Tag Archives: Hiva Oa

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.

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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.

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

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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!

Hiva Oa – Take Two – Pt 2

A continuation of the blog post for our second visit to Hiva Oa.

The site of Me’ae Iipona itself is small in comparison to the larger festival sites we visited in Nuka Hiva but it had a completely different role. It was the holy of holy places, where only the high priests, chieftains and heroes would be allowed to go. It was where the sacrificial alter was as well. The main tiki is the largest in the whole of French Polynesia, standing well over 2m high. It is the only place where we have seen a tiki dog, set to guard over the site.

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John then freaked the girls out when he returned from a wander with two enormous snails. There were screams!

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On our route back, we spotted a huge tiki in a back yard which was obviously being made. We stopped and a man came out, smiled and asked us in to get a better view. We found ourselves in his workshop where he was in the process of making a 3’ tall wooden tiki like the one in the photo. He also had a few beautiful instruments, 8 string ukuleles, which were in the last of the polishing processes. We asked prices but at $500 a dollar a pop they were a bit out of our price range. The stone tiki is being done on commission for the island Town Hall.

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Having driven right to the end of the road (incidentally finding a couple of wild pomolo trees and loading up with fruit), we turned back and made our way to the village of Hanaapa which has the best anchorage on the N side of the island. There was little there other than a few beautifully maintained houses, with gardens so colourful. Hannah was satisfied when she found a baby goat and spent most of her time feeding it through the wire fence.

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We had one more stroke of luck when we found another roadside banana tree in rough land. John and Lou liberated its load and we halved them between us.

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Our last couple of days at Atuana were busy. We managed to book our New Zealand flights for 12 Nov with a return on 23 Feb to Apataki. Lou, Julia and the kids made good use of the local luxury hotel with swimming pool as a special treat to do this. Not so bad a view too. Thoroughly recommended. They do two deals for cruisers.

1.  $10 entry, buy drinks and stay the day with free internet and pool.

2. $35 entry, choice of main courses for lunch, free pool and internet. Kids are $20 ahead. E and H both got adult mains (no kid’s portions here) which were priced at more than the entry fee so a good deal for them. E’s eyes were out on stalks when she saw the size of her steak.

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We also met up with a great crowd of Irish on their rather large Oyster 66 called Elvis Magic, newly arrived from the Galapagos. The kids made a new friend, a wee lad called Jonny, who, being the only kid on the boat and having not seen another child for a three weeks, was as desperate as our two to play. They were a really nice bunch but sadly in a rush to get to Bora Bora in a couple of weeks time.

Having restocked, refueled and said our goodbyes to a number of people we had made friends with in the bay whilst we had been hauled out over a month before, we headed out and SE towards Faku Hiva, the last island we plan to visit in the group before we jump to the Toamotus. We look forward to catching up with Sid, our French ex copper, who helped recover some of our photos on the broken computer, on route to work in Vanuatu in a years time.

We have enjoyed Hiva Oa on both our visits. The second time around, not having to deal with fixing Skylark was less stressful and more fun. Exploring the island by land was well worth doing and we got to see the amazing diversity of the island. With good and friendly locals, some expat French and a small (nearly) permanent boating community, it is an interesting mix of cultures – all getting along. All this place is missing is a  beach on the S side of the island but then we did have Hanamoenoa Bay just 5 miles away when we needed it!

Hiva Oa – Take Two – Pt 1

On the basis that our next island group, the Tuamotus, are about as remote as you can be in the world and the shopping is near non existent, we have headed back to Hiva Oa to load up. We also need to have decent internet to do some catching up on blog posts, book flights and research vehicles for New Zealand. We timed our visit to coincide with Bastille Day celebrations. Unfortunately with the UK euro vote and its effect on the US Dollar which the French Polynesian currency to tied to, we have returned to civilisation after our lovely time at Tahuata to find everything is now 15% more expensive than it was a month ago.

Bugger.   Well done, Middle England.

It was a bit of a blast back through the acceleration zone that is between Tahuata and Hiva Oa but we timed it just about right. We had a slow passage but in flat water as we went through at the tail end of the tide. We arrived at Atuana to find some boats we recognised, most importantly Mary Ann II, who we had last seen a couple of months ago in the Galapagos. We had a quiet night with John, Julia and Murphy catching up with the gossip and to congratulate John in the completion of his circumnavigation whilst he was on route to the Marquesas. An achievement I’d love to emulate one day.

Once we went in to check up on what activities were planned, we got a bit of a surprise. We seem to have landed in the Polynesian equivalent of Scotland. French “occupation” of the Marquesas is a subject that is growing in importance to the islanders. Since the French restarted nuclear tests briefly in the 1990’s, there has been a growing dissatisfaction with the perceived offhand approach to control of the island groups. When the tests restarted without consultation, ordered by Jacque Chirac, the Polynesians rioted. The period is best remembered for the troubles on Tahiti but there was trouble on a lot of the islands and a nationalistic sentiment has been maintained here. Although the French eventually backed down, mainly due to the international condemnation of what they were doing,  the damage, locally, was done. Whilst most islands do celebrate “Bastille Day” (Fatu Hiva, 35  miles to the S, parties for three days), here on Hiva Oa, they have decided they don’t want to anymore. What they have done this year is have a nationalistic parade to celebrate Marquesian culture a week before 14 Jul, a gala day with no reference to anything historically French on the day (no National Anthem and definitely no French flags) and then another kids parade, a week or so later. There seems to be a large proportion of the population here wanting full independence.

The youngsters were all involved  The girls strutting their stuff  Fishermen the world over all say -It was this big, honest!P1040428  P1040431P1040434 (2)  P1040437  P1040439

The dancing was great with teams from several nearby villages joining in the fun.  Once the dancing finished and the prizes were handed out, the Mayor tried to hold court with the normal politicians “I love the sound of my own voice” chat but the experienced crowd was already moving towards the food tents. I suspect a lot of locals had been attracted to the day’s activities by the promise of free food and drinks which there were in great abundance! We got stuck in too.

We attacked the supermarket here to stock up on essentials and some nice to haves to carry with us into the Tuamotus. We lucked out as well as both the Airenui (the half container ship, half cruise liner we saw in Ua Poa – see that blog entry for a photo) and the normal delivery ship, the Taporo IX,  have called in the last week, meaning for once the island is very well stocked.

The Delivery Ship

We shared the cost of a big 4×4 (10000XFP a day) with John and Julie and went exploring. We decided to visit the NE corner of the island where one of the best preserved archaeological sites is. The drive up was long. Only 30 miles but it took over 2 hrs. The roads are rough but reasonably maintained and the time taken was more in caution of their steepness! We stopped at various points to take in the glorious views as we climbed up and over the spine of hills running across the island, separating the N and S coasts. Once you get above 1500’, you have a noticeable change of vegetation with large fir trees predominant.

 Horses do walk on water here.......  P1040229

Papa's hat still waiting for its owner

The various views seen here are all looking N. Note, Dad, your hat is still waiting for your return. H says she didn’t think you would mind her borrowing it for the day.  I think that the windswept headland in the panoramic is a crazy place for a hen run but there seemed to be plenty of birds around!

The hen run with the best view in FP

Tahuata – Take Two

Although we intended to spend just a day at Tahuata after travelling S from Ua Poa, the weather suggested we stay on. The water was clear as a bell, a light wind blew and there was little swell. It just looked too good to go!

After a longer discussion, we also came to the conclusion that we wanted to slow down again and spend Bastille Day in Hiva Oa where the largest population would be. Tahuata seemed to be the perfect place to hang out for a while to wait for the big event.

We had initially had three days in Hanamoenoa Bay. We got some practising with the spinning rod. We have a killer lure on it at the moment that works very well so we have been catching and releasing as the bay has ciguatera in it and we are unsure which fish are safe. Much to her surprise, Hannah caught a 10ld  Blue Fin Trevally which had her fighting hard and yelling for help. Perhaps not quite the monster of Death and Glory’s fame but still a cracker and the rod was impressively bent!

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We also were lucky enough to meet some very good people. ZigZag and Aislado came in and they had kids! Irena and Georg, Mia and Noah are on ZigZag and are from Germany. The kids are small. Mia is 3 and Noah is 10mths but the grown ups have been living on a boat for the last eight years and crossed the Atlantic for the first time 12 years ago on their first boat. Vaughn, Silvia and their five year old, Zara are from New Zealand and Bulgaria respectively and are heading back to New Zealand. They also have Yana,  a student taking a year out from her Theology degree at Heidelberg on board as crew.  We cemented friendship with perhaps a touch too much rum and made some sort of agreement to look at business opportunities together (yup – a very, very, good night!). In the meantime, I was able to offer some advice on Vaughn’s HF noise issue and he was able to help plumb in my AIS multiplexer. It nearly works – just need to get a small resistor into the circuit and the damn thing should fly. The help was greatly appreciated as those who know me will realise how much I dislike electronics! I think both boats are going to be going a little faster than us to NZ and we are going to have limited time with them but I am really looking forward to meeting up with them once we get down there.

It was really nice to be in kids’ company again and Irene got everyone in the bay ashore for a BBQ and marshmallows. The kids loved it and the older adults (this is Debbie from Kalliope with Noah) spoilt themselves having fun with the v smalls. Sadly we now are marshmallow-less. Next visitor to Skylark from Europe take note. There will be a request for resupply!

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Next best thing after marshmallows is making bread on sticks over the embers. Perhaps not quite the sugar rush the kids’ hope for but still very satisfying. Our thanks to ZigZag for showing us the trick.P1040065

We moved down the coast to Hanatefau Bay and the village in the bay 800m S, Hapatoni. The anchorage is small but has good holding on sand. Watch for coral heads, the mantas and white tips here. The snorkelling has an excellent reputation but it is deep.

The village has a good dock but it can be subject to swell. We put a stern anchor out to keep us off the wall. The locals are very friendly. It started with the kids playing by the dock, happy to chat, allowing the baby to kick the football and then offering us shelter as the torrential rain started. Just decent, happy, down to earth kids.

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We walked through the village and followed the very old walkway, built with huge stones with traditional raised housing platforms lining it, these days boasting modern housing. Every villager we went past had a smile and a welcome for us.  I wasn’t able to find out how old the village is but it must be considerable. Whilst we explored, it was strange to watch Eleanor and Hannah carrying out the duties of big kids for Mia and Zara. They both did well.

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We also found a selection of animals. Two pig pens allowed the smalls to coo and throw greenery at the animals.

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The Noah related baby carrying was becoming mercilessly competitive between H and E to the point that Dad stepped in and had some fun himself. You forget how small they were!

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When we came back down to the harbour to head back out to the boats, we met the small delivery boat bringing some supplies and shopping in to the village from Hiva Oa. There were a couple of sacks of baguettes and we asked if it was possible to buy a loaf per boat. The lady in charge with a big smile on her face, decided that with kids we needed at least two loafs each and no, the villagers wouldn’t accept payment. Thankfully she bent enough to take a small gift bag that Irene on ZigZag offered her to make us feel we were not freeloading. Just plain goodhearted, friendly and kind. For future visitors wanting to trade for fruit and veg with the bloke that lives on the edge of the anchorage, old ropes for the horses, kids’ shoes and batteries were what he was asking for. I believe the village also has a small craft stall which can be opened up for visitors but we didn’t find it.

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After a night’s discussion, we were invited to join ZigZag and Ailsado who were heading down to Fatu Hiva. Although it was a complete change of our plans, the breaking strain of a KitKat was applied and we accepted the kind offer. We headed out with less than perfect weather but with hopes that the wind would both ease and move a little into the N as forecast. Unfortunately neither happened. The W side of the island is in the lee of the spine of hills running down the island. The occasional break in these means small acceleration zones where from 0 to 30+kts is a matter of yards. Stay a mile offshore!

We cleared the S end of the island with 30+kts showing and a 40 mile beat into 2.5m waves in front of us. We quickly decided that we would turn back to Tahuata. The French Lagoon that went past us heading on a far nicer course to the Toamotus was bouncing. Vaughn on Aislado, his stately HR 46, three times our weight, long keeled and with a far better upwind capability decided to continue but still got a bit airborne as they passed us heading back in.

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They had an interesting sail and anchored in the dark at the Bay of Virgins. It took them four attempts so as much as I’d love to have had their company for more time, I don’t have any trouble in saying we made the right choice in chickening out. Rather than staying at the S end of the island, we headed back up to the sand of Hanamoenoa Bay to meet up with ZigZag who had also decided discretion was the better part of valour. It chucked it down and squalled for the rest of the day.

We made up with it with a visit to ZigZag for “kaffee unt kuchen” to celebrate Noah’s fourth tooth and then a return visit to us in the evening. Noah is the youngest visitor we have had and is on the verge of walking. We hoped he might achieve this milestone on the flat of Skylark but it wasn’t to be. He made up for it by being cute.

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Having decided to go back to our original plan of hanging around Tahuato until closer to Bastille Day and then going up to Hiva Oa, we said our goodbyes to ZigZag the next morning as they headed out for another go at reaching Fatu Hiva.

We made up with the disappointment of not going with them with the visit of three manta rays about 8-10’ across, feeding just behind us. Their slow grace was wonderful to watch as they summersaulted, corralling the plankton they were feeding on. We swam with them for half an hour and got some great video and photos.

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We lucked out with the arrival of another French boat, Toomai,  with two boys of 15 and 9, and spent another three days enjoying their company. We also had Sequoia, an Open 40 lookalike,  with Jean and Tiph on board. I asked Jean how quick Sequoia was and gulped when he said he had hit 25kts in her! The French boats spearfished and after clearing the fish with one of the local boats that went past the bay, ate the product. They did throw away at least two fish that the locals thought would be infected with ciguatera. I’d suggest that you make damn sure you do check with locals on anything you catch as it seems that the advice on what are safe fish varies bay to bay.

After school, the kids played, paddling their way around the bay from boat to boat, the adults circulating, enjoying each others company and  just watching the world revolve. Our thanks to Antoine for showing the girls how to make caramel popcorn with just brown sugar. Not sure if our pots will survive it but it tastes very good!

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We had one last night of brownies and coffee watching the sun go down before we all headed our separate ways before the weather broke. Toomai left for Fatu Hiva. Sequoia with Jean and Tiphaine headed N for Nuka Hiva and we headed for Hiva Oa. It was a good way to sign off on Tahuata. We left the bay empty, awaiting the next yachts looking for their own little bit of paradise.

I was unsure to the point of rudeness about Hanamoenoa Bay on our first time visiting the island. I was prejudiced due to the big swell we had which made it both a rolly anchorage and difficult to get on to the beach. I should like to make up for it now and say I can see why, all those years ago, the Hitchcocks enjoyed it so much. We saw its best on this visit and it was spectacular.

A great island for kicking back and enjoying the simple life.

Crossing “The Wine-Dark Sea”

We stayed at Ua Poa for just two days and have had a sad parting.

We had hoped for a few days more but the weather gods dictated that we cut this visit short. However, we manage to pack in a fair amount, not everything we had hoped for but enough to remind us why we liked this island so much. The bakery got hammered, we took Mia to the cross at the top of the hill and we even had a clear view of the Spires for a few minutes.

We managed to get up to the Catholic church which is highly recommended. The clever open wall design ensured the place is light and airy and the carvings inside are excellent. Hannah got a bit freaked out by the older ladies she met there but they all were super friendly! Serve her right for looking small and cute.

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Mia has been having real problems finding a flight at a reasonable price from the islands in the Tuamotus that we are hoping to visit and she wasn’t able to alter the ticket she had. There is also the issue that many of the flights are only once or twice weekly, so leaving her with an expensive layover in Tahiti. Tough life, I hear you say, but when you are on a travellers budget it is just that and choices must be made.

Starcharger, newly arrived at Ua Poa from Hiva Oa, is shortly leaving the Marquesas and after a couple of stops will arrive in Tahiti within a couple of days of when Mia has her ticket home. To that end, as we looked to make our way back E to Hiva Oa, she has jumped ship and joined Alastair and Gill. We loved having her on board for the short time we did but we are glad she will have a proper time in the Tuamotus before heading home to Denmark.

We have also promised to put the word out for her as she would like to join a yacht crossing the Atlantic this Nov/Dec. We give her a big thumbs up for her friendliness, competence and work ethic. So if anyone knows of someone doing the ARC and is looking for crew, I present you with a highly qualified ICU nurse (a great skill to have on board) with a skipper’s ticket, a diving instructor to boot and has a Pacific crossing doing solo watches under her belt. She has a great attitude and the kids loved having her around. Perhaps more importantly, so did Lou. Get anyone interested to drop us a line and we will put them in touch.

Mia made one last early morning run for bread with Hannah and then moved her kit across. Our thanks to Starcharger for taking Mia with them and for a great last night together. We look forward to seeing Alastair, Gill and Pickles again in New Zealand at the turn of the year.

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We wish Mia all the very best and hope we will get the chance to catch up with her further on down the road.

We had to jump East today. It is the first time in over a month that the islands have had a period of no wind and we couldn’t afford to miss it. We really want to visit Fatu Hiva before we leave the Marquesas. It is the furthest SE of all the islands in the group and can be unpleasantly difficult to get back to. According to the forecast (never an accurate beast but the best we have) the calm will last a maximum of 30hrs before the trades fill in again.

As soon as Mia had moved across, we left Ua Poa with another two boats all trying to claw back the easting they need to get to Hiva Oa and Fatu Hiva, normally a long 70 miles away upwind. Although we needed an engine on throughout the day as the most wind we saw was 3kts, I got no abuse for uphill sailing! The seas moderated to this extraordinary polished calm with a long swell of about 2m height.

I always thought Patrick O’Brian had simply used his imagination for his book title and the name I have adulterated for this blog. Not so. As the sun set we had a gorgeous lighting effect. Behind us, the sun set behind Ua Poa in a boil of colours and in front, well, I tried but the photo doesn’t do it justice. It was like looking through a glass of Beaujolais.  You can just make out Hiva Oa and Tahuata, about 40 miles away.

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I have no photos of the night sky but my memory will long remember the The Milky Way blazing from horizon to horizon, reflecting back off the sea, making it seems if we were travelling through some sort of starry tunnel. It was the clearest and most vivid night sky of our trip so far.

As the bay here is very dark and the moon will not be up until 0200hrs, I will be ashore tonight to try and recapture on film at least some of what we saw.

We arrived at Tahuata in darkness and decided to park up in Hanamoena Bay, an easy wide bay and safer than attempting the tight Atuano anchorage on Hiva Oa. I woke up this morning to look down at my anchor, clear as a bell in 35’ of water on white sand. We may decide to stay here a few days…….

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Nuka Hiva – The Isle of Bugs – Pt 3

In hope of clear water to swim in, we decide to move on up to Anaho Bay on the NE corner of the island. The weather gods lied to us. 12kts from the E-ESE was the forecast. We came out of the shelter of the bay to be met with 30kts which made it a bit interesting for a while. We ran W to the end of the island, frequently hitting double digits.

We turned N up the W side of the island and were quickly in the lee of the high hills which towered above us. With flat water and no breeze, the engine went on. Once we got to the NW corner and passed the airport, the wind was back in our face with a vengeance. We motor sailed the 10 miles  to Anaho Bay. Again, it got a bit bouncy and Lou got on to her normal hobby horse of downhill sailing…..

The views on the N side of the island were terrific. Steep green valleys with the occasional house tucked away in a bay.

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Anaho Bay is wonderfully sheltered, beautiful and is the most interesting anchorage we have seen since arriving in the Marquesas. Bay Hanamoenoa at Tahuata may have been Bahamas white sand but it was pretty sterile and it rolled. The snorkelling here is excellent with good coral and a huge range of reef fish. Being surrounded by beach helps even if, as Mia found out, the place is crawling with no-see-ums (locally known as no-nos). She woke this morning looking as if she has chicken pox. We finally saw some lobster and if we have time, will be going to see if we can acquire a few too.

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We have also been getting some rain which have been keeping the water buckets nicely topped off.

There is a walk across from Anaho Bay to Hatiheu, the village in the next bay W. It is a bit of a hack up the hill separating the valleys but it doesn’t take long and the view back down to Anaho is spectacular. Note the reef just behind the boats. Skylark is the yacht closest to the reef in the foreground. One comment on the  hill on the way up. Be prepared for the constant carpet of ants. Don’t stop, as they will be half way up your leg as soon as you do. And yes, they do bite although thankfully nothing as bad as fire ants. From the edge of the beach to the top of the hill, perhaps a mile away, you will be standing on them, millions of the buggers. There is no relief until you go over the top and start going down, at which point they all disappear. Weird.

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Hatiheu Bay is a rated as a good anchorage in its own right but has far more roll than Anaho and therefore is less used. The village was, accordingly to the guide books, a firm favourite of Robert Louis Stevenson when he visited the Marquesas but we saw nothing to mark this. It does have a great collection of tikis standing along the sea front, including the one below, standing guard on the church. These days the village boasts one of the best restaurants in the islands, Chez Yvonne. Sadly it was closed for Sunday. There is a small shop here too.

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It also has the largest archaeological site in the Marquesas. There is a very large festival plaza, a temple with a huge sacred banyan tree and a second festival site a little up the hill. We enjoyed wandering around and I was impressed with the scale of the place. It is far bigger than Tohua Koueva, the site on the other side of the island.

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For Pratchett fans –  Apparently the ancient Polynesian people knew that “The Turtle moves” too………

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We took the chance to collect some more fruit as we walked back down from the site. We found some banana, star fruit, bread fruit, cocoa and pomelo. Other than Lou having minor hysterics when she saw the large gecko on the banana stalk she was holding, it was an enjoyable and easy job! 

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There were more lovely flowers on show all the way back to the village and the smell on the walk was truly exotic. The whole place seems to be in a perpetual state of bloom.

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We picked up Mia back in the village who had chosen to pass on the history lesson, having visited the site before. Her pack hammock is a great idea and the kids enjoyed taking the weight of their feet before the hour plus trek back over the hill to the boat.

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We will move on in the morning, heading back to Ua Poa. I have enjoyed Nuka Hiva and the views are fantastic but having been without bugs since Panama, it has been unpleasant having to cover up and spray on the repellent again.  It is somewhere I would recommend but be prepared for bugs and lots of them. As long as you are, you will enjoy this beautiful island.

Lastly, a plea. Much as I love them all, I am now even more outnumbered.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed by girls hair (all still moulting it seems – when does it stop?), endless gossip, deadly serious tips on yogurt making, discussions on girly chick-flicks and how much they each cried, hormones and the rest. I would be grateful for male company at some point. Any takers? PS bring whisky……

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Nuka Hiva–The Isle of Bugs– Pt 2

We  moved around to Hakatea Bay (aka Daniel’s Bay), about 5miles W of Taiohae. We chose an hour of squalls and bumpy seas to move between bays. It is an extraordinary entrance with 800’ cliffs running N-S as you enter. You feel as if you are driving into the cliff, before turning hard right at the last second through the narrow entrance into the shelter of the bay. 

The bay is in two parts. The western finger has a river running in to it and is very brown due to the runoff with all the rain we are having.  We anchored in the eastern arm in 30’ of flat water and then had fun with the paddleboard and kayak. I’m on 4 days no salt water because of the new tattoo so got photo duties. Try doing handstands on a moving paddle board in the surf. Well done, Eleanor!

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We did get some visitors too. Baby Manta Rays – about 5-6’ across feed in the bay. We decided to stay in the kayak to photo them after Mia noticed a large Black tip Shark just underneath her. With all the earth rolling down into the bay after more torrential rain last night, visibility isn’t good, about 3m, so it got pretty close. The sharks are in to breed and there are plenty of their prodigy around. We even caught one on the rod which we quickly released. We know from another boat there are Hammerheads in too but we haven’t seen them yet.

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The main reason for visiting Daniel’s Bay is the walk up the valley, following the river to the high waterfall. The walk is an easy one, a bit muddy at times, but I’d suggest you wear long sleeves and trousers as there are plenty of bugs along the route. You will be wading as well so make sure your shoes are waterproof too. It takes about 6 hours there and back.

The first part of the walk goes through the local’s back gardens and fruit trees. So bountiful. You can ask the locals here for fruit and they will arrange basket loads. You get a huge amount for not a lot. We were also  surprised to find a solar powered telephone box in the midst of paradise!

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Hannah was happy. She found a chilli bush. A new collection of birds eye type chillis for the pot.

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And we found the odd tiki as well. All along the bottom of the valley you will find remains of traditional houses with their house tiki standing as guardian.

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As we broke into a small clearing from the near continual canopy, we got our first view of the waterfall. It is the highest waterfall in French Polynesia and falls a little over 1000’. We could hear it rumbling from a couple of miles away.

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Once we got close to the falls, we had the river to deal with. Lou, of course, tried to fall in but recovered for the photo shoot opportunity. Watch out for the fresh water eels as you cross and recross the river as you get near to the foot of the waterfall. The eel we saw was more than 5’ long!

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Mia and I decided to brave the “instantaneous death” from falling rocks threatened by Terry, an emotive soul, bless him, and one of the tour guides we had met on route,  if we tried to get up to the pool at the bottom of the waterfall.  It was worth the extra 200m. The number of craters made by falling rocks a little worrying but we kept a good look out and didn’t stay long.

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Having taken our time and enjoyed the views on the way up, the walk back down was done at a fair pace to ensure we didn’t end up in grey/green territory. The evening sunshine, the few times we did break out of the canopy, gave us some wonderful light effects.

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