Daniel's bay, a tour of the island by sea, Anaho Bay and Ua Pou 09:21S 140:06W
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Fri 22 May 2015 20:38
Dear Family and Friends,
20th May 2015
Heading westwards for just a few miles from Taiohae Bay, Daniel’s or Hakaui Bay opens into a sheltered anchorage, the seaward end of a narrow valley culminating in one of the taller waterfalls of the world. The now characteristic pinnacles, every surface green greet you as you sail in, it is more than dramatic! The walk to the waterfall is well worth the effort despite a mere trickle of water that now cascades down it, it is an adventure. We landed at low water on the sand bank in the bay, close to the river mouth. Its a wet landing so we were prepared with flip flops (not recommended as they got sucked off by the water),and rolled up trousers and carried the dingy to the deeper water in the river, paddling up the lagoon to tie the dingy to a tree root and find the start of the path. We were greeted by a very helpful local, his face half tattooed and long carved bone ornament through his ear, we had seen him spear fishing in the surf. It isn’t very hard to imagine these scenes stretching back hundreds of years.
The valley sides rise as near vertical cliffs, the valley floor a fertile greenhouse of fruit and vegetable, a clear river running its length. It is easy to see why the first kings of Nuku Hiva chose this valley, almost impenetrable from the land around with a good sea access and a sacred waterfall at its head. Ancient hands have laid the moss covered stones that mark the path for part of the way to the abandoned village high in the canyon. This valley, formerly home to a whole tribe has five families near the bay, farming fruits and coconuts, keen gardeners, colourful variegated shrubs mark their boundaries and the path. There are sights that seem incongruous and a phone box close to the path was certainly one of them. Close by a delightful tiny open air church with stone seats around a central altar. We met another friendly resident with very good English as he had worked in a bar in Bora Bora and now farmed his 500 lemon trees. He would have liked us to engage him as a guide but he was genuinely affable.
I did say it was an adventure. You need insect repellent with you, the sandflies and midges give no quarter. The path climbs for two hours to the waterfall canyon, passing over several streams and rivers, knee deep on one crossing, scrambling across boulders to ford a fast flowing river higher up, to falling off a log crossing a bog, (still trying to get rid of the black mud stains). The path is at first wide and well marked but narrows as it climbs, an uneven rock path bordered by its wandering kerb stones until it reaches the ancient settlement. We could recognise the elements that we had seen in other archaeological sites including a pit to keep the sacrifices awaiting their fate. >From here the path is marked with stone cairns and climbs over rock and tree roots to the canyon itself. Immensely tall, it is difficult to convey the canyon’s scale in a photograph, nor the sense of having made it through the ravine of falling rocks or death by coconut. (These trees line much of the route even in the dense woodland and did indeed claim a women just last year).
Fortunately we knew that there was little water in the falls, a well meaning initiative planted pine trees on the plateau above and now there is little water. The ravine that the water has cut is impressive and the clear pool below home to freshwater crayfish, white Tropic birds with their long tails, circling the deep well like rock ravine. Personally I had waded through enough water to get there but others who swam in the pool claimed the water was glacial, perfect after the long steamy hot climb. On our return, it was high water and possible to travel in the dingy from the lagoon, down the river, shoot the rapids into the bay, very exciting but a sand bar just after the river mouth can catch the prop and did for our acquaintances on Firefly. The swell is another thing altogether and we shipped several waves before we got the motor started and I was thoroughly wet.
After an impromptu party of boats in the anchorage, we left for a sail around the west and north coasts. The north west coasts shallow contours provide the islands airport site with flights to Papeete, Tahiti and to other islands in the group. Before long, the mountains rise again steep faced, cloud capped, razor sharp ridges finely chiselled by erosion and at times sombre, long fingered bays, flooded valleys stretch seaward. We passed Hatiheu, our earlier tour destination and anchored in the sheltered and enchanting Anaho Bay. (Although the anchor held it grumbled and rattled as the holding was on rocks).
20th May 2015
We left Nuku Hiva to sail for Ua Pou, our final Marquesan island before striking out for Tahiti some 850 miles away. The north west coast is dominated by the pitons, volcanic plugs that are all that remain of an ancient volcano. Almost straight sided, pointed and taller than the surrounding hills, they reminded me of giant rock crystals. There is a particular rock here with orange crystals within it that look like flowers and it is used for make rock sculptures. This island’s highest peak , Mount Oave 1232m often cloud covered looks down on the steep valleys where 5-6 villages and incredibly 2,300 inhabitants live close to the sea. This is almost as many as Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa, much bigger islands. With little in the way of safe anchorages, European navigators hardly called, but there are small yacht anchorages in the pilots, Hakahetau was reasonable with a small swell.
21st May 2015
This morning after a pleasant walk up the hill retracing Alan’s previous visit to the island when his party were entertained by Etienne, the local mayor and retired French school teacher, we said our goodbyes to Firefly and set sail for the northern atolls of the Tuamotus. This is 3 days sail, give or take, then course between the atoll reefs and onto to Tahiti, about another 2 days or so. We plan to come back to the Tuamotus after our UK visit.
We met with Firefly there to loan them some parts, hopefully all the long distance arrangements that this entails will be successful! But that’s what sailing is like, its a community and you look out for each other. Our UK return will also see Alan picking up boat parts for two other boats to bring back with us!
All our best,
Lynne and Alan