Marquesas good, but left

Rich Carey
Mon 14 May 2018 18:10
12:35.284S 143:34.972W

After three days of the rather horrible anchorage at Hiva Oa - I'd had quiet enough. I made it into town twice and was really enjoying that the Island was quite a lot different from what I'm used to. Beautiful thick tropical green covering sharp and towering hills. Friendly people, sort of ok provisioning possibility. But on the other side: Zero trust in the anchors holding (so entirely nervous when away from the boat and at night); all boat owners eyeing each other suspiciously in case their neighbors don't hold; nasty dinghy dock, where I snapped off one of the Torqueedo propellers; no eating or drinking facilities within a half hour walk - bleh!

I went to town on the first day to check in (mentioned that before), and managed a couple of three beers, but was back on the boat by lunch time as I didn't like being away. On the second day I just did some cleaning and repairs. On the third day I walked back into town to get some French Poly Franks as it's one of the few places with a cash machine (no lift either way this time - but a nice walk). Went back to the one bar on the Island and noted that he had only 5 beers left in the fridge! This is the way they do it on the Islands - have enough supplies to run out a day or two before the weekly supply ship arrives ... That's understandable with fruit and vegetables, but otherwise, the only reason I can think of, is to make the end of week stock taking a 60 second task !! So, I drank 3 of the 5 beers, and the owner closed the bar (at 16:30). We couldn't communicate enough for me to understand the logic in the closing (they did sell other things aside from beer - although not many) - I can only assume that the owner needed a lie down or something. So back to the boat.
When I arrived back, my neighbor was predictably stood on his bow, ready to have a good whine about his opinion on my boats positioning, and the possibility of 'trouble in the night time'. Being good neighborly I begin the difficult exercise of repositioning. Now this really is difficult when you are single handed, and in very close proximity to several other boats.

One other factor needs to be injected here. In trying to formulate a plan that morning, I'd been basing needs around those of the boat after a long passage and the needs of the new sailing area:

1. Need to get the mainsail repaired - would require a good sailmaker with a heavy duty sowing machine
2. Need to change the anchor windlass set-up, as the chain counter is busted, and that makes it difficult at the best of times, and a major problem when solo. In addition to the counter, I can only raise the anchor from the bow, not easily let it down.
3. Need to get a smaller tender outboard motor, to better match the slightly smaller new tender I bought in Puerto Rico, and because again, the larger one is a challenge to get on and off single handed.

At the capital of the Marquesas (Nuku Hiva - 85 miles North west), they have a few yacht facilities, so I emailed ahead to see what they could do for me. 1. Nope. 2. Nope. 3. Nope.

So there I was, no plan, no facilities, and struggling mightily to move the boat. After two attempts taking half an hour each, of sweating, grunting and cursing, I was getting nowhere and it was becoming a bit of a spectator sport/ comedy of errors. At the end of the second full attempt, I had the stern anchor back in the tender, with its 10 meters of chain and 40 meters of rope, and the main anchor out of the water - so drifting. Screw this I said, powered up, left 'nasty place', and pointed at Tahiti! It's kind of a shame to not have seen more, but a flavor was gained, and sometimes that's all it's practical to expect, when conditions are challenging.

So, I'm now about half way to Papeete the capital of Tahiti, where repair facilities are plentiful, and a man can get a beer and a steak and a chips! Due to my anchor challenges, tender issues, and being only one set on eyeballs aboard, I'm scooting straight past the famous Tuomotos (once called the 'dangerous archipelago'), so this passage will become a bit more 'eyeballs' than the normal open ocean sections. The reef isles are just palm trees sticking up out of the swell, not visible until about 3 miles away, but well charted and the radar will tag them ok - it just requires solid vigilance at night as I pass them (not much sleep).

As I'm not in any hurry, I don't even have the mainsail up - I only have the small 22sqM gib out! This for these first three days has been rather good, as I don't have to think about sails at all! No flapping, no flogging, no batton whiplash, no bouncing boom to tame. With the swell and the moderate trades, I've still been managing just over 5 knots. Today is not so good as the trades have turned light, no you get less pull (wind) and more push (waves), which greatly increases the bump and grind (and makes typing really difficult!).

All's well on x86, bumping along kind of slow.

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