Atuona, Hiva Oa

Thu 1 May 2014 02:48
09:48.22S 139:01.917W

We had a very pleasant day sail here, it's quite fun because you haven't lost sight of the island you were on before you see the next one coming. Although Fatu Hiva was very very beautiful it wasn't the best anchorage because the winds came tumbling down those steep cliffs causing massive gusts. It makes it a little nerve wracking. Dolphins came and joined us on the way, Spotted Pantropic again. Some of them had bright white beaks, not just the tips, like they'd dipped their noses in a tin of white paint. There were also large flocks of sea birds - Boobies, Petrels, Noddies all muddled in together. They were swooping in circles just over the surface of the water, really low. We thought at first there may be a bait ball but the Boobies weren't dive bombing as they usually do, so we had no idea what was going on - maybe they're just hanging out together!

The anchorage at Hiva Oa is very busy, about 25 boats. The swell curls in around the breakwater so everyone uses a stern anchor as well as one at the bow, to hold the boat straight on to the swell - it helps stop the roll. It also means more boats can fit in as in theory, if everyone uses the same length of chain and responds to the wind in the same way, when the wind changes you all swing around together keeping the same distances apart. In practice that doesn't happen so if you're swinging you need more room than if you are anchored bow and stern. It feels strange having boats so close alongside.

It's beautiful here too: magnificent peaks, clothed in trees, huge sweeping bay showing where the volcano used to be before the sea ate away one side of it. We cycled over the hill to the village, passing chickens on the verge every hundred yards or so, usually with 4 or 5 chicks they'd scratched a sort of playpen for in the leaf litter, evidence that cockerels have been doing their stuff. Indeed, in the mornings the cocks call a cacophony of coc-a-ree-cos (They're French, I think that's what they say. They certainly don't say Cock-a-doodle-do!) well before the sun has even thought of appearing. We were going in search of baguettes and internet, both of which we found. Oh and we thought it about time we checked in: very easy, just a form to fill in, we are in the EU you know! The bread was excellent, the internet was at the post office and was frustrating and intermittent but we got two catch-up-pictures blog posts sent, some bills paid on line and we sent scanned documents to an agent in Nuku Hiva so he can get a battery charger sent over from Tahiti where it's currently in customs. Ours broke on the way to Galapagos and the French manufacturer have sent a replacement out under warranty. We also snuck a very quick look at Facebook (thanks for the post Hannah! Congratulations Jo!) before the post office closed and kicked us out.

On the way back it was starting to get dark and the birds were fluttering and settling and squabbling. Flashes of white and yellow, mysterious calls from the tree tops. We definitely need a new bird book.

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