Nuka Hiva and The Marquessas

Sat 24 May 2014 03:30

08:55.083S 140:05.739W

Just as we were about to leave after 2 days of sail mending in a relatively sheltered bay on the island of Ua Pou we spotted the Coastguard boat steaming towards us, oops we are still not officially here!!!  They pulled up alongside and came aboard, luckily one of the officials spoke excellent English so we explained our sail predicament and why we had not checked in at the Gendarmerie, they were very understanding and filled in all the paperwork, then to satisfy Customs requirements they had to do a search of the boat, their main aim being to discover alcohol!!!!  We found out they are extremely strict about the amount of alcohol you are allowed to bring into French Polynesia as it is heavily taxed here and very expensive, so there is a lucrative trade in smuggling in cheap booze!  Their search was quick and we were sent on our way with instructions to be at the Gendarmerie in Nuka Hiva by midday Monday.  With a nice 15+ knot wind we sailed the 28 miles across to Nuka Hiva with just the Genoa up and arrived in the main harbour late afternoon Sunday 18th May.  We were amazed with the number of yachts there, about 50 and a lot we recognised from Panama.

Monday morning we obediently went to the Gendarmerie and officially checked in then hit the 3 supermarkets for baguettes and other lovely French goodies (excluding wine!!!  how could they call themselves French, I thought the essence of France was their wine drinking!).  Prices here are very high, French Polynesia uses the franc (approx. 150 francs = £1).

First job to get underway was the sail repair on the newish Genoa (the UV strip had parted company with the sail), we got it straight into the local yacht services place and hoped it would be mended by the end of the week, unfortunately they are so busy here with boats arriving with various problems after the long crossing, we are still waiting and though it has been promised for today (Friday, 23rd May), it is not sounding optimistic, so we have decided that if it is not done by tomorrow we will hoist the Turin Shroud and get going to Tahiti and get it sorted there.

We havn't been idle though, Wednesday had us up before light to get to the local veggie market for opening time, we were told 5.00am but nobody turned up until 6.00am, but we were glad we had made the effort as all the fresh produce was sold out by about 7.00am!  So we now (at huge expense!) have a fridge full of lovely organic veg.

Yesterday (Thursday, 22nd May) we got the bikes ashore and climbed the amazing mountain road that winds its way out of the bay, it was a very long though not too steep climb with the most stunning views and once over the top, we carried on climbing and were amazed by the lush vegetation, it looks more like Switzerland in the Summer and was a total surprise.

Hopefully, next stop will be the Tuamotos and Tahiti, another 600 - 800 miles (short sail!).