Blog 31. Hiva Oa cont. 09.48.23S 139.01.86W

David Batten
Sun 27 Mar 2016 01:30
Sunday, 20 March. We took delivery of a smart 4 wheel drive truck after breakfast, courtesy of Laurent, who is the agent and gets things organised here. We set off for a small village on the North side of the Island, where one of the best preserved Polynesian sites is. We had found out about Iipona in the Lonely Planet guide, it is on the outskirts of a village called Puamau, accessible by one of the only two roads shown on the Island. Road is a relative term here, which may refer to a well maintained Tarmac road, a concrete two way or one way road or lane or merely a dirt track with a hard core surface or not as the case may be. Suffice it to say that the female passengers in the back were covering their eyes or begging for less speed or for a greater distance from the precipice beside their wheel. Being told that the driver is following in the track of a previous vehicle when driving on the verge next to a sheer drop into a very beautiful bay is not at all reassuring, even if it is to avoid erosion on the safer side of the road. However, the views were stunning, with steep, mountainous, craggy hills rearing up out of fabulous wooded valleys, whose trees were worth the drive in themselves. Forests of fantastically tall palm trees, huge mango trees with their own ecosystems of ferns, moss and bromeliads, sweet smelling frangipani, pines hanging with gossamer mosses and numerous other beautiful trees all adding colour and texture to the lower slopes. Then there were the plunging precipices into bright blue bays when we reached the north side of the Island, where the road was a track perched precariously on ridges or cut into the side of the hill, with frequent landslides and water channels making us eternally grateful that the weather was good and the track reasonably dry. We did find Iipona, with its well preserved Tiki and oh so peaceful atmosphere, completely deserted, a rare treat in a world where tourism is rampant and most historic sites are shared with a mass of humanity.

We got back safely in time for a quick visit to Tohua Upeke, near Taaoa, the remnants of a once large Polynesian settlement, which we again had to ourselves. Then we stayed ashore to enjoy a superb pizza at Relais Moehau as recommended by Claire. We were joined by the crew of Chilli Bee, who had come in during the early hours of the morning and Paradise Found, who came in the afternoon. Chilli Bee had caught a huge fish a couple of days ago, so they were going back for supper, but like the rest of us, they were pleased to be on dry land again.

Monday, 21 March. Another day with the car, but more walking this time. We drove to Hanaiapa, a motorway journey compared with yesterday, to the well kept village with lovely birds and friendly people. Then we attempted to walk to Hanatekuua Bay, but it is a long walk and more than we needed after yesterday's excursion and we turned back before reaching the bay, alas without Anthony, who had disappeared as is his wont. He was not at the car when we got back, causing some anxiety, but turned up within the hour. He had mistaken Hubert and Marguerite from Chilli Bee for us and so had pursued them in error.

After a late lunch, an excellent crepe complet, at Elaine's, we dropped the Skipper off to do boat jobs and stocked up at the best supermarket in Atuona with more essentials like eggs, pate, cheese and ham, what little vegetables were in stock, some truffles and Ricard, courtesy of Jane. We had ordered fruit from Sandra, who also did the laundry, so we would be ready to leave Hiva Oa in the morning after a day of more boat maintenance. It is the season for bananas, grapefruit and pineapple and they arrived by the sack load.
In the evening, we joined more WARC arrivals for a party and pizza chez Relais Moehau, including Wishanger, Blue Summit, Mearra Nieida and Take Off. Everyone very happy to have the longest sea passage under their belts.

Tuesday, 22 March. Anthony set off at 08.30 to do a proper hike with Kate, Steve and Hannah of Blue Summit, Hubert, Marguerite and Sylvi from Chilli Bee, Sam and Ben from Wishanger and David from Take Off, the latter a new acquaintance, while the rest of the crew set to on Alcedo. The rudder heads under the cockpit floor needed tightening, the black filler in the cork deck was melting in places, leaving nasty marks on clothing and cockpit cushions and the boat was in need of a good clean inside and out. Anthony and Venetia had already made a start on the waterline and hull, which had grown a phenomenal amount of weed and barnacles on the crossing, Jane did a fantastic job inside and the Skipper's wife set to to remove all the sticky black filler. Anthony came back earlier than expected and set to on the the hull again and the only job we really failed on was sorting out Carango's borrowed outboard, which to our shame we seemed to have broken as well as our own. However, Laurent had recommended a local who promised to look at it in the morning and soon it was time to repair to Elaine's for the next WARC gathering and catch up with Lydia, Crystal, Solo and Zoom amongst other arrivals.

Tomorrow, all being well, we plan to go to Tahuata, which is very close to Hiva Oa and has a bay recommended by Eric Hiscock himself. The anchorage at Hiva Oa is getting very busy with lots of new arrivals coming in at regular intervals. The big supply vessel, the Aranui, that comes in once a fortnight requires a huge amount of space in the harbour and is due in on Thursday. We would have to move for her anyway, so it is a good time to leave lovely Hiva Oa.


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