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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