World ARC Day 86-91 April 4th to April 9th The Marquesas, French Polynesia

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Mon 18 Apr 2016 04:31

World ARC Day 86-91 April 4th to April 9th The Marquesas, French Polynesia

09:48S 139:02W

After 3 weeks and 1 day after leaving the Galapagos islands, we arrived at the greenest islands I've ever seen. Whether it was the endless blue we had been bewitched by for the long passage or simply the greenest, luscious islands awaited us with mountains so high they remained in the clouds.

The anchorage at Hiva Oa was full of ARC boats and a group of other, longer term, less enthusiastic fellow yachtsmen, should we say, but we were welcomed warmly by our fellow sailors. Once the anchor was set and we drifted back between Overseas Express and Belafonte we cracked open a bottle of vintage Cava we had cradled carefully across the 3,000 NM journey. It could have been the most expensive bottle of Champagne for us, the taste was exquisite.

We ventured ashore in our pale blue crew shirts to be greeted by a very difficult dingy dock, big concrete blocks and a large swell, but a friendly Claire with garlands of sweet smelling flowers, (we had showered b.t.w.) Surprisingly it didn’t feel to rocky to be back on land after so long, and despite being exhausted we were very happy to start the debriefing.

We were driven to the local café for Happy Hour. It was like a youth club with sofas, chairs and tables scattered around with a flat screen tv on the wall and some friendly ladies to supply drinks and wifi. It wasn’t long before we were told the best place to eat was the hotel at overlooking the bay so with a promise from Corango 's crew to book us a table for 7 pm we were picked up and soon whisked off by the hotel owner for a well earned meal, not cooked by ourselves on the boat.

Unfortunately just as we were enjoying the chatter and drinks and looking over the menu we received a VHF message from Belafonte that they were concerned about how close we were next to them down in the bay, as they were reluctant to let out more chain Steve and Lyn had to go back down to the anchorage to secure the boat, leaving Peter and Karen to enjoy the well deserved meal.
The following morning we relocated into the bay as space became available then hit the supermarket which we hoped would be full of goodies as the tanker that circulates amongst the islands every 3 weeks happened to be in the port. A lady taxi in a bright red Toyota pick up took us to the village above the bay and to our surprise the supermarket was full of goodies, even Easter eggs that we had been day dreaming about.

The supermarket were also happy to give 2 of us a lift back with all the provisions, so Steve and Peter left us to wait for a taxi. Unfortunately no taxi returned but Aint Fancy's Betina and Dirk kindly offered us a lift back, which was great.
Saturday we had organised to hire a car and thankfully Peter, who had enjoyed rally car driving, was up for the challenge and boy was it one.

The roads were like goat tracks, goats included, with 3000 feet drops down to the pacific shoreline alongside the road in places, but what views, and with so few inhabitants, unspoilt does not describe the magnificent of the Marqueesas. We made our way carefully through a few shoreline dwellings, with communal open air eating areas and gardens so neatly tended you'd think Alan Titchmarsh had been with his ground force crew. Because of the humid climate plants that we would tend in pots grow like shrubs. Hibiscus, bougainvillea and many kinds of variegated leafy plants and fruit trees. We stopped at a café before the turn of for the Tikkis that we hoped to find, and had a welcome coffee plus were given a pineapple by the lady proprietress.
The Tikkis were on a hillside area with a backdrop of a cliff and trees but all well tended.

The history was extremely sketchy with no definite time line, but was excavated in the 80's.

The catholic church had done there best at chopping various body parts of the statues and trying to soften the harsh reality of how they had lived and killed and ate each other.
Objective achieved, we started our way back, and luckily only met one vehicle in a tricky spot with 2 of the other ARC visitors.

The journey was equally impressive and over all too soon for me.
We had signed up for a traditional pork dinner at the café that evening, but unfortunately the hog roast we had read about was not on the menu. It was pork and olive stew instead. We tried!
After a little bop to the local group we made our way back to Nina for a good nights sleep as several jobs were needing to be done before moving on.
Easter morning, we rang Chris, Danni and Lauren on the Sat phone, to wish them happy Easter and we started eating chocolate eggs bunnies , hens etc. ourselves.
Monday 28th work completed we treated ourselves to an afternoon of chilling at the hotel and a meal plus a little too much wine.
Wednesday we finally felt ready to set sail after waiting for our fuel visa and everything on Nina back working as it should.

Ua Poa was a 70 nm trip so we thought an early start should get us there for sunset we got to the island in daylight but the anchorage was a little further than first thought with only 1 other yacht and depths of 30m it was a little hairy, especially when you could hear the waves crashing on the rocky shore, but Steve found a bommy head of about 20m depth in amongst the 40m bay, so we dropped the anchor and set the alarm just in case we wandered too close.

Another incredible view awaited us in the morning as the island is famous for its columns that look like volcanic chimneys. There are 6 in total stretching up into the hovering cloud high up above the island, and water so clear you can see the bottom of the bay some 30m to 40m below.

We took the dinghy to a very civilised dock with a ladder and walked into the village where we found Ti Pierro's a café with WIFI and coffee, but no food for 2 days. He did have a freezer full of bread however, which he was happy to sell us.
Karen and Lyn went for a wander to a settlement that was more like a stone age encampment that had been inhabited right up until the 80s, but it did show why their homes had been so neatly laid out with the rocks and stones in such abundance.
April 1st we sailed across to Nuka , and had great winds, so Steve and Peter were enjoying racing conditions which meant we arrived before midday. As we approached the bay, a huge rain storm, that had been threatening, did its worst and chucked it down with torrential rain. We could not see a thing so had to wait out the storm in the entrance.

Into the Blue, a family filled ARC boat was just behind us, so they also waited until the rain cleared, and dropped anchor along side us Another stunning location was shown to us. With all the torrential downpour, a brown sludge filled with the debris from the hillsides around the bay started approaching us, and swallowing up the blue pacific waters like a horror movie. Rain continued off and on all afternoon so we stayed on board to keep dry and watched Star Wars.
Saturday was our official rendezvous, so we went ashore to be greeted by a dance troupe. Beads were handed out like garlands to everyone, and then a variety of arts and crafts were displayed.

The skippers briefing took place in the town hall and we were informed about the Touomotoes our next port of call. This was quite scary for many of the skippers present, as the brief detailed many hazards of entering tropical atolls, with shallow reef entrances and tidal over falls.
The locals had then laid on a buffet meal, mostly bananas, raw fish and pork luckily the dancing was much better than the food.(say no more.)
We hired a car again, to enjoy another journey of astounding views and animal life, best described as a farm yard melee set free in a garden of Eden. Ponies, pigs, chickens and roosters all wandering wherever they pleased. We had a trek up to some remote Tikis where the insects enjoyed our company a bit too much, then drove to a larger settlement just before Hatiheu with a 600 year old tree not unlike the tree of life in Avatar. There were many platforms, petroglyphs and tikkis. By far the most spread out settlement, where you could see how life may have been, but not good as a prisoner, held below inside the stone platforms before being ceremonially offered to the gods.