Equator Express | Hawaii – Tahiti
April 14 – May 7 |
This trip is a blast – we’ll leave from Oahu for a few days of power reaching in the trades before negotiating the ITCZ, also known as the Doldrums! Squalls and unsettled weather abound, but the rewards for careful boat handling are beautiful sunsets, rainbows, and the satisfaction of sailing fast in tough conditions. In the midst of the ITCZ we’ll make a pit-stop at Palmyra atoll for a night or two to explore the refuge. Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge which lies within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. This visit is dependent upon a permit which won’t be issued until the day we depart Hawaii, however we expect to be able to obtain it. Staff from Fish & Wildlife must also be on island during our visit, and as of now it sounds as if they’ll be there. We’ll keep you informed if anything changes. At the request of the refuge, we are limiting our group size for this trip, so it will really be an intimate experience. This trip will not include any diving, as the refuge doesn’t allow it, but to be honest we found that all of the sites were just as good or better without all the extra gear.
Palmyra is a spectacular place. Sea Dragon has visited in 2019 and 2021, and on both visits the general consensus among everyone on board was that we could never go snorkeling anywhere else again, as anything would pale in comparison.
In 2021 we were the first yacht to visit Palmyra since COVID closed the refuge in 2019, and it was extraordinary! We have never been on such a beautiful and healthy reef. Almost anywhere else you go will be spoiled for you after this visit. This is really something special, and the only way to visit is by sea. Palmyra was a US naval base in World War II, the site of several failed copra plantations, and and the destination of many adventurers and dreamers up through the 90s. Since then, Palmyra has been jointly managed by the Nature Conservancy and US Fish & Wildlife service, who are doing an amazing job maintaining it as a research station and restoring native Pacific atoll ecosystems to the island.
If you’ve always dreamed of sailing the south pacific but haven’t had the means or the skills to do it, this is the trip for you. You’ll learn about the weather of the ITCZ and how to cross it, the watch keeping and boat handling skills you’ll need to safely cross 2000 miles of ocean, and navigate through reef passes, near high volcanic islands, and across the open ocean.
Halfway to Tahiti we’ll cross the equator, and King Neptune and his court will board Sea Dragon to turn her crew from pollywogs into hardened shellbacks. This secretive ceremony will mark your inclusion into an exclusive club of those who have crossed the equator under sail.
If you’re interested in celestial navigation, this voyage is a great opportunity to hone your skills. The trade wind skies of the tropics and sub tropics make for great sun, moon, planet, and star sights, and crossing the equator throws in an extra twist that most people only experience in textbooks.
Depending on the weather, we hope to have enough time to explore French Polynesia a bit. Depending on travel restrictions, we may be able to hop across to Moorea after we arrive in Papeete, one of the most beautiful islands on the planet. Or, we may choose to merely explore Tahiti and all it has to offer.
This trip is an RYA Yachtmaster Ocean and IYT MOY Unlimited qualifying voyage – contact us to discuss!
Ardent Training is offering a significant discount on the RYA Day Skipper Theory online course to anyone signed up for this trip. If you’re interested in taking the course, let us know when you sign up!
- Cost: TRIP IS FULL
- Date: April 14 – May 7, 2022
- Start: Ko Olina Marina, Hawaii
- End: Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
- Length: 24 days, 23 nights
- Focus: Offshore Passagemaking | Equator Crossing | Sail Training
Due to the remote nature of this trip, we are aiming for a higher standard of risk reduction than what airlines and others are requiring. While we can’t guarantee that our protocol will 100% prevent a COVID infection onboard, we are hopeful that with these constraints, it will seriously reduce the risk of the possibility of a serious COVID infection part way to Hawaii, far from advanced medical care.
In order to enter Tahiti, you will need to be fully vaccinated. Tahiti considers “Fully vaccinated” to mean either:
- You have received the final dose (1 shot J&J, 2nd shot of Moderna/Pfizer/Astrazeneca) less than 4 months before your arrival to Tahiti
- OR: You have received a booster vaccination (mix & match allowed, with some exceptions if you have gotten Sinovac).
Tahiti also requires that you carry Travel Medical Insurance that provides coverage for COVID-19, with a minimum 90 days of duration, and is valid for French Polynesia.
The State of Hawaii has its own rules for entry that you will also need to comply with in order to fly to Hawaii.
The above government issued requirements are subject to change.
Everyone on board the vessel must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, with the final dose completed at least 15 days prior to the voyage. We will be submitting this information to the Government of Tahiti for pre-approval for the voyage.
14 days before trip: I agree to take maximum precautions to minimize my risk of infection with COVID-19 by following CDC guidelines.
72 Hours Before Boarding: I agree to take a PCR covid test at my own expense. If a testing site is available that can provide results in less than 72 hours, I agree to get tested as close to the date and time of boarding as is consistent with receiving results before boarding.
Day of Arrival at boat: We will take your temperature and administer a rapid antigen test to you before you come in close contact with the rest of the crew. With proof of vaccination, proof of a negative PCR result, a temperature of under 100.4 F, and a negative rapid test, you will be able to board Sea Dragon. Once everyone is on board, we will fall into the normal routine for trip operations. We’ll become a “bubble” with no masks required on board. You’ll choose your bunk, we’ll have a group dinner on board and go through safety briefings for departure. In the event that you do not provide proof of vaccination, test positive on either the PCR test or your pre-boarding rapid test, or have a fever, you will not be allowed aboard the vessel, and we will be happy to transfer your payment to a trip of your choosing at a later date.
This Trip is Full, but there is a waitlist available. If you’d like to sign up for the waitlist, it is a $50 non-refundable deposit, which will be applied to the cost of your trip if a space becomes available. Please also review our crew contract. The balance will be due on March 14.
“This was one of the best vacations I have ever had. I learned a lot about plastics, coral, and the environment from skipper, first mate, and knowledgeable crew …The boat was perfectly set up and maintained for our trip.”
Day 1: Arrival On Board Sea Dragon
You’ll join us at Ko Olina Marina in Oahu between 1500 and 1700 to move on board. You’ll have the opportunity to find your bunk and get settled in. We’ll all gather together for our first dinner on board. Afterwards your professional crew will take you through general life on board and safety procedures. You’ll be fitted for your lifejacket, and if you didn’t bring any with you, foul weather gear.
Day 2: Safety Training & Officialdom
We’ll spend the day learning how to safely handle Sea Dragon and deal with any situations that may arise. We’ll also have a visit from the Palmyra Station Fish and Wildlife representative on Oahu to discuss the rules and conditions of our visit, as well as to give us a quick orientation to the island we’ll be visiting. Depending on time and weather, we’ll probably go for a quick day sail to practice what we’ve learned, or maybe even go snorkeling with turtles and dolphins at a nearby beach.
Day 3: Departure from Green to Big Blue
After breakfast, we’ll drop lines and head out to sea. As we set our sails and point south, the backdrop of green mountainsides will slowly fade and give way to a 360-degree endless horizon. We’ll settle into our watch schedule and routine for our 1000NM sail.
Day 4 – 8: Underway Offshore
We’ll have some nice fast sailing on our way south. Fingers crossed we’ll be visited by dolphins, whales and endless sea birds. The warm tropical sailing will be quite the treat! We’ll cross the ITCZ, the dreaded doldrums of yore, where calms and squalls will put our skills to the test. Then, we’ll break out into the SE trade winds north of the line. If Kiribati has re-opened, we may stop in for a visit to this largest atoll in the world!
Day 9: Atoll Arrival
Welcome to Palmyra! We’ll make our way through the reef and anchor in the lagoon on this gorgeous atoll. Keep an eye out for all types of life – manta rays, melon-headed whales, sharks, and dolphins! We’ll meet the refuge staff and get an orientation to this very special location. There’s nothing like dinner on deck at anchor in a remote location such as this.
Day 10: : Another World Exploration
We’ll spend a day exploring Palmyra, ashore and in the water. Exploration is the name of the game. We’ll work closely with the scientists and staff on Palmyra to minimize our impact on this special place as we explore ashore, paddle board in the lagoon, and get a chance to snorkel on some of the most spectacular reefs in the world. Night at anchor.
Day 11: Back to Sea
After a visit to a place you can only get to by sea, we’ll pick anchor and head out of the lagoon when the light is favorable. We’ll set sail once again and point our bow south towards the equator just a day or two away.
Day 13: Equator Crossing
King Neptune and his court will board the vessel to turn any newbies to his realm into hardened shellbacks. After this traditional ceremony, we’ll continue south into the Southern Hemisphere.
Day14-21 Underway Offshore
We’ll continue making headway on a close reach or close haul towards Tahiti, capitol of French Polynesia. The days will get cooler as we get away from the equator, receding towards a pleasant warmth.
Day 22: Tentative Arrival in Tahiti
We’ll sight the tall mountains of Tahiti and More over the horizon and enter through the reef pass into the lagoon at Papeete. We’ll clear through customs and immigration, and spend the night in this Francophone slice of paradise.
Day 23: Exploring French Polynesia
We’ll spend the last few days after we arrive exploring Tahiti – this also gives you a window for COVID testing if necessary for your flight home.
Day 24: Departure from Sea Dragon
We’ll return to Papeete in time for you to disembark Sea Dragon by 0900. You can move on to your next adventure, a salty shellback.
– 23 nights accommodation on Sea Dragon
– All meals (vegetarian), snacks, and drinks on board
– Sailing Instruction
– Safety equipment and foul weather gear
- Masks, fins, snorkels
- Use of inflatable paddle boards
Contribution does not include:
– Transportation to and from Hawaii and Tahiti
– Transportation to and from the boat
– Additional nights spent ashore
– Personal expenses while in port
You will join the boat in Ko Olina between 1500-1700 on the first day, and you will depart the boat in Papeete at 0900 on the last day.
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is about a 30 minute drive from Ko Olina. Papeete International Airpot (PPT) is right on the edge of town, so it’s a short taxi trip from any of the docks we may tie up at.
All crew members will require a passport and visas from their home country that will allow them to travel to/ from French Polynesia and the USA. Please ensure you have the appropriate paperwork completed before joining the vessel, or you will not be allowed to board. Please look into the specific type of visa you need for arriving at these destinations by sea, or contact us directly to discuss.
ALESSANDRA PEPARINI – Captain
My passion for the ocean started very early… when I was a kid I spent all summers in the water! My activities were from fishing to swimming, from snorkeling to the first freediving, from kayaking to simply playing with the waves. My confidence with the water and my sensitivity towards the ocean and all kinds of creatures in and outside the water started growing during these early years and is what has drove me to my working choices and lifestyle.
I start sailing late, when I was 18yo and I have immediately felt in love with it. At 20yo, together with a friend, I owned a 7m boat which we totally rebuild inside. After some time working at a sail loft specializing in canvas work, I started doing charters and deliveries in the Med as a deckhand, cook, and mate while during the winter I continued working full time as swimming instructor, specializing in working with people affected by disabilities (physical and mental). After several years of doing this and working on custom composites with Carboway I decided something was missing in my life.
So, when my second and last dog had died for old age I have decided to leave for an Atlantic crossing in 2016. Even though I had a ticket back to Europe, I never used it and I kept on sailing until I arrived in the Pacific, where I worked freelance on superyachts and doing deliveries.
I really enjoy long passages and being in remote places, I feel 100% part of the nature around me. And when I am not on a boat I love going up the mountains hiking or climbing, otherwise freediving. I am excited to be working on board Sea Dragon because I enjoy heaps teaching how to swim and be in the water to people, transmitting my passion, I would like to give back to the ocean, which is in need, using Sea Dragon as a way for teaching people how to be respectful and minimize their impact on nature around them.
Alessandra holds her Yachtmaster Offshore with Commercial Endorsement, a CMAS Advanced Diver, an AIDA Advanced Freediver, and holds her STCW endorsed Proficiency in Medical Care at Sea.
LUKE DACOSTA – First Mate
From a young age I’ve surfed along the south coast of England, always wanting more from being on the water. After graduating University in Leeds from a graphics degree I began to want something more.
I began teaching watersports all over Europe, visiting places I fell in love with and meeting people that became good friends and also gaining a partner in life. We both caught the windsurfing bug and are still hooked on the sport today. In the winters we would go to France and run Chalets with me as the Chef of which I have a passion and several years experience under my belt and Harriet as the manager/ host.
Harriet and I returned to the south coast of England to train for our yacht master on the Isle of Wight getting very familiar with the Solent waters. Not long after we found ourselves wanting to maximise our experience and this took us to different corners of the world, Harriet in the Bay of Biscay and myself on a delivery on route to Singapore across the Atlantic and the Pacific which as been my biggest achievement in the sailing world so far. Completing the “Coconut Milk Run” going west got me hooked on ocean sailing and of course wanting to explore more of the Pacific.
Amongst other sports, free diving has become a passion of mine. Exploring what lies beneath in such a natural way is something I want to pursue through my voyages especially in the Pacific.
We both returned to Europe to work as a team through a season as Flotilla skippers in Croatia and doing private skippering in Greece but always wanted to head back to bigger waters. Deepening our need to explore more of the waters around the world we will be on the move for the next few years exploring as much as we can. We have a lot to see and are very happy to be on Sea Dragon to experience a section of the Pacific with a company with great values.
Luke holds his Yachtmaster Offshore with Commercial Endorsement, is an SSI Open Water Diver, and is a windsurfing, dinghy, and powerboat instructor.
HARRIET AVERNS – Watch Leader
Harriet is from Kent in the South East of England and grew up doing a variety of sports and spent a lot of time in the water competing as a club swimmer. She took part in the Tall Ships Race on board a 73ft sail training vessel in the Baltic at the age of 16 and absolutely fell in love with being at sea. After finishing school she went on to train to become a water sports instructor and spend 3 summers in the Mediterranean. She taught windsurfing, dinghy sailing and powerboating as well as progressing to teach Wind foiling and did her open water scuba diving course. During the winters she ran ski chalets in the French Alps alongside her partner Luke. Harriet completed her Yachtmaster Offshore in the Solent in 2020 and went on to volunteer for non-profit marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd. She took part in their dolphin bycatch campaign in the Bay of Biscay working as a deckhand and rib driver. She then returned to the Med in summer 2021 to run flotilla holidays in Croatia. She has also recently been awarded Yachmaster of the Year for her performance in her Yachtmaster exam. Harriet is really excited to explore the pacific and experience the freedom of ocean sailing.
Harriet holds her Yachtmaster Offshore with a commercial endorsement, is a PADI Open Water Diver, and is a Windsurfing, Dinghy, and Powerboat Instructor.