Bai D'Anaho, Nuku Hiva

Fri 16 May 2014 19:32
08:49.317S 140:03.9W

Having been told how great the bays on the North of the island are we moved on from Haahopu yesterday. We realised that we would have to punch into the Easterly wind along the top of the island but were disappointed to find it right on the nose from the North as we came out of the bay. The wind had curled around the North West corner of Nuku Hiva and managed to be right ahead of us all the way, so the sailing wasn't great - but the views more than made up for it. Spectacular range after spectacular range tumbled down to the sea, baring blood red strata periodically, which we could trace all along the Western side. Knife thin ridges, looking like sharpened flint, topped peninsulas and equally thin buttresses, evenly placed, held them up.

As we approached Anaho Fieldtrip hailed us, they were on their way in too. The bay had just a few boats in and was very sheltered and calm. There was plenty of room to anchor, keeping well clear of the reef which stretches 200ft from the shore. Two buoys mark the entrance to a dinghy passage that must have been blasted through to the beach. We were expecting more boats to arrive looking for shelter as there's quite a swell on the South of the island so we were looking out for friends and saw an unknown French catamaran come in instead. They anchored between us and the reef, "well" we thought, "I guess they must have a very shallow draught". However, after dark when the tide dropped, there was much kerfuffle and re-anchoring going on when they found they were sitting on the reef. They chose to re-anchor right in front of us, over our chain. Ho hum.

It's just past full moon, spring tides right now, so when the tide was out all the reef was exposed. We went walking on it, picking up top shells (shaped like spinning tops) five inches high, watching baby black tip sharks and rainbow parrot fish swim past our ankles. There are manta rays here as well, we sat on deck in the evening watching them swim around the boats, just under the surface, then next day joined them as they fed over the reef. They swam right up close, just a few feet away from us and let us swim alongside them - although it was hard to keep up. They have sort of flaps either side of their mouth which they curve to sweep the plankton and small fish into their mouths. When they are not using them, they roll these flaps up into tubes either side of their mouths, looking a little like tusks. Amazing to be so close to these huge creatures. They can grow up to 22 ft across but these were no more 12 or 14 ft across, a little intimidating at times, I had to remind myself that they had no teeth and no stings. Wonderful gentle giants.

More boats did arrive through the evening so we have been having a lovely social time. Friends that we first met in the Canaries are here, along with others we met in the San Blas and three boats we only came across here in the Marquesas. In the afternoon, once school was done, the beach was busy with youngsters playing. The dads had gone off spear fishing, returning with great big grouper, but the Marquesans said they may have ciguatera, toxins that build up in the food chain, so couldn't be eaten. Strangely, I was asked to be the spokeswoman when we went to ask the locals, the other cruisers seem to think that I can speak French! (Ma mere est bien mais mon pere a un rhume???)

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