The Marquesas and our Voyage on to the Tuamotus 12:21.082S 141:22.299W

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Fri 16 Jun 2023 21:34

As you can see from our position (assuming it has updated correctly) we are currently back at sea again on passage from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus islands - a large group of atolls located approximately 500nm south west of the Marquesas.

Since we last updated our blog we have enjoyed several weeks exploring the Marquesas and relaxing after our long passage from Panama. We had a couple of weeks in Hiva Oa where we first made landfall and grew accustomed to the stunning Marquesan scenery of luscious verdant mountains often topped with clouds and welcoming locals with flowers in their hair. The anchorage in Hiva Oa was approx. 40 mins walk to the main town and although we were often offered a lift from passing locals in their ubiquitous 4x4s we generally walked both ways as our legs slowly adjusted to life on land once again.

In the main town on Hiva Oa we found all we needed - the Gendarmerie where two charming gentlemen checked our paperwork and completed our arrival formalities; a post office where we were able to purchase a local SIM card and well stocked supermarkets where we bought delicious fresh baguette and some fresh produce as well as frozen meat and fish. There was even a pharmacy where I was able to purchase a nail treatment I had failed to find at any pharmacy in Panama city.

We left Hiva Oa to travel just a few short miles to the charming neighboring island of Tahuata. Here the local town was even smaller but every bit as endearing and we were greeted warmly by the locals. We took a short Sunday hike up to a stunning little lookout over the bay and on our return a group of locals offered for us to share in their "pig" from the grill; one proposed to me and another explained he was the local tattoo artist and we should visit him the following day. The difficulty with landing ashore in Tahuata was the rather exposed landing dock which became awash at high tide and was rather tricky for arriving and departing by tender. Most visitors to the bay couldn not leave their dinghies at the dock but we were able to land our kayak and lift it up on the quayside to leave it. When we returned after our hike we misjudged a tidal surge and as I went to climb into the kayak the water surged over the dock and took Jamie and the kayak out to sea whilst I was washed off my feet and left spinning like a turtle on it's back! Fortunately a friendly local rescued our paddle from washing away and Jamie managed to return to collect me from the dock and we paddled away soaking wet but with a smile on our faces - it wasn't to be our last "white water rafting" experience in these islands.

Next we had an overnight sail approx. 80nm from Tahuata to Nuku Hiva. This was the largest and most populated island we have visited so far. The town had a large accommodating anchorage with several supermarkets and a bakery; each with a different set of opening hours which we soon came to learn. The bay is overlooked by a huge and very grand modern Tiki statue - the largest of it's kind in Polynesia.

Nuku Hiva soon became our favourite of the Marquesa islands so far. We were made welcome by the locals and would often spend our evenings sitting down at the fishing quay where the locals would hang out in the evenings as it was much cooler than being in their houses. One night we joined an informal birthday party of one of the fishermen; they were playing music and drinking. The Gendarmes arrived at one stage and the drinks all disappeared until they had left again when the party resumed once more!

On another night we joined a huge party held at the town hall. This was to celebrate "mother's day" apparently and it seemed the whole island had turned out and there was music and dancing. We sat on the grass verge at the periphery and enjoyed the atmosphere without getting too involved until I was pulled up to dance by one of the local guys.

After spending some time in Taoihae Bay; the main anchorage in Nuku Hiva we sailed a short distance along the coast to a beautiful little spot called "Daniel's Bay". Here we took our dinghy and navigated a small pass through the surf up a tiny inlet where we were able to fill our water cans with fresh drinking water. The following day we celebrated our 9yr wedding anniversary and this time we decided to take the kayak ashore. This proved a wise decision as once we rounded the bay to the beach we saw that there was a huge surf fetching up on the shore and landing the dinghy would have been impossible. As it was we managed to surf up to the beach on the kayak and both ended up in the breaking waves soaking wet as we landed; although the kayak stayed upright, we were both washed out of it! Fortunately we were dressed for a day of getting wet and happily pulled the kayak up the beach and went exploring. We paid the locals a small fee to hike the trail up to the waterfall and they promised us a selection of Pamplemousse when we returned; which they delivered - as many Pamplemousse as we could carry! We hiked the trail to the waterfall heading the warnings of falling coconuts and further up the trail falling rocks. It was a beautiful hike through luscious green undergrowth with the towering green mountains overhead and everywhere blossoming wild flowers and trees laden with fruit. We waded through refreshing streams glad to cool down and wash the salt water from our bodies. We had chosen our footwear wisely and were able to hike straight through with shoes that wicked the water and dried quickly. When we reached the falls we swam through one wide green pool and then clambered between rocks to reach the main waterfall where the sheer power of the water falling from such a great height physically took our breath away! Apparently this is the tallest waterfall in Polynesia and I just about managed to hover under it for a moment or two before the air was sucked out of my lungs and I swum back out again!

As we crossed the wide green pool back to the shore a falling rock landed in the water just a metre or so to my side; we scrambled back out of the pool and found our way back to the trail as fast as we could!

When we returned to the small "village" comprising just a few buildings we were offered lunch by a lady who cooked for returning hikers at a very reasonable price. We sat down to a delicious meal of freshly caught tuna cooked with rosemary and other herbs from her garden and served with fried green bananas and sliced mango. It was absolutely incredible. We drank freshly squeezed fruit juice (lime and Pamplemousse) and played with her little family of kittens before returning to face our "white water rafting" back out of the bay. The surf had not dropped during the day and we paused on the beach waiting for the quietest moment to launch. When we judged it was as calm as it was going to be we pushed out into the surf with our kayak loaded with Pamplemousse and Carambola (star fruit) gifted by the locals we had met. We paddled against the surf as hard as possible at which point to the ailing paddle which had been getting more brittle each day finally snapped and we were down to just my small paddle to get us out. I paddled frantically until we were in safe waters by which time we had taken on a lot of seawater and then handed the paddle to Jamie who rowed us back whilst I bailed the water from the kayak using my hands and later my shoe!! It was an exciting end to an adventurous afternoon!

Whilst we had been ashore the other boats in the bay; presumably having realised they could not get ashore in their dinghies, had all left and that night we had the whole bay to ourselves. It was a magical place to be all on our own with a starry sky overhead and we celebrated our anniversary that night with cold wine surrounded by the high mountains and the sparkling sea around us.

The next morning we were treated to the sight of two large Manta Rays swimming around our boat. We had seen this pair from the kayak the previous day but from the deck of Hamble Warrior we had a fantastic view of them moving gracefully around. One was flanked by two beautiful spotted eagle rays. We also saw a large number of small black fin sharks which seemed to be feeding on the many small fish which were in turn feeding on our hull. We saw much larger examples of these sharks back in Taiohae Bay where they were attracted to the fishing dock and the spoils that the fishermen throw in the water there; the heads, tails and guts of the huge tuna they bring in - it was the first time I have seen large sharks moving through the water with the dorsal fin poking above the surface in that ominous way. Their presence made us reluctant to get in the water even though our local friends assured us it was safe.

On another trip in Nuku Hiva we motored a short distance along the coast in the opposite direction to "Controller Bay" where we were accompanied for much of the trip by a large pod of small dolphins. Once we entered the channel to the bay we had to travel for a couple of miles in a steep-sided "fjord" until we reached the head of the bay where we anchored in shallow waters some distance from the shore. Here we had an exhausting day gathering enough fresh drinking water to fill our tanks ahead of our onward travels. We had not properly filled our tanks since we left Panama city and had been managing for much of the last few weeks by gathering non-potable water ashore that we used for washing purposes only. Here we could access a tap with drinking water so we took our dinghy ashore loaded with all our largest water cans. We carried these up the beach and filled them and then carted them back and had to launch the dinghy into the surf where I would hold it steady whilst Jamie lifted the cans in and we would row back to the boat; unload them and pour them into our water tanks. We did this trip 3 times with approx. 
170 litres of water each trip and by the end of it we were exhausted! We were, however, delighted to have full tanks once more and with the rain water we could collect over the following weeks we expect this to see us through our time in the Tuamotos and all the way to Tahiti! It makes you very careful with your water consumption when you have to carry every drop in this way I can tell you!!!

We returned for a few more days in Taoihae Bay where we did a little provisioning and made preparations for our next passage.

On our final morning in Nuku Hiva Jamie paddled ashore to gather water for laundry from the quayside (we didn't want to use our precious drinking water for washing clothes) and we washed all our clothes; bedding and towels in the cockpit and then hung everything on the side decks to dry in the breeze. Whilst I finished the laundry Jamie took our refuse and recycling ashore and returned with a final fill of water for washing and as soon as everything was dry and stowed we raised our anchor and waved good bye to Nuku Hiva and the Marquesas for the time being. We expect to return to these beautiful islands and explore them much more during the southern hemisphere "summer" months where this will be the safest place to position ourselves away from cyclonic activity and we very much look forward to being in Nuku Hiva again for their big festivities in December.

This brings us pretty much up to date!

On Wednesday 14th June we lifted our anchor and departed Nuku Hiva at 5pm just as the sun disappeared over the mountains.
We motored out of the bay and lifted our sails as soon as we felt the breeze across our beam. For the first night we experienced mostly force 5 winds although these increased steadily over the following 24 hours and for the last 24 hours we have had strong force 6 occasionally force 7 winds seeing 30kts on several occasions. These strong winds have helped push us along despite the heavy fouling on our hull which we hope to clean properly as soon as we reach the clear waters of the Tuamotus. It has not been the most comfortable point of sail - upwind and close-reached - but mostly I think we are just adjusting to being back at sea again; and settling back into our old routines. Meep has rediscovered all of his old favourite places to snuggle down and get comfortable; and so have we really! The motion isn't too bad but we have had a few mishaps including a salad sandwich flying across the cabin and two "head-related" incidents; the first where our toilet flooded with seawater because the inflow was leaking and we left the valve in the wrong position and the second where Meep unfortunately mis-fired using his tray and peed directly into the shower basin; easily done and easily fixed. Occasionally a big wave slaps the side of our hull and sends water flooding over the decks and into the cockpit. A few have been strong enough to find their way into the cabin one way or another but mostly we have stayed pretty dry. Otherwise we are all in good spirits and excited to see what new adventures the Tuamotus will bring us!

As I finish writing this it is approaching midday on Friday. We have just set our ship's  clocks back another half hour which will make calculating the time difference with our family in the UK much easier than it has been these last week's. We have been underway for 2 days and are about halfway (
225nm) now so we are hoping to make landfall in the Tuamotus some time on Sunday all being well.


Marquesan Greetings:

Kah oh ha = hello 
Nah nah = goodbye
Moh kai = thank you