Fatu Hiva to Hiva Oa to ...NOW....Tahuata
09 54.5 S 139 06.3 W
Good sailing yesterday to Hiva Oa to do the formal check-in to French Polynesia this morning followed by some provisioning to partially replenish very bare “Mother Hubbard’s cupboards”….and then a quick exit from a very crowded, dirty anchorage/harbor this afternoon to an idyllic protected anchorage……blue sapphire water, white sand beach, palm trees as far as the eye can see ….well at least part way up the mountain and then other vegetation takes over with the higher elevations.
Fata Hiva provided a couple of unique experiences: John (S/V Sea Mist) and Marian (from S/V Kilkea) took in Sunday morning mass at the local Catholic church in the tiny community and the children’s voices and ….so so much music was absolutely wonderful. Being a matriarchal society, the sermon/homily was delivered by a churchwoman elder with the two (Note 2) priests seated and looping on through the very long and DRY homily. All elements of the mass were in the Marquesan language so you did not know what was being said but the routine was familiar. The voices/music were terrific.
Later on Sunday morning, about 11 am, Cheryl and I joined about 15 other cruisers to go to a private home (the woman’s name was Desire and she was a great host) for a traditional Polynesian meal (Barb B Q)….well the meat was found in a pit in the ground where it had been cooked and we watched the husband dig it out…first, soil was shoveled off, then layers of very think. Coarse cloth, then big leaves and finally the pit was found with chicken parts, goat parts, pig parts…. and the meat was then gathered into a bin and from that served to us with hot/cooked bread fruit, banana, plantain….and from huge bowls on the big table where we all sat, we added what we wanted of rice, mustard garnished beautiful fresh, sliced tomatoes, and a raw fish and cucumber salad….and as much lemonade as you wanted dipped out of a 5 gallon bucket ….and as much fresh coconut juice as you wanted to pour from a couple of wine bottles as a general condiment over everything….and all eaten with your fingers….no utensils except for big serving spoons in the salad bowls. The food was really tasty, good!...it just took a little bit of time to get used to eating everything with your fingers….but, at least, there were rolls of paper towels on the table for when/if you felt you needed to clean up your hands a bit. And all the bones/plates scraps/etc went into another 5 gallon bucket that was the treats bucket for their dog ….until the man of the house took the bucket off to the pig pen 100 yards away and the recycle began again as the young pigs gorged themselves on the dumped bucket of table scraps……..and you could just easily see that it would not be too many days before one of them would be the next victim in the pit…..for another Polynesian feast in the future.
On Monday, I went off by myself on a 4 0 5 hour mountain hike over the top of the island towards a distant village further down on the western shore; it would have been about 8 hours non-stop to have gone all the way to the other village but that was more than I wanted to take on..it was tough enough to climb steeply for two hours without going back to sea level and having to climb back up 2 hours on the return 4 hour hike…so I settled for getting to the top of the mountain…..along the peaks for about an hour and then down far enough to be able to see the bay where the other village was located…..then back to the top, across the peaks, and down the steep decline ….which was probably the most difficult part of it all for my old rack of bones.
Tuesday, saw us sail away from Hiva Oa fairly early and a terrific, fast, 6 hour beam-reach sail to Hiva Oa where we had to set a stern anchor as well as our bow anchor – for the first time since once on the French Riviera a couple of years ago – a tough job as we did not have the anchor assembled, etc….and a very close anchorage with boats only a few feet from each other. The reverse process had to happen today as we departed…..retrieval of the stern anchor was too difficult for Ian to manage without help from some other sailors ….the Fortress 55 was very well “set” in the soft mud bottom. Cheryl and I had to wait for Ian to get back to Sea Mist with the dinghy after retrieving the stern anchor….as we needed him to retrieve our primary anchor…a 45 kg Ultra…in a complicated maneuvering feat amongst boats that had moved on top of our rode and anchor…with very little room to keep Sea Mist away from hitting any of them. All turned out just fine and we were off to this absolutely idyllic anchorage where we find ourselves for tonight. After sharing sundowners with Kilkea on-board Sea Mist, we enjoyed our new provisions for an evening meal ….and now time for the bed!....Good night to all…..
Will update once and awhile as we move on from here to explore other Marquesan islands - the islands of Ua Pou, Nuka Hiva – before sailing off some 450 nm south west to the next island group that make up French Polynesia…the Tuamotos.