The Marquesas

Thu 22 Jun 2023 01:38
9 53.9S 139 6.1W

We have been here just over 2 weeks now, the pace has well and truly dropped and we have evolved into the slow time cruising life. When we set foot on land, we were desperate to go for a walk, after about 100m, our legs started to hurt and we had to turn back...needless to say we'd definitely lost some fitness at sea, so we're on a mission to get fit again.

After we made land fall on Fatu-Hiva, we visited a couple of anchorages. The second anchorage called Hanavave was just the most amazing spot. You're surrounded by high cliffs with jagged rock formations that look like something out of Dracula. There's a small village on shore with a valley stretching inland filled with dense jungle. It was a difficult anchorage due to the steep sloping edges and rocky bottom, it took us 3 goes. The mountains create nasty gusts that send all the boats off in different directions, eventually we went for an anchorage at the back and just put all 90m of chain out...that did the job!
We had an amazing walk to a waterfall and then followed the road up into the mountains to get a view down. The scenery really is pretty insane, the peaks are so dramatic and the foliage untouched. There's only one small shop in the village that sells essentials but nothing fresh. We got chatting to a couple outside the shop who invited us back to their house to choose some fruit. We ended up with a wheelbarrow full of fruit, Pamplemouse, bananas, passion fruit and mangoes. They don't really use money here so we exchanged for a bottle of rum!

After a few days there we headed to the larger island of Hiva-Oa to officially check in and get some supplies. It was a lovely 8hr sail with the wind on the beam. We set off the same time as a 40ft cat and left them for dead (the one Ben had been admiring for it's palatial living space)...the old girl does sail well!

The town of Atuona on Hiva-Oa has a small break water and dinghy dock where you can anchor. It was incredibly busy with boats anchored super close. After 2 attempts at anchoring we finally moved outside the breakwater and into a rather rolly spot. Everyone we'd spoken to said how easy it was to complete immigration....turns out it is if you're in the EU...cheers Boris! If you're not in the EU, it's around £3000 each to enter or you have to prove that you have a flight out of french polynesia within 3 months. Obviously we opted for the flight option and bought 2 flights, and then cancelled them. Oh to be in the EU!

I had an interview for Hobart whilst Ben did some baguette buying (they do actually have French baguettes). Our star link is very good but we've found that it does cut out when the boat spins at anchor and we're surrounded by high cliffs. For the interview on zoom we bought a sim card with data which worked perfectly. 

We did an amazing hike up to the peak on Hiva-Oa (1300m). It was the most incredible path. Very lightly used and pretty sketchy (even Ben suggested we turned back). It essentially scaled the side of a cliff face for about 1000m, luckily it hadn't rained so the ground was pretty solid. 
We had an interesting foiling session (bit bumpy for me), we were surrounded by manta rays, Ben actually hit one and they got quite defensive (unsurprisingly), so that session got cut short. 

The next anchorage on the island of Tahuata to the SW of Hiva-Oa is where we currently are and have been for 1 week. After sailing down the channel between the 2 islands with 2 kts of current and 20kts of wind behind us, we pulled in at a beautiful, secluded anchorage on the NW corner just off the channel. There were 2 other boats when we arrived, now it's just us. 
There's a beautiful private beach with wild goats and horses running around and really nice snorkelling on the coral. We've been foiling every day in the channel with good wind and waves. Ben has been practicing his pumping and down-winding, determined as ever to master it.
We've met 3 other boats with people our age (well my age) who invited us for a beach party in the next anchorage. One of the boats had broke a shroud halfway from Panama so had to motor the whole way, refuelling from a passing ship!
Every morning at 8am groups of manta rays gather outside our anchorage to feed on the plankton. We've been out twice to snorkel with them, really amazing creatures (vidoes on instagram).
We've been down to the local village and returned with an ikea bag full of fresh fruit picked from one of the locals garden...the biggest mango tree I have ever seen, they didn't even want anything for it. The generosity is incredible, they are such happy, lovely people who are content with the simple life. Nobody has a house bigger than they need and they all have beautiful gardens growing all their own food...a good way to live.

Tomorrow we are heading NW to Nuku-Hiva to re-supply before heading south to the Tuamotu islands. 

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