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