Hunting for Tikis in French Polynesia

Sure, there is the excitement of realizing our dream to sail around the world, the thrill and adventure of crossing the South Pacific in a small sail boat, but there is something else. I see things differently out here. I'm more aware of the magnificent order of things -- a simple, natural harmony of gargantuan scale that even on the rolliest of days, can be quite comforting. It is something that I rarely recognize when on land, but out here in the open ocean, you're right in the very center of it all. The sun and moon rise from the horizon immediately behind us, orbiting high above us before swinging down and sinking below the horizon directly in front of us. The quiet night sky - the Southern Cross always floating off our port side, the Big Dipper off our starboard. Orion's Cross dead ahead, Dream Time's bow nodding and pointing directly at the center of her three stars, night after shooting star night. The world seems to revolve around us and even though at times it feels like we're in the middle of nowhere, the reality is, we're at the center of everything. And, at least for the moment, I can think of nowhere else I'd rather be.

May 2, 2009. Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

Neville Hockley writes: A dark, featureless mass appeared off our port bow long before the morning sun had brightened the night sky. But as the warm glow of a new day spread from the east, chasing away the last of the stars, it revealed what our radar had known for over two hours: We had reached land!

After sailing for 28 days and 31 minutes, traveling 3,142 nautical miles, burning only 25 gallons of diesel, one propane tank, generating five small bags of garbage, catching seven Mahi Mahi (spearing the last one, a 36" Mahi from the boat!) collecting a carpet of sea growth on the hull and growing an inch of facial hair (me, not Catherine), we have finally arrived at Fatu Hiva, the Marquesas, French Polynesia!

Sitting defiantly in the middle of the ocean, Fatu Hiva reaches over 3,000 feet above sea level, its jagged peaks hidden behind a matching canopy of soft clouds -- one island sitting atop another. Serrated crests and wrinkled valleys carve their way deep into the center of the lush island, stretching down, reaching for the sea like outstretched claws rooting themselves to the world. After living for a month in constant motion, where everything around us changed, moved and shifted, sailing along side such a vast, immovable mass was overwhelming, exhilarating and intimidating. We crept along its north east shore like we were sneaking up to a sleeping giant. Catherine and I sat on the coach roof in silence, mesmerized and in complete awe of what we were seeing, and in what we had accomplished.

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