Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] Galapagos and Marquesas out of season. Pluses and minuses.

ngtnewington Newington

Hi Porter,

I have made two Pacific Ocean voyages, one in 1991; Panama, Marquesas, Tuamotus, Society islands Tonga, NZ, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomons, Papua New Guinea, Philippines  and on...and another 2002-3.

So a while ago. I will not comment on Ecuador or the Galapagos as it is all rule based and my experience is historical. However I can comment on French Polynesia as we spent a cyclone season in the Society islands in 2002. 

I love the Marquesas islands but there are no really good anchorages at all. One tends to roll everywhere. So hanging out for months on end in the Marquesas would not be much fun. Not to mention very limited hardware supplies. I also love the Tuamotus but they are very exposed, so although the anchorages are flat the lagoons are huge and a big chop can develop when the wind shifts.

However I feel that with modern weather forecasting one could safely cruise Tahiti, Morea, Huahini, Raiatea even Bora Bora and Maupiti. You would have to be ready to sail to avoid any storms. Tahiti does not get many. I would say that hanging out in Tahiti/Morea area for a cyclone season is a bit like staying in Grenada for the hurricane season. You should keep a good watch on the weather, be ready to sail towards the equator if required. There are also some excellent hurricane holes, as with Grenada. The main difference is that while Trinidad is a mere 85 miles to the south it is a long way to anywhere north from Tahiti.

Many French boats stay year round in French Polynesia. 

Having said that it is pretty wet! We also had two tropical storms packing about 65kn. The first  in Bora Bora and in the safe season July 1991. In our anchorage three yachts  (out of about a dozen)were washed ashore! In those days we did not have grib files! We had sailed in that afternoon and there was a bloody great swell outside the reef and a dark dirty looking sky. The barometer was steady until dusk when it started to plummet. I felt that something was going to happen so set two anchors por su caso. The wind came and  veered from the SE to S and finally SW. Our anchorage was only protected by the fringing reef. It was a long night.

The other was in Rabaul in PNG. It was Christmas time and we were close tot the equator in a safe area. However she blew. We had taken a mooring off the YC that dragged (not doing that again). There was a massive cat 5  cyclone to the south of us  by several hundred miles so we got off lightly. It still blew storm force and rained stair rods. Solid columns of water!

The one caveat to the above opinion is that during el nino years Tahiti is more likely to be hit by a cyclone than other years. The other point about an extended Pacific cruise is that you need to be well prepared for weather to change whatever the season, as I guess anywhere. 


Amelia (Amel 54 #019)

On 30 Mar 2018, at 16:16, Stephen Davis flyboyscd@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:

Hi Porter,

I wish I had good answers, but instead have some questions. 

Are you fairly certain a 1 year visa is possible? Rene is Dutch, and his wife is Canadian. I wonder if he was able to get his wife a 1 yr visa due to the fact that he is an EU citizen. I had always heard the long stay visa for Americans was only 6 months instead of the standard 3 we normally get. I’ve also read that after the 2 visits required to the French embassy for the long stay Visa, it is not always granted on the spot, and you may not know if you actually have one until arriving in French Polynesia.  

I’d be a bit hesitant to rely on historic cyclone patterns when on the edge of the cyclone belt, as the weather patterns seem to be changing a bit as the ocean temps are rising. It also seems like a very long time to spend in the Marquesas, and would expect the off season part is going to be seriously hot, humid, and squally. 

We just sailed from Panama to Hawaii instead of our previously planned trip to FP this year to help out with my ill 94 year old father, and hope to Be headed that way via the Line islands in the 2019 season. Good luck with getting it all figured out, and let us all know what you discover. 


Steve Davis
Aloha SM 72
KoOlina, Hawaii

On Mar 30, 2018, at 04:30, Porter McRoberts portermcroberts@... [amelyachtowners] <amelyachtowners@...> wrote:

I very much appreciate all the thoughtful insights in every regard, and so I propose these technical questions.

We are heavily considering a transit of the Canal in June.
We've had extensive discussions with Rene of Island Water World in St. Martin (who some may know) and others who argue for the Pacific approach outlined below.

It is based on 3 assumptions:

1. A US citizen can get a 1 year visa for French Polynesia in Panama at the French consulate there.
2. Entering Equador on the mainland, one can get an extended cruising permit with exit through the Galapagos with minimal fees over an extended time-period.
 and the third:

3. The Marquesas are outside the cyclone zone and should be considered a reasonable all weather destination.

Based on the above, and a fair amount of research on the web etc.  We are considering a transit in June, July.
Heading south along the west coast of S America, leaving the boat in Ecuador for an inland experience, then Galapagos and Marquesas late part of this year.  Early start on the westward cruising of the pacific in march/April 2019 toward New Zealand or Torres Straits.

Noting, while the Marquesas are on the cusp of cyclone territory, their location does not completely exclude them from circular storms, what storm options would we have with good intel.  We have and use iridium and predict wind a-lot with excellent outcomes for the past year. 

What thoughts, considerations, concerns and or advice might you have for this concept?

Very much appreciated!

Porter McRoberts
S/V Ibis: Amel 54-#152

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