08:55S 140:06W Nuka Hiva

Conor & Marion Wall
Sat 25 Jun 2011 08:25
Captain’s Log 2300 UT 25th June 2011 Current position 11*25.3 South 145*07.9 West
Conor & Marion and the good ship Toucan have left the Marquesas group of islands and we are on our way to the Tuamotu Archipelago. Estimated journey time 4 days. We had a pleasant stay and visited the following islands: Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Ua Pou and Nuku Hiva.
The music we left behind complete with dancing girls practicing most nights, what a delight.
Well we never made it to the waterfall at Fatu Hiva. We set out with good intentions but apparently took the wrong turn and walked for over an hour deep into the mountain jungle in the wrong direction. By the time we got back to the starting point we were knackered and went back to the boat. Three weeks at sea obviously showed in our lack of stamina. We had thought that we might try again a few days later but it never happened. We spent 5 nights at this anchorage and felt it time to move on. We had a sail of 45 miles ahead of us to the next Island Hiva Oa and the place where we would check in with the police. Official clearance can not be done until we reach the capital of French Polynesia in Tahiti another 800 miles away. So the rule here is to check in with the Gendarme at each major Island.
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The grave of the artist Paul Gauguin with beautiful view overlooking the bay.
At Hiva Oa we anchored in the main harbour for the island, a very confined anchorage with perhaps a dozen other yacht, kedge anchor was deployed as space was tight. Whilst at this anchorage the ‘Aranaui’ the supply ship arrived and there was great excitement on the quay with masses of pick-ups, fork lift truck and the like all plying for space. It was also quite amazing how the ship manoeuvred alongside the quay without taking out any of the Yachts and even more amazing how much cargo was offloaded and loaded in a very short space of time.  Here we did the obligatory check in, visited the grave of Paul Gauguin, had a nice wander around the village and stocked up with some essentials from the very well stocked shops of which there were four to chose from. An ad hoc music session on Toucan with crew members from other boats. There is a very nice church in the village with amazing wood carvings that we took some photos of.
Some of the carvings
The following morning we made arrangements to meet a person, Sandra, who was going to organise a piece of paper for us that would allow us to have duty free fuel for our time in French Polynesia. It would cost us about £50 but would save us about 25% on each litre of fuel we purchased. So armed with this we went to the fuel station only yards from where were anchored and with my empty jerry cans bought 110 litres of diesel. Saving almost as much as the exemption certificate cost us. So by the time we leave French Polynesia we should be quids in.
Unfortunately this anchorage was not good and with strong winds forecast for the following few days. Going ashore in the dingy was positively dangerous with the already large swell and very unfriendly bit of concrete that we were expected to land on so we decided to move to another island close by.
Racing the dolphins to Tahuata
Taken by another yacht in the same bit of water as the dolphins
We moved to a very pretty bay on the island of Tahuata with calm clear water. Here I was able to dive in clear waters and inspect the bottom of Toucan. (because of the large amount of rain falling both of the previous anchorages were unsuitable for swimming or diving due to the amount of sediment being washed down from the hills). Once again I was shocked at the amount of barnacles that had grown whilst crossing the Pacific. It was only about six weeks since I cleaned her in the Los Perlas Islands, Panama and I really didn’t expect to see so many barnacles. I set to work scraping them off with my magic scraper and as the barnacles were falling to the sea bed loads of tiny and some large but all very colourful fish gathered for the feast. It was a pleasure watching them feed on my scrapings. Sometime later I looked down as a black tipped shark, as least as big as me, glided past. He was on the bottom although only a few meters deep  but did not look threatening so I carried on cleaning. However when a second shark passed me about 15 minutes later, I thought it was time to take a break. I must read up a bit on the different sharks, some are dangerous and others no so dangerous but not knowing I thought it best to be in the boat not under it.
Giovanni & Marina from Venice, we left Galapagos at the same time.
We stayed in this bay for three nights along with perhaps another 10 boats, most of whom we were now friendly with having met them along the way. It is always nice to arrive in an anchorage when there are others at anchor that we already know but yachties are all really a friendly bunch of people and no matter where we go we get to know others very quickly. Often times we have things in common and can often share costs when hiring cars or arranging tours etc..
One of the view points on our tour of Nuka Hiva with Peter, Sandra, Lyn & Glen.
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A Tiki guards an ancient ritual site, and the sacrifice tree.
We left Tahuata at first light on Wednesday 15th June for the island of Ua Pou some 75 miles to the North. It turned out to be a long day as the wind died about a third of the way into our journey. We needed to maintain an average speed of 6 knots to be sure of arriving before dark so this meant motoring. We got a good wind again for the last few hours before arriving and dropped our anchor 20 minutes after sunset with still a small amount of light. We also caught three Bonito (Tuna) in the last few hours before arriving so we were eating like Kings and Queens once again with a full fridge of fish.
Approaching Ua Pou as the light was fading.
One of the many strange peaks partly covered in cloud.
Ua Pou: Again a very nice island with some amazing peaks and volcanic structures towering up in the various parts of the island. The village is small and quaint with the centre of attraction once again being the church. Whilst at anchorage here the Aranaui supply vessel arrived and parked up at the quay with the stern only yards from where we were anchored. Was he following us? 
We were a bit concerned when they manoeuvred this ship on to the Quay only feet away.
All of the Marquesas Islands seem to be covered in cloud most of the time. Between the islands it is usually sunny with those puffy white little clouds that you get in the trade winds areas. Depending on where the anchorage is in relation to the clouds it can be positively wet for large parts of the day or night but Ua Poa was dry for our stay although we rarely saw the top of the peaks in the centre of the island.
From Ua Pou we sailed the short distance to Nuka Hiva, the largest island of the group and the main Island for administration etc. Here we hired a car for the day along with Peter and Sandra from the boat ‘Bondai Tram’ and Glen and Lyn from the boat ‘Steel Sapphire’. A good day was had exploring the interior and the North coast.
How about this for a bit of grafiti, wouldn’t you love to have this on your wall. Larger than life size.
To sum up the Marquesas: Spectacular anchorages from a scenic point of view, most anchorages with heavy swell making them uncomfortable, people and villages modern for the most part and everyone friendly. Not that long ago they were putting the likes of us into their cooking pots, so can’t really complain. Music in abundance with the rival groups practicing every night for the 14 July festivals. Bastille Day.
Pretty little boat used for fishing, and some of the fish caught.