JOINING THE CROWDS
We wanted to test the auto-helm so we moved the boat over to the popular anchorage of Hanamoenoe Bay. It is a lovely wide bay with a long sandy beach flanked by rocky cliffs either side. It rests in a fertile valley backed by dramatic volcanic mountains. There were 5 other boats already anchored here, but there is plenty of room and the bay selves at between 10-11m a long way out.

09 54.443S 139 06.326W

THE BEACH
The beach is lovely. Still not the easiest to get a shore on with a dingy and engine. You have to time the waves right, but they are small enough you are unlikely to dump. Again we are glad we have our light and maneuverable kayaks. There is a working copra farm here. This is the harvesting and drying of coconuts. So the shore line is backed by coconut trees. The owners of the farm must live in the village further down the island as they are rarely here. They have put a sign up asking cruisers to stay on the beach and not to wonder about their property. Fair enough.

THE WATER
The humans had an alternative reason for dragging us here, besides testing the auto-helm. The bay is reported to be regularly visited by giant manta rays. The humans have dived with these gentle creatures in the past and they inform me they are very majestic. Unfortunately the wind has picked up a bit creating a chop on the surface, so it has been difficult to spot them from above. The humans have been out to snorkel both the rocky sides of the bay, but not yet seen any manta rays. There are a lot of fish in the bay. The humans have been ‘hitting the books’ to learn the names of many of the new and exciting species of fish they have encountered. It has been reported in the guide books that cases of ciguatera* have occurred from cruisers eating locally caught fish. So it seems this scare has gone a long way to protecting the local sea life.

FLIES
The bay is a very protected anchorage to ride out a few days of forecasted stronger winds. It may irritate the humans that it is difficult to spot visiting Manta Rays, I am thankful that the wind keeps the flies down. Even though the humans have anchored well off shore, there is a lot of flies here. They do not seem to bite, but they are very, very irritating. When ever the wind eases, they find their way to the boat. They are most irritating ashore, where they try to constantly land on you, and bathing in the water is the only way to cool off and escape them. But I have seen anchorages with horrible no-seems that bite, so irritating flies is not that bad.

BOAT JOBS
The humans are still ticking off the boat jobs. It always seems, as they start one job, they find a few more that have to get done. So things do not move as quickly forward as they would like. And, of course, new stuff starts to break (eg. boarding ladder). But they are battling through it and still finding time to enjoy the scenery above and below the waters here. We have always insisted that cruising is just ‘fixing your boat in exotic locations’.

CRUISER INFO
The best sand for anchoring is in the middle of the bay. There is rock and only shallow sand on the sides of the bay. We even spotted a few large boulders along the south shore to avoid. The bay is well protected and the winds are funnelled straight down to keep the boats lined up to any swell from the West. If you do not like the crowds our former bay and the next two bays (going south) are also nice beaches. The closest is reported to be well protected from the swell. It is a 10 minute dingy ride south to the town of Vaitahu.

*Ciguatera is a type of neurotoxin that builds up in fish eating a certain type of algea on reefs. Unless you have ‘local knowledge’ of the areas and fish you can eat, it is safest to avoid eating any reef fish in French Polynesia. Open water fish like tuna, mahi mahi and wahoo are perfectly safe to eat and readily available.

END

KEEPING THE CREW HAPPY

The humans may like to visit towns, but I much prefer the beach. I understand that towns are a necessity to pick up supplies, complete administrative duties and to get a bit of internet, but they are very boring for me. I much prefer to have a beach to run on and clean water to cool off in. The humans are busy with boat repairs, more on that later, but are trying to take the afternoons off to go snorkeling and exploring. There are several coves on the Northwest coast of Tahuata that offer lovely beaches and great anchorages protected from most of the swell.

CRUISING GUIDES
Cruising guides are there to help you. But that does mean other anchorages, not listed in guides, are unsuitable. There is just not enough room in most guides to do so. If you want a beach to yourself, checking out places not listed in the guides is one way. My humans decided I could use some space and picked a lovely little cove on the Northwest side of the island of Tahuata. We do not know what the bay is called, or if it even has a name, but it is definitely UNINHABITED, so I have free rain to run about. We dropped our anchor at 9 53.959S 139 06.024W

SNORKELING
The volcanic islands in the Marquesas are very tall with steep slopes and rich valleys. Much as I imagined Hawaii to be. The island of Tahuata’s hills are not as tall as it’s imposing neighbours. For this reason it does not catch as much rain from the passing trade wind clouds. With less run off from the land the waters surrounding the island are much clearer. This provides a habitat for a greater diversity of species, including corals, making the island a paradise for snorkelers and divers. It also means the beaches are white, rather than the usual black volcanic beaches that the Marquesas are known for. Sounds good to me!

BOAT JOBS
As usual, with owning a boat, there are jobs to be done. Things are always wearing out, leaking or breaking on the boat. I am afraid the sea, sun and waves are hard on Spirit of Argo. The jobs list never ends, but here are a few of the priority jobs the humans need to get to. (1)Find the leak in the auto-pilot
Looks like a few mounting screws had worked loose over time and use. This allowed play in the hydraulic ram allowing leakage. The humans think they have that problem sorted. (2)Rudder leaking
The humans got the master cabin bed ripped up and tightened the stuffing box for the rudder. A bit of sea water has to escape up the rudder to lubricate it, similar to the drive shaft, but we had a bit too much ‘lubrication’ coming up during the Pacific passage. There was also some blockage in the drainage system, but the humans think they have that sorted. (3)Mast lights
There are some loose connection on the top of the mast. Anchor light and tricolour. The tricolour is sorted, but the humans need to go back up and work on a few more wires for the anchor light. For now they are using solar lights, at deck level, to illuminate the boat at night for fellow cruisers arriving to the anchorage late. (4)Lazy Jacks
These were badly sun damaged and finally broke on the Pacific passage. Both sides. Admittedly the shade cover was rubbing a bit on them back in Panama. The humans need to cannibalise some old furling lines, reuse the hardware and make a new set. Lost of splicing and whipping. These ropes guide the main sail onto the boom when it is dropped. With out them the sail tends to fall anywhere, including onto the helmsman. (5) The head
The toilet is the vain of every boat owner. When you mix wee with salt water the minerals sediment out. Like cholesterol in arteries, these minerals form a plaque that blocks up pipes, valves and moving parts. The toilet ‘played up’ a bit on the Pacific passage and continued to jam ‘a bit’ since. So, with lots of vinegar and mechanical labour, the humans stripped the toilet down and all associated pipe work, and gave it a complete clean out. What a lovely job? (6) Scrub the bottom of the boat
The humans got the green slim that run up the side of the hull off back in the Bay of Virgins. But the copper coat needed a ‘buff’ to get the slim off accumulated on the passage and in the last harbour. Get the copper shiny again and she will not foul up and slow us down. (7)Replace one of the sets of wind genorator blades. Bird?
(8)Fix the outboard engine?
(9)Fix the leaks that have showed up in the navigation and head areas. (10)Fix the forward hatch leak.
(11)Fit the new sprayhood extension into place with new fittings. and, and, and many more jobs

AT LEAST I HAVE A BEACH TO RUN ON WHILE THE HUMANS ARE ‘FOR EVER’ FIXING THIS BOAT!
We will probably head out today and sail up and down the coastline here to test the auto pilot and check out the other bays. We may even find other spot just a lovely.

A FEW POINTERS FOR CRUISERS
Give the two headlands a bit of space, but the rocks and corals here are the best snorkeling. The humans even saw some timid black tipped sharks.
The bay is sand over a rock shelf. There are a few ’rounded’ rocks poking through the sand. These appear not to be large enough to snag up your chain, but could cause some ‘bending’ where it is resting on the bottom when the wind changes direction. Uninhabited, so no docks for your dingy to tie up to. The gentle surf is easy enough to land if you are on a kayak or swimming. END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tahauku Bay is located on the South coast of the island Hiva Oa.

 

All sailing vessels arriving in French Polynesia are to checked into the country with a Port Authority, a Gendarmerie, upon arrival.  ‘Legally speaking’ we were supposed to make a Port of Entry our first land fall.  Opps!

Our closest Port of Entry is the town of Atuona on the island of Hiva Oa.  SO the humans sailed over there to make us all LEGAL.

Anchoring off the town, in Autona Bay, leaves the vessel open to the swell in these shallow waters.  It also makes landing on the ‘surfing’ beach difficult.  So vessels are recommended to anchor in the fishing harbour next door in Tahauku Bay.

Only problem is the Bay is very small and very popular with cruisers.  This makes space behind the protection of the sea wall at a premium.  Stern anchors are needed as everyone is packed in like sardines.

My poor humans had no luck.  Just when they thought they had themselves settled into a spot another boat came in, with engine troubles, and caught up their stern anchor.  Then they had to move to let the boat behind them out.  It did not end there!

The humans were informed a supply ship, the Aranui 5, was due in and they needed to move again. More on that later.  SO trying to get any administrative stuff done in town was not always easy.

But finally they were free to make the half hour hike, over the hill, to the town of Atuona.  They checked themselves into French Polynesia and were able to send my pet papers to Tahiti through the officials here.  The town is very pretty.

Lots of things to see and do.  Museums, hardware store, grocery stores, fruit and veggy vans, post office, doctors and dentists.  Combined with the boat yard in the harbour, I can see why some cruisers are ‘camped’ here for a bit.

If you do not fancy the walk into town, do not worry, the locals are happy to offer you a lift.

 

THE ARRIVAL OF ARANUI 5

Everything on the islands here comes in by plane or supply ship.  When the supply ships are coming into the harbour all the anchored vessels are expected to move out of the way.  Announcements are made on VHF channel 16 in the morning as soon as a arrival date is confirmed.

The supply boat comes in they honk away at their horns and send a tender in first to bully any stragglers in the way out of the harbour.  Any vessels asked to move, just anchored for the day outside the break water.

In hind sight we probably should have moved outside, as the Aranui 5 is a large combination supply ship and cruise liner.  And although she was expertly manuvered into the harbour, her bow thrusters through out a lot of wake into the anchorage.

Supply ship front section

Cruise ship stern section

Our neighbouring boat was helplessly tossed around and their anchor ripped out.  Here is the photo shot just before they were then tossed at us.

Poor Moon Rebel being sucked and tossed about

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We lost a bit of our teak toe rail, but thankfully neither vessel sustained any serious damage.  But a warning to other cruisers.

 

EXPLORING THE ISLAND

The humans abandon me to guard the boat and rented a car to explore the island.  Driving on the island of Hiva Oa is not for the faint of heart and you definately need 4 wheel drive.

Road works

LIPONA

Lipona is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in French Polynesia.  Located on the Northeast end of the island, you will have to climb the volcanic spine of the island to get there.  Great views!

Calvaire Cemetery

A must-see for Gauguin and Brel devotees is the Calvaire Cemetery, perched on a hill overlooking Atuona. You will find this frangipani-filled graveyard an appropriately colourful place for Paul Gauguin’s tomb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

INFO FOR OTHER CRUISERS

Hiva Oa Yacht Services (Sandra) is a great help with everything yachties need.  She monitors VHF channel 9.  A four seater 4wd car hire is about $100/day.

The harbour has a plastic floating dock for tenders and a petrol station on the main ship dock.  There are out door showers and an area to wash clothes, but the we were advised not to drink the water.  The petrol station sells fresh baguettes every day and is pretty well stocked with most food items.

The grocery stores in town will give you a ride back to the harbour if you are doing a stock up.  The best prices for seasonal produce are with the fruit and veggy vans on the side of the road in town.

Anchoring is tight behind the breakwater in the harbour and a stern anchor is advisable.  No stern anchor is required outside the breakwater.

Check in procedure for EU passport holders is quick and easy.

You will never get over how tidy and clean French Polynesia is after the Caribbean.

THE LAND OF A THOUSAND COCKS

There seems to be a reoccuring theme of genitals going through our adventures so far in FP.  First our land fall, the Bay of Virgins, was originally called the Bay of Penises.  Named so after the pinnacles of rock that guard the valley.  Here on Hiva Oa we are surprised by the incredible number of chickens running free everywhere.  Even on the islands back roads.  The cockerels start their morning ritual of announcing their presence as early as 4am.

 

 

A WARM WELCOME BY GENEROUS PEOPLE

What a great place to make land fall after crossing the Pacific. Although the bay here is becoming more and more popular with cruisers, it still has the warm and welcoming feel of a small village. When you come ashore you find rows of well kept homes surrounded by beautiful gardens of fruit trees and flowers. There is a little church, school, post office, community centre and playing field. Surrounded by steep volcanic cliffs the village is set in the fertile valley of the volcanic crater.


There are only a few streets in the town. As you walk along people greet you with friendly smiles and those with extra fruit invite you over and offer you some. They seem to grow very few vegetables, but the trees are dripping in fruit. Oranges, limes, papaya, star fruit, guava, soursop, banana, plantation, bread fruit and lots and lots of sweet grapefruit. Lemon grass and Thai basil grow on the garden boarders. Although they give these gifts freely, it is nice to bring back some gifts from the boat as exchange. The women love any toiletries, make up or hair pieces. The men are after bullets, snorkeling or fishing gear. The children love toys, plastic wrist bands and footballs. Having a few gifts aboard is handy if you arrive here before converting any money to the local currency. *More on that at the end.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

FOOT BALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. We arrived in French Polynesia just in time to catch the end of the football (soccor) World Championships. England was in the ‘finals’ and we were lucky enough to be invited by the town official, POE, to watch the games at his home. Unfortunately England got knocked out in the semi-finals. Poe’s wife was lovely enough to cooked a big breakfast meal for the early morning final between France and Croatia.

BASTILLE DAY. We arrived at a very exciting time for the village. The build up to Bastille Day celebrations were underway including a big dance competition. We were invited each evening to watch the practice sessions and alternated between the two groups. The culmination was a grand evening of celebration with displays of incredible music and dancing talent. The costumes, made of local vegetation and flowers must have taken days to create.

WATERFALL HIKE. Between boat repairs the humans found the time to do the wonderful waterfall hike here. It takes about an hour to hike through to the back of the valley and up the slope a bit. A challenge for my human’s wobbly legs, after being at sea for 5 weeks, but well worth it. Having a swim in a deep fresh water pool below a tall gentle cascade, after all that salt water, was worth the walk. The papamouse (grapefruit) and bananas they were given along the way keep them fortified.

 

 

WHAT NEXT?

The human’s really need to check us into the country. To do so we will have to sail to one of the bigger islands and visit a ‘Port of Entry’ where customs and immigrations officials can be found to complete the paperwork. Although the local villagers have keep the human’s ‘in fruit’, and we caught lots of fish, all the other stores are getting low after so long. Doing a ‘bit of a’ stock up would help with the menu planning.
The closest Port of Entry is the town of Atunona on the island of Hiva Oa. About 45nm sail north. If the human’s anchor up in Takauku Bay (Bay of the Treators) the town is about a half hour walk from there. They have banks, grocery stores and vegetable vendors in town.

The humans were invited to a traditional dinner at Poe’s house. Cevice, chicken and pork were on the menu. It was a great chance to sample the local cuisine in a family atmosphere and get to know some of the other cruisers in the anchorage. They had planned to head out the next day for Hiva Oa, but the silly humans caught a flu bug off a former neightbouring boat a few days earlier, and they were both ‘down for the count’. Back to being ‘human’ again, they will probably head out tomorrow and sail north.

A FEW POINTERS FOR CRUISERS
The anchorage here slopes gradually, but there is plenty of room for vessels, with no obstructions if you have to come in at night. You are expected to check in with the village official, Poe. He has just been given a VHF portable radio and monitors channel 16 when at home. The maximum visit is 5 days for vessels who have not checked into the country yet. There is filtered and treated water available for free at the dock, but vessels must retain their rubbish aboard. There are no banks here, but there is one at the next village, a short distance away at Omoa Bay, to exchange money and visit the museum. You can take your boat the short distance, a water taxi or Poe can take you for a land tour. The villagers are excellent wood and bone carvers, and you may wish to purchase some of there crafts. There is a small store that is stocked by a supply freighter every 3 weeks and the locals are happy to host traditional dinners in their homes. Phone internet credit can be purchased from the local post office, if you have currency. It is very, very slow and a bit expensive. SSB reception is ‘hit or miss’ in the steep valley anchorage. If you require fish, speak to the local fisherman. If you require meat, have a word with the local hunters that head out regularly with their packs of dogs to round up a goat, wild boar or a cow that graze freely on the islands slopes.

TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Thank you everyone for your lovely ‘CONGRATULATIONS’.
All your words of encouragement, that we were able to receive, really made the trip. We appreciate you all taking the time everyday to send us something to cheer up the days. When you are way out to sea a message from home makes you feel less lonely. When we finally get some internet, we look forward to reading your comments.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEO FROM THE TRIP

You have been very patient guys.  I have finally gotten a fast enough internet connection to upload video and photos.  SO here they are…starting with some photos.

As you have all been reading we crossed from the Panama Canal to French Polynesia.

Our trip started out very good.  We had fair winds to sail out of Panama City across the Bay out to the Las Perlas islands.

After so much time in the city, I was very happy to have a big beach to myself.  All the coconuts to chase a dog could ever want.

The humans did a few repairs and cleaned the hull for the crossing.

A very bad lightning storm scared ‘the pants off’ the crew of Spirit of Argo, so we rushed to get away from Panamanian waters.

The waters in the Gulf of Panama were very productive.  We saw lots of dolphins and caught a lot of fish.

Unfortunately we had wind on the nose and we left a zig zag of tacking patterns across the Panamanian Basin between the Coco Islands to the North and the Gallegos Islands to the South.

 

The long trip took a little bit of a toll on the boat.  These birds even managed to damage both the VHF areal and the wind indicator.

When the local wildlife was not damaging the boat, they were great fun to chase off.

I did my best to keep everyone’s spirits up.

And it was also my duty to ‘hog’ the sea berth.

The sea conditions were generally pretty rough, but we did get some nice days were we could enjoy ourselves.  One of the high lights of the trip was crossing the Equator, and Posiden was very happy with our offering of some ‘bubbles’.

After the Equator we found the trade winds finally at about 4* South.  We were finally on the ‘home stretch to French Polynesia.  Land fall the island of Fatu Hiva.

And I finally let the humans have a drink to celebrate.

Nice to make landfall!

This sailing stuff is for the birds.

Position: We made it. We have dropped anchor in the Bay of Virgins on the island of Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia. Our position anchored is:

10 27.879S 138 40.109W

*Note: I am told you can copy and paste these coordinates into google earth and it will show you where we are.

Mileage: 159- 0 nm = 159nm

Number of miles to go: 0 nm to go of approx. 3850nm. We are there. Honest! The anchor is down AFTER ALMOST 5 WEEKS AT SEA!

Fish count: The count remains. 4 Mahi Mahi, 2 Cero and 6 tuna. One Marlin that we were happy got away! We put the fishing rods out at dusk and something very big bit through the line. We approached the island slowly at dawn, put the rods out again, but working too hard to slow ourselves down and no speed for the lures. So no luck for lunch.

WE DID IT!
Not alone. The boat did well to hold together beating into strong winds and waves for three weeks solid. The auto-pilot’s only complaint was we had not topped up the hydraulic fluid in over two years. Yes, we had a few leaks but it is an old boat and you should expect them. No major problems and we can seal those up now. We do not have anything ‘fresh’ to eat any more, but canned and frozen food have helped. The best part was all the emails from you guys. Any news from home or abroad was better than falling into a rolly depression of monotony. Thanks for all your weather, football, political and practical updates from home.

NO INTERNET
We have pulled into one of the most beautiful anchorages in the world. Black pinnacles of rock surrounded by palm trees and lush tropical vegitation. We have a lot to explore here, but it is an isolated township. On top of that we have no Pacific Francs. So it will be doughtful we get any internet connection for a while. We will save the video and pictures of the Pacific crossing and the anchorage until we can get a connection. For now, and during the crossing, thank you SSB radio.

THE PEOPLE
We had a little celebration and poured some champagne into the sea for Poseidon. We had saved up some tinned tapas for a lovely arrivals brunch and I got some packets of soft dog meat. I set the humans to work clearing the master cabin and the sea berth. I had thought they would take a siesta and make it an early night, but no, they could not resist heading ashore to explore.

Kayaking ashore they found a small sea wall protecting a little key for the township. The homes in the village are small, tidy with beautiful gardens filled with fruit trees and flowering plants. Drying coconut beds along the road, pigs on leashes along the stream and wandering chickens. Everyone said good day and many called the humans over to give them fruit from their trees. The humans will have to go back and bring them some presents.

The local police representative introduced himself to the humans and offered his services as a tour guide. His wife was cooking up a traditional meal for another boat and asked them to join them. The humans felt overwhelmed by every ones generosity, but really needed to recover from their journey first before being too sociable. That was until they heard that the town was practicing traditional dancing tonight for the Bastille Day celebrations. You can not come to French Polynesia and not see that!

So the humans are back on the boat for a quick dinner, send off this email to you guys, and back to village to witness their first Polynesian dancing. IF THEY CAN KEEP THEIR EYES OPEN! Especially as they have also had their first cold beers.

END

10. July 2018 · Comments Off on Panama to French Polynesia – The Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva – Day 36 · Categories: Pacific Crossing

Position: We are hanging out just off the island of Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia. I will explain why in a moment. Our position is:

10 11.26S 137 36.83W

*Note: I am told you can copy and paste these coordinates into google earth and it will show you where we are.

Mileage: 159 – 66nm = 93nm

Number of miles to go: 66 nm to go of approx. 3850nm. We are almost there.

Fish count: The count remains the same. 4 Mahi Mahi, 2 Cero and 6 tuna. One Marlin that we were happy got away! We are going to put the fishing rods out tomorrow when we increase our speed and come round the island to the anchorage. Hopefully we get something nice for dinner!

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE THAT WAIT
The winds started to ease yesterday after I wrote you. I can not complain too much as the seas became the calmest we have had yet. I was even able to get out and play on the deck. No more waves breaking on the boat and the humans were able to open up the hatches and air the boat out. Only one problem…..this meant the boat slowed down. Normally not a issue, but this close to our landfall, it becomes one.

ENTERING AN UNKNOWN ANCHORAGE AT NIGHT
As we watched the boat slow down the humans had to start accepting that they were not going to get to the anchorage before dark today. The anchorage they were aiming for has no reef or out lying dangers on the approach, but it is still a little dangerous to try and anchor up in a place with no prior knowledge at night. There is no moon tonight, so in the pitch darkness it is hard to judge distances to the shore or other boats already anchored there. Any unlit vessels or obstructions would be impossible to see. The safest option, after almost 5 weeks at sea, is to hold off and make port the following day in light.

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
No one likes to spend another night at sea when a port is so close. But the humans have learned that charts do not always line up with GPS coordinates, and without a moon, it would be better to be safe rather than sorry. The humans need to keep the boat away from the island for 12 more hours so they furled in all, but a small piece, of the head sail and been coasting slowly (2.5-3.5 knots)since the wee hours this morning. Just enough speed to be able to steer. When the sun comes up tomorrow, we can pull all the sails out again and put some speed back on. Better for fishing to go fast! Maybe we will get something good to go with those cold beers. What is one more night at sea?

SORTING THE BOAT OUT
The humans have been busy bees cleaning up inside the boat today. They have been giving the place a ‘spit and polish’ so they can go off exploring when we arrive. We still have some repairs to do and more laundry, but at least the cleaning is done. Now that the sea state is settled it is much easier. It has also been the hottest day yet, hitting 30*C. I, and one of the humans, have gotten pretty ‘hairy’ during this long trip. I will have to send you a picture of our matching beards. We are both determined not to shave until we hit port. Only one day away.

BAY OF VIRGINS (BAIE HANAVAVE/ BAIE DES VIERGES)

Our first port of call after the Pacific Passage. This incredibly beautiful bay lies at the Northwestern end of the island. The rocky spires near the head of the bay are the most noticeable feature. On either side and beyond are dark green cloaked, steep-sided mountains crating a spectacular view that is made more dramatic when highlighted by the setting sun. It has a 0.5 mile wide opening which narrows to a beach a the head of the bay. The bottom is steeply sloping and subject to swells and gusty winds sweeping down the steep slopes of the mountains.

The bay is entered by lining up a steep pinnacle rock on the north side with a whitish peak halfway up the slope behind. Sail boats can then proceed toward the head of the bay to anchor in good holding mud and sand. At the north end of the beach is the village of Hanavave, where landing can be made at the concrete wharf at the north end of the bay. A breakwater protects the wharf making it an easy landing place. The village is famous for its many graceful outrigger canoes which are used for fishing and visiting Baie d’Omoa, the next village south.

About an hours walk behind the village, is a spectacular 200-foot waterfall, or you may take a hike to Omoa, about 10 miles distance, which takes 4-5 hours. Along the way orchards of cashew trees and noni plantations can be seen. Beyond the highest part of the trail and when in season, waterfall mangoes provide a tasty snack. Look for them where the road is covered with a blanket of dried mango seeds.

REFERENCE MATERIAL
Charlie’s Charts of Polynesia, Charles and Margo Wood, http://www.charliescharts.com
The Marquesas Compendium, Free PDF by s/v Soggy Paws, http://svsoggypaws.com/files/#pacific

END

09. July 2018 · Comments Off on Panama to French Polynesia – The Marquisas Archepelago – Day 35 · Categories: Pacific Crossing

Position: At out present speed the GPS says we will spot the island of Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia, in hours. Our position is:

09 52.98S 136 04.51W

*Note: I am told you can copy and paste these coordinates into google earth and it will show you where we are.

Mileage: 305nm – 159 nm = 146nm

Number of miles to go: 159nm to go of approx. 3850nm. We are almost there.

Fish count: The count remains the same. 4 Mahi Mahi, 2 Cero and 6 tuna. One Marlin that we were happy got away! We are going to put the fishing rods out tomorrow and see what we get on the way into the islands.

WE ARE ALMOST THERE
They say that you can see these high volcanic islands well out to sea. It should be quite exciting to see land after so long at sea.
Everyone is in good spirits aboard and all systems running well. We are still struggling with getting any SSB connections. We were finally able to connect to a station here in the Pacific. There is a station in the Tuamotu Archipelago, but it is busy most of the time. We will keep checking and trying through the day.
Good news about England making the semi-finals in the football World. We will have to get to the big island of Hiva Oa and find a TV to watch the game?

THE MARQUESAS ARCHIPELAGO (ILES MARQUISES)

The Marquesas are the northern most group of islands forming part of French Polynesia and they have their own distinctive setting and style. The total population is about 6,000, the descendants of proud and warlike Polynesian tribes that once numbered approximately 100,000 when Captain Cook visited the islands in the eighteenth century. Sadly, after this time the indigenous population was decimated by western contact and diseases brought from Europe.

The Marquesas consist of ten islands, numerous rocks and islets that are spread in a Northwest to Southeast orientation over a 3,672 square kilometer (1,418 square mile) area. The southern group of islands comprise of Fatu Hiva, Mohotani, Tahuata, Fatu Huku and Hiva Oa (the largest). The northern group consists of Motu One, Hatutu, Eiao, Ua Huka, Ua Pou and Nuku Hiva (the largest). These high, volcanically formed islands have steep, black, cliff-edged coasts indented by many valleys. Their sharp outlines are generally clearly visible from at least 20 miles at sea making them a navigator’s ideal landfall.

WEATHER
the islands lie within the trade wind belt. The winds are predominately Northeasterly 80% of the year, but swing East and Southeast during the rainy periods. The rainy season begins in March and continues through to October. So we will be starting our visit in the rainy season. Southern trade winds are not as steady as those in northern latitudes and tropical storms are very infrequent.

FATU HIVA (FATU-HIVA, FATUIVA, FATU’IVA)

Our proposed landfall is the southern most island of The Marquesas. Fatu Hiva lies about 35 miles south of the big island of Hiva Oa. With its heavy rainfall and lush vegetation, it is the most beautiful island in the Marquesas. Featured in Thor Heyerdahl’s book of the same name, it is the only island without an airstrip and is therefore the most unspoiled. The central range of mountains runs north to south, reaching 3,150 feet at the south end. The eastern side is steep, precipitous and pounded by heavy surf. Only on the western lee side, are there useable anchorages. The most practicable anchorage for small vessels is Baie des Vierges (The Bay of Virgins).

Note: This bay was orginally called The Bay of Penises, and when you see a picture of the unique pinnacles of black volcanic rock in this bay, you will understand why. When the first missionaries came they made the locals change the name to something they thought was more appropriate.

From a sailing standpoint Fatu Hiva is the first logical stop in the Marquesas. It has been reported that some cruisers have stopped at the island and then continued in a Northwest direction to visit other islands without running into problems with official authorities. The local police don not belong to the Police Nationale or Gendarmerie Nationale and these forces alone have the authority to register arrivals and report them to headquarters in Papeete (Tahiti). For many years cruisers arriving in the Marquesas have been required to enter at specified locations before proceeding elsewhere and OFFICIALLY THESE REGULATIONS HAVE NOT CHANGED.

This is the only island where tapa cloth (produced from the inner bark of trees) is still being made. This time-consuming process is interesting to observe and serval of the crafts-women are pleased to demonstrate how it is done. The source of the bark determines the colour of the tapa cloth. Off-white bark comes from the mulberry tree, medium brown is from the breadfruit tree and dark brown comes from the banyan tree. Because many cruisers visit this bay, the inhabitants ahve become market wise, demanding realistic returns for their tapa.

More on the Bay of Virgins tomorrow.

END

Position: At out present speed the GPS says we will spot the island of Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia, in 50 hours. Our position is:

09 23.76S 133 40.44W

*Note: I am told you can copy and paste these coordinates into google earth and it will show you where we are.

Mileage: 460nm – 305nm = 155nm

Number of miles to go: 305nm to go of approx. 3850nm. French Polynesia keeps getting closer.

Fish count: The count remains the same. 4 Mahi Mahi, 2 Cero and 6 tuna. One Marlin that we were happy got away! No fishing rods out still. We are going to wait until we get closer to the island as we have no room in the freezer still.

GETTING EXCITED
I know we are supposed to be enjoying the ‘sailing adventure’, but after over a month at sea, maybe we have ‘seen that – done that’ now. Do not get me wrong. The sky cleared last night and the whole Universe opened up before us. Millions of stars, the clustered streak of the Milky Way and the coloured reflective light of our nearest neighboring planets. All very beautiful as you get whiplash from the waves crashing the boat side ways and try to hold on. That is when I head down to the comfort of the sea berth and leave the night watches to the humans.
But we are getting excited as the idea we will be making port soon becomes a reality. As we get closer the humans are already planning the celebrations. Before we do that there is still a few more days to go. We may even have to ‘hold off’ for an extra night if it looks like we will not make the anchorage in day light. Better safe than sorry!

SSB reception continues to be hit or miss. But we will continue to try and send out the blog and pick up your well wishes. Does anyone know how England did in the World Championship quarter-finals today?

VISITING FRENCH POLYNESIA

For most people, visiting French Polynesia means flying to Tahiti. Situated in the middle of the Pacific, this is no small trip. Flights from either Los Angeles or Australia run 8 hours. It is a shorter flight, 5 hours, if you take a stop over in Chile, Hawaii or New Caledonia. From Tahiti you can get connector flights to many of the other islands. You can visit any time of the year. There are seasonal fluctuations. Winter, May to October, is the dry season. Summer, November to April, is the rainy season and also the time that cyclones attack the South Pacific.
For sailors the trip is 4 weeks from Panama. Three weeks if you stop over in the Galapagos Islands. Most sailors wish to make it completely across the South Pacific before the cyclone season starts in November. French Polynesia is on the very Eastern edge of the cyclone belt. As a result it rarely suffers from cyclones. This means sailors can arrive early, enjoy the area before leaving when the settled winter weather starts. February and March are normally the high season to transiting yachts leaving Panama and the anchorages in French Polynesia quickly become busy before the great exodus begins as yachts try to enjoy the cyclone ridden islands before the winter months are up.

For sailors there is no need to rush through the South Pacific all in one season. Although French Polynesia issues an automatic 3 month visitors visa to all tourist, they have gone a long way making longer visits easier. For European Union members, there is no restriction on the length of your visit, but you will have to pay taxes on you boat if you stay longer than 3 years. For other countries you can apply for an extended Visa, but it has to be done before entering the country. With the more ‘relaxed’ visa regulations there is no reason why yacht owners can not spend a season, or two, enjoying more than just a ‘whirl wind’ visit of the main islands before pushing off.

It is our plans to use the ‘remainder’ of our British EU membership to see more of French Polynesia than the average visitor. We hope to have the opportunity to see many of the islands in all the Archipelagos, especially the rarely visited South, before we move onto the rest of the South Pacific. We are going to start with the Archipelago in the far Northeast, the Marquesas. And then decide where to go from there.

Tomorrow, if the Gods of SSB radio allow, I will send you some information on the Maruqesas Archipelago and then our proposed first landfall Fatu Hiva.

END