Thursday, 25 August 2016

Marqueses, French Polynesia

We arrived in Hiva Oa, Marquesas islands from the Galápagos on the 3rd of August after 24 days at sea.
We anchored in Baie Tahauku, Atuona with fore and aft anchors to face the swell which was rolling into the bay, as the wind and swell were opposing each other..It was lovely having a cool tropical breeze blowing through the cockpit. We were all quick to get over the side into the water to clean the gooseneck barnacles and weed off the hull. It is incredible what grows while sailing!
The  anchorage is about 3 km from the village. Most times we cut across the beach and up a track onto the road and sometimes we were offered a ride by friendly local Marquesans.
Our friends aboard "Leto" who sailed in 4 days ahead of us greeted us the next morning with fresh baguettes, tomatoes, eggs and pamplemousse (sweet grapefruit) A Wonderful surprise and well received as all our fresh stores had long been used.
These Pamplemousse grow all over the island and are magnificent as they are seedless and very juicy and sweet for a grapefruit 
We refilled our water tanks and washed the salt crust off the boat before heading into the village to the Gendarmarie to check in to French Polynesia, stopping to have lunch and celebrate our safe arrival at a lovely restaurant overlooking the bay. It was quite expensive but we had researched and were led to believe that there were no fees payable in French Polynesia so decided to splash out. When we met with the Gendarmarie to do the customs and immigration formalities and were told what we had to pay a bond our lunch was sour in our mouths....
As NewZealanders, a non EU country, we all had to pay a bond which is refundable on checking out of French Polynesia. This could be done in 3 ways.. A refundable airline ticket back to your home country, the equivalent of a ticket paid to the Socredo bank, or a fee to an agent with proof of medical insurance.. The latter would have been the cheapest at $35 each but unfortunately our medical insurance expired 4 mths ago. An airline ticket wasn't possible as the Internet was down and was expected to be for some time so we paid the equivalent at the bank.. By the time we paid the ticket price, exchange rates at both ends and service fee we estimated it could be around $600NZ in fees! It can only be refunded in French Polynesian currency on departure, then exchanged back for the currency of choice...We don't think highly of bankers lining their pockets.. Our friends who have EU passports paid nothing!

Eric and Ralph walking to the Gendarmarie and bank
We spent 5 days exploring the village and surrounds within walking distance.
We visited Paul Gaugan's grave and the cultural centre. There were magnificent views from the cemetry
The road was pretty steep........Eric and Ralph needed a rest stop
I just had to take photos of the beautiful tropical  flowers
The bay has great facilities for yachties.. Potable fresh water, a rudimentary but usable wash area for washing clothes and a shower and the service station has a good selection of basic food and fresh baguettes daily!
After our jobs were done including an engine oil change and replacement of an impeller in the water pump we hired a 4WD car and traversed a sizeable chunk of the island. 

The distances weren't far (100km ) but it took us around 8 hrs as we mostly stayed in second to third gear as the roads were narrow, steep and well travelled.( A mixture of dirt, gravel, bitumen and concrete)
 The scenery was spectacular
In one part the road had slipped and we had to wait for a grader to make the road navigable
How about this switchback in the road! It was right on the edge of a cliff
 The goats loved it
 These horses appeared out of the bush and were happy for a pat
We drove to 2 archeological sites which were most impressive and walked to another via a very muddy track.
  On the 9th of August we sailed a few miles across to Baie Hanamoena on Tahata island where there was a lovely sheltered anchorage. Between the islands we had squalls to 34 knots but were well reefed down which made it invigorating.
 This was the view from the galley porthole
 We spent a couple of days there then sailed with Leto 64nm to the island of Ua Pou to Baie d'Hakahau. This was well protected behind a breakwater. We dined on Poisson cru ( marinated raw fish) as Eric had caught a bonito tuna which isn't very nice cooked. This island is magnificent with its peaks and spires..
 
The next morning we went ashore and were lucky to strike the fortnightly fresh fruit and vegetable market open
 We left Cathy and Peter here and we sailed the 26nm to Nuku Hiva. Looking back at the island as the clouds unveiled the peaks was stunning
 
We arrived at Nuka Hiva and anchored in Baie de Taiohae. We were pretty good at bow and stern anchoring by now. Most of these bays have wind coming off the land with a swell running into the bay causing an unpleasant roll at anchor. Anchoring in this method prevents this...There were 17 yachts anchored here and local fishing boats.
We spent 5 days here catching up on Internet communications. ( We last had an Internet service in the Galápagos before we left on the 10th of July) ...Our onboard radio HF winlink email wasn't able to be used as there is a hole in this huge expanse of ocean with no nearby stations we could hook into.
All the islands were having technical problems with the Internet. 

There was a religious holiday with the procession of the Virgin Mary from a local boat to the shore then on to the cathedral and the night before we gathered at the cathedral to listen to music and re enactments of religious ceremonies, which was interesting
On the 17th of August with fresh supplies of food, water, diesel and LPG we set off to another bay a few miles away. Anse Hakatea in Baie de Taioa has a 350m waterfall which is said to be very worth walking to. 
Unfortunately our departure from the previous bay was delayed as a yacht ran aground on a rocky shoreline and Eric went with Cathy and Peter aboard Leto to pull them off, which was successful. A small power boat went to assist but they couldn't get them off.  Due to this delay we were too late to do the 4 hr round trip walk to the waterfall.
The scenery was spectacular in the bay where we anchored with towering mountains and etched rocks where the water cascades when it rains.
  We took a dinghy trip through the surf into the river where we met the local families that live there. We gave away a couple of Tee shirts we had purchased in the US as a gift for getting some fresh water and came back laden with bananas and guavas. The people were lovely

Good food and sundowners followed by a good nights sleep put us in good spirits for our passage beginning the next day to the Tuamotus atolls....538nm to the SW







SV Erica

SV Erica

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We met in 1971 and it was Eric's dream to build his own yacht and sail the world. This became a joint dream but it was not until 1994 that we were able to start building. "Erica" was launched in 2001 after 7yrs building her. It then took us 5 yrs to prepare her and ourselves before leaving NZ to see the world

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