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.