THE ANCHOR COMES OFF THE BOTTOM FINALLY

Oh, it is hard to leave a lovely anchorage, but there is always something new to see around the corner. We finally defeated INERTIA and lifted the anchor out of the sandy bottom of Anaho Bay in search of Nuku Hiva’s west coast. The sail down the islands north coast was idyllic. Gentle trades with the swell running behind us. The dramatic high mountains of the coast as back ground. We sailed on by the islands airport and tucked into an tiny cove on the north west point, Haahopu Bay.

WHY STOP THERE?

Before the construction of the road, the only way to get to the airport on the north coast of this island was by boat. Haahopu Bay was a busy port for travelers and workers alike. But now the wharf and all its amenities have fallen in disrepair. The bay a silent, but beautifully sheltered, little anchorage. Coming here is still fun!

COOL BEACH

This little cove, on the northern tip of the island’s west coast, is really very small. If you plan to anchor here do not bring more than one other mate. But you will be rewarded with a very sheltered anchorage and a great white sandy beach. The rocky points either side of the cove block any swell from entering so the waters inside are perfectly calm. The high mountain ranges of the islands interior steal all the moisture from the predominate easterly trade winds making the west coast very arid. But this does mean there is no rain water run off and therefore crystal clear waters. We could not only see our anchor and chain clearly in 8m of water, but the sting rays below hunting in the sand for food.

LOTS OF FUN

Do not get me wrong. This is a tiny cove in an arid part of the island. But there are some fun things to get up to. The locals and fisherman obviously agree with me. There are several camps set up on the beach area with tables, fire pits and even grills. I assume the beach is a happening place on the weekends. The poor old wharf is looking ‘worst for wear’ but it is also a grave yard for old JCBs, so have a little fun climbing about in them. The surf is light here, so it is also a great swimming beach. We did not get out snorkeling, but I am sure the rocky points would be lots of fun.

NOT STAYING LONG

We have ‘dragged our heels’ for much too long, so we are not staying more than an evening. But we had heard from Kevin (Yacht Services Nuku Hiva) there is another lovely anchorage on this west coast. Onward James!

END

WE HAVE NOT MOVED?

I can not believe that 4 weeks has snuck by since we arrived in Anaho Bay. And yes, we have not moved.
It must be a beautiful spot! Yes it is, but it is also a great calm anchorage to get lots of work done on the boat. But, with most of these completed, we are finally free to get cruising again. Hooray! This cruising stuff seems to be more ‘fixing your boat in exotic locations’ than any of that actual ‘touristy’ stuff.

If the humans are willing to put in the man hours fixing this old tub, who am I to argue! I got a great beach here.

YOU LEARN SOMETHING EVERY DAY

It was the weekend. Many of the locals have ‘additional’ family members with holiday homes here. They come over from the main village on the island where they work or go to school, and enjoy the weekends and holidays here for a break. My ‘language challenged’ British owners were lucky enough to meet one lovely lady today that spoke very good English. She was finally able to answer a few of their burning questions. And what did they want to know? The meaning of life? NO. What they asked was the educate for picking fruit, and where are all the cowrie shells? Oh my simple minded humans!

WHO OWNS THE FRUIT?

Maria explained that there is a law in the Marquesas that no one can own the water, beaches or the land 50 ft from shore. The government has designated these lands as PUBLIC to give freedom of access to all Marquesans. This land may be public, but if the soil is good, the Marquesans often plant fruit trees and flowers. Since these are on public land they accept people may pick a few as they pass by. Mango and lime trees are always over producing, so no one minds if these fruits are picked, within reason. Fruits on private land, such as grapefruit, pineapple, bananas, breadfruit, soursoap ect., you should ask permission to pick from, but most property owners are happy to share.

PUBLIC ‘PARK’ IN ANAHO BAY

Speaking of public land, Maria also informed us that the stretch of land, in front of the anchorage, is a designated public park. It was set aside, and maintenance is funded, by the government for visitors to the bay to enjoy. They have built public toilets, showers and cleared all the ‘brush’ back to make a lovely shaded grass area. They have also planted lots of fruiting and flowering trees to add to the beauty.

COWRIE SHELLS

The humans have been finding smashed cowrie shells on the beach. No whole ones and no live ones when they are snorkeling. They asked Maria where they were all coming from. ‘They are nocturnal’ she announced and ‘loved by the octopus in the bay’. If the humans wanted to see them, they would have to venture out onto the reef at low tide with flash lights at night. She insisted they would find a reef alive with shell fish and mollusks. Now to keep the humans awake after cruisers midnight!

THE WEATHER GODS

There is only one other thing that would get in the way of us getting cruising again, and that is the weather. After 4 weeks of gentle winds and sunny days you just forget that unsettled weather exists. So, of course, the humans were surprised when rain clouds and stronger winds came storming in. Who called for this? Oh, well, it is just a passing front. Nothing much to slow us down.

ONE LAST THING ABOUT MANGOES

The humans find it funny that I would rather eat mangoes, bananas or breadfruit over my dog food. If you ate the same thing every day, you might feel the same. The humans have felt a little like ‘Robinson Crusoe’ going out into the forest and collecting the never ending supply of ripe mangoes falling from the trees here. It certainly has gone a long way to stretching out that last bag of dog food I have from Panama. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. The next group of islands we are headed to, the Tuamotu Atolls, are only a few inches above sea level and have no soil. Some how I doubt a mango ‘topper’ will come with every bowl of dog food when we get there.

NEW ADVENTURES AROUND THE CORNER, YOU JUST HAVE TO LOOK THERE

END

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY

Even anchored in the beautiful bay of Anaho can be a drag if it is all work and no play. But I need not have worried about my humans, as they are very good at avoiding work….or at least taking lots of breaks. The arrival of Manta Rays is their number one excuse to drop everything and head into the water for a better look. In fact the beautiful reef here is enough of an excuse to take regular snorkel breaks.

WHO NEEDS AN EXCUSE?

Now they have found another excuse to ‘skive’ off of work. They want to get some fresh vegetables from the local farm. The humans were told there was a farm a short hike away where they could easily acquire fresh vegetables. Considering the amazing selection available in the main harbour, they had high expectations. Perhaps a little too high?

GETTING TO THE FARM

The farm is in the next valley over to the east. Thankfully there is only a small hill separating these two valleys. A few of the people who live in Anaho Bay work on the farm, so there is a well worn horse trail from the anchorage area on the farthest side. My humans were too lazy to follow this trail, sighting that they would be over burdened with their newly purchased fresh produce. They kayaked across the bay and landed on the beach right where it crosses over the hill instead.

THE FARM?

I do not know what the humans expected, but a farm here in the tropics is just a little different. The farm turned out to be no more than a small clearing in the trees. A shaded horse corral in the middle. Fruit trees around the perimeter. Plastic had been stretched over the ground in areas and the cultivated plants grew out of holes in this. Good way to cut back on weeding.

Most of the ‘plastic covered’ areas seemed to be left fallow. Crop rotation? On one of the newly covered areas the humans met the wife of the farm owner doing some planting. She was nice enough to inform them all she had, at the moment, was tomatoes, cucumber and aubergines (egg plant). The humans waited for her to finish by the horse corral. It gave them a chance to admire the beautifully crafted Marquesan horse saddles. They make their saddles out of wood here. Not exactly the softest of seats, but they are cleverly simple and many carved with designs.

They were taken round to the different corners of the garden to pick their own choices of sun rippened tomatoes, and a couple more veggies including the local kind of bean. They also took home a big papaya that was still green. The lovely farmers wife said she would have lots more available in a few days time. Did they want a whole bag of oranges and/or pamplemouse? So the humans get to skip off work again to pick up some more supplies in a few days.

Like the humans need an excuse to get out of work. We are never going to get out of here. Oh well, at least it is an amazingly beautiful place to get stuck.

END

18. September 2018 · Comments Off on Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia – The hike from Anaho Bay to Hatiheu · Categories: Uncategorized

As you can tell from the title of the blog, my humans did another one of their ‘Lets see what is over there’ that turned into a major hike. No great distances this time, but a pretty steep accent. But, I get ahead of myself. Let us start from the beginning.

FINDING THE TRAIL TO THE VILLAGE OF HATIHEU

We had just arrived in Anaho Bay and, in true ‘avoiding work’ fashion, the humans decided they should do a little sight seeing before they got stuck into boat jobs. Another cruiser told them that if they needed any basic supplies or internet they only had to hike over to the village in the next bay. Sounds easy enough right? Kevin, who runs Nuku Hiva Yachting Services in Taiohae, also told the humans that the little restaurant near the shop made the best breadfruit fritters. I need not remind any of you that one of my humans just loves anything made with breadfruit. So the humans were off on another one of their great adventures.

They packed a bag with plenty of water, bug spray, sun protection, some money (for the fritters or course) and they were off. They really had not been ashore yet, so that was the first place to investigate. There were a couple of small homes to the right. The humans did not want to invade their privacy without invitation, but there appeared to be a public area ashore just in front of the main channel through the reef. They found a portable water faucet and a shower block with public toilets. Very nice! Stuck to this block was a big notice in French and English stating that cases of CIGRATURA POISONING had occurred in both Anaho and Hatiheu Bay and to avoid eating any reef fish here.

The cruising guide stated that the route to the village of Hatiheu was a ‘clearly marked track’. But where this track started was any ones guess. The humans choose left. They followed a trail through green well kept gardens in the shade of coconut trees. The bushes either side the usual Marquesan mixture of ornamental, scented and fruiting. The ground below littered with over ripe limes and paupamouse. They passed a very nice group of fenced in buildings with lovely shaded entertaining spaces. Then more gardens, this time with horses, the small Marquesan breed, tethered to a line and grazing in the shade of the palm trees. At the end of this they found a dry gravel river bed and a muddy trail heading up beside it. ‘This must be it’.

UP, UP AND UP

Now the humans had assumed that the trail to Hatiheu must go up and over one of the lower hills in the northern end of the valley here. But no. The trail goes straight up and over a small break in the spine of the much higher ridge at the back of the valley. What starts out as an easy enough climb through the rich tropical forest becomes a much steeper accent. Or so the ‘overly’ dramatic humans would have me believe. They did admit that most of it was well shaded and there were lots of spots with great views. Pictures coming when we next get internet. But hiking in the Marquesas is always an adventure and there is always fresh fruit to eat along the way. On this hike the trail was littered with copious amounts of ripe mangoes.

MANGOES, MANGOES, MANGOES

Mangoes seem to be in season all year round here in the Marquesas. Just when one tree finishes fruiting the tree beside it starts. Every village you go to you can smell the fruit before you even see them. You would think with this much fruit the ground would be littered, but not the Marquesas. It seems everything eats mangoes. The locals pick up the unbroken fruit and indulge in a little break in the shade of a tree. If the fruit breaks open on impact, the local chickens are on it. I am told Marquesan ‘mango fed’ chicken are very sweet and delicious. I have even seen the local dogs working hard to peel the skin and eat the tender flesh inside. I personally like it. What the domestic animals miss during the day the local wildlife take care of by night. It is usually only the left over pips that have to be regularly swept off the streets. With the long term cultivation of these two bays, it is no surprise that the trail between them should be so full of fruiting trees.

GREAT VIEW

The top of the ridge is open and you get a great view over the entire bay of Anaho. From this height you can really see the shallow reef that rings the bay and even onto the next sandy bay east. But you can not see the bay of Hatiheu to the west. You have to climb down the other side of the ridge if you want to see this bay. And that is what the humans did. They had not realized until now how cut off the people living in Anaho were. To get anything in they would either have to drag it up and over this ridge or by sea. That seemed to explain the horse they had seen grazing back in the gardens. And what about tourists that wanted to visit the bay? Just as the humans thought this, along came a guide and two tourists on horse back acceding the trail. ‘That is how they get them in’. I could not see most ‘tourist types’ acceding that trail just to look at a pretty beach? And my silly humans were going the wrong way!

THE VILLAGE OF HATIHEU

For such a scenic valley, it is a shame you do not get to see any views of it until you hit the bottom. And the silly humans have to reverse that to get home! The first thing you notice about this valley is the stark pinnacles of basalic rock on the western ridge. A white statue of Mary has been hoisted 300m to the top of one of them. It has a big black beach backed by palm trees, shaded benches and lovely flower gardens. Marquesans always keep their villages so pretty and clean. There are some cool tiki, a lovely church a scenic cemetery, post office and town hall. It was lunch time so the humans made a bee line for the restaurant. They could smell the aroma of cooking food, but it appeared not to be open. It looked very nice and clean with table cloths and even a menu board written in ENGLISH. They seemed to have a good selection from mixed seafood to goat, no breadfruit fritters, and prices starting at $20 a plate and up. The humans decided the owners might not be to happy to open just for a plate of fritter that were not even on the menu. The store next door did not have much for sale. Definitely nothing that could equate a lunch. Thankfully they found a group of ladies selling baked goods and pizza slices outside the town hall. This fortified them for the accent back out of the valley.

ILLUSIVE WILD LIFE

Now the Marquesan island are not really known for their wild life. They are ‘fairly’ young volcanic islands and most of the indigenous wildlife did not survive the migration of the Polynesian people. Coming to the islands the Polynesian brought with them all the plants and animals they needed to survive. Cultivation, over grazing, dogs, cats and stow away rats have all forced much of the original island species to extinction. But there are a few ‘endangered’ examples still remaining. One of the humans had read there was a rare green indigenous to the Marquesas islands. On the accent back up one of the humans mentioned they should be looking out for it. When they got to the top and took a break to enjoy the view, guess who paid them a visit. You got it. A bright green small parrot like bird. ‘It’s the endangered lorkeet!’ Of course the human that had read all about the bird missed it. But 5 minutes later another flew overhead. Then two more came fluttering by. Then three more. Now that is a coincident or what?

So there you go. I managed hopefully to entertain you again with one of the humans silly adventures. At least they did not get lost this time. Send the photo later when we get some internet.

END

16. September 2018 · Comments Off on Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia – What is all the hype? · Categories: Uncategorized

I think the best place to start is to tell you a bit about the bay we are headed for.

A BIT ABOUT ANAHO BAY

Anaho Bay is located on the north coast of Nuku Hiva. It is a popular destination on the island. Here is a quote directly from a tourist pamphlet “Anaho is one of Polynesia’s most beautiful bays. Every traveller will start dreaming of a never ending holiday here, once discovering the white sandy beaches and coconut trees surrounded by imposing mountains.” Sounds nice right? Well Anoho Bay holds extra appeal for cruisers. The cruising guides tell you it is one of the only bays in the Marquesas where you can escape the ever present swell. So for many cruisers it is the one bay they really want to visit.

BUT CAN YOU BELIEVE THE HYPE?

We have learned that the ‘cruising guides’ are not always right. Some anchorages that are supposed to be bad, have turned out to be great…if you find a good sandy spot for your anchor. Anchorages that are supposed to be deserted beaches have now been developed. Things change. So where can you get more information. Well other cruisers that have been there of course.

TAKE IT WITH A GRAIN OF SALT

When you get advice from cruisers it is always best to remember that it is all based on their perspective. It was not surprising that the humans encountered a ‘mix bag’ of responses when asking about Anaho Bay. Of the four recent visitors to the bay the humans spoke to, 1 said it was great, 2 said it was nice and 1 said it was not worth the effort to get there. One of the visiting vessels that said it was nice ‘accidental’ spent 3 weeks amusing themselves here. Another spent the cyclone season there. But it makes you wonder when one cruising couple say there is nothing special about the place. And to top it off, they all agreed it can be an awful sail up the exposed east coast to get there. Was it worth it?

GETTING THERE

Of course the horror stories of rough trips up to the bay and back, from other cruisers, got my human’s knees all wobbly. But they were determined to see for themselves. The winds and seas batter the east coast of the island, so the humans were looking for a weather window that listed the wave heights to be lower. The first available window was coming tomorrow. If they did not take this window they would have to battle the seas or wait another week for another window.

I heard them toss and turn through the night. Worriers as they are. These guys are supposed to be toughen sailors that have crossed two oceans. Is it not silly how a 17nm, couple of hours, up the east coast of an island can put the fear into them. Silly humans. They had me up with first light strapping everything that could move down, and we were off. We came out of the protection of Controleur Bay in the south and headed round the eastern point to face the wind and swell sweeping across the Pacific.

Thankfully the humans timed it right FOR ONCE. The seas were large, but not breaking and we were basically a dry boat for a change. All their silly fears washed away as the morning light illuminated the high dramatic cliffs of this coast line. The seas breaking at their base. A group of spinner dolphins joined us. My barking or their squeaks and chirps of joy drew even more dolphins in. Soon the boat and seas around us were full. Then something much darker and larger joined the foray, coming right up to the side of the boat. A small whale? The humans grabbed the id books and he was identified as a pygmy false killer whale. A rare visitor to vessels as they are usually too shy. We could see his pod holding off, a short distance away, while this adventurous one investigated what all the fuss was about.

I barked myself horse and the humans took some video for you guys. We will try to get it posted here, with all the photos, when we get some internet again. They followed us in waves all the way up the coast finally putting on a great display from which their name sake comes from. It was incredible how high they could get, in their spinning twists, before crashing back to sea in delight.

The winds were forecast to be from the east, and although we had the seas on the beam (side of the boat), the wind was much more on the forward quarter because of the ‘land effect’ curving it. But it really was not as bad as the humans ‘psyched’ themselves up for and quite pleasant once we turned north and headed round for Anaho Bay.

ARRIVING AT THE ANAHO BAY

Quite the dramatic bay to come into. Big and open with a beach running all the way round the perimeter. The coastline starts out gently sloped, ringed by coconut trees but it is all backed by dramatic undulating mountain peaks. It is obvious this bay is the centre of a volcanic crater. It looks just like the postcards you imagine from the Pacific islands. The humans had planned for us to arrive around noon so we would have the sunlight overhead to pick out the reef that rings the shore line and help them find a sandy spot for the anchor. They were told the best protected anchoring was found behind a small rocky point in the southwestern corner of the bay. As they came around they expected to find a mirade of other vessels already moored there. But no, not a soul. Just a group of manta ray feeding off the surface waters. A good omen.

The humans found a sandy spot right off a cut in the reef to get ashore. 8 49.320S 140 03.873W in 12m. They did try a little shallower and closer to the reef, but the sand was too shallow for their comfort in a lee shore. If you punch this into google earth you might be able to zoom into where we are, and see the bay yourself. There were still quite a few chunks of coral at 13m deep, so the humans hooked fenders along the chain length to keep it from snagging up as the boat turned. They are trying to perfect the technique for the coming anchorages in the Tuamotu Atolls.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Well we just got here and have not seen much. It is picture postcard pretty. A few more homes ashore that we expected. We can see small Marquesan horses tides up grazing in the shade of palm trees amoung flowering and fruiting bushes. Copra drying platforms and outrigger canoes tied up near shore in the deeper reef cuts. It was low tide and very little water over the reef that lines the shore. The silly humans thought they could get ashore in their kayaks with out using the main channels. They quickly got themselves into water too shallow to float. In their fight to find channels through they scared fish trying to hide in the shrinking water and the baby rays and sharks that had come to feed on them. But we finally got ashore to enjoy a lovely white beach. A rarity on these volcanic islands. Most of the beaches are black sand.

As we were leaving they had a look over the side at the reef. It drops off quickly on the open water side forming undulating fringes and canals all lined with the most coral we have seen yet in the Marquesas. I know the humans are looking forward to snorkeling that. There should be lots of fish life too. The reef fish of both Anaho, and it’s neighbour Haitheu Bay, are supposed to be effected by cigratura. A poisoning if eaten can make both dogs and humans very sick. There are clear signs in French and English posted ashore. We met a lovely family in Taiohae that were still recovering after ignoring the warnings and eating a parrot fish they caught spear fishing here. Not good for humans that want to eat the fish here, but great for people that appreciate visiting fish on the reef rather than on the plate.

And yes,the anchorage is well protected from the swell and the boat has finally stopped rolling.

SO WHAT NEXT?

Well, as always, there are a few boat jobs to do. Now we have stopped rolling maybe the humans will finally get that anchor light fixed on the very top of the mast. A few things did not get done before we left Panama, a few things need some TLC and general maintenance and we still have not fixed all the deck leaks we discovered in the Pacific crossing. If this turns out to be a nice anchorage we may take the time to get them sorted. Maybe some boat jobs in the morning and some snorkeling in the afternoon. There is enough reef here to amuse the humans for a while. There is a portable water tap ashore. We were told you could hike to the next bay where a village store stocks most basics. Also that there is a farm the opposite direction where you can buy fruit and veggies.

But before the humans get pinned down with boat jobs they want to do a little ‘sight seeing’. Stay tuned for one of their usual ‘miss’ adventures!

END

15. September 2018 · Comments Off on Hooumi Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia – Beautiful rich valleys · Categories: French Polynesia

TIME TO LEAVE TAIOHAE BAY

You really need to time your visit to Taiohae Bay or use a stern anchor. This wonderfully well recessed open bay just funnels any swell from the south right in. I told the humans I was sick of being left on a rolly boat while they got to go sight seeing. Time to go somewhere with a beach.

Taiohae Bay

CIRCLING THE ISLAND OF NUKU HIVA

There are fantastic anchorages all around Nuku Hiva’s shores. For many cruisers, especially those on a tight time line, this is the one island they spend a bit of time at in the Marquesas. Now our dingy engine is repaired, the humans are anxious to get to the great diving in the Tuamotu Atolls. But I have convinced them that rushing away before sampling a bit of this island would be a great shame. With the dominate Easterly winds it will be hard to get back here again once we leave. I also have an ulterior motive. Most of the anchorages on this island have great beaches! Most of the cruising guides recommend that you circle round the island counter clockwise.

THE NEXT BAY

The next bay counter clockwise from Taiohae Bay is Controleur Bay. It is a great big bay, on the southeastern end of the island, protected from the easterly winds by a high long finger of rock that extends out from the most southeasterly point of the island. This big bay ends in three little bays each with their own name. All of them have a beach, but the most easterly bay, Hooumi Bay, was recommended as the most calm. As everyone on Spirit of Argo was sick of the roll of Taiohae Bay, it seemed like the first place to stop.

THE TRIP

Hooumi Bay is only 7nm from Taiohae Bay. Unfortunately it is due east, so you will have the wind and waves of the Pacific Ocean on the nose. But I do see why they recommend you circle the island counter clockwise. We found once we were past the eastern point of Taiohae Bay we were quickly in the protection of Cap Tikapo, the outcrop that protects Controleur Bay. My humans did not even bother to raise the sail for the short trip. Instead they hugged the shoreline to get as much protection as possible from Cap Tikapo and the trip was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

HOOUMI BAY

Is really pretty and really tiny. High rocky hills either side with a black beach at the end. Luckily for everyone aboard it is very protected from the swell, but a sea breeze still gets in keeping it cool. The valley here is very wide and very lush. It has a long meandering river running through the centre. I assume it is so lush because this end of the island gets more rain. There is only a small clutch of homes here but they have set up a nice palapa on the beach, a BBQ area, water faucets, public toilets and shower. You are not going to believe it, but a complete recycling and rubbish deposit area too. Welcome to the village of Hooumi.

Small outdoor chapel in the village

LETS GO FOR A WALK

The humans decided to go for a little walk to explore up the valley. ‘Should we bring lunch?’ one of the humans asked. ‘No, we won’t go far’. Well you can guess what happened. Their walk started out simply. They admired the lovely gardens of the homes. Noted the abundance of fruiting and flowering trees. Introduced themselves to a few locals, with their very bad French, and had some simple chats. Before the humans knew it they had walked to the top of the hill and were looking down on the next bay over, Hakahaa Bay. ‘Should we check it out?’ one of the humans said. ‘Why not.’ And they ended up walking all the way to the next village along, Taipivai.

Now I will say, in their defense, the hill that separates the two bays is not that big or that steep. The road is also well paved and lined with pretty homes. But once you are over that hill, it is a long walk along the next bay until you get to the village. The bay of Hakahaa is very wide, but very shallow at it’s apex, so boats can not anchor too close to shore. A wide river runs down to the beach and you follow this to get to the village centre. This consists of a school, church, a few shops, post office and an archeological site. The school, so cute. A big porch extends out from the class room to give extra shade and protection from the rain. Outside on hooks, all in a neat line outside, is all the kids back packs. The church is quite large. It has a traditional sort of front, but the sides are all open, with an overhanging roof, to allow the air to flow through. We had read about the woodwork inside the church, but it was truly impressive. Beautiful large and intricate sculptures made from solid tree trunks. An impressive pulpit and a carved stone bath for baptisms.

By now it was almost lunch. ‘Lets see what they have in the shops’ the humans figured they could get a bag of crisps to keep them going. But guess what? A whole display case of pastries to choose from. They picked two the biggest ones, with their bad French they thought were potatoe, but turned out to be apple. Oh well, they were lovely and topped up the fuel tanks. Pleasantly refreshed they walked a little further into town and stumbled on a massive archeological site. Several restored religious and sacrificial platforms, structures and lots of tiki. Even a gift shop selling carvings and jewelry. A pretty nice selection and the prices were not that bad. But we have no room on Spirit of Argo for wood and bone carvings.

OK, it is now high noon, the hottest part of the day, and the humans have a couple of hours still to hike their way home. The first half of that is going to be up hill. What did they do? Well they popped back to the football (soccer) field and picked a few breadfruit from the trees there. And then proceeded to try and hitch hike back. Hooumi is a pretty tiny place, so what do you think their chances were. The lucky devils got a lift. A lovely older gentleman that dropped them right back to their kayaks. Lucky bast*%$s!

 

SO WHAT NEXT?

The humans have visited Hakahaa Bay already, so no need to move over there. There is supposed to be a waterfall hike from the other bay, Anse Hakapaa, but we heard you need A LOT of bug spray and the bay is open to the swell. The other option is we sail up the east coast to the first of the northerly anchorages Anaho Bay. We heard the sail up there is not pleasant from other cruisers, so we will have to check the weather forecast. But the anchorage is supposed to be worth it. It is well protected from the swell, clear water for snorkeling and have the best beach in all of French Polynesia.

We will keep you informed and add pictures when we can get internet again. Isn’t it cool I can send you this now through a radio.
FOR OTHER CRUISERS

In Hooumi Bay we dropped anchor in the middle of the bay at 8 53.634S 140 01.528W in sand at 8m. The bay is very protected from the swell and there is little or no surf on the beach. This makes it very easy to land your dingy in front of the palapa area. Avoid the west end of the beach, where the river comes out. Very shallow and lots of rocks washed down into this area waiting to eat your outboard prop.

In Hakahaa Bay the river is quite large and runs right through the village. They even have a village concrete dock to tie your dingy too. At low tide the river exit is too shallow to traverse so time your visit, or drag it over the shallows with the engine up.

END

We are still in the eastern group of islands in French Polynesia called the Marquesas.

We left our lovely little island of Tahuata to visit the other islands further north.  We heard that very few cruising boats stop into the island of Ua Huka, so we thought we would head there first.

THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN

The humans were a little worried about the south facing anchorages on Ua Huka.  They would be open to any swell from that direction.

But they had heard that the island had one of the best museums and an amazing botanical garden where the humans could learn the names of the local plants and many of the rare indigenous birds.  The island is also supposed to have the best bone carvers.

We sailed north through the night and arrived at the imposing South coast at first light.

We first visited the most southeasterly bay of D’Hane.  This is a big open bay with a beach and village.  Unfortunately a big swell was rolling straight into the bay making anchoring difficult.  We had to move on to plan B – Head west to the deeper, more protected bay of Vaipaee.

Vaipayee Bay turned out to be worse.  The narrow canon walls of the bay funnelled and amplified the waves making all the boats dance erratically on their moorings.

Plan C – Try the uncharted bays we had been given the anchoring way points for from Anouther cruiser OR sail to the next island of Nuku Hiva.  The humans decided to use the fair winds and weather to sail to Nuku Hiva.  Bye bye Ua Huka.

NUKA HIVA HERE WE COME!

The humans had ordered some replacement parts for the broken outboard through Yachting Services based in Taiohae Bay.  It seemed logical to head there first.

Taiohae Bay is the administration centre of the Marquesas.  This is a big open bay located on the south coast.

The entrance of the bay has no obstructions and there is plenty of room to anchor.  We arrived in good day light, but we can see why may boats make Taiohae Bay their first port of call and check in point for French Polynesia.  You could easily and safely make port even at night.

The bay is still open to the southern swell.  So if you do not want to ‘roll like pig’, as we did when ever the wind died, anchor closer to shore in shallower water and throw out a stern anchor to keep your boats nose into the waves.  If you do not mind the swell, the town here is lovely and has almost everything you need.

There is a fisherman’s wharf you can tie your dingy (or land your kayaks in our case) protected from the worst of the swell.  You can buy fish in the mornings or carry on a short distance to a big fruit and veggy market.

Beside the market is a big crafts blizzar and a tourist office where they speak English.  How touristy is that?  But you have to remember, this is the BIGGEST island in the Maquesas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you just have to enjoy being a bit of a tourist while you are here.

Although Taiohae Bay is great for stocking up, the main reason we stopped here was to fix the outboard.  The poor old thing needed an new electrical part.  The humans read in a guide that Yacht Services in Nuku Hiva had helped cruisers get parts into the country.  With a broken outboard and no internet they were Saints.  The humans contacted Yacht Sevices (by SSB radio) and the owner Kevin sourced, ordered, arranged delivery and even paid for the part on the humans behalf so it would get into the country and be there when they arrived.

Thankfully the part was just what they needed and the humans had their trusty supplies carrier working again!  Well done to my human mechanics!

With that out of the way, and maybe some laundry and supply runs thrown in, the humans could finally be TOURISTS.

 

THINGS TO DO IN TAIOHAE BAY

Besides the usual tourist shops, there are lots of other ammenities that come with a larger town.  Restaurants, cafes, bakery, hair dressers, dentist, pharmacy and hospital.

Seeing a doctor is economical ($25.16).  Antibiotics also cheap ($11/week).  The humans know this as one of them had some bad dental surgery in Panama and it became infected upon arriving in French Polynesia.  Unfortunately you will not find any dental surgery specialists until Tahiti.  The humans thought it best to stock up on antibiotic, just in case, until we get there.

 

MUSEUM

There is this really grovey grandmother named Rose who lives on the far west end of the bay.  She came to these islands, with her husband, by sailboat to study Maquesan art.  They fell in love with Nuku Hiva and decided to move here.

Her story of starting the first hotel, restaurant and finally the museum is very entertaining.  Worth the walk around the bay to meet her and hear her stories.

 

WALK TO THE NEXT BAY

If you have already walked to the west end of the bay you might as well take the hike over the ridge to the beach in the next bay.  You follow the road up from the museum.  The humans had to give it a miss this time, but Rose assured them it was about 30 minutes.

 

 

 

CHIEFS HOUSE

If you walked to the museum you must stop and appreciate the preserved sight of the last Taiohae chiefs house before the French took over the islands.  It is full of teki new and old.  More of these at the end of the blog.

WATER FALL HIKE

If you follow the road from the chiefs house up the river you will eventually find some small waterfalls.

GET A TATTOO

 

The art of Tattooing has had a resurgence in the Marquesas along with many other cultural traditions that were once supressed.  Many cruisers find the local designs and symbolism as enchanting as the people here.    There is a highly recommended artist in town that has helped many a cruiser join the tradition of “getting ink”.

 

GETTING YOUR FIX OF INTERNET

Anyone hurting for some fast internet to download images and video.  Taiohae has you covered.

TIKI HUNTING

If you like teki and the images they portray,  you will get your fill in Taiohae Bay.

The giant hill top tIki that guards Taiohae Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

In the centre of town is quite the impressive church with wonderful wood carvings that combine both Marquesan and religous symbolism.

The cross marking the road up to the church has a funny story behind it.   It used to be a stone carving of a giant penis.  Church officials did not believe it was the most appropriate marker for their church and had the ‘tip’ of the ‘offending member’s lopped off and a cross affixed to the top instead.

So our them of ‘cocks’ continues as we travel through the Marquesas.

 

FINALLY

The silly humans have gone and messed up again!  They did not follow their mate Russell’s advice and fill their water tanks with rum.  They have discovered that the French have heavily taxed alcohol on these islands.

In there search for an economical SUNDOWNER the humans thought they would try boxed wine.  A box containing 4 bottles of red wine for $25 sounded very reasonable by French Polynesian standards.  So they bought a box to give it a try.  They neglected to read the details on the box.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

The wine turned out to taste like alcoholic ribeana.  Checking the box,  it was described as fruitas.  Serves them right for being tight.  Although they now admit, after consuming half the box, the flavour does grow on you???

Silly humans!

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30. August 2018 · Comments Off on Tattoo – Maquesas, French Polynesia · Categories: French Polynesia

The Marquesas have a long history of tattooing. It played a significant role in their soceity. Both men and women were tattooed. It was done to confer status or mark special events in life. Men were extensivley tattoed using a traditional process. A tattoo comb made of bone attached to a club was hammered into the skin. It was a long ardous and dangerous process that often involved in death through infection.

When the early explorers discovered the Islands, many of the sailors adopted tattoos before returning to The Old World.

The arrival of the church saw The Marquesan culture subjecated and the practice of tattooing banned.

The revival, as the Marquesans describe it, has seen a resurgence of traditional dance and song and the practice of tattoos. Nowdays as you travel around these islands, it is common to see of both men and women with Marquesan tattoos.

The most common tattoos on modern Maquesan men is one side of the upper body and/or both lower legs.

The tattoos are traditional in design and feature symbols significant to original beliefs, such as tikis, sun, lizards, man, family, waves, shark teeth and other purely decorative symbols.

The most common modern tattoo designs we have seen on women are on the fore arm and hands (like a glove) or on the ear and side of the neck (like a earing).

I had often thought about getting a tattoo but had never found a design or reason that seemed appropriate. After arriving in The Marquesas, having crossed two oceans to get here, and seeing the beautiful tattoo designs displayed, it felt the right place to get ‘ink’. I had read about a tattoo artist on Tahuata, named Felix, who carried out beautiful work. He lives in the village of Vaithau. We sailed there and met up with him. He agreed to tattoo me. Apparently he may refuse if he sees bad ‘mana’ in you. He was available in five days (he is in demand).

The day arrived and he picked us up in his truck and drove us up the hill to his home, set in beautiful tropical gardens overlooking the bay. We discussed the design and my journey to get here and he set to work drawing it freehand on my back. Once satisfied, he tattooed it using modern sterile equipment. The whole process took 6 hours and I can honestly say it was not painful. I had no burning sensation, only the feeling of a blunt metal object being dragged across my skin. Maybe it is my pain threshold, or more likely Felix’s skill, but it was not an unpleasnt experience. Felix was also pleased how little I bled and said it was good Mana.

Once he had finished, Felix said we should celebrate and went to the village and returned with a crate of beer. He then invited us to be guests for lunch the next day at house.

The design of the Tattoo is a Manta   Ray with traditional Marquesan symbols. The tail represents the support I had to get here and the waves on the two wings represent the two oceans I have crossed. The Manta Ray is regarded as a spirit of the ocean and as a scuba diver, I have long had a fascination for them, having been fortunate enough to dive with them and experience their grace and peacefulness.

So that is my tattoo story that I am pleased to share. I can highly recommend Felix if you find yourself here and would like to mark your own significant event.

BACK GROUND

Before we started cruising we had no idea what to expect, as far as fishing went.  We tried to read books on the subject, but they all seemed either too ‘vague’ or too ‘technical’. Like most things on the boat, we have learned, the simpler you can make things the better.

Since coming to the Pacific we have had to become better at getting big fish in.  Mahi Mahi from Pacific crossing.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

If you are fishing for food, and not sport,  we have found your needs are simple.

(1) At least 25m of high test fishing line (100lb test min.)

(2) Hand reel, to store line without tangling.

(3) Small squid lures ( Red and black is always lucky.  Blues and greens have also been lucky).

(4) Protective gloves for your hands when bringing in line.

(5) Sharp filleting knife.

(6) A small bottle of horribly cheap alcohol.

(7) Bungy cord.

With a simple hand reel set up you can fish off the boat, shoreline or while sailing.

Because of the risk of CIGUATERA POISONING we have rarely eaten anything but pelagic species caught away from reefs on transits between islands.   The Western Caribbean is the exception to this rule, but in general, I would recommend avoiding reef fish without local knowledge.

In this blog we will share with you the set we use on our boat while sailing.

If we can do it, anyone can!

THE SET UP ON SPIRIT OF ARGO

Most of our fellow cruisers just use hand reels off the back of their boats.  There are some great set ups using bungý cords as shock absorbers on the internet.  This is the way to go if you have area on your boat.

We have a problem on Spirit of Argo.  She has davits,  a big dingy and a dive compressor all blocking access to the stern of the boat.

So we have added fishing rods and holders out each side so the lines go out the sides and clear the obstructions at the back. Even though we are using fishing rods, we still bring the line in by hand.  This is where the gloves come in handy.  One person brings the line in ‘hand over hand’ while the other person winds in the slack line.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP TENSION ON THE LINE or the fish can get off the hook.

Being dragged through the water at boat speed and reeled in, even the biggest fish are a little tuckered out.  But they can give you a little ‘last burst’ of fight aboard, so one person holds the fish down while the other slips a little alcohol into the gills.  The fish instantly stops.

PRESTO!

You have even a monster fish aboard safely and easily.

We keep a little bag at the back of our boat ready with gloves, alcohol and a small knife.

 

Using this technique our success rate has improved.

HOPE THIS HELPS OUR FRIENDS WITH THEIR FISHING EFFORTS!

Send us any of you questions, other set ups and successes and we will get back when we have internet access.

Remember: There is also a little luck involved in fishing too.