one of the tikis at Paumau

Dick and Irene Craig
Sun 11 Apr 2010 22:32
The wind whistles down the hills into the anchorage. Looking at the topology
as we approached the anchorage it is easy to see why. We anchored in sand in
the Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva although the sea bed is mainly rock.
The surrounding vista is stunning. Everything is very green with palm trees
lining the pebble shore and sloping down to the edge of the rock and the
The volcanic island is softened by the green blanket of vegetation. On the
shore there are a few buildings and a football pitch which was in use when
we arrived here yesterday. Looking ahead and upwards to the summit, through
the gap in the huge rock formation ahead, one can see the serpentine, jagged
edges at the top.
Goats wander along the sloping, grass covered surface of the cliff. These
islands have a lot of wild animals, the result of the abandonment of
plantations following droughts. Sheep, pigs, horses, donkeys and cattle are
Two nights running there has been torrential rain and we have had to empty
the rib before we can lower it from its davits. With the noise from the
rain, the gusting wind and the swinging boat, we did not have a good night.
The incredulously beautiful scenery more than compensates.
The small finger, that Dick trapped between the outboard and the wheels on
the rib, way back at the beginning of February while at Isla Canas in Las
Perlas, finally lost its nail.
A local man approached our boat and offered us fruit, taking from a bag two
huge grapefruit for which he asked for sweets in return. The grapefruit were
so sweet they could have been taken from a tin, had we not known otherwise.
He also offered us some frozen fish for which he took a carton of orange
juice. We offered him all sorts of items before we made a deal. The fish was
frozen so he had most likely acquired it from the community store. It
weighed over 2Kgs when defrosted and provided us with two good meals.
Around 17.30 that evening, just as Moe and Bev were preparing to go ashore
for a meal, a motor boat arrived and wished to tie up to their mooring buoy.
Unfortunately being quite close to the buoy we had no alternative but to
The sea bottom in this bay is mainly rock with small pockets of sand. We
couldn't find the sandy patches and tried unsuccessfully to set the anchor
while the light was failing rapidly. Eventually, on the fifth attempt the
anchor was set and the boat made secure. Moe and Bev climbed into Brown Eyed
Girl's dingy and went ashore. It was now almost 7pm and quite dark.
Although I had satisfied myself that the boat was safely anchored, I still
slept fitfully. Rising at 5.30 to prepare the boat ready to leave the bay at
6am I noticed that the motor boat had already left its mooring. The wind had
continued to gust thoughout the night though not as fiercely as the previous
night when the spray was being driven horizontally across the bay.
Leaving the anchorage we raised the mainsail and a gust of wind caught the
sail and wedged a batten between the lazy jacks. The only way we could
release it from this trap was by dropping the side of the sailbag and
physically adjusting the lazy jack.
We sailed to Paumau on the north side of Hiva Oa on a beam reach which was
very lumpy and uncomfortable, taking nine hours to cover 52nautical miles,
anchoring in the bay which was quite exposed to the swell and using a drogue
anchor to hold us into the swell rather than the wind.
The boat ride ashore next morning through the swell to the dockside and a
twenty minute walk along the road took us to a site where five of the best
tikis in this archipelago are located.
On the way back to the beach we bought some apples from a small shop, the
only fresh produce available. Spotting a local man we asked where we could
buy grapefruit. He disappearing for a few minutes returning with a sack of
11 grapefruit, a bag of lemons, two mangos, nine avocados and a pineapple
but would accept nothing for them, not even money. He gave us a lift back to
the dockside in his 4-wheel drive vehicle.
After lunch we left Paumau which was not at all suitable for swimming and
sailed to Hanaiapa Bay just eleven miles along the coast.
The scenery once again is stunning. The steep slopes from the waters edge
are green and dotted with goats. Ahead there is a beach and a couple of
buildings without walls, adjacent to a football pitch with goalposts. Above
along the rugged, serpentine summit ahead, tall trees which look like pines,
soften the ridges. Palm trees, as in most of the other bays, grow behind the
beach and also from the edge of the sea up the hillside. Depending on the
height of the hills, the palm trees may grow to the top or perhaps just a
third of the ascent.
We left this anchorage after supper and made passage to Vaipaee Bay on Ua
Huka. There is very little wind so we motor at about 5knots. The approach
unlike the other islands we have seen is naked volcanic rock without the
usual clothing of grass, trees, shrubs and maquis. Great plateaus confront
us. We anchor in the bay at 7am. Around 9.30 we take the rib ashore and walk
to the village, past the pretty church and on to the museum. We stop at a
shop and buy some green vegetable which we hope is similar to spinach. On
the way back, a local man offers us sweet grapefruit and tells us that there
is to be at wedding today at 4pm and afterwards a great reception in the
vicinity of the football pitch near the beach. All the folk in this valley
are related. We pass huge, elevated, shallow structures where the copra is
being dried. A pitched corrugated roof has been pushed back to allow the sun
to access the coconuts.
We move on a couple of miles to Haavei bay which has a sandy beach bordered
with coconut palms. Another WARC boat arrives minutes before us. The water
is warm and very blue. Nearby a large flat rock is the breeding ground for
sooty terns. Surprisingly it isn't covered with guano.
Next morning we set sail just before 8am for Baie de Controleur, on Nuku
Hiva, a distance of only 29 nautical miles, There was some naked rock at the
entrance to the bay but mainly it was covered with maquis. Close to the end
of the long bay, the vegetation became similar to other bays on other
islands with what appeared to be large plantations of coconut palms. Taking
the rib ashore, we managed to find potatoes.
I hoisted Dick up the mast in the morning and he checked that all the screws
were OK. A small motor boat approached at quite a rate and we waved our arms
in an attempt to get the driver to slow down. As soon as they realized that
we had a man up the mast they reduced speed dramatically and did not
increase it again until they were almost out of the bay.
Motor sailing to Taiohae, just six miles away, a couple of dozen small
dolphins passed us by, obviously on a mission. Moments later, a half dozen
frolicked around the hulls.

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