Friday, 25 December 2015

13/2015 A longer stay in Australia

Hi from Clare,                                                          25th December, 2015

Firstly we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, happy, healthy and safe 2016.

Merry Chtristmas

We have received many emails from cruising friends asking “where are you?” as our newsletters have stopped for a while. We came home to Australia in August for the birth of my grandson Nathaniel. He is a beautiful child with big blue eyes and a full head of brown hair. He is a very placid and smiley baby. Both Mum and Bub are doing well and Granny and Andrew are having heaps of fun.

We think he's cute

Whilst at home Andrew and I had all our usual medical checks and my breast screening came back positive. Since then I have had a mastectomy and am now undergoing 15 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by 5 weeks of Radiotherapy. All this should be done and dusted by by late May and so all going well we are planning our escape back to the boat sometime in June. I have also many concerned emails of support for the chemo treatment and so far I have had two treatments with no nausea or vomiting and minimal side effects, except I am loosing my hair at an alarming rate. Looks like a wig purchase is coming up sooner than I thought. I have been walking and swimming now that it is summer.

Andrew is planning a trip back to Eye Candy late in January for a few weeks to check on his baby and catch up with cruising friends who are also keeping their boats in the Marquesan Islands away from the usual cyclone tracks. I will be well and truly ready to return to our lifestyle of Freedom and Adventure sometime in June. So never fear there is plenty of life in the old girl yet. This interruption in our life is just a Tropical Depression not a full blown Cyclone.

Keep safe and have a sundowner for us.

Love Candy xx

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

12/2015 Last Days in Nuku Hiva

Hi from Clare,           No 12  Last days in Nuku Hiva              Tuesday 28th July 2015

We left the island of Hiva Oa after the blessing of the fleet ceremony at the grotto of the Virgin Mary out on the cliff face overlooking the ocean.

Path home from the blessing

We had a very pleasant 80 mile sail to Taiohae Bay Nuku Hiva in time for the Bastille Day celebrations on 14th July. The dancing was performed for the senior administrative officer for French Polynesia, local dignitaries and an enthusiastic crowd. One thing is for sure, the Polynesian people enjoy dancing and reportedly they dance for themselves rather than the audience. It seems that traditional dancing is a weekly event on all the islands - at least in July, their party month


Views of Taiohae Bay

The dancers and the drummers

Over the past two weeks, in our last burst for freedom, we left Taiohae Bay and circumnavigated the island of Huku Hiva stopping at delightful bays and small villages. We caught a large Wahoo and while Andrew was reeling it in some other larger fish snapped its tail off. It didn't really matter though as we ended up with enough superb juicy fillets for 10 meals.

This fish was way bigger before..

We spent the majority of our time in the flat calm of Anaho Bay on the north side of the island. There is a large kids camp there with horse riding, games and dancing. We were made welcome to come ashore and walk through the camp area and use the beach. It was all pretty relaxed. The four day camp is only accessible by small boat and so we watched the participants wading through the shallows with suitcases and bags on their heads for landing and departure. There are also lots of walking tracks and so Andrew walked to the next bay to see the beach. I stayed on the boat because I had enough insect bites and the nonos are said to be bad in this area. So Andrew smothered himself with insect repellent went for his walk, had a swim and came home with at least 150 bites. They must have struck when he came out of the water. The Marquesas islands are really beautiful and a tropical paradise but the insects (which don't seem to bother the locals) are unbelievably bad. I am seriously considering when I go home bringing my stinger suit back with me as I would love to do some of the walks.

Anaho Bay
In Anahoe Bay we firstly met up with Loren and Craig on the Kiwi boat Revilo and spent a couple of days with them. Their timing was perfect and happy to receive some Wahoo for their freezer. They were an interesting couple with many stories after working on super yacht charter boats for a number of years. They have now bought their own yacht and realise how much more they need to know to run the boat and get it safely back to New Zealand.

After they left the anchorage the French and Spanish arrived. We had a good night on the French Catamaran with eleven people from France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, America and Oz. There were three languages being spoken, French, English and Spanish and all going at once. However they were an interesting bunch with a published underwater photographer, a film maker, a well published authoress and a widow who along with her husband contracted malaria when cruising in Haiti some years ago. Her husband died on their boat and she would not have survived but for the American couple we met that night, who air lifted her back to the States for treatment.

The following day we sailed to Hatiheu Bay and the very picturesque village of the same name. This is where we had our lunch stop the day we did the guided tour of the island some weeks ago by car. It is the prettiest setting with a well developed village and very friendly people. By this time the French and Americans had left but the rest of us went out for dinner and traditional dancing. This was followed by a disco to pounding modern music and flashing lights. The traditional dancers were now dressed in normal clothes and went out of their way to speak and dance with the visitors. It was a good night and terrific community atmosphere with everyone on the dance floor from age three up. One little five year old in a bright pink party dress caught our eye as she had brilliant rhythm and knew all the moves. She was up for dancing the night away, impeded only by her strapless dress which keep slipping off her chest.

This becomes this after cooking

So now we are back in Taiohae Bay and preparing the boat for departure on Friday. Most of the big jobs are done and so it should be a good few days. We will spend a night in Tahiti before flying to Auckland NZ and then Sydney arriving Sunday afternoon for three months. Our friends Colin and Denise are spoiling us again and picking us up from the airport. We are looking forward to seeing you all.

Love Candy xx  

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

11/2015 Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa

Hi from Clare           No 11 Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa             Saturday 11th July 2015

Bay of Virgins - Fatu Hiva
Hanavave township from above

Fatu Hiva is probably the most beautiful anchorage we have ever been in. The island is volcanic with towering mountains, lush vegetation and stunning scenery. The population is around 600 and the two townships are nestled in the valleys between the mountain ranges. When we first arrived we were by ourselves but the following day an Aussie boat Muneera with Nick, Andrea and their teenage daughters Ella and Milly arrived after sailing from Galapagos. We spent the next few days enjoying their company, exploring the town and hiking to the waterfall.

Dancing for the Tourists

Practice for Bastille Day

The supply ship the Aranui 111 arrived from Tahiti depositing goods and collecting local produce. It brought a number of tourists as well, which gave the locals an opportunity to sell their craft goods and perform traditional song and dance for them. The locals are also practising for Bastille Day celebrations on 14th July and so every night around 7pm the drums started. Children of all ages danced enthusiastically, not the slightest bit embarrassed by parents and onlookers or by cameras clicking. Unfortunately no flash was allowed. The kids danced their hearts out for an hour before it was time for the adults. I thought the kids would be exhausted but no, they ran off and played soccer; no stopping them.


We went with Nick, Andrea and girls to the waterfall. It was an hour hike up hill and through some pretty dense scrub. The waterfall was beautiful and Nick, Andrew and Milly enjoyed a swim before lunch and a well earned rest before trekking back. The photo of me in among the greenery is not a rest break, it actually shows me descending the mountain sliding on my behind which seemed the safest way to go.

Sliding down again
A road less traveled

The following day Andrew and I tackled the mountain. We walked four kilometres up hill to 600 metres above sea level. It was a steady climb on a good road and the scenic rewards spurred us on. There was always just another bend a little further luring us on with the hope of a spectacular panorama. We are not ashamed to say we didn't make it to the top, we left some in reserve for the steep decent which was even harder on the thighs than the ascent. We walked for three hours and fully expected to be stiff the following day but mercifully we were both fine.

Walking into Hanaiapa village
Family Copra drying shed

On Tuesday we sailed 55 nautical miles to the island of Hiva Oa. We didn't go to the main township but went around to the north side of the island for better protection from the wind. We firstly stopped in the Hanaiapa Bay which has a small town but no shops. The public park area by the waterfront is well maintained as is the whole town. Whipper snipers are used to keep he grass areas neatly trimmed. The rock work, vigorously flowering plants and fruit trees along the roadside and well maintained house gardens showcase this modest township as a tropical paradise. Coconut palms are prolific and most homes have sheds for drying coconuts as copra is the main export in the Marquesas. We said good morning to a chap working in his garden and when we came back down the road he gave us a large breadfruit. These are delicious if cut finely and pan fried in a little oil. The taste and consistency is a cross between bread and potato and they fry quickly to a crunchy delight. One breadfruit will last us for about a week.

John my fishing mate also tour driver

We left Hanaiapa Bay and motored a few miles along the coast to Hanamenu Bay. The homes here are holiday places but the little settlement is well maintained with whipper snipers and much raking of leaves. We met John a local chap who is known by the cruising community as he speaks good English and conducts tours around the island for tourists. John was raking up leaves at this holiday place when we spoke to him. He invited us in for a cup of coffee and we sat and chatted with him in his garden. The down side was we had forgotten the bug spray and I ended up with 35 very large and itchy mosquito bites, (Andrew had none, who can figure). The upside was John and Andrew agreed to go fishing together that night. Andrew came home after two hours with eight fish and so we now the menu includes red snapper, mackerel, jack fish and breadfruit all provided by the island; pretty cool. When we fetched our dinghy to go back to the boat. A group of small boys came running down the beach to help. You can see by the photo that it wasn't their first launch as they all knew what to do, including the four year old with the bare bum, he was very amusing. I was taking photos until one of the older boys eagerly gesticulated for me to get in the boat so I wouldn't get wet. I thought if this kid could only see me knee deep in water every time we launch the dinghy, he wouldn't be so worried – they were great kids.

Nippers in action
This morning we took the dinghy around the point to a lovely sandy beach and sparkling aqua water for swimming. The daily temperature is in the high twenties and the water temperature is 28.6 degrees, just perfect. We also had three or four manta-rays cruising around; they are always a treat to see.

We will stay here until Monday awaiting favourable winds to sail 80 miles back to the main island of Nuku Hiva in time for the Bastille Day celebrations on Tuesday. In the meantime there is a Blessing of the Fishing Fleet in this bay tonight. There is a small grotto to Our Lady on the cliff face out on the point. We watched this morning from the cockpit as the locals erected lighting along the steep and winding track from the settlement to the point. Looks like we will have front row seats tonight, so it should be good.

Love Candy xx   

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

10/2015 Tahuata Island

Hi from Clare, 10 Tahuata Island Tuesday 30th June 2015

We left the island of Huku Hiva last Wednesday within an hour of picking up our Long Term Visa for French Polynesia. Its not that we were sick of Huku Hiva, but we were anxious to see more of the Marquesas.

We sailed eighty miles overnight to the island of Tahuata. The trip was to windward and we averaged 6 knots arriving in time for breakfast the next morning. Since we dropped the anchor we haven't moved, mainly because we are perfectly happy here. The water is a sparkling aqua, warm and flat calm. The nearby beach is reportedly one of the best in the Marquesas with lovely white sand and coconut palms. We have been snorkeling most days, the tropical fish are lovely and being in the Pacific now, some new varieties of fish.

We have now relaxed enough to enjoy the slow pace. However having said that Andrew spent all morning scrubbing the bottom of the boat and cleaning marine growth (brown spots) off the waterline. I amused myself with housework, baking bread and making a quiche for dinner. So this afternoon is rest and relaxation and maybe a walk on the beach.

The island of Tahuata is lightly populated and with little infrastructure. There doesn't appear to be a road leading down to this beach. There are two make shift houses at this location; no walls, running water or power. The owners are both named Steven, one speaks English and has befriended the cruisers by cooking a fish and breadfruit lunch and "selling" them fruit; we haven't joined Steven for lunch as yet.

In a few days we will make our way to the island of Fatu Hiva. We will have internet there and so I will send some photos.

Love Clare xx

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

9/2015 More Nuku Hiva

Hi from Clare,     No 9,            More Nuku Hiva, Marquesas     Monday 22nd June 2015
It has been a week of saying goodbye to old friends as they travel west to Tahiti and beyond. Some of these friends we will never see again, all we can do is treasure the memory of our times together.
We have decided not to travel west to the Tuamotu Islands in the coming weeks as the trip back to the Marquesas would be 500 miles to windward. Recently we have learnt that the trade winds are strongest in July and August and so the trip back would be very difficult. We also received confirmation that our long term Visas for French Polynesia will be arriving in Huka Hiva this Wednesday. It is worth staying around to physically receive these to avoid any complications when flying from Australia back to Tahiti. The island’s cargo ship carrying diesel, petrol and cooking gas arrived this week after supply was delayed in Tahiti due to a strike. The locals and the cruisers descended upon the fuel wharf and the island was out of gas again in one and a half days. We are well stocked on Eye Candy.
We seem to have done a lot of waiting this week but we have managed to fill in time. We sailed around to Daniels bay on the south west corner and anchored for a couple of days. We went on a beautiful walk from our bay across to the next bay. You can see by the photos the vegetation is very tropical and the surrounding mountains make for a very dramatic back drop. We crossed a little knee deep creek and walked across a small farm with coconut trees, banana palms and many fruit trees. We stopped and chatted to the owners who were very welcoming. When we asked if we could walk around their property and go down to the waterfront they said “Of Course”. The island people certainly have a very relaxed attitude. I think the term “trespasses prosecuted” has never entered their minds.
Daniels Bay
We left Daniels bay yesterday and sailed around to Controllers Bay on the south east corner of Nuku Hiva. We came here to say good bye to Geoff and Alison on “Saraoni” who are heading out for Tahiti. We had drinks and dinner on Eye Candy last night and spent a very enjoyable evening together. Today it is raining yet again. The deck is sparkling clean and the water maker is having a rest. We just leave the cap off the water tank at the rear of the boat and the rain water runs down the deck and straight in the tank; it’s great to have unlimited water supply, the Water Nazi has retired. The downside to all this rain however is mosquitoes. Both Andrew and I, although we use plenty of mosquito repellent, have numerous itchy bites and are presently reluctant to go for another walk in this tropical paradise.

Once we have our Visas in hand we will sail to another island in the Marquesas. Of course we will have to wait for the right weather window – so just waiting, waiting.

love Candy xx           

Sunday, 14 June 2015

8/2015 Exploring the Island of Nuku Hiva

Hi from Clare,        No8  Exploring the Island of Nuku Hiva             Friday 12th June 2015

We last wrote when anchored in Comptroller Bay, Nuku Hiva for three nights. Each day we walked into the nearby village which is the second biggest village on the island with a population of around 300. Nevertheless it is a lovely village as you can see by the photos, very well cared for by the inhabitants. Our British friends Diane and Alan on 'Moonfleet' came with us and so we had good company. It has rained most days since we arrived in the Marquesas. Because the weather is so warm and humid we just accept getting wet rather than donning our wet weather gear. So each day the four of us would set out dry and return some hours later soaking wet and sometimes filthy dirty. We negotiated a particularly muddy and slippery track up a steep hill to view and ancient Titki site from the 13th century. I must say I'm not sure it was worth the climb just to see some rocks and get covered in mosquito bites – but we do these crazy things:)

Walking into the village

Village house

Local school

Replica ancient village for Cultural Festivals

Rare 13th Century Tikis
Ancient explorers

On Tuesday we returned to the main bay and Taiohae township which is the largest on the island with about 2000 inhabitants. It's a pretty quiet existence here with very little night life. After ten years of cruising this is the first major town we have visited that does not have a bar and a television covering of the latest global sporting event. Alcohol is very expensive and without the usual watering hole the cruisers are at a complete loss.

There are no marinas, ship chandlers or riggers/mechanics here which is amazing considering the amount of boats passing through and the repairs needed after travelling 4000 miles from Panama. There is a Yacht Services business run very capably by Kevin that can ship parts in from Tahiti (at great expense). But failing that you just have to make temporary repairs and limp on to Tahiti some 1000 miles further. Fortunately we only needed to source a new battery which has now been installed and all is well.

We did an island tour with six other cruisers on Thursday and thankfully it was a beautiful day without rain. You can see by the photos that the island of Nuku Hiva is a tropical paradise with spectacular topography. The mountains and bays are truly beautiful and the roads are flanked with flowering shrubs and fruit trees. These have been planted by local people who live in the towns but have land allotted to them in the hills for farming. We visited ancient sites where the Marquesan people gathered to celebrate and dance and also to perform human sacrifice to appease the Gods. At these sites the banyan tree (see photo) was considered a sacred tree and was used to place bones in and to bury people in.

Anchored in Taiohae Bay
Island Tourists
Restored Sacred Site
Banyan Tree
Classic Marquesan photo
Local Church

Last night some thirty cruisers went out for Pizza. It was a good nigh at one of the few restaurants in town. We sat on the verandah at a large L shaped table which was terrific until it poured rain and the wind blew it in across the table. Many people scrambled for their coats. I had my back to the rain so I put up my umbrella which worked very well and added to the fun of dinner in the tropics. The Pizza's were very good but unlike the Pizza nights in the Panama where they attracted the cruisers with a $1 beer special, the beers last night were $7 for a 500 ml can. Needless to say, not a lot of beer was drunk. We returned to our dinghy late only to find that someone had helped themselves to petrol from er to our fuel tank. There has been a petrol strike in Tahiti for about a month and supplies are low and it seems that anarchy is not far away. We have a good supply but we will keep our tank low until the strike is over. Andrew is considering fitting the dinghy with a petrol can full of water to assist any more people in “need”.

Today the locals have been competing in a canoe race. We saw them leaving the bay early this morning. It has rained a lot and so it's not the best day for it. Tonight there is a dinner in the local hall and then some traditional dancing. If it is not too wet we will venture over and have a look. The dancers have been practising and so we have been listening to their drums for a few weeks now.

The weather is very windy with the sea swell is big, so we will stay put in this harbour until the weather settles down.

We have booked our flights home arriving in Australia on 2nd August and departing 29th October. It will be very good to see you all then.

Love Candy xx     

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

7/2015 Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

Hi from Clare,                         No 7 Nuku Hiva, Marquesas               Friday 5th June 2015

I have included a photo of the swell behind the boat on our trip from Galapagos to the Marquesas. It is very difficult to actually capture the hight of a wave on the camera but the fishing line at the back of the boat gives you some idea. The other photo is to show you how dirty Eye Candy was by the time we reached the Marquesas. To me its quite amazing how slime, algae and goose neck barnacles stick to the boat when we are doing seven knots and the water is rushing past.

Don't look!

A very dirty bottom

So we have been in Huka Hiva for little over a week. This is the largest of the Marquesas Islands and we are anchored in the beautiful bay off the main township of Taiohae. As you can see by the photos the island is very mountainous and is covered with lush tropical vegetation. The weather in warm and humid and it has rained most days giving Eye Candy a welcomed wash after so many days at sea.

Taiohae Bay

The only problem is that all the boats are rolling as the bay is opened to the south east and the prevailing swell. We put a stern anchor out to hold our bow into the swell which is more comfortable for moving around the boat and sleeping; there's nothing worse than rolling from one side of the bed to the other:) The good news is that there are smaller and very well protected bays within five miles and so we can escape.

The Taiohae Township

Yesterday we left the main harbour and came a short distance to Comptroller Bay where the water is quite calm. Andrew went up the mast this morning to check lighting etc and is now stretched out in the cockpit having a well earned snooze. The weather is sunny and quite warm. The water temperature is 28 degrees but quite murky due to run off. I haven't been in for a swim as we quite often see a fin pop up near the boat. We are not sure if the fin belongs to a shark or a large stingray but its a bit off putting. We will probably stay here until Tuesday when we have to return to Taiohae to pick up a new battery which we have ordered from Tahiti.

I have included a photo of where the cruisers spend their spare time tapping away on the computer. The bananas hanging there are complimentary for the customers, singly that is, not in bunches. The basis kitchen is where the girls produce the most amazing culinary treats.

Where we all hang out - free wifi

Since arriving in the Marquesas we have completed the necessary paperwork to get a long stay visa for French Polynesia. This paperwork has now been sent off to Tahiti and we expect to receive the visa in four weeks or so. While we wait we will sail to the Tuamotu archipelago where there is crystal clear water, wonderful coral and snorkelling. As you can imagine we are really looking forward to this experience.

Well as soon as we pick up the battery and some fresh fruit and vege we will be off to the Tuamotus - Whoo Hoo!

Love Candy xx