Fatu Hiva is the southeasternmost of the Marquesas,
a seven hour sail on a close reach (nearly upwind) from Hiva Oa. This means
that if you want an easy sail you wait at Atuona until there is a bit of north
in the Trade Wind then go for it early one morning - which we did a few days
ago. Fatu Hiva has a couple of claims to fame - one of the most dramatic
anchorages in the world, and the last place in the world where traditional
Polynesian tapas are still made.
Here is the anchorage from the sea:
You can just see a yacht on the right to give some
scale. These are huge pillars of volcanic rock, looming over the anchorage.
There is a small village on the left hidden behind the rocks with about 250
people, one tiny shop, a school and a telephone kiosk. Here is another view
in the late afternoon light; more boats have arrived in the
The ridge in the background is an
amazing knife edge and usually shrouded in cloud. And another view of the
anchorage with our boat the one at the extreme bottom left:
This shot was taken from the quite amazing 16km
road connecting the village with the main settlement of Omoa. It is incredible
that anyone has managed to put a driveable road through this
topography. I shudder to think what it must have cost. Presumably paid for out
of EU funds (i.e by German taxpayers). And there is almost no traffic at all. We
walked up to the top at about 700m elevation.
Here we are closer to; you can see our French
courtesy flag in the rigging - we have to carry and display the national flag of
every country we visit, so we have quite a collection now. You can also see our
'riding sail', the triangular white sail at the rear. This sail is
back-to-front, hauled up the backstay and kept very taught by a single sheet led
to a winch on the mast. The idea is that it keeps our bow pointed into the wind.
In the photo it's dead calm, but there are frequent sudden downdraughts of the
hills (and they're really fierce) which cause us to go charging around our
anchor - very dangerous in a crowded anchorage. The riding sail reduces the
movement considerably. You'll also note that the sea is flat. The boat is not
rolling!!! This was the first smooth night's sleep we'd had since we left Panama
two months ago. Bliss.
A very lovely place, but oh boy does it rain. Funny
- literally everywhere that we've been to since we left the UK (and there too!)
the locals tell us that there is something wrong with the weather - versions of
"it shouldn't be this wet at this time of year", "the wind has normally gone
round to the east/west/north/south by now", "it's normally a lot warmer" etc
etc. Either there is something up, or they've all been waching too much