inoperative after being sent for repairs and substandard work on sail repairs, the additional problems started to put the pressure on.
On the third day of the voyage the bank of batteries that feed all of the equipment on board failed to take a charge and worst, although they appeared to be full, the did not want to give any current back.

A few days before departure and during general checks the generator decided to take on smoking and not being used to it the he might have burned its windings and it became a useless piece of equipment for the trip and would put a bit of a strain on power supply for battery chargers, inverters, water maker and other implements that makes life easier on a boat.

After going into a WTF look and a few F (*& %^$#*) ING, I came to realise that I was not going to have a pleasant crossing. Then I thought that if the Kon Tiki made it I would too.

I shouldn’t have mentioned the Kon Tiki. Everything around me was dying, depth sounders, radios, autopilot, even the F(*&^%$#@#$%^&)ING wind was dying.

All I had left was my iPad to find my way and the Iridium phone. The F(*&&^%$#$%^&)ING iPad was always asking for the password to iTunes.

My mind took me to Panama, where I got hit by lightning last year and only replaced the items that were fried against advice that I should replace everything electronic.

Now my conversion to the “mañana” ideology was paying me back. No place for short cuts here

Power usage was minimised by switching off equipment that I could do without. First to go was the cockpit fridge with the loss of fruit and veggies F(*&^%$#&*)ING.

Catching a fish made me happy for a while and I forgot all of those problems at least temporarily besides of changing my menu from chilli con carne to fish.

I don’t know WTF I was thinking about when I cooked so much beef.
So it was fish on the menu for three days, that’s it, breakfast, lunch and dinner and for snacks.

F(*&^%$#*)ING back to chilli con carne and back to more problems.

The auto pilot was not happy with the lack of power on board so decided to stop steering the boat. More F(*&^%$#*)KS and now I am steering a boat with my hands. My vocabulary is getting shorter and simpler and louder F(*&^%$#)K

I only got a break from 9 am until 2 pm while my solar panels produce just enough current to run the autopilot.

The Galley fridge was the next item to be switched off to minimise power usage but it does not make any difference, and everything around me stop running.

To cheer myself I started to hum my own tune with lots of F(*&^%$#@!@#$%^)ING. Old Luciano couldn’t have done better.

Now to the wind or to the lack of it. It was like a wolf with asthma blowing on the little piggy’s house. One puff at 5 knots 2 puffs at 10 and then down to 3.

I reluctantly put up the Spinnaker. I don’t like to use it because it is a BMF of 200 square meters of it. But everything changed on board for a few days until one day a really big angry wolf without asthma came down and it blew, and F(*&^%$#@#$%^&*)ING blew the F(*&^%$#@!@#$%^&*)K Spinnaker to pieces.

I was left like the boy that someone burst his big yellow balloon F(*&^%%$#@!@#$%^*)K

Now back to use this efing abortion called screecher built by F(*&^%$#@#$%^&)K Quantum Sails of South Africa

By this time all the big problems together with the small problems did not make any difference any more as the wind died for the last two days of the journey and with just enough fuel to get to Nuku Hiva

As with most experiences in life good or bad you always enjoy to remember and tell the story and the hardship is forgotten after the first bottle of rum.

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Leaving South America

Central and South America have been the highlight of my world tour. Perhaps it has to do with the understanding of the current culture, being able to speak the language, feeling at ease with the locals and having the time to try to integrate and break that invisible barrier that exist between the foreigner and native. I could have stretched a few more years by going further into the unknown.

That’s my way of travel, without expectations and make your plans as you go and change them when you want to. Travelling alone has the advantage of providing you with grater choices without having to take anyone into consideration.

Selfish, sure it is, but at 63 you need to give priority to the one that is closer to the edge and I am the one that is walking on it.
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Somehow the mental and the physical states of myself are having a fall out and heading for divorce.while I try to slow down this pre vintage chassis as it goes down the slippery slide.

The time to go forward has come and preparations for the 4000 miles crossing from Ecuador to Marquesas has begun.

The Marquesas is part of the French territorial empire still run by the French as the French do.
I am looking forward to taste again the good things to come out of France like the wine, the cheese and the Baguette.

First comes the checks of all mechanical gear….. , fix one thing today and something else tomorrow, I have a love and hate relationship with Nautibuoytoo and where Murphy is always present

Second thing is the store supplies for the next 6 months starting with alcoholic beverages, coffee, and if you have any room left, get whatever you fancy keeping in mind that weight is a problem for the boat.

And last will be to clear out of this friendly country that will not be too friendly when they find out that my visa expired a month ago.

 

 

 

 

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Argentina to Chile (TransAndean Highway)

“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.”
Agent Smith “The Matrix”

Having travelled through most of the third world countries and noticed the pollution in the land that ultimately ends in the waterways and the sea, where every day, people struggle to obtain enough food to survive, it is understandable not to expect them to worry about pollution. It is a responsibility of First World countries to provide some incentives to reduce this contamination.
Instead,this countries are lining up with their treasure chest ready to buy third world countries remaining resources
Through good marketing we are being sold climate change as the most imminent danger to this planet where we are limiting the source of non polluted fresh water and poisoning our soils where food is grown with deadly herbicides and pesticides.
Drinking water come largely from plastic bottles and from boiling tap water where bottled is not available.
Long are the days where the water I drunk came from a spring in my father’s farm.
We allow for fishing fleets to catch every living creature in the sea and then we conform ourselves to eat fish grown in farms with the help of antibiotics and feed laced with chemicals.
It all sound depressing but it is very real. I am seeing it every day.
We live in times that we pay more attention on what we wear that what we feed our body with.

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Iguazu Falls

Having water at a rate of millions of litres per second falling around you from 80 meters above, soaking every inch of your body you feel the rush of misty air as you approach the curtain of water on an inflatable raft makes you feel that you are on a movie set.

At times like this you forget there is another mad world out there running parallel to yours and wish to remain like that frozen forever.

One needs to be constantly on the move so we don’t became prisoner of a particular enchanted part of the world such as this one.

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Antarctica

Never follow the way that it has been already laid because it will only take you to the place others have been.
Alexander Graham Bell

Travelling to Antarctica is something that bugged me for years for no specific reason. Perhaps was that attraction travellers have to know the unknown.
It is also the perceived risk to go where so many people have died in the search of discovering new land or whalers and fur hunters, all the stories written about the most dangerous waters in the world.
Crossing the Francis Drake Channel on the way to Antarctica was going to give me that adrenalin rush having read much about the roaring forties and screaming fifties.
The departure point was Ushuaia, a pretty town on the shore of the Beagle Channel in the southern part of the Argentinian Patagonia.
Navigation in the Channel was as expected with waves of six meters and winds up to fifty knots giving you the Rolling Pin massage while trying to sleep.
Once in Antarctica I can’t help  thinking of the Titanic when the ship I was in kept hitting the floating ice and as we navigated through dozens of icebergs a few kilometres long and up to 80 meters high.
You also understood the determination and ambition of explorers such as Shackleton, Mawson, and Scott amongst many others,and the dedication of today’s researchers.

You feel that you are at the end of the world where your boat is the only modern thing around you. The only sound comes from  penguin, seals, whales ,blowing air as they surface and the occasional bang created by ice breaking of the multitude of glaciers.
Being the Southern summer we experienced a few sunny days while others with temperatures below zero and snow driven horizontally by katabatic winds elevated by the chill factor made the outdoors untenable.
You are aware that you are living an experience very few people do as every day the view changes.

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Looking back

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Everybody has ups and downs, but over the years I’ve noticed a long-term trend: I’m getting happier with age. While the unpredictable events of daily life obviously influence your state of mind at any given time, there’s definitely been a general upward trend.
The reason is hard to miss. I’ve had a career that followed pretty much the same sort of trajectory: plenty of high-frequency ups and downs but generally up and to the right over the long haul. While that’s nothing to write about, I think you’ll find the factors behind it illuminating, if not surprising.
Maturity … sort of. When you’re young your world is small but your ego is huge so, relatively speaking, every little thing matters a lot. Growing up is about realising you’re not such a big deal after all. When you stop taking yourself so seriously and start lightening up, life gets a lot easier. While I’m still a kid in many ways.
Work-hard, play-hard attitude. I used to think of my dad as a tyrant for drumming a compulsive work ethic into me every day of my young life while I grew up at the farm. My mum was the financial brain of the family, knowing how to rake a dollar out of anything and feeding the family all year around. Put them together, you have me. My dad has been gone for some time but I’m grateful every day for that strange combination. It’s a real gift.
High aspirations, low expectations. We didn’t have much growing up so pretty much anything was an improvement. And while I admit to having been a little jealous of the nicer things my friends had, rather than a handicap I used that as an incentive to work hard and strive to achieve great things. That relentless drive was critical to my success.
Unquenchable thirst for knowledge and experience. I always had this insatiable hunger to learn, to explore, to figure out how things work, to know everything about everything. My hunger for reading from comics to classical literature gave me the desire to travel the world one day.
Knowing who to listen to, I’ve never been shy about asking advice of those who had achieved what I aspired to be. More importantly, I listened. Sure, I trusted my gut, but when their words really resonated with me, I acted without hesitation. That proved remarkably beneficial in choosing the right path when I was at a crossroads.

Knowing who not to listen to. Having grown up on a farm in a remote town of Spain during Franco’ dictatorship where you were criticised just for being different I learned early on how full of crap most people are. So I’ve never paid attention to what anyone said about how I behave or live my life. My methods and choices are mine and nobody else’s. That’s worked out pretty well.
At peace with who I am, life offered two distinct choices. The first was to reach for the stars. If you made it, great. If not, you have nothing to feel bad about. The second was not to go for it and spend the rest of your life beating yourself up over what you’re not and all the while wondering what could have been. Regret is a bitter pill to swallow.
What I think is counterintuitive as it is all sort of work related. The reason is simple. My priority has always been to do what I love for a living so, for me, hard work has always been fun and fulfilling. That’s probably why I have been good at it. And, over time, that brought freedom, flexibility, and a good life.
But there is a catch. It doesn’t happen overnight. One thing I noticed somewhere along the line is, the less I pressured myself in the short-term – the more I learned to let go and relax – the more successful I became over the long-term. My life has been a a marathon, not a sprint.

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