Fatu Hiva

We arrived here after a harder than expected sail from Hiva Oa due to a wave that went through bringing a lot more wind than was forecast. We hit the wave about half way down the E coast of Tahuata and the wind jumped to just shy of 40kts true. We rolled away the foresail and with engines on, just put our nose into the wind to “dodge” the weather. It worked fine and although I needed a pair of swimming goggles to see, we ticked along just holding enough speed to maintain steerage. After 30 minutes of interesting stuff, the rain abated, the wind died down to a more manageable 20-25kts true and this held all the way down to our destination. We did get as compensation a full double rainbow so close to us we couldn’t photograph it all.

A little cheeky! Skylark dodged well Goggles needed in 40+kts of driving rainA perfect Double Rainbow

Known as the most beautiful island in the Marquesan group, Fatu Hiva is home to one of the most famous anchorages in the world, The Bay of Virgins. Although small, early in the season it is often packed with boats and due to a rocky and steep shelving bottom can be difficult to anchor. We lucked out, arriving to find only two boats in, one of which was in the midst of pulling out. The last boat, Toomai, was a friend of ours with kids on board. We anchored first time in 35’ with a good pull on the southern side of the bay. Sadly, Toomai were to leave after only one day. Unable to water (ironic with the amount of rain we have been having)and with no access to fuel here, they decided to head back towards Nuka Hiva before jumping down into the Tuamotus. We may catch up with them there.

We celebrated our arrival with mashed potatoes, beans and Toad in the Hole. Lou even managed some gravy as well. Bliss!

Dinner - Toad in the hole, beans and mashed potatoesThe girls happy to see land againNote the squall line coming down the valley. Lots of these!

The guide books talks about gusty winds here sometimes causing yachts to drag. What they don’t talk about is the katabatic winds falling off the cliffs, which howl through here. Listening to the wind scream (and I mean scream – well over 40kts) was a little worrying. The other advice here is to dive your anchor to make sure you have good holding, something we normally do as a matter of course. With torrential rain and a river outflow at the head of the valley, the water is a rich brown and visibility is less than a metre, that was a no go.   Although I sat up nervously the first couple of nights to make sure we were ok, we haven’t moved an inch. Well done, Mr Rockna.

Sadly the wind and rain was not to leave us and whilst we generally had the wind generator turning, we got bumped around more in this anchorage than any other we have been in in the last two years.

Sitting by ourselves in the The Bay of VirginsP1040512

We have had an interesting discussion about this picture. Note the three flags. From the left, French Polynesia, France and then Marquesas. The only trouble is, we think it is up side down as our flag of the same is definitely red over yellow. Do they reverse the colours between the N and S Marquesas island groups? We bought ours in the N. The white segment of the flag has a tiki face on it. Alternatively, it is a pair of old fashioned underpants with a couple of eyes painted on – you be the judge. Our flag has the tiki head head up, red up. This flag is yellow up.

P1040554The flag of The Marquesas

In the short periods it has stopped raining, the view is beautiful. We caught this photo in the evening light. Not a soul in with us either. Just glorious.

Evening light in the Bay of Virgins

The village here is small and with the summer holidays in full flow, the teens are all out playing either at the volleyball court (they would thump any team coming from Grenada or the Bahamas) and the smalls playing down at the mouth of the river where a small surf gets kicked up. Eleanor and Hannah enthusiastically joined in and had a great time with a couple of the local girls. They also went exploring around the bay at low tide, climbing along the undercut trying to find small crystals they had seen on their first explore.

P1040580P1040573

I have to admit, I have been disappointed at how in your face some of the locals have been. I know we are seen as “income” by them but trailing after us through the village at a distance of a couple of metres is bit disconcerting. And that’s the adults. The other thing is the difference between trade and begging. The kids are too close to the later and whilst we want fruit, the adults are hoping for too much for it to be an equable trade.  Eleanor and Hannah have been put out by the continual “can I have that?”  by some of the local kids.

I’m afraid the population is so small and the number of yachties so many during the season that there is more cynicism here than anywhere else we have visited in the Marquesas. The majority of the fishermen won’t wave or even acknowledge you as they go past.

The other problem we have had is the near continual rain we have had. We asked about the waterfall, one of the best things to see here, and were told that we should not go as it is too dangerous with falling rocks and too much water coming off the hills. If you can see the photo below, most of the landscape is conglomerate rather than solid rock, which isn’t the most secure when it rains. There were big chunks of debris on the road under one of the peaks just outside the village so the risk is real. The second photo is what happens when a falling chunk hits the edge of the road. Just destroyed it. In the end, with the rain still pouring and yet more forecast, we decided to get the boat ready to go on the promise of a few days of mild weather before more wind in about six days time and to make our across to the Tuamotus.

P1040549P1040551

It did mean that we played quite a lot of pooh sticks during the few dry moments of our stay.

P1040537

Our last activity, suggested by an old friend, Ingrid Hall, who visited the islands a few years ago was to go to church. Getting dressed up was a novelty and it was the first time since Xmas that I had worn my chinos and a year and a half since I wore a proper shirt with a collar. I felt constrained!

 The inside of the Church of St Michel Archangel

With not a prayer book in sight, no hymn books and ever seat taken, the service in Polynesian lasted just over an hour and the singing and chanting was inspiring. No holding back in the singing here, they boomed it out. The breeze from the open windows was a lifesaver and watching the rain pour down allowed me to be thankful for somewhere dry!

On the morning we left, we visited the post office to make sure the postcards we had written in the Marquesas actually got posted. The last batch went got round to sending included one from the Bahamas (written and addressed 18mths ago– just never posted…) and a couple from Grenada too. We have decided to try a bit harder to post cards from at least the country we originally bought them in!

We left mid morning on my brother’s birthday with a trip of about 400miles to Rarioa ahead of us. We are hoping to be in the atoll and anchored in about 4 days. Courtesy of the “Tuamotus Current Guestimator”, a very useful tool, high slack water seems to be around 1230hrs on the 29th so we will aim to make our entrance to the atoll just before then.

And finally. Happy Birthday, David, from all of us here! Sorry we couldn’t Skype but the internet here has been non-existent for the last five days. Edited to add. We are only another three weeks late on this due to non existent internet. Sorry Bro!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s