Blog 32. Tahuata and Fatu Hiva. 10.27.90S 138.40.10W

David Batten
Fri 1 Apr 2016 16:42
Wednesday 23 March. The delightful Frenchman recommended by Laurent was clearly an expert in dealing with unhappy outboards. He came to see us shortly after breakfast, knew exactly what was required and The Skipper was able to fix the problem once the solution was explained. He refused payment as it was so easy to fix so we gave him a bottle of wine as we were very grateful for his help and for the fact that we could greet Carango without embarrassment, particularly as they were now in the Bay. We made sure we had paid for the laundry and fruit and then informed the WARC Office that we were leaving for Tahuata. The Skipper and Anthony set about getting the stern anchor up, no easy task as the mud in Tahauku seemed to have sucked in the anchor and which required the help of another strong Frenchman to extract it. Incredibly smelly it was too and it took two days and lots of soaking the anchor buoy ropes in sea water and Aerial to stop them smelling like a sewage outlet. We left Tahauku Bay and the village of Atuona with some regret, as we had had a great time there and Hiva Oa is a really lovely Island.

So the rugged trip of about 12 nm to Baie Hanamoena as planned seemed a good start to our travels round the Marquesas and we anchored in the bay in time for lunch and a much needed siesta. It is hard work, this long distance cruising. There was 22 knots of wind on arrival and for most of the afternoon giving rise to some very impressive surf on the steep beach. It was also quite rough though the water was beautifully clear but it did not encourage swimming or walking so we decided to have an early night and an early start the following day. That was until we noticed the guest head's black water tank gauge read 3/4 full, although the outlet cock had been opened on the way from Hiva Oa. The Skipper was remarkably calm at the thought of another holding tank unblocking session, which would have to be in the morning as it was dark and no one fancied going to bed in a smelly boat.

Thursday, 25 March. The gods of holding tanks were smiling at us. Investigation showed a problem with the gauge not the tank. Fortunately there was still time to get to Fatu Hiva. As the GRIB files indicated there would be more South in the wind tomorrow, we decided to leave while there was some North in the wind. Good decision. We had to keep one engine running to keep a close windward course and decent speed for the 46 nm to Hanavave, arriving there just before Mearra Nieida. There were 4 boats anchored there already and we somehow found a perfect space between them all in the most lovely anchorage imaginable. The anchorage was called either Bay des Verges on account of the rocks that look like male appendages or later following the missionaries influence the Bay des Vierges (Virgins) a convenient additional i solving the problem! It is simply stunning and well worth the sail to windward. The difficulty of finding the right spot to place the anchor on the steeply shelving sea floor and the threat of multidirectional gusts from the steep hillsides were mere inconveniences.

The following day, Good Friday, we went ashore and made our acquaintance with the keeper of the village store. Therese introduced us to Cathy, who would cook us supper, goat, chicken or fish. Then we walked to the Cascade, or waterfall, where Mearra Nieida's crew were swimming. All lovely. We also looked at local carvings on display for the tourists arriving on the Aranui, which arrived in Omoa yesterday and was due into Hanavave today. Mearra Nieida's crew joined us for supper and although the Skipper complained that the goat was tough, it was very tasty and the salad of grated carrot and green papaya with a delicious dressing made an excellent change from supper on board.

Saturday, 27 March. Anthony set off with Mearra Nieida's crew early am to be dropped off by a local boatman at Omoa so they could walk back to Hanavave while the rest of the crew had a leisurely breakfast. Then it was a walk ashore with some of Jane's no longer required clothes and the Ship's Boy volunteered an old oilskin that she had arranged to bring ashore in exchange for fruit. So we embarked on a serious bartering session with two women in the village for papaya and limes and then the lady who wanted the waterproof coat who supplied us with "pommes citaire" or something similar, some oranges not in season, breadfruit, bananas and some grapefruit, the latter "un cadeaux". A great way to spend a morning with the afternoon entertainment being trying to clean more of the Pacific weed and barnacles off the hull. In the evening we joined the village in an Easter parade from the quayside to the Church, the women all wearing white most of the men smartly dressed. The singing was lovely but the actual service too long for the Skipper to tolerate, so we slipped away from our pew just outside the Church and returned to the boat for fresh yellow fin tuna bought from a fisherman on our way back through the village this morning.

This is a truly special place and one that will be remembered as such by all of us.


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