Baie Du Controleur, Nika Hiva

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 19 Feb 2011 04:19
Position: 08 52.73 S 140 02.92 W
At anchor Baie Du Controleur, Nika Hiva
Wind: F0 Calm
Weather: Overcast, passing showers, warm
Day's run: 95 miles

I have just dragged my weary body out of my bunk, having caught up on some sleep after being underway all last night and much of today. We have not ended up where we intended, but first things first.

After a relaxing day yesterday in Baie Hane Moe Noa, finishing up with a swim ashore, a jog a long the beach and a swim back to Sylph, in the way of some much needed exercise, I got the dinghy inboard, secured Sylph for sea and at 17.30 weighed and sailed form anchor. The wind was perfect for a comfortable and fast passage, excepting for the wind shadow under Hiva Oa which required about 15 minutes of motoring to break through, otherwise we enjoyed a close reach averaging about six knots, the full moon and a clear sky making for a beautiful night's sail. We arrived off Ua Huka a couple of hours before dawn. I am not sure who inspired who but both Tormenta and Casse-Tete decided to sail overnight for Ua Huka as well. They both got underway after me, Tormenta being a good 12 feet longer on the waterline overtook us a little before midnight and when we arrived off Ua Huka she was of course already there pottering around waiting for dawn under her mainsail. I have not seen Casse-Tete yet. I followed Tormenta's lead and furled the jib and heaved to close hauled on the port tack, very slowly jogging away from the island towards the south at less then a knot. At five Tormenta called me on the radio and said that she had gone in towards the entrance of Baie Vaipaee and found the swell to be unacceptable and that she was going to continue on to Nuka Hiva. I thought it wise to follow suit and ten minutes later had the jib back up and poled out to starboard, Sylph running square wing on wing, to cover the additional 28 miles downwind to our revised destination.

Come daylight I found that we had kept pace with Tormenta but as morning wore on the wind became lighter. Tormenta decided to motor and drew ahead of us. I was tempted to follow suit, the combination of light air and two meter swell had the mainsail slatting noisily, and we only had about seven miles to go. But I resisted, we still had some useable wind. “Dammit,” I thought, “I wanted to sail around the world and that is what we are going to do.” So keeping to my resolution, albeit a little crankily, I broke out the drifter and hoisted that using the boom as a whisker pole, then dropped the mainsail. We continued this way, drifter boomed out to port and jib poled to starboard for another couple of hours, initially only making good a little over a knot but the wind freshened gradually so that a little before midday we were back up to five knots. I dropped the drifter and reset the mainsail. We rounded a very nasty looking rock, Rocher Te oho te kea, thrusting its nasty solitary jagged black tooth up out of the depths, 600 yards south of Cape Tikapo, the southeast headland of Nuka Hiva to make our way into Baie Du Controleur.

In the meantime Tormenta had continued on to the main settlement of Nuka Hiva, Baie De Taiohae but seeing as we are not likely to pass this way again I had decided to stop at Baie Du Controleur which is a few miles before Taiohae. This bay consists of three separate inlets, my old chart dated from 1959 shows that the inlets are named after the tribes which occupied them, but sadly all the tribes are long gone. My guide indicated that the middle inlet, Anse Hangga Haa, has a few features of interest, namely a waterfall and some stone tikis which I figure will be sufficient inspiration for bit of a hike tomorrow, so after playing around with some light and fickle winds for a while, this is where we are now at anchor. It is also the only bay with any inhabitants remaining with a very small settlement of a few scattered houses.

I will catch up with Tormenta and presumably Casse-Tete in a couple of days – they owe me some beer money!

All is well.