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Old 02-10-2020, 11:58   #1
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Sailing from French Polynesia to Galapagos - south pacific cruising

My partner and I are currently planning our dream year off; setting sail from Vancouver, Canada and heading south, eventually circling New Zealand by way of Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga. However, in trying to plan our return route, I don't see many posts/blogs/forums about a route back. My thought was sailing French Polynesia to the Galapagos then home, but can only seem to find info on sailing Galapagos to FP.

Has anyone done the sail FROM French Polynesia TO the Galapagos?

Or what would be a recommended route for getting the boat back to North American/Caribbean?
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Old 02-10-2020, 12:25   #2
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Re: Sailing from French Polynesia to Galapagos - south pacific cruising

ajayy,

welcome to CF. That's an ambitious one year itinerary. I think it could be done, but ambitious. The rote answer is to point you to Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes. That's the go-to planning guide for this type of thing.

The reason you don't see any accounts of that passage is it's not particularly fun. The trades in FP are ESE most of the season you want to be there. And the Galapagos are ENE, so you're close-hauled or beating for the entire passage.

From FP to Vancouver I'd sail FP-Hawaii-Vancouver (or Alaska). I've done that three times and each one has been pretty straightforward.

If you really, really wanted to go from FP to the Galapagos I'd start looking at dropping down to the Gambiers, then dropping a bit further to work east to Easter Island, then working north to the Galapagos. But that's not a route I've done, it's just my gut feeling of where I'd start researching. Might do NZ->Gambiers->Easter and bypass the upper FP range.
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Old 02-10-2020, 15:14   #3
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Re: Sailing from French Polynesia to Galapagos - south pacific cruising

FP to Galapagos?
I'd spend the next year or two monitoring this site...
https://earth.nullschool.net/#curren....62,-14.92,614
The major issue getting from Easter Island to South America is the South East Pacific High.. it moves around a bit but is often centered on about 25ļ South...... you don't want to sail into the middle of it....
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Old 09-01-2021, 14:25   #4
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Re: Sailing from French Polynesia to Galapagos - south pacific cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajayy View Post
My partner and I are currently planning our dream year off; setting sail from Vancouver, Canada and heading south, eventually circling New Zealand by way of Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga. However, in trying to plan our return route, I don't see many posts/blogs/forums about a route back. My thought was sailing French Polynesia to the Galapagos then home, but can only seem to find info on sailing Galapagos to FP.



Has anyone done the sail FROM French Polynesia TO the Galapagos?



Or what would be a recommended route for getting the boat back to North American/Caribbean?

We spent 2.5 years on the trip you plan, leaving Victoria in May of year 1: Victoria - French Polynesia (arrived Marquesas after 36 days and spent cyclone season in the Societies and started year 2) - Cook - Niue - Tonga - Fiji - Vanuatu - New Caledonia - New Zealand (the next cyclone season, rented a camper van and spent 3 months touring around and hiking) - Tahiti - Hawaii - Victoria (arrived late September of year 3 for 2 years 5 months elapsed).

The return trip from the South Pacific to the west coast of North America takes one of three well documented routes:
- Up through or along SE Asia to Japan, then across to Alaska and down the coast. This is a longer trip and requires attention to the various storm seasons along the route. This is the only route without a big upwind component.
- Direct from Fiji, Samoa, through Tuvalu and to Hawaii, then around the high to Alaska, BC or Washington. Fastest route, long passages, mostly upwind.
- New Zealand to Tahiti, then Hawaii and to the coast. Medium passages, close reaching rather than beating depending on the trade winds.

If youíre desperate to see the Galapagos then do so on your way from Vancouver to French Polynesia. Going the other way would mean upwind and a lot of motoring. And going north from the Galapagos to Mexico then up the west coast is nasty (search for Baja Bash).

Remember that the South Pacific cyclone season starts in November, so if you arrive in the Marquesas in June you only have 5 months before getting clear of the cyclone zone, either down to New Zealand or north to Kiribati or the Marshall Islands. Going north might be a better idea if you only have a year and donít desperately want to see New Zealand. You could also stay in the cyclone zone and take your chances - French Polynesia or Fiji are the best places for that.

Doing it all in one year would be an awful rush. What if you just plan Vancouver - Galapagos (include Mexico if interested) - French Polynesia (spending cyclone season there) - Hawaii - Vancouver? You could go all the way to New Zealand for the cyclone season but would have to really rush through the South Pacific.
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Old 09-01-2021, 15:03   #5
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Re: Sailing from French Polynesia to Galapagos - south pacific cruising

We have some friends, did the Fiji to HI on an 80 footer. Ten knots hard on the wind the whole way, and even in that huge boat, complained about how wet it was. It's also a long way.

So many islands, so little time!

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Old 09-01-2021, 16:07   #6
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Re: Sailing from French Polynesia to Galapagos - south pacific cruising

I do not think you can do this voyage in one year. I planned, started, but did not finish a similar voyage in 2015. My plan was for a 3 or 4 year voyage. Starting in New Zealand and circling the Pacific via Japan (where my daughter lives) and Vancouver (where my son was living).

If you want a shorter trip then leave New Zealand out of the route and go to Japan instead. Regardless of what Cornell says in his guide getting north to Japan only works in October and November. That means spending the northern winter in Japan before leaving for Alaska/Canada. There is no better place to be forced to stay than Japan.
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