03rd June 2007
With westerly winds, the plague of this trip, we cannot sail the course, so now we will not make Hiva Oa, where we intended to land in Marquesas. Now our main concern is to make landfall at daylight. It has been an incredible fast passage, averaging 150 miles daily, with 2 knots of current giving us a push all the way. In other hand it has been a long trip, tedious and mentally hard. The wind and seas were moderate all the way. The best of all is that we sustained no damage to the boat in this trip.
Finally we made it, 3173 miles in a respectable 23 days. Of course the wind had to throw a final trick on the last day. Last night the wind completely died down and later on during morning picked up to gusts of 40knots of wind and heavy rain. Loads of dolphins followed the boat. With the strong wind we were able to pick up the mileage lost overnight, enabling us to arrive during daylight. We changed the landfall to Fatu Hiva, the southernmost of the Marquesan islands. The island is lush, with spectacular high peaks and it is the wettest of the Marquesan islands. We entered the Baie the Vierges mid-afternoon with heavy rain and poor visibility, but also very curious to see the infamous skyline. Due to its phallic shaped peaks the bay was given the well-deserved name of Baie de Verges (Bay of Penises) some time ago. Outraged the missionaries added a redeeming "i" to make the name Baie de Vierges (Bay of Virgins). We were promptly greeted by Claudia, Erick and their little dog Floyd. They are sailing on Tahaa and are daughter and father from Austria. We met them earlier in Galapagos.
We stepped on land for the first time in a month! Hanavave is a small village with around 300 inhabitants. There are only a few houses, a church and one shop selling produce at a price of gold. Half a dozen of eggs cost 8 dollars. Graham and I hiked up the hills intending to get to Omoa, the next village. One third of the way up in the mountains, we were exhausted and turned around. Later we found out from Herbert that the village is 5 miles away. He made it to the village but also paid an exorbitant 60 dollars to get back by water taxi. Zazoo with Ben, Rosangela and the kids, Luke and Josh also arrived; the foresail has been damaged during the passage so they had a really slow trip sailing only with mainsail.
Money is worth nothing in this island. Graham's Brazilian football t-shirt has more value than dollars here. We traded 10 metres of rope for 15 grapefruits the size of melons, 5kg of lemons and bread. The children from the village were after lipsticks, bracelets and magazines. The kids are very chatty, shame we don't speak French that well. In the evening Teresa organized a dinner for the new arrivals. She is the village Chief's daughter. She organizes dinners once a week for visitors. The dinner was typical Polynesian food. Octopus with coconut, mutton stew and raw dorado marinated in coconut. But dorado was the last food we wanted to eat, after catching lots during the trip. It took Teresa two days to prepare the meal, including a walk up to the mountains to collect coconuts to make the milk.
It has been another day with torrential rain. The water in the bay is muddy due to the heavy downpour. Graham tried spear fishing with Ben, so for a change we could have fresh food. Meanwhile I went over to Tahaa. Claudia gave us a big piece of Marlin. She has traded it for t-shirts and a fishing rod and it was much too big for her and her father. Graham was least successful bringing a fish for dinner than I was.
12 June- Hiva Oa
We arrived yesterday in Atuona, after a nice sail with untold amount of whales and dolphins following us . This is the administrate village of the Marquesas. Here Gauguin and Brel lived and died. From the harbour, Atuona is 2 km away. To get into town we hitchhiked, since there are no buses.
After a disastrous day with engine service, we decided to find to the petroglyphs to cheer us up. As the fuel gauge metre is broken we overfilled the fuel tank, making a big mess inside the boat and on deck. As is everything else, fuel is also very expensive here. In the afternoon we walked to Faakua Valley to find the giant carvings in rocks. We got covered in mud, bitten by mosquitoes and as it was getting late we turned back without finding the giant carvings. On the way back we attacked a lime tree and filled up the rucksack, also knocked some grapefruits off the tree, so at least the trip wasn't fruitless. To our horror we found that the dredger had anchored just 20 metres in front of us. Things got worse as it got darker. The stern anchor wasn't holding the boat in place and we were swinging into a boat next to us.
At the same whilst turning the engine on all the oil leaked as it was not sealed properly. Now we could not use the engine. Graham managed to fix the engine in a record time. Meanwhile I was watching the dredger getting closer to us. It had "danger explosive" written on the back and 2 crane jibs pointing our way! The stern anchor was relayed three times without luck. In the end we used the dredger's buoy to secure our stern. It was a sleepless night.
By now we had enough of this anchorage. But we could not lift the bow anchor until the dredger moved off since it was so close. Finally after arriving almost one week ago, we cleared in with immigration. Herbert , unfortunately had to pay a bond. This is a payment taken by immigration equivalent of an airfare from here back to your country of origin. The amount is refunded before leaving the French Polynesia and it is for emergencies and if repatriation is required.
15th June- Tahuata
Hane Moe Noa bay is less than 10 miles from Atuona. To get there we sailed through the Canal de Bordelais, separating Tahuata from Hiva Oa by 4 miles. It has a deserted sandy beach. The anchorage was quite busy with yachts. Again we met Zazoo there. In the afternoon we went fruit picking in the woods. Untold amount of mangoes, limes, coconuts and sour sop were dropping of the trees. We just had to deal with the Nonos, these mosquitoes leave a very itchy bite. After 5 minutes with the mosquitoes, we had to run into the sea to relieve the bites. Luckily these mosquitoes don't transmit diseases, they are just very painful.
Ben and Graham had a very busy day. In the morning they went spear fishing and in the afternoon, goat hunting with a crossbow. I wasn't too keen on their hunting skills so I made sure dinner was ready when they got back empty handed and covered with cuts. That was the end of their Neanderthal man moment.
The one sign that is time to move on is when we start gossiping about other boats and getting bad voyeuristic habits. Even looking quite windy , we left from Tahuata. We left the anchorage with full sails and headed straight into gusts of 30 knots. The boat heeled badly turning into wind, impossible to helm her back to a run. That woke us up fast! After reefing in we crossed the Bordelais Channel back to Hiva Oa. The destination was Puamau. Here it is possible to see the "Tiki's" , large Polynesian stone statues. It wasn't our lucky day. With strong winds and current against us we sought refuge in Hanamenu Bay. The swell made it impossible to overnight here so we left late afternoon to Nuku Hiva. It was a fast passage with strong winds gusting up to 37 knots and rough seas. We arrived into Taiohae Bay as the sun was coming up. We found Tahaa and Ursa Minor anchored here.
Now we have been awake for almost 30 hours after the night passage. Still we made it to Rose Corser's happy hour, here all the yachties gather for a sun downer. Rose, originally from Oklahoma has been living in the island for 30 years. She is an arts researcher and currently is writing two books about Marquesan art. She told us that tattoos were forbidden since the missionaries arrived here, but in the last 8 years has been a renaissance. Most of the Marquesan have tattoos and the more the better. It is a sign of status.
Today we said our goodbyes to Herbert after almost 3 months living with us. He moved onto Tahaa and is continuing his trip with Claudia and Erik. We are happy for him and for us to get our solitude back. Fair winds to Herbi!
By now we had our fair amount of rain, without much effort the boat's deck was pristine and our moods turned a bit due to the miserable weather. So we were ready to leave. The wind is still strong but calmed down a little in the lasts days. The crossing over to Oa Pou was a fast beat. We arrived in Hakahetau Bay amazed by the scenery. Another phallic skyline, with giant basalt stones growing from the mountains up to the sky. Definitely every ocean sailor should see it! Best of all, the bay was sunny. We came here to catch up with Pete & Fliss on Nadezhda. They came over for a BBQ. Apart from catching up since Galapagos another theme of conversation was our next destination, the Tuamotus- or Tomatoes , as it is called by Fliss. The "dangerous arquipelago" has claimed many yachts in the past, so we were wary of navigating around the atolls.
Late morning we went ashore with Pete and Fliss. There is a tiny village and a church. All the locals are getting ready for the celebrations of Bastille day, on the 14th July. The week preceding the celebrations, there is a canoeing competition, so everybody is out in their canoes training. These canoes are not the old fashioned ones, carved out of wood. They are modern aerodynamic, made of fiberglass. As it is Sunday, after the Sunday Mass, people went to the beach front for a BBQ and live music. We were greeted with a cheerful “kaora”, which means hello in Polynesian.