Day 225, Year 1: Meeting Up with Friends in Nuka Hiva

Day 225, Year 1: Meeting Up with Friends in Nuka Hiva
Date: Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Weather: Perfect Day with Clear Blue Skies and Calm Seas
Latitude: 08 degrees 57 minutes
Longitude: 140 degrees 10 minutes
Location: Daniel’s Bay, Nuka Hiva Island, Marquesas

What a wonderful day. We had a fantastic sail from Ua Pou to here, we got together with Randy and Sheri on Procyon for the first time since the Galapagos, and we are in an absolutely beautiful anchorage. We set out this morning for the north side of Nuka Hiva, but the direction of the wind and the conversations with friends on the VHF helped us to make the decision to come here. Good decision.

Randy and Sheri are the friends that had the medical emergency on our passage and it was so fantastic to see them today. Randy is doing great and Sheri has rebounded from her experience as a single hander. We are sharing this bay with Randy and Sheri on Procyon, Candice and Ed on Still Point who sailed here with us from Ua Pou, and Soren Larsen, a two-masted square-rigger from New Zealand. It is beautiful, calm, and nice to be in an anchorage with only a couple of other boats.

We had the best sail that we have had during our whole trip today. We were sailing at a good speed with moderate winds, sailing upright with all sails flying. It was really wonderful. We had planned to sail to the north side of this island, but the winds brought us here and it was truly a wonderful sail. Tonight we had Randy and Sheri from Procyon and Ed and Candice from Still Point onboard for dinner. Tomorrow morning we all will head to shore to walk to the third highest waterfall in the world. We also hope to meet Daniel. He and his wife Antoinette have lived here for years and have welcomed sailors from all over the world. From what we have read the Survivor series bought Daniel’s original home so they could produce a TV show, but he just moved one bay over. Tomorrow we will find out.

060530 Day 225 Marquesas, Nuka Hiva–Ua Pou to Nuka Hiva

Day 224, Year 1: Trouble Getting Money

Day 224, Year 1: Trouble Getting Money
Date: Monday, May 29, 2006
Weather: Back to Beautiful Sunny Days with Bright Blue Skies
Location: Hakatau Bay, Ua Pou Island (pronounced wapoo), Marquesas

Life was back to normal today. The skies were blue with scattered puffy clouds and the rain has gone away. When we got us this morning, we saw Quantum Leap heading out for the Tuamotus. We didn’t realize they were heading out so early and we didn’t get to say farewell, but hopefully we will see them soon in the Tuamotus or in Tahiti. About that time, Minaret pulled anchor and headed for the north shore of Nuka Hiva. That left only a few of us here in Hakahau.

We started our day by going to shore and taking showers under the faucet on shore. That saves us carrying water to Windbird and gave us the chance to wash hair with as much water as we would like. It was delightful. We then went back to the boat to have breakfast. While we were doing this, Hawkeye and Esprit pulled up anchor and headed for an anchorage on the west side of this island. Now it was really beginning to feel almost lonely here. We headed to shore to try and complete the transaction to get the needed bonds for our stay here in French Polynesia, but we continue to have problems getting our credit cards to work here. They accept only Visa as a charge card and we only have MasterCard as a charge card, with Visa as our debit. It is so confusing and so frustrating. We have decided to go with an agent who will simply guarantee our bond for a fee!

We saw Margaret and Patrick from Aqua Magic in town and decided to walk with them up the valley to get a view of the bay from up high. The first road we took didn’t really give us the view we had hoped for, so we headed back down the mountain to town and took another path. This one led us past a couple of houses on the edge of town and then up the mountain to a private home at the end of the road. We never really found the track we were looking for to take us high into the mountains, we certainly got to see how the locals live-in town, in the “suburbs”, and then at the end of the road.

We returned to town and did some shopping before returning to the boat. We had invited Jamie and Lucie from Savoir Livre and Margaret and Patrick of Aqua Magic over for mid-afternoon snacks and drinks. We had a great time comparing travel notes. I asked Lucy what her most memorable moment of her trip so far was and she, as well as the rest of us, found that an impossible question to answer. It really seems as if every day offers so many memorable moments that it is impossible to pinpoint one time or place.

We will be leaving here in the morning for the next island north-Nuka Hiva. I didn’t get to visit all of the places here on Ua Pou that I had hoped to, but there is just no way to see it all. Hopefully our time on Nuka Hiva will give us the opportunity to see some of the same kinds of things that we have missed here.

060529 Day 224 Marquesas, Ua Pou–On Land and in the Anchorage

Day 223, Year 1: Nor’easterly Winds and Rain, Rain, Rain

Day 223, Year 1: Nor’easterly Winds and Rain, Rain, Rain
Date: Sunday, May 28, 2006
Weather: Rain All Night and All Day
Location: Hakatau Bay, Ua Pou Island (pronounced wapoo), Marquesas

Whoa! We are having New England weather out here. Nor’easterly winds, squalls with 35 knot winds, and rain, rain, and more rain. We hear that New England had a stellar Memorial Day weekend, at least down on the Cape. But it is about time, as I know you have had more than your share of rain in the past few weeks. Well, we are finally getting our share of rain. Hopefully it will only last another day or so, and we will be back to those endless sunny days.

Because of the rain and the high winds, we stayed on the boat all day. In this anchorage the boats at the front and the back all have out stern anchors. Those of us in the middle with only one anchor out all dragged our anchors a bit during the height of the squall today, so we spent a fair amount of time moving and getting resettled. Other than that, it was a quiet, rainy day. I baked bread, read a little, and prepared dinner for our guests Graham and Lynn from Minaret. They are a great couple and we really enjoy getting together with them. We talked some about where we will be going next. Since they have done all of this once before in the 1980’s, they are a little more knowledgeable about local sailing conditions. Graham suggested that we should go to the north side of Nuka Hiva next and work our way back around to the south, instead of going to the south side and then going to the north. We will have to look at all of this on a chart tomorrow morning and make our final decision, but it sounds to me like we will be taking off for Nuka Hika tomorrow afternoon or on Tuesday morning. There are great anchorages on Nuka Hiva and some of the most interesting archaeological sites. We have only a little more than a week before we have to leave the Marquesas for the Tuomotus, so we have to carefully choose our landing sites. More about that tomorrow.

Day 222, Year 1: Miss Ua Pou Pageant (just like Miss America)

Day 222, Year 1: Miss Ua Pou Pageant (just like Miss America)
Date: Saturday, May 27, 2006
Weather: Sunny with Periods of Rain All During the Day and Night
Location: Hakatau Bay, Ua Pou Island (pronounced wapoo), Marquesas

We love this anchorage. It is beautiful and the people here are warm and welcoming. The cruisers anchored here are also very friendly, so it is just an easy place to be. The high mountains and spires that rise up from the village of Hakatau are covered in clouds most of the day, but in the early morning you can sometimes catch a glimpse of them before the clouds move in.

This morning the French Coast Guard boarded the boat to do a Customs check and then we headed to town to do our official check-in with the gendarme. Fellow cruisers who said checking-in here would be easy were exactly right. The gendarme actually checked us in and forgot to see if we had our bond. We reminded him that we would need to get the bond on Monday and he looked a little embarrassed that he had forgotten to mention that. We have to each get a bond equal to the cost of a plane ticket back to the US, and here we will be able to put this on our charge card. In Hiva Oa, they wanted cash and we just couldn’t withdraw enough cash fast enough to secure the bonds. If something goes wrong on Monday and we aren’t able to charge this, we will go with an agent. But if all goes well, we will be finally totally official on Monday morning.

The highlight of today was attending the special dinner tonight in honor of Mother’s Day here. There was native dancing and the Miss Ua Pou pageant. It was exactly like a Miss America pageant with talent, bath suit, and evening gown competition. The bathing suits were bikinis with wraps that were slowly removed. The talent was native dancing to drums, and the evening gown competition was varied. Tonight we were seeing only the final three and one chose a very oriental looking gown with a high neckline and long sleeves. She came in third. One young woman was in a two-piece gown that looked more like a native costume. She came in second. Miss Ua Pou was not the best looking, but she definitely had the talent and gown competition on her side. She wasn’t the best looking, but she had panache. I’m sure we will see her again in Tahiti for the Independence Day celebrations there and probably in Bora Bora for the Bastille Day celebrations in mid-July. We will probably also see some of the dance troupes we saw tonight in Bora Bora for the final island competitions in July.

The beauty pageant was followed by music from a local band-electric keyboard and ukulele. Some of the music was right out of the 1950’s, while other songs sounded like a combination of Hawaiian and Country Western. We danced and had a great time. Mark and I were in total awe of the local couples who danced. They move to the music so gracefully. Mark commented that he had never seen so many graceful men on a dance floor at one time, and I agreed. These people do know how to move to music.

060527 Day 222 Marquesas, Ua Pou–Miss Ua Pou Celebration

Day 221, Year 1: Arrival in Ua Pou

Day 221, Year 1: Arrival in Ua Pou
Date: Friday, May 26, 2006
Weather: Blustery Northeast Winds Overnight; Continued Wind, Sunny Daytime
Latitude: 09 degrees 22 minutes S
Longitude: 140 degrees 03 minutes W
Location: Hakatau Bay, Ua Pou Island (pronounced wapoo), Marquesas

The “Class of 2006” is a big one, as witnessed by the number of boats in this tiny little anchorage. Tom on Quantum Leap refers to those of us beginning our circumnavigation by going through the Panama Canal early in 2006 as the “Class of 2006.” And there really are a lot of us. There are probably 20 boats in Hakatau Bay tonight, and someone said there were 30 just a week ago. We are learning to share the beauty with others and actually enjoy getting to meet so many new people as well as keep up with friends we have made to date. Quantum Leap is here, as is Savoir Livre, and Minaret. There are many other boats that we have seen along the way but who we have not met. Maybe we will meet them here.

We sailed to Ua Pou overnight and it was a blustery, dark night. Once we got started, we had winds of 20 to 25 knots, with gusts to 30 plus. But the wind was behind us and not really a problem for Windbird. We sailed with the full main up all night and sometimes we had a reefed headsail out. Windbird truly takes care of us even in the most blustery of conditions. We hit a few squalls last night with driving rain, but we had put in some of the plastic cockpit side curtains early in the evening so that we would be dry. They didn’t take care of everything, but we were fine. Aqua Magic, who was sailing along with us, did not have a good passage. They got waves in the cockpit and even Margaret’s hair was wet. Aqua Magic is not a center cockpit like Windbird, and maybe that made the difference. Anyway, we arrived early this morning, found a safe place to anchor, fixed a hearty breakfast, and then headed to the village. This was after taking a look around at the beautiful anchorage. There are volcanic plugs, which I would call spires, that punctuate the landscape. It is really beautiful here.

The village is really what you would refer to as a rural town in the United States-very much like small towns in Central Florida. It appears that there are no traditional villages left in French Polynesia. The French government heavily subsidizes living here and that has standardized the way of life-color TV, 4-wheel drive vehicle, prefab home, European and American style clothing. In each place we have stopped so far, the Catholic Church is obviously the center of village life. Each church has elaborate wooden sculptures. We will talk more about the carvings in future logs. The road maintenance equipment is all brand new and kept in excellent condition. The roads aren’t great, but the mountainous terrain makes that difficult. The scenery is spectacular and the children are happy. Sounds like Lake Wobegone. Hakahau is no exception. We landed our dinghy and started the walk into town. We came to a traditional looking hut and saw a guy waving us toward him. There was a sign indicating that this was a place where local arts and crafts are sold, so we walked over to take a look. The man who had waved to us looks like a Rastafarian in the Pacific. He took us into the shop and showed us the jewelry made here. There was also a Marquesian drum. I loved it and asked the price and he wrote out with his finger 90,000 francs. That is about $900 American. I can’t afford to buy the drum, but he did play it for us and started singing. The drum and his voice range went from falsetto to bass and it was delightful.

We walked along the waterfront and then headed up a side street. Streets here are always paved with concrete in town. We came to a business complex with a bank, post office, and Mairie (town hall). We walked a little further and found the Gendarmerie, but it was closed. More about checking in later. We turned around and headed back to the waterfront and then took another side street through town. This time we passed the College of Ua Pou, a grocery store that is better stocked than most small stores in the US, a restaurant, a boutique, and an elementary school. We then made a right turn and found the road maintenance site, the Catholic church, a local musee (museum), three more grocery stores, and another clothing boutique. The one grocery store that was open was absolutely amazing. They have a whole wall of freezers containing everything from frozen artichokes AND artichoke bottoms to ice cream to large pieces of beef. The shelves in the store are lined with canned and boxed food as well as tri-color bowtie pasta, couscous, taboule mix, chocolate cake mixes, and even the cones for the ice cream in the freezers. You can also buy clothing, dishes, hardware, and about anything else you can think of in this little neighborhood grocery. I was impressed.

We returned to Gendarmerie’s office two more times during the afternoon, but we never found him in. Checking into French Polynesia has not been an easy task for us. We have decided to use the agent to secure our bond and get duty-free fuel for us, but we will do our own check-ins and outs. Someone in the town hall indicated that the Gendarme will be in tomorrow, so we will try again then.

Tomorrow night there is a big festival on the beach. It will cost us $25 American each to attend the affair, but it will include traditional food, dancing, and music. And Miss Ua Pou will be crowned!

A truly wonderful thing happened today as we were coming into port here. We were on the radio asking people for advice on entering the harbor and where to anchor, when all of a sudden our friend Randy from Procyon hailed us on the channel. He is doing great and is back on the boat in Nuka Hiva, the next island about 23 miles north of here. We will see Randy and Sheri when we go to Nuka Hiva next week. We were so happy to hear his voice and to finally know that he is back onboard and doing great.

060526 Day 221 Marquesas, Ua Pou–Arrival and Walk Through Hakahau

Day 220, Year 1: On Our Way to Ua Pou

Day 220, Year 1: On Our Way to Ua Pou
Date: Thursday, May 25, 2006
Weather: Bright and Sunny Day, Evening Showers
Location: Overnight Passage from Hiva Oa to Ua Pou

We are currently motoring in the pass between Hiva Oa and Tahuata. This is our second trip through this pass called the Canal Du Bordelais. We traveled through to the east when we went to Hiva Oa on Sunday and we are now traveling back through to the west as we head to the island of Ua Pou. Both times we have had a current against us, but only a knot or so. The wind is dead behind us and only about 8 to 10 knots, so we are motoring for now. We hope to be able to sail once we get through the pass, but it might not be in the cards for tonight. Whatever, we should arrive in Hakahou Bay on Ua Pou by early morning. And I don’t know about you, but all of these vowels are getting to me!

After the walk to the top of the mountain last night, my back has been fine. I continue to be careful and rest often during the day, but I do think I made it through this one without a major problem. This is good.

Mark did our income tax reporting today. We didn’t get the forms until we were in the Galapagos and we were just having too much fun to stop and do taxes, so we asked for an extension. It is good, however, to get this out of the way.

We are still not checked into French Polynesia. The bond they require is $1,200 US dollars per person. Because of daily limits on cash withdrawals, we have not been able to get the required amount. We have actually contacted an agent who might be able to help us, for a fee of course, but he can get us duty-free fuel which will save us $2.00 on every gallon. Once we reach Ua Pou and hear back from the agent, we will up-date you on our check-in situation.

Today the boats Pelican Express and Dutch Touch arrived in the anchorage on Hiva Oa. They were anchored next to us in Santa Cruz in the Galapagos, but they headed for Easter Island as we headed for the Marquesas. Scotty also arrived today. They left the Galapagos a couple of days before us but had a very slow passage. I know they were glad to reach land at last. And Jade also arrived today. Jade is a catamaran out of Hong Kong with Arnie and Cam and their two beautiful children aboard. They left the Galapagos about five days after us, but had to turn back for repairs. We talked to them today and they said they had a great passage-twenty-one and a half days.

It is time to get ready to eat dinner and do the night watches. Aqua Magic is traveling with us tonight, so we do have company. It feels good to be on the way again. I look forward to exploring the new island of Ua Pou.