Astra Blog: Marquesas (Part 6) 16.06.08 - 22.06.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Fri 4 Jul 2008 00:15

Astra Blog: Marquesas (Part 6) 16.06.08 –  22.06.08



Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva


Monday 16/6/08


Taiohae Bay is the ‘big smoke’ in terms of Marquesan settlements. This wide bay is also an official first point of entry in the Marquesas and the one favoured by many cruisers who wish to make the Marquesas a one-stop affair. It was by far the largest collection of yachts we have seen since leaving the Galapagos Islands, between 20 and 30 for the duration of our stay.


To celebrate our arrival we went ashore to the one restaurant in the village which did an excellent line in pizzas. To add to the flavour of the establishment we were served by a very large man dressed as a lady. See earlier blogs for information on ‘third sons’!


We returned to the dinghy to find that her somewhat belligerent stern anchor had become lodged fast once more and required Ash to do a bit of night swimming to enable us to get back to Astra.


Tuesday 17/6/08


Tuesday was a day of frenzied activity. We had to take our laundry ashore and then commence the task of tackling the burgeoning list of boat jobs: cleaning the deck and polishing the stainless steel, before cooling off in the water whilst giving the hull a bit of a clean.


Wednesday 18/6/08


More jobs! Sally and Jeremy went to do the provisioning whilst Ash and George did a rig check and set about finishing the hull. Jeremy jumped in to help complete the job. Before long the hull was shining once more and we had to leave the water as it was too dark to see what we were doing. When we got on deck and turned the spreader lights on we saw two rays and a shark swimming up and down where we had been only a few minutes previously.


We were delighted to have the crew of Ino over for dinner. We first met the lads from Ino when they arrived on BBQ Island in the San Blas dressed in leopard skin loin cloths, again briefly in Panama City (more formally attired this time!) and missed them in the Galapagos despite making a number of mutual friends amongst the Islands’ more enthusiastic social members.


Sally provided a Spaghetti Bolognese and our guests provided some excellent company (despite one of their number sitting dangerously close to the blue cushion and succumbing to its soporific charms).


Thursday 19/6/08


Up early in spite of a reasonably late night, we soon had both anchors and the tender back on board in order that we could go on a day trip to re-stock our fish supplies and to find a pod of pygmy orcas known to be in the vicinity of the bay.


As soon as we left the anchorage we got a bite, in fact rather too much of a bite as we reeled in a lure-less line. We rounded the headland and were able to find the whales within 10 miles in 70 metres of water. These undersized whales look like oversized dolphins and were certainly as playful as the latter. Before long George had his fins and snorkel on and was in the water whooping with excitement! Ash encouraged a slightly hesitant Sally and a moment later all three were swimming with the whales with Jeremy using Astra to act as a whale-herder.


After a lunch stop at Pointe Kapu we headed back to the anchorage, gaining a nicely sized yellow fin tuna as we went. All the fishing practice must be paying off because this poor specimen was reeled in, raised from the water with an expert bit of gaffing (through the head – to start the ‘bleeding’ process), executed with minimal fuss and a knife to the brain, and filleted and skinned within 20 minutes.


We would have further improved our fish supplies if it were not for the fact that a hungry shark wished to share our dinner. Upon entering the anchorage we hooked another tuna but had only the head left two minutes later when we got the line in.


Friday 20/6/08


Friday 20th had been a long anticipated day as we were to be joined by Charlie Paul, Sally and Jeremy’s son. While they went to the airport to meet him, Ash and George made some progress with the job list including sewing patches onto the Genoa where it rubs on the pulpit and spreaders.


Charlie was in remarkably good spirits in spite of a couple of days in aeroplanes and airports. In the evening we celebrated his arrival by going to a Marquesan dinner. An American ex-cruiser named Rose bridges the gap between the yachties and the locals by organising traditional Marquesan kaikai when the demand is sufficient.


It was an excellent evening. We arrived to watch our main course being disinterred, a pig which had spent the day cooking away in an underground oven of lava stones. After a few drinks we enjoyed the traditional fare: the said pig roast; goat; poisson cru; and different sorts of roasted banana (cooked alongside the pig but individually wrapped in leaves). The undisputed highlight if the evening was the after dinner entertainment: a traditional dance troupe. Cue grass skirts and much hip wiggling (from the girls) and guttural noises and chest thumping (from the men); a mesmerising display which had something for everyone!


Saturday 21/6/08


Having not indulged quite so heartily at the kaikai Sally and Jeremy left the others in their bunks to go to the market at 0400 – one has to be quick as the market has gone by 0600!


At the more sensible hour of 1030 we motored to Anse Hakatea to walk up to Vaipo, a truly spectacular waterfall. Depending on who you listen to this is the 3rd highest waterfall in the world or the 3rd highest waterfall in the southern hemisphere – perhaps someone could research this?! We got within 10 minutes walk of the waterfall when Charlie slipped jumping from one stepping stone to the next crossing a river. Unfortunately this resulted in a nastily sprained ankle. As it was getting quite late in the day and we were not sure how much of the way if any Charlie was going to be able to walk we decided to make an about turn and head back towards the boat. Stoically, Charlie hobbled all the way back and was recuperating on the blue pillow with leg elevated and an ice pack on the offending ankle.


Sunday 22/6/08


Leaving Charlie to rest his ankle, the others set off early for the waterfall. One of the more remarkable aspects of the walk to this breathtaking natural feature is the fact that the path is virtually un-walked – not many people get to take in such a sight. In order to get the full effect of the waterfall one must swim across one pool and climb through a cave. Emerging the other side we dived into the plunge pool (it even has its own name – Hauii) and enjoyed the water falling onto us from nearly 1000ft.


Ash and George got back to the tender a little in advance of Sally and Jeremy so used the time to fill Astra’s fruit bowl; a moment later we were 20 ripe pamplemousse to the good! Not satisfied with their spoils they decided to trawl a line from the dinghy while they awaited Sally and Jeremy’s return and managed to hook a jack in this interim period.


Back on the boat we made the spontaneous decision to leave the Marquesas behind and head on to the Tuamotus.