French Polynesia at last!

Manuel Ribeiro
Sun 15 Apr 2018 07:00

After 28 days at sea and 4,000 NM (7,400 Km) since our last stop in Contadora Island, Panama, we finally arrived in Fatu Hiva, part of the Marquesas Archipelago in the north of French Polynesia.


This has been the longest passage that we have planned for this circumnavigation. The weather has been favourable to us and we had no accidents with the crew or boat. ANIMA continues to perform well, as it has now navigated over 9,000 NM since we left Portugal back in October and no issues with sails or equipment that we could not resolve with the tools on board.


Over the next few months we will be sailing between nearby islands, with distances that can be covered in a day or, at most half a week of navigation. For now, we will enjoy the Marquesas, which have high peaks and lush vegetation, in sharp contrast with the Tuamotus, which are low lying atolls with lots of reef.


Back to Fatu Hiva. We arrived on the 11th of April, together with another catamaran (Windancer IV), which we met a couple of times since we passed Galapagos. On the radio, we agreed to anchor in one of the sheltered bays on the west side of the island, where we have the best protection from wind and waves.


The landscape and view from the boat is stunning! A narrow valley, sided by very steep rocks, some vertical, covered with vegetation. As the day progresses, the sunlight creates different impressions of amazing colour and shape. There is a small dock for dinghies, where we can go ashore. A small village with some 300 inhabitants, welcome the few visitors that arrive on sailing boats every year.


Although there is a local cash currency, the villagers prefer to trade (direct exchange of goods) as their ancestors did. There is no bank on the island and no shops, except for the post office and a small grocery supplied by a visiting boat that about regularly.


For the trade, most islanders are looking for rope, tools, fishing gear and luxuries hard to find, such as perfume or cosmetics. Beer, wine and rum are also high on their choices, as all is imported at very high prices. In exchange, they offer what they have: friendship, fruit, fish and some handcraft locally produced in wood and bone.


The climate is pleasant, hot with some showers, which delivers outstanding fruits. Grapefruit, sweet and large as soccer balls, banana, lime, guava, are plentiful in this season.


After we arrived we were invited for dinner at a local family’s house, together with the crews of Windancer IV and another canadian catamaran. We had a traditional Polynesian meal: fruit, salad, “poisson cru”, grilled chicken, local sausages, rice and a desert made with banana and guava. The meal was delicious and we had great fun!


Yesterday we went for a walk in the nountains, which ended with a swim under a 50m high water fall, sharing the cool water with a resident water snake.


Tomorrow we will head to the next islands, as we plan to stay in the Marquesas for about 10 days before heading SW to the Tuamotus.


We are sharing some photos below, stay tuned for more!


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