I doubt you will recognise the name of the island. But I bet you have seen one of the classic Polynesian images to come from here. The 4000’ spires of this island are famous and often to be seen on promotional literature, extolling the beauty of the region. Although they are often clouded over, when it does go clear, they are spectacular.
We arrived at Hakahau, Ua Pao, the main village of the island after a slow but comfortable night sail from Hiva Oa. We had a little trouble with a suicidal parasail sheet overnight which necessitated a swim to untangle it from the stb propeller which it had wrapped itself around. Not much fun in 6’ of waves but quickly done.
We anchored on the inside of our friends Wolfgang and Kathi on Plastik Plankton, in very little water. Bar Isabela, this is the most protected and flattest anchorage we have seen for a while, with both a big breakwater and a brand new dock giving yachts lots of protection. It helps that it faces N, traditionally where little swell ever comes.
We arrived to find this strange ship in. It is a mix of cruise ship with cabins at the aft with container space to allow it to deliver goods to the islands. The tourists from it, all looking white and unhealthily blotchy or lobster like, are wandering around, mobbing the number of locals. The ship will depart tomorrow so we will have peace.
There is a excellent, very clean sandy beach with no surf to pull the dinghy up on. Don’t bother putting your engine on. It is an easy row and you will need to lift your dinghy a long way up the beach to get it to the high water mark. The beach is well used by the locals. Fishing before first light, outriggers training finished by 0700hrs and then a variety of kids appear over the course of the day as the school has its own boat house on it. They do swimming, canoeing, running and occasionally horse riding on the beach. Lots of fun and laughter and a great excuse to ditch clothes!
The day starts early here. The bakery, a pink building 200m past the school boarding house runs out of bread by 0800hrs. Bread is even cheaper here than Hiva Oa at 54XPF a loaf (about 35p). However they also do croissants and pain au chocolat here (120XPF each) which we haven’t seen elsewhere. Oh to eat a civilised breakfast! We were surprised by the supermarket as well. A good range of stock if limited in variety.
Above the anchorage to the E, there is a hill with a cross at the top. We had heard that the walk up was worth the effort so filled the camelbak and headed off. We were slightly delayed when Hannah found a lamb crying to itself. A bit of petting was in order.
After a little bit of aimless wandering requiring directions from a couple of locals, we found the road going up to the “power station”, a white building with a generator in it behind the beach which led on to the track we needed to follow. The walk up was an easy gradient but hot. Make sure you take water.
The walk didn’t take long, no more than 45 minutes and we were stopping to look at the ever more impressive views. The view back down into the bay was worth the effort. Skylark is the only catamaran in. There is plenty of room and the holding is good in firm sand. As an aside, we have noticed a big drop off in the number of catamarans. Monohulls are definitely the more numerous which is a big change from the Caribbean. Most yachts are very well provided with solar, wind and those little touches that mark out a long distance traveller. It does mean there is always space for the cheeky catamaran who can anchor in three feet less water than our mono friends!
From the top, the panoramic proved spectacular. The village of Hakahau is well spread out. It is the third biggest in the Marquesas with a population of around 1000, most of the island’s people being centred here.
Walking back down, we looked down into the next bay to the E. Completely deserted, it may require a day visit on our way back S as it has a reputation as an excellent surfing beach. It looks W and the swell comes straight in for much of the time.
After we came back down, we finally managed to get a SIM card for the phone. A phone call later and we confirmed our winter haul out at Apataki in the Toamotus. We have told them that we will arrive in November and stay to Mar, which covers us for the cyclone season. We will be looking at flights from Apataki to New Zealand and for the purchase of an RV once we get to decent internet land, a rare place here.
Wolfgang and Kathi have decided that they will need to head off to the Toamotus tomorrow as the weather, good for the next few days, is going to turn very slack for a couple of weeks after that. They have been exploring the Marquesas for a month already and don’t want to get stuck here and lose the chance of more time in the Tuamotus. They have been getting their wind vane back into working order after it jammed on them. It was just blocked up with salt – a common event when sea spray dries so quickly in the heat here – and cured with a wash and clean.
There was time for a bit of fun of the back of Skylark and Hannah conducted diving lessons for Kathi. She progressed from the bottom step to the front of Skylark impressively quickly. We enjoyed one last evening of sundowners with them too – painkillers were the theme of the night. We are hoping that we will catch up with them further down island. They are great fun and good company.
Hannah conched them off, the traditional Caribbean farewell!
One of the less pleasant regular visitors we have are these enormous wasps. They are over an inch long and whilst they don’t seem to be aggressive, it is a little alarming to find one buzzing around your face. Thankfully, they don’t seem to mind being shooed out.
We have only just scratched the surface here but we need to move on quickly to meet Mia at Nuka Hiva, the next island N. We want to visit some of the anchorages on the W of the island, one of which has a great walk into a couple of waterfalls. We will return in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, onwards N in 15kts of glorious SE trade wind!