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the marquesas



May 7 -Hakaui Bay

We finally officially cleared in, effective May 5. We have our extended visas, and Joel is cleared in, and can therefore leave!

So we pulled the anchors up and motor-sailed 5 miles west to Taioa Bay, which contains 2 nodes. The entrance is a hook turn, hard to make out on approach, so inside is quite protected. We anchored in Hakatea Bay (aka Daniel's Bay) with 8 other boats.

This morning we were up early for the hike to the waterfall. The 5-hour hike starts out through a small village, a coconut palm orchard and fruit orchards, pamplemousse, limes, papaya, bananas. We walked along the river, along an ancient trail of huge stones, passing paepae (foundations of old buildings) and an old tiki. After fording the stream a few times, we came to one crossing that looked dicey. But someone had placed a large branch across, rubber banded to a tree, and we were able to make it across hanging onto that while wading in the swift stream. The trail wound slowly upriver with the canyon walls closing in. Finally we reached the falls and waded in for a refreshing dip. The pool was full of freshwater shrimps, and rumored, but not seen, 4 foot eels. We slithered through a tunnel in the rocks and made it to the pool at the base of the waterfall. We could swim right into the falls, a chilly treat after the hot walk.

Baraka is safely anchored in Taiohae Bay.

The supply ship Aranui visits every 3 weeks. This is the only way fuel and goods come to the island.

Taiohae Bay. The only bay in the Marquesas where we could attempt a night landfall.

The quai.

The dinghy landing with its rusty ladder.

45 cruising sailboats are anchored here.

The sculpture park, with many carved stones.
Note the chief in the foreground holding an ax and someone's head.

The Catholic church.

Dave and I won a free night out at this beautiful lodge.

Joel joins us for a meal at the resort.

Joel delivers us, then rows back to Baraka and Opal.

Our bungalow overlooking the bay.

Next day we sail 5 miles west to protected Daniel's Bay.
Inside it is hard to see the entrance.

We hike to the waterfall.

There are rumors of large aggressive fresh water eels at the waterfall, but we assume this is an exageration. Later we are assured it is true. Yikes! We only saw small shrimp.

Joel fords the river.

We return to Taiohae Bay and join Warm Rain, Tom and Dawn, for a tour of the island. Our guide is Richard, who tells us about the history and culture of the island, the economy, schooling, infrastructure, and drives us up steep switchbacks to brreathtaking views.

Looking down at our anchorage.

Comptrollers Bay.

Copra shed, where coconut meat is dried before export.

Baby Jesus is holding a breadfruit. The wood is from the breadfruit tree.

Banana tree.

This hole held human bones from sacrifices. The bones were useful for making fishhooks and awls.

Famous banyan tree held hundreds of human skulls in the 1800s.

Our guide tells us about his ancestors.

And demonstrates the traditional huffing pig dance.

We join Tom and Dawn, Warm Rain, for a seafood lunch at Chez Yvonne's.

Baraka and Warm Rain.


May 9 - Joel flies home

Sad day for us. Joel flies home. An appropriate steady rain accompanied us to the dinghy wall where we handed up his bags. Moetai had arranged a taxi, which arrived on time for the torturous switchback ride across island, 18 km in 1 1/2 hours, to the airport. We will miss Joel terribly, but feel so great that he rearranged his life to join us on the passage. His presence made a huge difference in our comfort and probably also our safety. Plus it was simply great to have him with us for a whole month. He promises to return, and will bring Nina next time.

Yesterday we signed up with Rose Corser for a guide to tour the island by 4-wheel drive. Warm Rain, Tom and Dawn, joined us. Our guide, Richard, was terrific. He told us about history, culture, flora and fauna, infrastructure, economy, copra trade, and attitudes toward the French and Papeete. It's tough to get a real job on the outer islands. But he also said life is simple here, and good, and contrasted it to time he has spent in Papeete and France.

Richard drove us up and over to Comptroller Bay, then to other bays on the north side, where we enjoyed a yum seafood lunch at Chez Yvonne's. The island is spectacular and we took a lot of pictures. In a small copra village we stopped at an artist/carvers where Joel bought me a carved necklace with the Marquesan flag tiki face as a Mother's Day surprise. It is a beautiful and a precious reminder of our passage together to the Marquesas. Richard also took us to several ancient (12th century) village sites where we could walk across the paepae foundations and see a few tikis, and also the huge banyon that was once festooned with hundreds of human skulls. There is a photo in a Papeete musuem. Fantastic day, and we were happy to have the hike to the waterfal and tour while Joel was with us.

Meanwhile our domain name for the website and email expired. My brother Rolfe was able to renew it for us, so we are back up. Thanks, Rolfe!


May 11 - Tattoo Madness

This morning the alarm went off at 5:30. Saturday market day! We dinghied into the quai and bought corn, lettuce, daikon, tomatoes, pamplemousse, limes, pastry, baguettes and fresh wahoo. Then we talked to Moetai and arranged to have someone truck us to the fuel station with six 50-liter jugs to take on diesel. With our duty-free permit the diesel ran $1.15 a liter. The driver who showed up to drive us was Jean Ives, local tattoo artist. We arranged to meet him at 2pm at his tattoo parlor behind the Marie (town hall).

Back aboard we winched the jugs aboard and siphoned the 300 liters into our tanks. Then it was time to toot back into town for tattoos. Both of us felt uncertain about this. I would not have believed a year ago I would consider such craziness. But being tossed across an ocean in a teacup has altered our outlook: now it seemed a most appropriate souvenir to commemorate our passage to the Marquesas.

Dave went first after selecting a turtle design (having crossed the equator we are "shellbacks"). He managed to not scream like a girl, so I wouldn't chicken out. I followed, getting a lovely gecko on my shoulder. While we were there, Jean Ives was being interviewed and photographed for an article to appear this summer in Figaro (French magazine). If you click on the journal link to the right you can see photos, and maybe we will be in Figaro, too!

Tom and Dawn of Warm Rain came for dinner, grilled wahoo and corn and fun conversation. We hope to cruise with them along the way.

Every morning the fishermen sell their night's catch.
Come early, by 7am they are gone.

On Saturdays at 4:30 am, the produce market gets underway. Our hand of bananas cost $3.25.

Dave decides to go for a Marquesan tattoo. The artist is Jean Ives Matatiki.

Dave's turtle tattoo.

Jan's turn.

Jan's gecko.


May 12 - Work days

Yesterday and today we caught up on chores. Dave chiseled off the gooseneck barnacles that hitchhiked here on our hull. The debris attracted small fish and a spotted ray. I did our laundry in buckets on the beach, aided by our handy toilet-plunger/agitator. While scrubbing, I watched cheerful Marquesan families bathe their horses in the surf and let their kids swim.

Last night we enjoyed a great dinner of leftover chilled wahoo and soy/wasabi sauce, brie and baguette, salad and pecan pie. We are making up for the simpler passage meals, and enjoying some tasy food available here. The cruisers and locals complain about the high prices, but we are happy so much is available. Given the high taxes and transport costs to this remote area, the prices are understandable. But its got to be tough on the Marquesans.

Joel had an adventure getting home. The jet out of Honolulu had frozen flaps and had to return. After circling 3 hours to dump fuel, the plane made an emergency landing amid firetrucks and ambulances. Joel says it used all but 20 meters of the landing strip. Yikes.

Today Dave is repairing the spinaker pole, which would no longer extend after working hard on the passage. He found 4 different problems to fix inside. Meanwhile, I serviced 2 winches that were squealing, spliced a worn line on the windvane, folded yesterday's now-dry laundry and baked banana bread. Our stalk of bananas all ripened today.

If we can fill our propane tank in the morning, we plan to pull anchor and head a 25 miles south with Warm Rain to Ua Pou, then to Tahuata where we hope to catch up with Our Country Home, Ralph and Glenda. This means goodbye to wifi-land, and the lovely bay of Tahiohae. Nuku Hiva has been a terrific introduction to south Pacific cruising.


May 14 - Ua Pou, Hakakua Bay

We finally managed to extricate ourselves from the charms and amenities of Nuka Hiva, and pulled anchor. Warm Rain was to join us, but had windlass problems and will follow later. We swung by and tossed 2 chain hooks into their dinghy in case they have to pull the anchor up manually, a big job. Hopefully there's a simple fix and we will see them soon.

We sailed 25 miles south to Ua Pou. As we approached, the island teasingly unveiled, showing beautiful cliffs and a crown of pillars ringing the cauldron. It's rare to see all the pillars. Each island wears a chapeau of cumulus clouds, snagged by the peaks as they try to pass by. The cloud hat and shadowed folds give Ua Pou a air of somewhat ominous mystery.

We started the motor just outside the breakwater and doused the main. Inside, Marike Violet helped us anchor and gave us bananas. The anchorage is gorgeous - we have a ringside view of the pillars, and the pretty town of Hakahua. Dozens of children are swimming off the pier, and also out to another cruising boat, where they climb up and do cannonballs. This boat has been here 10 days and tells us the village is delightful. Late afternoon, Warm Rain pulls in and Dave rows over to set their stern hook. They join us for a barbeque cockpit dinner. Warm Rain has mutual friends, Emily B and Jack Nesbitt, and it is fun to swap tales, and strategize about our passage to the Tuamotus.

Baraka approaches gorgeous Ua Pou.

In the evening outriggers practice speed bursts past our boat at anchor.

Can't believe the scenery.

Granite peaks scatch the heavens.


May 15 - Ua Pou, Pamplemousse Heaven

This morning we woke in this gorgeous setting. The Gendarme came by and asked us to check in. So we joined Warm Rain and walked into town to the Gendarmerie.

After a quick and painless check-in, the Gendarme gave us a map and welcomed us. We walked up the valley to see the interesting church with its pulpit carved as a ship's prow, and stopped at a half dozen stores looking for vegetables and fruits. These are very hard to find, because every home has an orchard and garden, so who needs to buy that stuff? We stopped for lunch at an open air "snack" - for tasty entrecote steaks and pommes frites, and a couple Hinano beers. To walk off lunch we climbed to the cross overlooking the town and adjacent bay. Finally, back at the pier we stopped to take pictures of the 20 kids cannonballing joyfully off the pier. These are happy kids, clowning for the camera. While we were watching them, a couple drove up in their Suzuki pickup to fill a water jug for their horse, as the town water was turned off. The man asked if we'd like some fruit, and offered to take us to his house. The four of us hopped in the back of the tiny pickup with 2 young boys, and bounced a mile through town to his home. He had 20 small goats, as many pigs, horses, gardens, orchards. We climbed through pig mud to pick "pommes" from a tree using a lacross sort of basket, hand picked huge pamplemousse (the delicious Marquesan grapefruit), limes, and oranges. He gave us a stalk of bananas, and cucumbers, mangoes, papaya. We asked if we could pay and he refused, but did say he could use 5 meters of rope for his chevres (goats). So tomorrow we will meet him at noon at the steak "snack" with rope for the goats. He promised to bring additional pamplemousse and limes. Yow. What amazing generosity! We were blown away.

Back aboard Warm Rain, Dawn sorted the fruit into two huge piles. We rowed home, then jumped overboard to swim in the 85 degree water to wash the day's sweat away. Towelling off, we watched young men stroke by in outriggers, while drums pounded ashore.

We are liking the Marquesas!

Steve on Hannah says these are the happiest kids in the world.

Catch of the day, big wahoo.

Adrian offers us fruit, and gives us a ride in his pickup. The kid on the left told us his name is Serviette (napkin) but we didn't fall for it - he is Solomon.

Our benefactor, Adrian, picks a breadfruit for us.

The pretty chuch at Ua Pou.

With a carved door panel of a ship dismasted by lightning.

The pulpit is a beautifully carved prow of a ship.

Its base is a net full of fish.

Marquesan churches contain awesome carvings. To us, this is the local museum. On Sundays, the Mass is a colorful pageant, parades of men, women and children decked in flowers, accompanied by gorgeous and uplifting song. All Marquesans can carry a tune.

These kissing fish are on the ship's prow.


May 16 - Ua Pou, in search of baguettes

We got an early start this morning, at 7:30, trying to score baguettes. Dang, we arrived at the boulangerie just at the proprietress was locking the door! We quickly checked all the small magasins, and finally got the last bent loaves at a small store up the street. Ok, next time we get up at 6:30!

We returned to the same restaurant we ate at yesterday for promised T-bones with Dorothy Marie and Warm Rain, fun company. Adrian, the kind man who gave us all the fruit yesterday, found us and gave us another dozen pamplemousse. This delicious Marquesan grapefruit is huge - double the size of a normal grapefruit, with no bitterness. We enjoy one every morning. Back at the dinghy, Dave and I struggled jumping in at the right moment in the one-foot surf and I ended up somersaulting over the side. This meant today became laundry day! We rowed back in with buckets and soap and got the sand and salt off our clothing. We also swam around the boat, scrubbing the waterline and enjoying the 85 degree water.

Time to move on again: Tomorrow we will pull anchors and head south to an anchorage on the west side of Ua Pou.


May 17 - Ua Pou, Baie Hakaotu and Good Sharks

We motor-sailed in light wind around the corner, down spectacular Ua Pou, and poked our nose into Baie de Vaiehu. Charlie's charts notes there are "good lobster" and "good sharks" there. I didn't know there were good sharks. The anchorage looked dicey - depth 50 feet and by the time we put out enough scope, we would be nervously close to rocky reef. So we passed on just a bit more and anchored in Baie Hakaotu, uninhabited and pretty. After a big lunch Dave is taking a siesta. Then we will drop the dinghy over and motor back to Baie de Vaiehu to check out the good lobsters and sharks!

We don't seem to tire of the view.

The spine of Ua Pou looks like a cathedral.

Do planes take off uphill or downhill at Ua Pou?

We tucked around this obelisk to anchor in a quiet bay.


May 19 - Vaitahu, Tahuata

Dave visited Warm Rain this morning and got a ton of good info from Tom on navigation tools and Pacific weather. Then we loaded the dinghy and jetted back around the corner to check our the good lobsters and sharks. No sign of lobster. We snorkeled around monster boulders and saw huge schools of colorful fish feeding on a wall, sergeant majors and damselfish, so dense they looked like autumn leaves fluttering on a tree. And YIKES!!! lots of sharks! I saw several smaller ones, but Dave saw a 5-footer. Enough for me, I quickly catapulted back into the dinghy!

Based on a grib report, it looked like we had an unusual favorable wind angle to make Tahuata tonight. So at sunset we raised anchor and are motor-sailed SE the 70 miles to that island. The grib was wrong - it was a beat, oh well.

We followed Warm Rain into the bay, and dropped the hook into crystal clear water. Dave dove to check our anchor and could see bottom in 35 feet. Visibilty is fantastic. We are looking forward to snorkeling here - every one says Tahuata is the best in the Marquesas. There are lots of sharks here too, but in the clear water they are less likely to mistake a person for a snack. Our Country Home, Ralph and Glenda, passage buddies, are here. They putted over and we enjoyed a fun reunion, first time we have seen them since Mexico. Dave and I showed off our tattoos, and the bone carving from Joel. Every one who sees it wishes they'd seen it first.

Ralph on Our Country Home displays his new tattoo.

Teiki the bone carver's twin daughters, Thelma and Louise.


May 20 - Vaitahu, Tahuata

The Taporo IX was in today. The supply ship came in last night and anchored while Warm Rain and Our Country Home were aboard Baraka for a pizza dinner. This morning I rowed over to watch them load copra after unloading barrels of fuel, building materials, and other supplies. On the quai a forklift moved pallets to and from a barge that the big ship put over the side with a crane. It's hard to begrudge the high prices for commodities here when you see the difficulty of procurement.

After a slow start (fruit smoothy breakfast with fresh papaya, orange, lime) we rowed into town to clear in. The gendarme at Ua Pou had told us we would need to check in with the municipal police here. We managed to climb the slippery cement quai with its 4-foot surge and secure the dinghy with a stern anchor to prevent it bashing to shreds. We filled our water jug, and walked into town to locate the police. No joy, but we ran into a man who asked why we needed the police. When we said to clear in, he said don't bother, it's not necessary. He's the mayor here, good enough for us. So we had ice cream instead.

We visited the church. These open air churches are full of artwork, carved doors and pulpits, a beautiful carved shell, and gorgeous stained glass. There is always a huge drum in the church. If we are here next Sunday I'd like to come to Mass and hear the singing.

Dave and I hiked to the top of a hill for spectacular views. Even from that height we could see the pods of porpoise that seem to enjoy a continuous feeding frenzy in the bay. Their fins churn the water white where they feed.

Back in the small village we ran into Our Country Home and Warm Rain. Ralph showed off his beautiful arm band tattoo, freshly needled this morning by Felix, the local tattoo artist, then led us uphill to the bone carver's studio. The carver had a small collection of exquisite pieces. I was happy with my carving from Joel, but Dave bought a carved turtle to match his tattoo and Tom bought another piece. The carver also showed us a few antique pieces, not for sale, and told us his tiny twin daughters are named Thelma and Louise!

We had trouble pulling the dinghy anchor up, but a local man saw our difficulty and swam over to free it. Merci beaucoup! No Marquesan seems to have a hand out. They are consistently generous and helpful.

Back aboard I just finished my cockpit shower as the French Customs launch pulled up. Dave was still below our boat, scrubbing the bottom, so I asked the launch to pull away after dropping off two officials. They filled out paperwork and were pretty interested in Opal (we had good papers showing recent vaccinations) and our flaregun. After a quick search of our lockers, they were picked up. They had come today from Fatu Hiva and make a two-week circuit of the islands, then return to Papeete where a 2nd crew goes out for the other half of the month.

Glenda buys a carved stone pestle, and holds the ancient original.

And poses with the carver.

The village grocery and bakery with carved tiki columns.

At anchor in Tahuata.


May 24 - Still Vaitahu, Tahuata

We have been here nearly a week and are having trouble finding a reason to leave. Water is plentiful on the quai, so I got caught up with laundry. Dave has done the engine oil change and other maintenance. We have been enjoying a moveable feast most nights with our friends here in the anchorage. Yesterday, with Warm Rain, we dinghied to a bay 2 miles north and snorkeled - no visible sharks this time, but good visibility and an aquarium of colorful fish. Dave found a wonderful puffy legless starfish - new to us, and a gorgeous shell.

We have been ordering baguettes from the baker, as each day they sell out by the time we come to town. Baguettes are 47 pacific francs - about 60 cents. The tiny store has carved tiki posts and a thatched roof, but a state-of-the-art baguette oven inside.

This morning we rowed in to visit Teiki Barsinas, the skilled bone carver, taking him a photo of his twin daughters and some small gifts. In exchange, we staggered home with a 16-pound stalk of bananas and more papayas. Teiki's wife told me tomorrow, Sunday, is the fete de mere (mother's day) here, and the Aranui supply ship will be in. Mass is at 8am, and Our Country Home reported the singing is lovely. Then the artisans will come to display their carvings. So we will stay one more day and perhaps leave tomorrow for the Tuamotus.

Copra drying shed.

Is this kid standing on its Mom?

The Toporo visits with supplies.

Outriggers on the waterfront.

Dave and Tom sport their man jewelry - bone carvings.

At anchor, Tahuata.


May 25 - Marquesas to Tuamotus

Today the Aranui anchored with a thundering rattle of her chains at 6:30 am. Our Country Home said it sounded like she was dropping anchor in their cockpit. The Aranui is the main supply ship that serves the islands of French Polynesia, making a circuit from Tahiti about every 3 weeks. This trip it carried 129 paying passengers.

Today was the Marquesan Mother's Day. We set the alarm in time to dress fancy (for us) and make it to shore in time for Mass. But the surge at the quai meant I could leapt ashore, but we couldn't leave the dinghy, so I got to attend Mass while Dave returned to Baraka. The service began with a procession of women and children carrying leis, which they then placed around the necks of all the women attendees. Mine was gorgeous and fragrant. Halfway through the service I joined the procession of women to lay our leis on the altar. Dang, thought it was mine to keep! The service was beautiful, altar decked with tropical flowers, 5 piece band and lots of harmonious singing. Tiny toddlers were allowed to dance in the aisles and pound on the huge drum. Afterward, the band played while ladies served platters of food and cakes to the Aranui guests, kindly including us.

Back aboard Baraka, Dave and I began stowing for the passage to the Tuamotus. We will leave tomorrow, heading for Kauehi, then Fakarava. We dinghied around the corner for one last snorkel, and Dave found a recently vacated pencil urchin.

The Marquesas have been delightful, and we wish we could have longer here. But new delights await in the next island group.

We are 4-5 days sail from the Tuamotus. These low atolls require that you enter at slack water near noon. Slack water to negotiate the passage in, where currents may run as much as 9 knots, and high noon to see the coral heads or "bombs" from the bowsprit. We may have to bob outside when we arrive, waiting for the right conditions to enter. Warm Rain will leave with us tomorrow, welcome company for the passage. Dave was setting up the watch schedule - 4 hours on, then off, with no Joel!

The Aranui loads its passengers.

Tahuata church.

Its beautiful stained glass. Note the turtle on top with its Marquesan cross, the madonna with Marquesan features, and the breadfruit.

Every church has a drum.

This tiki is a bead used to tighten the pigskin on the drum.

These young men accepted the dregs of Joel's tequilla for a burlap bag of fruit.

We leave the Marquesas with an overflowing crate of fruit.

Including bananas hanging off the stern.

Dave enjoys one last snorkel in the Marquesas.

Next: Our Tuamotus journal.

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