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