More Marquesas

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Fri 3 Aug 2007 08:27
We are on the high seas again, headed for Manihi in the Tuomotus.  There is very little wind and the trick is to conserve fuel while making landfall in a reasonable time.  We have now been at sea for three days and Y-Not is clearly visible a mile away to port.


After five days in Hiva-Oa we sailed to Nuku-Hiva, ninety miles to the north.  The anchorage is larger and the boats are more spread out.  So is the village but everything is within easy walking distance.  When we arrived Orpailleur was just leaving but they helped lay out our stern anchor and threw us a fresh loaf.  We were six days anchored off the village and there is little to report except perhaps another memorable meal aboard Y-Not, plenty of shopping for provisions in small loads and a morning helping an American couple who arrived with their spinnaker completely wrapped round the forestay putting their large headsail out of commission as well.  They had other trouble too on the way from Ecuador; their auto-pilot failed and they hand steered for seventeen hundred miles.  They seemed in remarkably good heart after what must have been a trying time.  There was a wi-fi connection available so we were able to do some administration, including booking flights home after Christmas.


We then moved five miles west to Daniel’s Bay, so called after the local couple who lived there for sixty years.  Eventually they were evicted and their house razed to make way for a television programme.  Daniel and his wife are dead now but there are relatives about and we met some of them.  It is an idyllic spot.


We held our own dinner party with the Y-Nots and David, a colourful Welshman we had met at the previous anchorage.  David is on his third time round, single-handed now but he told us he has had four wives, not all of whom proved entirely satisfactory.  In a varied life he has been responsible for prestigious electrical engineering projects, run a successful stud farm and had personal encounters with John Bloom, the Kray twins, the Krays' top hit-man, Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies (his favourite).  David is a quiet, undemonstrative chap who added richly to the social occasion. 


The following day David led the party to view the waterfall, a famous local attraction.  My nearest and dearest will readily understand that I was reluctant to join this expedition.  It reputedly involved a one and a half hour trek each way to see a high, thin waterfall.  Succumbing to psychological pressure I joined the party.  It turned out to be worse than I feared.  We left at 10.00am and got back at 4.00pm.  We first rowed across to another arm of the bay and a short way up a river against the current.  Disembarking, the path was stony and slippery although after twenty minutes we were welcomed by Simeon and Felicity, relatives of Daniel and old friends of our David.  They gave us fruit and encouragement.  We had to wade across a boulder-strewn and fast flowing stream with water up to our knees – both ways.  We were badly bitten by midges and it rained.  The goal for some of us was a long distance view of this, admittedly tall, waterfall.  Those of the party who went further, crossing the river three more times, found a dramatic gorge but the falls were partly obscured by a buttress of rock.  On our return journey we were again entertained briefly by Simeon and Felicity and were refreshed with fresh coconut milk and given huge quantities of fruit by Daniel’s granddaughter and her husband who were shortly to return to the island’s main village and had more than they could take away with them.  By the time we returned to the boat the skin had been rubbed from both ankles and the tops of my toes, my hip was causing me to hop along like Cassidy and I was generally weary.  And yet….. on return I flopped off the stern for a couple of restorative laps of the boat.  Having towelled down I enjoyed a couple of restorative beers, Mags cooked an excellent supper and over a couple of restorative glasses of red we watched the full moon rise through the trees and agreed that it had been a marvellous day.  This had something to do with friendship, something to do with sharing a slightly challenging endeavour and a fair bit to do with the friendly and generous spirit of the people we met on the way.


Daniel’s Bay and its valley are difficult to describe.  They constitute a small piece of Paradise but at the same time are part of the real everyday world.


Tomorrow we should reach Manihi.  The Tuomotus are all coral atolls, none more than twenty feet above sea level.  They are difficult to see from a distance and, before the days of g.p.s navigation, were known as “the dangerous Tuomotus”.  Gypsy Moth IV was stranded there last year, fortunately without loss of life or of the boat which was salvaged, carried on a freighter to New Zealand and repaired.  We are going to be particularly vigilant.  The atolls are large and frequently have only one or two navigable passes through which the tide rushes four times a day at up to eight knots.  We are trying to time our arrival to coincide with slack water.