After 53 days at sea we finally sighted land. In the distance we could vaguely make out the south Pacific islands of Hiva Oa and Mohotani. Our navigation had worked, they were exactly where they should be. As the day continued we sailed between the islands and began a race – us and the wind against the setting sun. Each hour we recalculated average speed and distance to run and each time the result was the same – we may be there before dark. No way were we entering an unknown, badly lit, full harbour at night.
We prepared the stern anchor because all our information was that the bay at Atuona would be packed with boats stuck there by the Corona virus and, if we could find space, we would have to shoehorn ourselves in.
We called ahead on the VHF to try and finally get permission from the authorities to enter the country. But no one heard and no one answered.
Would there be any space? Would our depth sounder work after the Raymarine bus problems a month ago? Would we reach the bay before dark? Would we be spotted and turned away by the French navy? Would our engine work after seven weeks of inactivity?
The sun cheated by setting an hour early behind a mountain and we retaliated by starting the engine for the last three miles – it worked after a bit of cranking. In the twilight we found the marker that shows the entrance to the bay – although the lights on it were not working – and headed towards the shore. Finally, and to our great relief, the depth gauge began to work. On the first boat we passed a lady ran to the bow to inform us that the inner bay was full but to anchor by the breakwater.
We dropped anchor and within minutes the new neighbours were there in their dinghy bringing us fresh fruit and assuring us the locals would let us stay whatever the central government said.
We had sailed 4035 miles across the Pacific and were excited at our new achievement but now we were relieved and happy just to be at anchor.