Maïa - The secret route to Panama

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Who: André and his crew
Where: From the Marquesas to Panama
Multihull: Fountaine Pajot Lavezzi from 2005

We are from Quebec and started a round-the-world tour in 2017, first on a monohull, before crossing Panama two years later. We sold our monohull in Tahiti to purchase a catamaran. Our project was to continue our roundthe-world trip westward. But then Covid-19 came along to put a brake on our ambitions. We had a budget for 5 years of travel. As we were 3 and a half years in and it was obviously becoming impossible to continue towards the West, we decided to turn back and return to Panama. After hauling out in Apataki, we set a course for the Marquesas Islands, and more precisely Nuku Hiva. From the Marquesas, we had two options to reach Panama: either use the southern route, which passes through the Gambier Islands, Easter Island and goes northwards along the South American coast, or the northern route, which runs along the southern part of the ITCZ (Inter-tropical convergence zone- Ed.). From the Marquesas, we headed north to reach 8°N. The winds then shifted to the South and we were able to head east. This portion of the trip was the windiest. The winds were generally easterly, sometimes northeasterly, averaging 15 to 20 knots with squalls up to 30 knots. As we headed north, the winds shifted to the south. The rest of the trip was spent on a close reach or with the wind abeam with a few days of westerly winds, where we were able to deploy the Parasailor. The winds were rather light, mostly between 10 and 15 knots from the south. We still had several days with very little wind. For the vast majority of the eastward journey, we had an easterly current, sometimes up to 2.5 knots, so that even in light winds we managed to move forward sometimes at up to 5 knots. We had the diesel tank full with 65 US gallons (250 liters), and an additional 40 gal. (140 l) on deck. Upon our arrival, there were about 13 gal (50 l) left. If I had to do it again, I would take more fuel to get through the periods of calm. Once we entered the Gulf of Panama, 125 miles from the finish, we had a power problem and the wind dropped, which meant that we weren’t progressing at all. It was a real blow to our morale! We therefore had to slowly pick our way through the cargo ships for two days, until the wind finally got up and we could finish our journey. In all, the trip lasted 44 days and 12 hours. The distance of the original route was 4,382 miles and we will have finally covered 4,560 miles. It’s not a difficult route but it requires patience. And good fuel reserves!


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