Storyteller, A delightful week in the Marquesas

Thu 3 Apr 2008 07:10
Well we've just spent a delightful week in the Marquesas, and I apologise to those sending plaintive texts asking whether we have arrived yet. Tomorrow were off again on a 3-day trip to the Tuamotus, also known as the 'Dangerous Isles'. This, of course, is the location of Mururoa Atoll, which is still off limits. We arrived at Atuona, the port of Hiva Oa, last Wednesday, a trip of 17 days which was pretty good going. Generally the winds were favourable although a lot further East than is normal for the South East Trades Clearly we're going into an El Nino, which is disastrous for the Pacific, and the Galapagos in particular.
I'm sorry we didn't do a blog when we arrived, but our anchorage at Atuona was pretty horrifying, requiring an additional anchor at the stern, which despite it's 70 lb weight dragged across the bay. At about 11pm we whacked into the Southern Princess, which set off our Jonbuoy safety device with a great whoosh. It was an extraordinary sight as you almost never see one inflated and it took hours the next day to deflate it. So  instead of enjoying a decent night's sleep for the first time in 17 days, John and I spent the night sitting up on deck making sure we didn't crash into the other nearby boats. Repacking the Jonbuoy joins a growing list of jobs to be done in Papeete, which the last place before Australia where we'll find decent marine services. The water maker joins the list of casualties. So we're going to have to be very careful with water for the next 10 days until Storyteller arrives in Papeete.
We were incredibly lucky that the wife of a crew member on another boat brought us out a new freezer pump, so we have a wonderfully efficient freezer again.
One of the highlights of Hiva Oa was the Gaugin museum. Jacques Brel the Belgian singer/ composer is also buried on Hiva Oa is also buried on Hiva Oa, and there's a great memorial to him, as well.
The Marquesas are all that you read about--lush vegetation, tropical fruit growing wild everywhere--mangoes, pamplemousse, bananas and limes. We buy absolutely fresh vegetables from the local people who could not be friendlier. The Marquesans are particularly fine looking people and many of the men have half face tattoos that look stunning. There are also many 'mahu' (transvetites) who are particularly attractive and loads of fun. And I should mention the women, most of whom look as though they've stepped right out of a Gaugin painting.There are horses and dogs everywhere, but no litter. Where we are in Taiohai, there are two small supermarkets, but they stock duck breasts, foie gras and Roquefort cheese. Everything's very expensive, so we feel sorry for the cruisers on very tight budgets.