Fatu Hiva

Mon 28 Apr 2014 20:11
Without a doubt Fatu Hiva has been the most beautiful anchorage we've come across so far. Partly it's the scale of the place: the near vertical cliffs towering up on both sides, 270 m to the South, 150 to the North, with ridges up to 1000 m rising beyond them forming the spine of the island. Then there's the way the road slips behind the curious black spires of rock, as if behind a curtain, following the river, revealing more peaks and ridges around the valley beyond. It is beautifully green with little banana plantations and other fruit trees everywhere. Goats call from the hill tops, just specks of white and brown to the naked eye, they are so high up. But we have no internet so you'll still have to imagine and wait for the photos.

We were so lucky: on our first night there happened to be a traditional dance competition here, for school children. Children from Hiva Oa and Tahuata came by boat to compete, the winner will be the sole representative of the Marquesas on a tour which will include Tahiti and Australia, quite an honour. The children were all in traditional costume and sang and danced, as well as individuals children telling traditional stories, complete with acting out bits and short songs and dances. It was delightful.

The next day a couple came out on a boat to ask us to come to their house for dinner and to ask if we wanted fruit for exchange goods. They wanted cloth, bits of rope, what ever we had to exchange. We said we'd look stuff out so they went off to cut the fruit from the trees and brought us 80 bananas, 6 pamplemousses (grapefruit), 3 small and one large papaya, a giant sousop and a loaf of bread in exchange for 4 bits of rope that were too short for any use to us, some bits of material we'll never use and an old bottle of Austrian Peach Schnapps we tasted and decided wasn't drinkable. Both sides felt they had the best out of the deal! We didn't have any of the Polynesian Francs but anyway, they're not much use to the local people because there's nowhere to buy things except a little shop selling groceries and fizzy pop. We realised that we've not spent any money for 26 days...

The meal was excellent, with folk from three boats along, it's always good to get to know other sailors and we had some lively discussions in Franglais, working together to interpret and find the right words as English, Italian, American and Marquesans chatted together and exchanged stories. Our hosts were a very proud family just then, as the winner of the dance competition was the Granddaughter of the lady who had invited us. She shyly showed us photos of herself in her dance outfit and we were able to show her a video I'd made of her telling a traditional tale. We also got to see some beautiful carvings in wood, stone and bone made by their neighbour, as well as cloth made from bark with wonderful designs on it.

We took the opportunity to clean up the topsides and beneath the waterline whilst we were in a shark free, incredibly blue, clean anchorage. The ocean seemed to have forgotten to stop being deep sea blue when it came into this valley. The three week passage had left plenty to clean up, although all the goose barnacles dropped off after a few days - they only seem to like traveling. But we took time out to go walking along the valley, climbing to a 200 ft waterfall. The trail was marked by little piles of stones, miniature cairns, and the last few hundred feet, which were a scramble over rocks, under fallen trees and around boulders, were marked by a trail of flowers.

We're moving on now, heading North to Hiva Oa to check in formally and try to get some documents emailed in order to have a replacement charger released from Tahiti. We bought a new one in Guadalupe last year but it failed so the French company have sent out a replacement under warranty.

I'm sure the rest of the Marquesas will be lovely but I doubt very much anywhere could compete with the beauty and grandeur of Hanavave.

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