It is nearly four months since the start of the inaugural Oyster World Rally. The Oyster fleet left Antigua on 6 January and the magnificent blue water cruisers have now reached the South Pacific. French Polynesia is about 6,500 miles from Antigua, as the crow flies, but the Oyster World Rally is an adventure that has seen the fleet explore many fabulous locations along the way.
After leaving the Galapagos Islands, the next Oyster fleet rendezvous was the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. With a population of less than 9,000 people spread across 15 islands, The Marquesas are remote indeed. Joe Torcivia sailing with Michael Yokell’s Oyster 56, Quester describes the arrival in The Marquesas. “Fatu Hiva is one of the least populated islands in the Marquesas chain and only gets about 500 visitors per year, mostly from cruising yachts.” Explained Joe. “There are no restaurants, hotels, shops or really anything besides a few locals playing in the water enjoying a game of volleyball!"
“Once ashore, we ran into the crew from Pearl of Persia, Chinook, In Flagranti and Purusha. They were taking a hike up to a waterfall, so I hustled up the trail. After about 40 minutes, we broke through the thick rainforest to find a picturesque waterfall, cascading down 200ft into a rock pool. A gentleman off the Pearl of Persia interrupted this fantastic view as he stripped down to his birthday suit and cannonballed into the water - so much for the perfect picture! But after a good laugh, we all jumped in (keeping our bathing suits on) and enjoyed the refreshing water.
We’re leaving tomorrow to head over to another island in the chain, Hiva Oa, for a few days. From there we will come back to Fatu Hiva, where Oyster has arranged for a welcome party for the boats that have made the trip. We are all looking forward to hearing the stories from the past few weeks as everyone recounts their most memorable moments, good and bad, that happened during the sail across the largest stretch of the Pacific.”
After making for Tahiti, the majority of the Oyster fleet are now heading to Bora Bora. The volcanic mountainous atoll of islands, with Bora Bora at the centre, is renowned for spectacular lagoons and beautiful coral reefs, there are no indigenous mammals on land but in contrast numerous species of birds thrive there including; black-winged petrels, Pacific swallow, and the white tern.
Marine life abounds around the waters of Bora Bora: red snapper, jackfish, and lemon sharks are found in the amazing reefs and sea turtles, dolphins and migrating humpback whales are frequently spotted but perhaps Bora Bora is most famous for an abundant ray population including: leopard, eagle and the huge manta ray.
First Mate on Oyster 885, Lush Audrey Jameson describes the trip and the scenery in the remote South Pacific. “After 3,400 miles and nearly 15 days at sea, we arrived in French Polynesia. This Pacific crossing certainly was a great adventure and the amazing thing is there’s still so much more to this ocean. When you initially look at a map of the pacific you just see a massive ocean and then looking closer you notice a load of tiny dots. Well, we’re on one of those dots now and will be sailing between those dots for the next four months until we reach Australia in August.
There are roughly 20,000 islands in the Pacific, most of which are in this southwest region. Needless to say we’ll make a good stab at exploring these islands but 20,000 of them… well you’d need to be here for a whole lifetime to get around them all and even at that it wouldn’t be an easy task!
Wow, we are going have some fun sailing around here; discovering awesome anchorages and villages, meeting the islanders, getting to know their culture and geography and finally disappearing west back over the horizon”.
The South Pacific is one of the most beautiful places on earth, however the remoteness of the islands means that maintenance of yachts is fraught with logistics. As always, Oyster World Rally Project Manager, Debbie Johnson and Oyster Technical Support Manager, Eddie Scougall are with the fleet in French Polynesia to assist in any way possible.
Alan and Sue Brook’s Oyster 56, Sulana was a late entry for the Oyster World Rally but after decades of service as Managing Director of Oyster and thousands of sea miles, Alan knows too well how important it is to have a well built yacht for such an adventure.
“Most people had 18 months to prepare for the Oyster World Rally, we had 24 hours!” Explained Sue Brook. “I have very little experience offshore and I would only contemplate such a journey on an Oyster. Sulana is in perfect condition, it really came down to whether I was mentally prepared to go and whether our family was happy for us to leave them. Our daughter was expecting a baby, for which I anticipated returning home to be with her, and we are now delighted to announce the birth of our Grandson Blake who arrived at a healthy 8lb 4oz.”
Alan Brook was full of praise for the diligent preparation for the event, especially the 1,000 page Oyster World Rally Guide, which took two years to formulate. “Oyster have gone to enormous lengths in their preparations and when I start looking at the attention to detail in the guide I have been really impressed, the tips and tricks are really useful including downwind trimming, watch keeping let alone all the other issues of sailing to so many different places.”
Here is a video from on board Oyster 885, Lush from Captain, Paul Adamson, which was filmed 2,000 miles into the South Pacific.