From Hiva Oa to Nuka Hiva

We have not written an entry in our blog for nearly a week now,
so here goes. We also found that one of Mark’s entries (labeled
Hiva Oa and Atuana) did not post on time, so if you want to
check it out go back two blog entries.

Saturday and Sunday (May 19th and 20th) :

Last we wrote we were in Hanamenu on the island of Hiva Oa. We
spent two nights there before moving on to the next anchorage in
Haniapa Bay. The two bays are very close together ( about 12
nm), but the wind was right in our face to get there, so we
decided to do a wide tack to get there so we could get some
sailing in. It was beautiful, but just before we arrived in the
bay, there was a huge unexpected wave, or trough that we hit –
we are not sure what- and the whole boat shook violently. The
outhaul on our tightly sheeted mainsail snapped, making the
mainsail flog freely and uncontrollably in the wind. It was no
big deal to furl it in until we could get to the anchorage and
fix things. The outhaul is the line that you use to pull out the
sail along the boom ( and pull it back as well). Luckily Mark
had purchased an extra outhaul for the sail and we knew it was
readily available, and we knew that we would be able to fix the
sail once we dropped anchor. Haniapa Bay is supposed to be the
most protected anchorage on the northern coast of the island,
and while that may be true, it was nonetheless a very rolly
anchorage the nights we were there, but it was extremely beautiful.

The first night we were there we were the only boat in the
magnificent bay. Lots of manta rays in the water – but a
different kind than we saw in Hanamenu. These were brown and
white rather than black and white, and they did not venture
quite as close to the boat as the ones in Hanamenu did. In the
morning, after a rainy night, with lots of uncomfortably choppy
water in the harbour, we took our kayak in to town. The town has
both a wharf and a beach that you can land on, depending on the
tides and the conditions. We started out by taking our kayak
into the beach. Haniapa Bay has a village with about 20 houses
and roughly 100 inhabitants. It is not a poor village and in
fact it rather looks about as much as you might expect a village
in the Garden of Eden to look. It is a rainy part of the island
and everything was so green and lush with hundreds of blooming
flowers, colorful leafy plants, and more fruit trees than you
can imagine. Everyones home was set amidst gorgeous foliage.
Mark took some pictures of the fruit that we hope to post on the
website soon.

Since there were no stores or restaurants, we decided we would
try to buy some fruit or trade with the locals. A 12 year old
boy decided he would be our guide in the village and help us get
fruit. He started throwing rocks and hard mangoes up at the
mango trees to knock some fruit off for us, and snuck a few
papayas off of some trees which were clearly not his. We
decided we would try to get fruit in a less furtive manner and
when we walked by a house filled with people all sitting
together eating lunch, we asked them if we could get fruit. No
problem they said , and asked us what we were interested in.
Bananas, mangoes, and pamplemousse (pomelos) were high on our
list. The man of the house said we should come down to the
beach later and he would have the fruit ready for us in
exchange for a t-shirt and a lipstick that we would give him at
the dock at 5:00. So we continued our walk through the lovely

A few minutes later we saw a very crudely written sign for the
Hanaipa Yacht Club. We didn’t see anyone around, and certainly
didn’t see any structure that looked like a yacht club, but just
a minute later a very funky character popped out of the back
and introduced himself as William the head ( and sole member)
of the yacht club. Apparently he tries to meet every boater who
comes into the bay invites them over for a glass of lemonade
and bananas and has them write something into his scrapbook.
We obliged and enjoyed talking to him on his very mosquitoey
porch. He was an older man (although it is really hard to tell
exactly how old), wearing a very old and worn t-shirt and
shorts, with a fairly long grey beard, tied neatly into a
ponytail in the front. He has apparently been collecting cards
and signatures from yachters for 30 years, and just recently his
home burned down with all of his scrapbooks. He just recently
started a new scrapbook, and we were only about the 20th visiter
to sign it and we recognized the cards of some of the other
boats that had visited him. He told us he would bring some
bananas and fruit down to the dock for us later as well and
asked if he might come see our boat. We arranged to meet him at
4:00 at the dock and continued our walk. Our 12 year old friend
was still with us, enjoying the candies that we had brought
along with us. Then we came upon a beautiful mango tree just
filled with wonderful looking fruit. We asked the owner if we
could buy some , and after filling one of our bags with them ,
we asked him how much, but he said they were free and then he
added a few grapefruit.

We figured by then that we were going to have more fruit than we
could handle so we finished our tour of the town, and went back
to the beach. All of the town was getting together for a party
at the church, but we didn’t feel like it was the kind of event
that we should crash, so we just went to see what kind of fruit
was waiting for us. Our friend had really prepared a bonanza
for us – there were two huge stalks of bananas ( each with about
60 bananas), one huge stalk of plantains, a mountainous sack of
pomellos, plus several papayas and guavas. We couldn’t even
think of carrying it back on the kayak, so we left it on the
beach and paddled back to the boat.

In the meantime, we could see our friend William, standing by
the wharf waiting for us, so we dropped off the kayak, set up
the engine on the dinghy (always a pain in the but task), and
went to pick him up. He had brought some limes, another huge
stalk of bananas, and a very strange looking fruit , a soursop.
William came on board and was more than pleased to have a beer
and some peanuts and we gave him one of Mark’s t-shirts and some
Advil which he needed for his sore back. He was a little
disappointed not to walk away with a bottle of whisky, but very
pleased to have added another yacht to his list of friends.
So, now it was getting late and we had to go get our fruit. We
took the dinghy back to what had been a beach just two hours
before, but which, at high tide, was no longer a sandy beach,
but just some steep rocks. We dropped William off in a hurry and
tried unsuccessfully to hold the dinghy steady so we could pick
up the fruit, which was sitting in a beached fishing boat, but
the surf was too strong. So we headed back over to the wharf
where we thought we could tie up easily, walk the 400 meters
back along the beach to pick up our fruit, and finish up our

It was not that easy, however. We did manage to tie up to the
concrete dock, but it was rolly and hard to tie up and clamber
up the rough sides to the top. Then we started walking back
along the shore, but found that there was a small river in the
way! I didn’t want to cross it, but the alternative was to walk
about a mile around through town, and back to the beach. Since
it really was quite shallow we crossed easily and were finally
able to pick up the fruit that had been left for us. We took as
much as we could carry, but had to leave behind a stalk of
bananas and a stalk of plantains. Mark must have had 50 pounds
of pomelos on his back. Finally back at the wharf, we realized
it was already close to 5:00 and our friend should be by soon to
pick up his t-shirt (which he had changed to asking for 2
t-shirts at the last moment). We waited a bit, but then,
knowing it was getting dark, and that we still had to lift up
the dinghy and engine in preparation for our departure planned
for 3:30 a.m , we decided to just leave the goods for our friend
on the wharf in a plastic bag hoping he would come by soon and
get them. We got back to the boat where we had a clear view of
the dock, but he never came. We felt very bad, but hoped that
the bag would still be there when and if he came by.

Monday May 20, 2007

We got up at 3:30 a.m. to start our trip to Nuku Hiva. The best
time to leave in order to arrive during daylight hours was
between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.. It is really a nice time to sail.
We managed to get several hours of sleep before we pulled up
anchor, and the sky was clear with lots of stars as we sailed
out of Haniapa Bay at 4:00 a.m. It was not long before there
was light in the sky, and we had an easy and relatively fast
sail arriving in Nuku Hiva just about 5:00 p.m. It is another
gorgeous bay , very large, surrounded by green volcanic
mountains. There were a lot of boats in the harbor , probably
30 or more. We were pleased to find that our friends on Vera,
Rishu Maru and Yara were all there, and we found a convenient
place to anchor right near them. Lots of other boats there that
we had seen along our journey as well. We were greeted by
Britta and Michael from Vera, and then Mark and I set up the
dinghy and engine and went into town. The town here, Taiohae,
is the largest city in the Marquesas and is the administrative
capital population- a teeming 1,500. We were hoping to find a
good restaurant, but found pretty slim pickings. The only
restaurant we passed had a couple of very bored looking yachties
who looked as if they had been sitting there for a long long
time. The menu was expensive and the waitress was kind of surly
so we decided we would join the group of locals standing by a
white truck that was clearly serving food. The chef, was a
Chinese man, and he was cooking up a storm, cooking up an
unbelievable amount of food and working so fast we thought he
would have a heart attack before the night was out. His wife
worked next to him, frying up a couple of wok dishes, while he
managed the bbq picking up meat with his bare fingers
from the flame tossing them onto the dishes filled with rice,
pouring on some type of barbeque sauce and a couple pieces of
bread, and slapping on some saran wrap. It really was an
amazing operation. We ordered a couple of dishes and then sat
on the adjoining steps of the local supermarket, enjoying the
food and the scene.

Tuesday and Wednesday, May 22nd and 23rd.

Although the town of Taiohae was very small, there were a few
nice facilities for us there including wireless internet
service that we could get from the boat. We were able to use
Skype to talk to Hannah, Ben and our friend Robin Ringer. We
couldn’t get any video of the kids with Skype, but were able to
clearly see Robin ( who got up at 1:30 a.m. to answer our Skype
call!). Very cool. Other than the internet we just spent a few
days gathering groceries, and visiting with our friends.
Wednesday was a big day in town as the supply ship came in ,the
same one we had seen 3 weeks ago in Fatu Hiva. It was a welcome
arrival as the two grocery stores were pretty much out of all
fresh produce, cheese and yogurts. (You can see that our trip
is pretty much about getting food). The ship brought in some
useful food supplies. There were supposed to be beautiful hikes
from town, but it was so hot that we didn’t do any of them. We
hope to do more hiking and sightseeing when Mia and Hannah come
in a few weeks.

On Wednesday night we hosted a pot-luck dinner on our boat. We
supplied the fresh tuna, and Britta prepared an amazing huge
plate of sushi and sashimi. Alex (from Rishu Maru) brought
chili-con carne, and Gesche (from Yara) brought guacamole and
corn-bread. We had a huge feast while the two kids sat below and
watched “Finding Nemo”.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another supply boat came in this morning so we finished up our
provisioning. I think we freaked the grocery store owner out
when we asked him for 4 cases of diet-coke. It is terribly
expensive here, but it is one drink that we really enjoy when it
is blazing hot out ( as it usually is). We loaded up with
cokes and cheeses, picked up our laundry, got some cooked curry
for lunch, and then got ready to leave the bay. We had to leave
as the bay was not clean enough to make water and our water
supply was running low. Just as we were getting ready to leave
we realized that the new boat that had anchored near us was
“Irie”- a boat owned by Christian and Paukie, whom we had
met just before leaving Fatu Hiva . We talked to them on the
radio and they said they had just caught a 5 foot wahoo ( a
fish), and since they couldn’t possibly eat it all they wanted
to know if we wanted some. We did, but already had everything
put away for the sail and could not dinghy over. They said just
to motor by on our way out and they would toss us a package of
fresh fish. So, they tossed it, we caught it, and now we can
finally say that we have “caught fish”! We then set sail for
the nearby Taioa Bay – known locally as Daniel’s Bay. Daniel
was a Marquesan who lived here forever , welcoming sailers, and
keeping an extensive guest log. Apparently Daniel died last
year, but the bay is still beautiful and calm, and it is a nice
place to spend a few days. Our other boat friends are all here
as well.


Hanamenu, Hiva Oa

Thursday May 17th

We left the Harbor from Hell, Traitor’s Bay in Hiva Oa,
yesterday morning. Five to ten foot swells were running into
the harbor and we were closed in front, back and sides by other
boats. Luckily for us, the boat from Mexico that we had
anchored very close to the day before had left which gave us a
little room to maneuver. It is very tricky to pick up both a bow
and a stern anchor in a crowded anchorage. It is typical to
just have a bow anchor out, and you motor up to it, while
pulling up the anchor chain, and then when the anchor lifts out
of the water you can head out. But with both a bow and a stern
anchor set it can be much trickier. We knew the harbor bottom
was quite muddy and we had seen other boats pull out their
anchors with great difficulty, as the heavy mud makes them very
hard to pick up. There is no electric windlass to lift up the
stern anchor, it has to be done by hand. We let out extra chain
on the forward anchor so that we could move back close to the
stern anchor. I was manning the steering wheel and the windlass
(which controls the release of the bow anchor), while Mark stood
in the aft of the boat, balancing himself against the big
swells, and painfully pulling up the stern anchor. All the
neighbors on their boats came out to watch (which is what we all
do), and the guys on the small boat in back of us, “Namaste”,
were particularly interested as we had to move our boat within
just a few feet of theirs to get a good angle on the anchor.

After a few minutes of maneuvering, and a lot of pulling, Mark
managed to get up the stern anchor. Then it was pretty easy to
just move up to the bow anchor and pull out. We were so happy to
be leaving that place. What an uncomfortable anchorage. We saw
a number of boats there that seemed to be there for the long
term and we just can’t understand it as there are such beautiful
bays all around.

Just before we left the anchorage, we got a call on the radio
from our friends on Vera, who said they were on their way to the
anchorage on the northern side of Hiva Oa ,an anchorage called
Hanamenu. (There are so many bays with the word Hana in them
(guess who it makes us think of?). There was no wind, so we had to
motor the 2.5 hours there, with several rain squalls following
us, and within an hour, our friends were in sight, just a few
miles ahead of us. We both pulled into the bay without
incident. We were the only two boats there for the entire day.
It is a pretty bay with a dark sand beach at the foot of the
harbor, with wild horses and cows on it, and a seemingly
deserted coconut palm plantation. The walls of the bay are
extremely steep and rocky. There is no town, there are no
people. There is not even a path that goes to a road. In the
evening Michael and Britta came over to help us make sushi with
our terrific tuna from the Pearl Restaurant. They came over
equipped with all the trimmings : pickled ginger, wasabi, and
wine. We provided the fish and the rice and the dessert and had
such a great evening. They are very interesting people and
Michael tells great stories with Britta good naturedly
correcting his exaggerations. They stayed late by boat
standards (must have been almost 9:30!!).

This morning they left, which left Mark and I the only boat
here. No one else has come into the harbor today which is kind
of a treat. We went to shore on our kayak, and found a little
path leading into the jungle. There are dozens of mango and
lemon and lime trees and we had a great time picking as many as
we could carry in our beach bag. There are hundreds of mangoes
on the trees, but most of them are way out of reach. We had to
use a long stick to pick the lower hanging ones. So now we are
set with about 30 mangoes (small) and enough limes to make
limeade for weeks. Right near the beach there was a small
fresh-water spring and we swam in it. It was great ! The first
fresh water we have seen and it was so cool and refreshing. We
had yet one more treat today when we saw several manta-rays
swimming by the boat. We had seen one very large one when we
anchored yesterday, but had not seen him since. Suddenly, after
lunch, there was not one, but 5 of them, just swimming around
the boat. They are huge and really beautiful. The largest has a
wing span of about 8 feet, and it is about 5 feet long. They
are black on top and white on the bottom. They swim around with
their huge white mouths open (18-24 inches wide), occasionally
flipping up their wings. One of them came right next to the boat
and did three somersaults underwater showing off his beautiful
white belly. It was incredible.

So, what else is new, you might ask? Not much.

Traitor’s Bay, Hiva Oa and the town of Atuona

[ This blog entry from May 17th was not posted until today, May 22]
Hiva Oa and Atuona

We remained in Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuata for another day on
Sunday (13 May). We took our kayak and snorkels to explore the
two neighboring bays to the south which are magnificent. There
is an abundance of interesting sea life and each bay has a beach
to rest on. “Rishu Maru” and “Yara” left Saturday after sunset
for the 100 nm passage to Ua Huka. We have since heard from
them via email that the anchorage is very rolly and it is almost
impossible to land a dinghy on the beach. “Vera” stayed in
Tahuata with us and we planned to sail to Hiva Oa together and
tour the island.

We got up early on Monday morning to pull up anchor for
Traitor’s Bay (Tahauku Bay) on Hiva Oa. The customs boat that
found us on Saturday insisted that we check-in on Monday at the
Gendarmerie in Atuona, the town on Hiva Oa that is the
administrative center of the southern Marquesas. We had heard
bad things about Traitor’s Bay and had not intended to stop
there but rather check-in at Nuka Hiva to the north. But since
the customs boat had directed us to Hiva Oa, we were obligated
to go. Traitor’s Bay turned out to be even more unpleasant than
we had feared. The bay is open to the east and south and is
exposed to the ocean swell. To keep the swell down, there is a
breakwater across part of the entrance to the upper bay. The
problem is there is major dredging and construction work going
on behind the breakwater so that the protected area of the
anchorage is closed off. The water is dirty and brown with lots
of floating junk as a consequence of the dredging, plus there is
the noise of the dredge, pumps and dump trucks for 12 hours a
day. In addition, “Charlie’s Charts of Polynesia” recommends
against swimming because of the large shark population.

There is too little space available for the sail boats that
are directed to Atuona so that they are packed in like sardines
in Trraitor’s Bay. Boats have to set both a bow and a stern
anchor to keep from swinging into each other and to keep their
bows pointed into large swell that rolls into the opening of the
bay and is amplified as it comes into the anchorage. When the
swell hits the western cliffs of the anchorage it erupts into a
30 foot spray of white water. This has been the worst anchoring
that we have ever experienced. There was almost no space when
we entered the anchorage and we had to drop the bow anchor very
close to other boats and with less than 2 meters of water under
our keel. As we dropped back to deploy a stern anchor, the
depth quickly fell to less than one meter. Thankfully, a
cheerful Englishman from Derbyshire rowed over from his boat and
offered to take our stern anchor out another 60 feet and drop
it. It was extremely hot on deck as it was late morning, the
sun was blazing in a clear blue sky, and there was not a hint of
a breeze. We were drenched with sweat once this playing around
with multiple anchors business seemed to be over.

As we started to cool off with a couple of Diet Cokes, we
noticed that the Mexican boat (“Iataia”) next to us was drifting
uncomfortably close to us as the current shifted. They were
there first, so we decided it was prudent to adjust our stern
and bow anchors, working up some more sweat. The young Mexican
couple stopped by on their dinghy on their way to shore and said
not to worry because all the boats get very close depending on
the tide but never seem to make contact. The tidal variation is
a bit over a meter. An hour later, we were less than ten feet
away from the Mexican boat, which is too close for my comfort.
So we got up on deck for the third time to reset our anchors.
As we did, we saw “Vera” with our friends Michael and Britta
come into the anchorage. “Vera” left Hanamoenoa Bay at the same
time as us, and we planned to spend time together in Hiva Oa.
Unfortunately, they had an even worse morning than us. They
started to pull up anchor in Hanamoenoa Bay at the same time as
us (and only 50 feet away) but could get very far because their
anchor chain had wrapped itself around a coral head three times.
Michael had to dive 10 meters to unwrap it. Then, when they
unfurled their genoa jib, it just fell in a heap on the deck.
The halyard had chafed through and they had to motor all the way
to Hiva Oa, arriving more than 90 minutes after us. They twice
tried to anchor near us in Traitor’s Bay but were not
comfortable with the tight space (we really had the last spot
for any boat with a 6+ foot draft), and had to leave and anchor
in the wide open area in front of the breakwater where the roll
was even greater than where we were anchored.

The handsome young couple on the Mexican boat “Iataia” told
us not to bother going to the Gendarmerie to check-in but to
call “Sandra” on VHF radio channel 11 and she would do it for us
and save us money to boot. In my state of heat exhaustion, I
misheard them as saying ”Sharon” instead of “Sandra” and, of
course, no one by that name responded on the VHF. The young
Mexican couple, she always attired in a bikini, and he with red
hair and beard, were always followed around by two large Mexican
men whom Laura guessed were bodyguards. It seemed like a
reasonable guess.

Michael and Britta of “Vera” showed up in their dinghy, and
waited while we got ours all set up and then we all headed off
to what is generously called the dinghy dock. It was a small
pier of rough concrete decorated with a large tractor tire. The
surge pushed the dinghies with great force against the pier and
would knock them to pieces if one did not use a stern anchor on
the dinghy to keep it off the dock. Getting on the dock
required a well timed jump and some upper body strength (not my
strong points) to get ashore after setting the dinghy stern
anchor. I hated to think what leaving the dock would be like in
a few hours.

The town of Atuona is about 3 miles from the dock. We started
to walk in the early afternoon heat and sun on a narrow road
used by huge dump trucks carrying silt dredged out of the bottom
of the bay. They created huge clouds of dust as they went by,
making this a most unpleasant experience. We put out our thumbs
and soon had a ride into town, and quickly found the
Gendarmerie. It is closed from 11:00am to 1:30pm for lunch, but
it was now nearly 2 pm. To our dismay, we were informed that
boat check-in was only done until 11 am. We ran into the
Mexicans from “Iataia” who straightened out my confusion about
Sharon’s (the agent) name and even had her cell phone number.
We called her at a pay phone and she came right by. She offered
to check Laura and me in for something over $400, which we
thought was outrageous. It was not until the next day when we
actually did the check-in by ourselves, did we realize why
giving her $400 would save us money even though there is no fee
to check-in. Non-EU citizens must post a bond (or show a return
airplane ticket) to get a visa. The bond is acquired at the
nearby bank which takes $2800 from our Visa card and charges a
fee for doing so. Then on the day that we leave French
Polynesia, we can get our $2800 back (after checking out at the
Gendarmerie) but only in French Polynesian francs. We can
change these francs to dollars only by incurring the 8% spread
between the buying and selling price for US dollars, plus the
banks commission. All told, this financial transaction costs
over $400, with all of this going to the bank. What Sharon
would have done is put up our bond for us, using our Visa
imprint as collateral. By using the bank, we also had to pick
an island from which we will depart French Polynesia – if we
left from any other island we would lose our bond (we chose
Bora-Bora). At least we got our 30 day visa plus a 60 day
extension making us legal until August 11.

After failing to check-in the first day, the four of us
walked up a steep hill to Calvary Cemetery to see the graves of
Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel, which are only 100 feet apart.
Laura is a big fan of Jacques Brel and a visit to his grave site
made our visit to the “harbor from hell” a bit more palatable.
We could find no place open for supper and wound up with lousy
and expensive Chinese and then had to walk in the dark to the
dinghy dock. The tide had gone out and our dinghies were now
five feet below the dock. Michael and Britta were worn by all
of this and said that they wanted to leave the next day as soon
as they were checked-in. They found the place too trying to
stay an extra day. During that extra day, we had planned in
share in a rental car with them and tour the island, and then
eat at the highly recommended Hiva Oa Hanakee Pearl Lodge up on
a hill overlooking the bay.

The next morning the swell was even larger. Some of the
waves were huge and as the boats rode up and down the steepest
of the waves, the two young American guys on “Namaste” off our
port quarter would yell “Yee-Ha” as if they were riding a
bucking bronco in a rodeo. The trick now was to get into our
dinghy tied to the stern of “Sabbatical III” as it and
“Sabbatical III” were getting tossed about. After a large wave
passed by, kicking the transom up violently, I put a foot into
the dinghy and shifted my weight off of the transom steps – but
not quickly enough. Another wave hit right after and the next
thing I knew I was doing a backwards flip into the dirty brown
shark-infested water of Traitor’s Bay. Laura was down below and
the ladder was not in place so I had to yell to get her
attention. After a shower and change of clothes (and wallet),
we headed back to the dinghy dock to finally complete the
check-in. But now the dinghy dock was completely untenable
(which explains why there was only one dinghy there). The large
swells made tying up an invitation to a dunking. Laura and I
watched Michael and Britta have a go at it. Britta got off
first by grabbing the tractor tire with both hands and feet and
crawling over it to the dock. Meanwhile their dinghy got caught
under the dock and Michael yelled things in German that I would
like translated some day. Laura and I headed for the rock
strewn ramp used by outriggers. Michael and Britta helped us
carry the dinghy and engine up high enough on the ramp to avoid
being bashed around when the tide rose again.

After checking in, we said goodbye to Michael and Britta
who were retuning to Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuata in order to get a
roll-free night, and to go up the mast to fix their jib halyard.
Laura and I were just about to sit down in a little snack shop
when she saw the minibus of the Hiva Oa Hanakee Pearl Lodge drop
off some hotel guests in town. The bus gave us a ride to the
hotel and we had a fabulous lunch that was no more expensive
than the bad Chinese we ate the evening before. The hotel
manager took an interest in us and offered us some fruit and
fish from the kitchen at a good price. We got 2.5 kilos of
shashimi-grade tuna filet, plus pamplemousse, limes,and bananas.
Later that afternoon, we took the dinghy to a small dock
behind the Mobil station, accessible only at high tide, and
bought groceries from the Mobil gas station store (they were out
of diesel fuel so this was their major business until the supply
ship arrives). They had some decent stuff and it was a lot
easier than returning to the dinghy dock and hitching a ride to
town again, even though we were in desperate need of diet Coke
which they have in town but not at the Mobil store (diet Coke
comes in with the diesel we were told).



We are still in the beautiful little bay here in Tahuata – and
now there are 9 boats here. After a beautiful morning spent
paddling around in our kayak and snorkeling, we saw that a Coast
Guard boat had arrived and they were checking all the boats. It
turned out to be totally painless and easy for us. They came on
board, asked us when we arrived in the South Pacific ( yesterday
of course), asked to see our passports, asked us if we had
firearms on board, and how much liquor, and then told us
everything was ok, and we should just get our papers stamped
tomorrow or Monday at the police station in Hiva Oa. They
didn’t spend more than 5 minutes with us and were very
pleasant. Apparently they went on board some of the boats and
checked every cupboard and cabinet looking for drugs and/or
firearms. If they had done that on our boat they wouldn’t have
found much except cans of tuna fish and dried soup. There is
another boat here that has a family with a 5 year old, a 1 year
old, and the mom is pregnant and expecting in a few months. The
rest of us are absolutely amazed – the thought of doing this
type of sailing while being pregnant and taking care of an
infant is more than we can imagine. They seem to be doing fine
though – so I guess anything is possible.

We are really enjoying this bay – the water is beautiful – it is
calm – and best of all there are no no-no’s (no-see-ums). We had
read that people get eaten alive by them here, but we have not
been touched at all. We are becoming good friends with 3 other
boats – 2 Austrian, and one German. All are younger than us,
but age is not a factor here ( at least to us). One of them
loves Jerry Seinfeld as much as we do.

We heard such a funny story. Apparently there were quite a few
European boats in the Galapagos who decided that they did not
want to sail to the Marquesas ( where we are), because they did
not want to run into lots of Americans. They all decided to
sail down to the Gambiers, which is several hundred miles south
of here. Apparently there was absolutely no wind for people
going that direction, and there is no place to buy fuel in the
Gambiers, so all the boats who went south to escape the
Americans, had a terrible, slow, uncomfortable sail – not enough
wind to sail, but they couldn’t afford to use up the fuel they
had to run their engines because then they would be stuck in the
Gambiers without fuel. Some people who left the Galapagos when
we did are still en route to the Gambiers, making about 22 nm
per day ( as opposed to the 150 to 180 that we made). What is so
funny is that there are hardly any Americans at all here in the
Marquesas – and those Americans who are here ( like the Pitts)
are exceptionally nice. So there is a lesson there – never
change your travel plans to avoid the Americans. You will get
screwed. Ha!


Leaving Fatu Hiva

Position: 09.54 south, 139.06 west

It is Wednesday, and we left beautiful Fatu Hiva this morning
for the 48 mile sail to the island of Tahuata. It was a
beautiful seven hour sail and now we are safely anchored in
front of a white sand beach. There are 6 boats in the anchorage
and we know all of them. It is extremely pretty although not
as magnificent as Fatu Hiva. We hope we will get to an internet
cafe soon to post some pictures, but it is pretty clear that we
won’t find one on this island. We wanted to go for a swim, but
just noticed that there are some jellyfish, so we are chickening
out. Hopefully tomorrow they will be gone.

On Monday we were invited by our friends Karin and
Jean-Francoise (on the catamaran Intiaq) to go by dinghy to the
neighboring town of Omoa. That is the “big town” on the island
of Fatu Hiva, where most of the island’s 640 inhabitants live.
To get there you can walk for 5 hours up a steep volcanic
mountain and down the other side, or take half hour dinghy ride
along the coastline. We opted for the dinghy ride. We each
rode in our own dinghy since the town is still 3 miles away by
sea, and it is safer to have two dinghies out together in case
someone’s engine fails. We followed the beautiful, steeply
pitched shoreline, stopping to look at caves and little inlets
along the way. It really is the most beautiful shoreline you
can imagine. There were fishermen standing along the cliff
beside the dinghy dock at the town of Omoa. Well, it was not
exactly a dinghy dock. Rather, they have a line stretched out
from the rocky cliffs with a mooring ball tied out to sea about
50 yards. You have to tie your dinghy to the line, and then
somehow get up the steep sea-wall steps. Luckily for us, the
fishermen were extremely helpful, and they hopped first into
Jean-Francoise’ dinghy, and then ours to assist us with the
very tricky process. Our friends Karin and Jean-Francoise are
native French speakers, and are just incredibly charming people.
As we walked through the town they made conversation with
pretty much everyone we met  making it a point to stop and talk
to anyone with fruit trees. By the end of the walk we had been
given about 20 huge pamplemousse and had been invited to pick as
many of the carambolla (starfruit) as we wanted from someone’s
tree. We had also been invited to come back the next day for
stalks of bananas if we wished. There was a very nicely
stocked store in town (relatively speaking), and we picked up
sandwich fixings, and then knocked on the door of another store,
which was closed for lunch, but which opened up to sell us a
couple of baguettes. We walked up the beautiful road and found
a nice place to sit and have a picnic lunch. After a few minutes
we noticed a strange smell and then realized we were sitting
just about 15 feet from a pig pen. When we got back to the dock
later in the afternoon we found that the fisherman had retied
the dinghies so that it was very easy for us to get back into
them and head for home. Very nice.
That evening it poured torrentially , but when there was a small
break we headed over to Intiaq for dinner. Karin is a gourmet
cook and she had prepared a beautiful meal for us complete with
huge servings of freshly made poisson cru, mango and grapefruit
compote and several wines and liquors. The main course was odd,
but very good. It was barbecued goat ribs. Almost every day
someone from the village comes by their boat to give them a
gift, and that day it was the goat. I am not sure if I should be
happy or sad that no one comes to our boat.
Yesterday was much lower key . Mark and I just did boat work _he put together the big spare anchor while I mopped up one of
our storage lockers into which at least a half dozen cans of
coke and another half dozen cans of Fresca had leaked during our
trip. We hadn’t realized the extent of the mess until
yesterday, and it took a few hours to clean all the fermenting
sweet soda up. Not too much fun. We just made a quick trip into
the town (Hanavave) to try the pay phone  and called Hannah.
The $20 phone card got chewed up in about 8 minutes, so I guess
we will stick to the satellite phone, which isn’t any more
expensive, until we get to another island with better phone

One week in Fatu Hiva

It’s Sunday, and we are still in Fatu Hiva, still apparently out
of sight of the gendarme. Many of the other boats who came in
about the same time as we did are also still here. Guess no-one
is anxious to leave, and the gendarme is not terribly
consciencious about identifying the new boats. Good. We heard
that there will be a customs boat coming here this week, and
they apparently come boat to boat making sure everyone is
officially registered. We are planning to move on in a few days
anyways. Yesterday was the big once a month event when the
supply boat comes in to Fatu Hiva from Papeete. It also carries
about 100 tourists – and offers a very interesting way for
people to visit several of the islands in the Marquesas if they
do not have their own boats. We went to town to watch the
festivities, but it was actually very low key. All of the
tourists from the boat were shuttled in on small launches and
were milling around the dock and most of the sailers were also
milling around. The locals had set out tables with fruit and
passed out fresh coconut milk, and did a few dances, and played
music. The boat unloaded a lot of supplies, including two
horses which someone apparently had bought from another island.
The local artisans were selling their wares, but they are not
that great so we just had a glass of coconut milk and went for a
walk to look for limes and other fruit.
On the way back to our boat we were called over by our friends
on Vera who had prepared a delicious pasta dinner and wanted us
to join them. It is funny, but in some ways it is like being in
Israel where people are always dropping by or inviting you over.
When we eventually made our way back to our boat we were
called over yet again by our friends on Intiaq. They were
holding up a big dead fish for us. Apparently the boat with the
5 young South Africans that is anchored behind us had done some
fishing that evening and knew we were still trying to get some
fresh fish, so they came by to drop one off for us, and finding
us not home, they left it with our neighbors. It was a funny
present to receive – a big silver glassy eyed fish sitting in a
tupperware container. We were excited to get it though, and
promptly put it in the fridge for dinner the next night.
Today, Sunday, was a pretty quiet day here. I am finding I need
to be more creative with cooking as there is so little to buy,
so I baked banana bread and with the help of some yogurt culture
from a friend, started making yogurt ( still waiting for it to
work). We went into town late in the afternoon for a walk and
to try and do some more trading. We walked over to the house of
our blond, toothless friend that had wanted to get hair dye from
us in exchange for some food or honey. We were just about to
complete our deal – a bottle of hair dye for her, plus some
marking pens for her grandson – when one of her daughters (also
toothless) scotched the deal. She started laughing at her mom
for trying to get hair dye that would make her a brunette, when
what she wanted to be was a blond. Too bad, as we were about to
get some amazingly delicious honey. We ended up just trading the
markers for a half dozen oranges and some green beans.
Afterwards we did manage to purchase a couple kilos of fresh
tuna (for cash) from one of the fisherman, which is now nicely
wrapped and laying in our freezer.
As you may have guessed, we don’t have a clue what is going on
in the real world. We have not seen a newspaper or been on the
internet for a month now, so we are really out of touch… the
last several times we looked, nothing much seemed to have
improved in the world, so we are not that anxious even now to
get caught up. And that is pretty strange, given how addicted
we both are to the NY Times. I am sure once we get home we will
get back on track, but for now we are just being vagabonds.

Barter and Bananas in Fatu Hiva

This is our fourth day in Fatu Hiva. It truly is a tropical
paradise. The island has about 600 inhabitants, and the little
village that we are anchored next to probably has 150 of those
inhabitants. Everyone barters for goods. No one is interested
in money. We only wish we had stocked up on more goods to
trade. The big items to trade to get fresh fruit (pamplemousse
(like pomelos), bananas, papayas) seem to be soap, perfume,
earrings, hair dye, sun-glasses and flip-flops. Getting fish is
trickier, and in fact, we have not yet been able to swing a
deal. The fisherman want liquor, fishing lures, strong rope,
boat fenders, or, strangely enough- bullets! We don’t want to
give them liquor as we have heard that this leads to some pretty
bad behavior among the men (also it is illegal to trade), and we
don’t have spare fishing lures, rope, or fenders. We certainly
don’t have bullets. We are really trying to figure out what
they want the bullets for.

If you walk along the road there are mango trees, but
unfortunately we are a few weeks past mango season, so there is
not much to pick. Apparently you could pick all you wanted if
you arrived earlier. There are lots of lime trees, and you can
also pick your own pamplemousse and bananas as long as you are
careful not to take from someone’s personal yard. Yesterday we
traded one of my button down cotton shirts and a bar of soap for
a big stalk of bananas (about 50) and eight huge pamplemousse.
The lady that we traded with was just standing in her garden –
and we noticed that she had a huge pamplemousse tree, filled
with fruit, and on it she had hung several large stalks of
bananas. She was very shy, and sweet, and seemed quite pleased
with our exchange, even though what she really wanted were
sunglasses, earrings and nail files. When we were walking down
the road, another lady beckoned us over from her house. She was
dressed in her sarong and a ratty bra – I think she was quite
young, but she had a lot of grey hair and only a few teeth. She
wanted to arrange a trade with us. We didn’t seem to have
anything she wanted, and then she mentioned hair-dye. Bingo! A
deal was struck. I happen to have a dozen or so bottles around
the boat and so we arranged to do an exchange for fruit. I think
we will wait a few days until we finish up some of the stuff we
have on board first. When I think of all the old earrings, small
bottles of perfume, beaded necklaces and other valuables I
tossed when we moved out of our house I get upset. I could have
had a veritable boatload of fruit for that stuff.

Luckily, a few of the families do cook dinners for the boaters
in exchange for money ( hooray!). Our second night here another
boat helped organize a dinner party on shore at one of the
houses who apparently do this at least once a week. It was
great. There are anywhere from 15 to 20 boats in the harbour at
any time, and that night, people from 11 or 12 boats came to the
party. We knew almost all of them, and the few that we had not
met before, seemed familiar to us as we had seen their boats or
heard them on the radio. Since we all just made this huge
ocean crossing there is a strong feeling of camaraderie among
the boaters, so it was really fun to have dinner with them. It
was served on someone’s verandah – and the family had prepared a
feast of local food – raw fish marinated in coconut milk ( which
was delicious), chicken also cooked in coconut milk (very bony
chicken), pork with beans (yuck), barbecued bananas, bread,
rice, some type of salad ( no greens), barbequed breadfruit(also
an acquired taste) and pamplemousse for dessert. Some of the
cruisers brought wine. The husband of the family played ukelele
and guitar, and their little 3 year old did an incredible
Polynesian dance. There were several people there that we like
very much, particularly an Austrian couple on the boat Rishu
Maru who are traveling around the world with their 9 year old
son. They built Rishu Maru from wood and epoxy themselves. It
was really fun. It is interesting to note that we were the only
American boat in the group – the others were from Austria (3
boats), Germany, France, Switzerland, Turkey, Canada, South
Africa and Italy.

Our legs are still kind of weak from sitting on the boat so
long, but we have taken a few walks. The anchorage is known as
one of the most beautiful in the world, and it truly lives up to
its reputation, so we are not even that anxious to leave the
boat as the view is so amazing. The walks, however, are
incredible, as it does not take much to get up to a high
viewpoint and then the colors of green, the high peaks, the
jagged pinnacles, the black outcroppings, the smooth green
valleys, are all just simply astounding.

All of the boats arriving here have a thick layer of barnacles
and green scum that somehow accumlated during the voyage. We
took one look at our boat, and groaned thinking about how much
work it would be to scrape it all clean. Very fortunately for
us, however, there is another boat near us – Robyn’s Nest, with
a crew of 5 very young and energetic people who were anxious to
make some money and they offered to clean our boat for us. We
gladly agreed and two of them spent 3 hours bobbing and diving
in the warm water cleaning the boat to perfection.

You are supposed to check in with the local authority (the
gendarme) when you arrive here, and then apparently he gives you
only 2 or 3 days at most before he says you must leave and do
the official check-in at the more populated island of Hiva Oa.
Luckily for us, as soon as we got into the harbour
someone told us that the “gendarme” hangs around the dinghy
dock in the morning and tries to catch all the new boaters and
register them and give them their 48-72 hourwarning as soon as
they come. Since we are not anxious to leave this place, we
have been avoiding him by not going into town until late in the
afternoon. Whenever he finally catches us we will have to
pretend we just arrived. Apparently he doesn’t even have a
boat, and you can’t see the boats in the harbour very
clearly from the shore, so he doesn’t really know who is here.
We have been very straight with all official rules up to this
point on our trip, but we are going to have some big issues with
getting a three month visa here once we do officially check in,
so we want to stretch our pre-check in time as long as we can.
Not a bad place to hang out, that is for sure.

Last night, we had a funny exchange for food, but it was with
other yachties, not with the locals. Apparently word got out
that we have eggs on our boat. Believe it or not, but it is
impossible to get eggs here. So some of the other boats, with
women who like to cook, approached me to see what they could
trade with me to get a few eggs. We were thrilled to find that
they, unlike us, had caught so many fish on their trip that they
didn’t know what to do with them, and it was all in their
freezer. So we ended up trading 8 eggs for a large hunk of
fresh caught tuna. We finally had our fish dinner – and they
apparently made cornbread and mango bread (must be like zuchini
bread). Very funny. We had actually approached a fisherman on
shore yesterday evening and simply could not swing a deal with
him to get fish. Money? No. T-shirts? No. Coffee? No. He either
wanted boat line or bullets, so we just had to walk away.

Our second night here we came into town for a walk and found
that there was a village wide celebration in honor of the Virgin
Mary. Everyone in town was in the church, all dressed up, the
women in their mumus and the men in clean t-shirts and shorts.
They were singing some very pretty songs accompanied by the
ukelele and guitar. We wanted to sit in to listen to the
service, but we were on a mission. As we were taking our
dinghy into shore, another boat had frantically called us over.
They pointed to the boat in front of them, a large catamaran
called Miss Jody, and said that Miss Jody was dragging her
anchor. It looked like Miss Jody was going to be right on top of
the other boat, and then possibly onto the adjacent cliffs in a
very short time. They told us that the crew of Miss Jody were
on shore and asked if we could find them and tell them that
their boat was dragging. We had never met Miss Jody so we didn’t
know what they looked like, but there aren’t too many foreigners
here and we figured we could pick them out from the locals
easily enough. So when we got to shore, and saw everyone at the
church we just kept walking down the road trying to find these
people. We ended up having a lovely walk (our first walk on
land), but after an hour and a half it was getting dark and we
started heading back to town. Just as we got back to town we
found the people from Miss Jody, who had apparently been in the
harbour the whole time, just visiting other boats on their
dinghy, and their boat was ok. Then just a minute later the
entire village approached us, in procession, singing, and
carrying statues of the Virgin Mary, all adorned with flowers.
We joined the group ( along with several other yachties), and
really enjoyed the whole event – as they stopped at 3 different
flower adorned displays in honor of the Virgin Mary and sang
songs and prayers.

P.S. I can not begin to tell you how handy my French has come
in. Not only is it very fun for me, but it is unbelievably

Baie des Vieges, Fatu Hiva

We have arrived safely in Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins) on
the island of Fatu Hiva, the most southern island of the
Marquesas. After arriving, Laura recited the blessing for dry
land that her sister Diane sent her (“Baruch Atah Adonai
Eloheinu Melech HaOlam Rokah HaAretz Al HaMayim.” Blessed are
you Lord our G-d King of the Universe who spreads the dry land
out over the water.

The island came into view through the clouds of a squall just
after dawn. It was so incredible that we deviated course to
sail down much of the east side of the island and then around
the southern end before heading north to the anchorage. The
trip from the Galapagos took exactly 19 days (and 30 minutes,
but who is counting?). The last day we sailed in the company
(that is, within VHF radio hailing distance) of “Afriki”, who is
single-handed by Ian, a Canadian (born in Fort Gary outside
Winnepeg) who we met in Academy Bay in the Galapagos. As we
came into the bay, Uva, our German friend from the Galapagos,
zipped out in his dinghy to give us some information on
anchoring. The bay is very deep, has poor holding, and there
are big gusts of wind coming down from the steep mountain sides.
We chose to try for the centerline of the bay, as Uva had
suggested, but the furthest in we could come was 38 meters of
water. We dropped the anchor just as an intense rain squall
began, soaking both of us. The anchor would not hold even
though we put down every link of chain that we have (80 meters).
Uva has 120 meters of anchor rode so this is doable for his
boat. We hauled all of our chain and the anchor back aboard and
circled around looking for another possibility when we saw
Jean-Francoise and Karin of “Intiaq” motioning us over. They
were close to the steep cliff on the south side of the bay.
They said that we should anchor between them and the cliff and
that is was safe to do so as a boat that had left just an hour
before had been there for three days. It was a mere 25 meters
in this place and this time the anchor held. We celebrated with
cold diet cokes, cans of tuna, and crackers, followed by a 90
minute nap. This afternoon we spent some time on Sabbatical III
with Ian and later with Uva and Beatrice, Uva’s wife. We put
away our downwind poles and other gear and tried to make some
order down below. We have not left the boat yet — something to
look forward to tomorrow.

Baie des Vierges in incredibly beautiful. It is a deep
indent on a small island that is just huge cliffs rising up from
the sea. At one end of the bay are a set of rocky pillars that
led the orginal visitors to name the bay “Baie des Verges” (Bay
of the Phalli) because of the shape of these pillars.
Missionaries that followed disapproved and added an “i” to the
name which made it Bay of the Virgins.

We have a lot more to add about our passage and this
beautiful place but that will have to await a full nights sleep,
a luxury that we have not had in three weeks. A photo is
attached that hopefully gives some idea of the look of this bay.
Our location is South 10 degrees 28 minutes, West 138 degrees
40 minutes, and is no longer constantly changing.