Day 212, Year 1: A Mountain Walk on Fatu Hiva
Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Weather: Beautiful Warm Days with Cool Evenings—No Change
Location: Hanavave Bay, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

How do we spend our time in this lovely anchorage? I get up and check the morning net to see how the boats we were traveling with who have not arrived are doing. Randy of Procyon arrived in Papeete and is in good condition. From what I can gather from broken communication, it seems that his bowel blockage was caused by swelling as a result of his fall. From what I heard this morning, he is not having to have a second surgery. Sheri will reach Nuka Hiva tomorrow, so all is as well as possible on that front. The folks that are still out there are having absolutely NO wind. None of us can figure out where the trade winds have gone, but they are certainly not in the Pacific Ocean right now. Boats leaving here going to Hiva Oa and other parts north are all having to motor. We have even heard that there are winds from the west in the Tahiti area. What is going on out here? And what is going on back in the northeast US? Unprecedented rain with lots of flooding is what we are hearing. As our British friends would say, “Things seem to have gone pear-shaped.”

After checking the morning net, we ate breakfast and then this morning Mark was off to help Aqua Magic change props and put on new zincs. I stayed “home” and baked bread and brownies and tried for two hours to send e-mails-but no go. The propagation out here is really poor and it seems that the only time to send and receive is in the evening. And even that is not working quite right yet. I sure hope these logs are reaching the website, but from what I have heard from a couple of people, they are not. We’ll get this worked out, but patience is in order for the time being.

We had fresh bread for lunch and then it was time for island exploration. We thought we knew how to get from the village to a waterfall high on the mountain, but somehow we managed to make a wrong turn. We walked the road in one direction and got to the top of a mountain-but no waterfall. We had a spectacular view of the mountains dipping down to the ocean, but we continued to search for the waterfall. We went up another road and came to a clearing where the road obviously ended. There was a little building and a shed with lots of bee hives underneath. Great find, but still not a waterfall. We went back down and tried one more time. We climbed through beautiful rainforest, but again came out into a clearing with no waterfall. By this time, we had crossed the mountain stream and seen beautiful fast running water over rocks, so we were satisfied-and exhausted-and returned to the village. As we walked down the mountain, we heard the tap-a-tap-a-tap of someone making tapa cloth. We stopped to watch the woman beating the bark on a stone to make cloth, but she wasn’t interested in trading for anything I had with me. So I will probably leave here tapa-less, but with great memories of watching them being made. I make a quick trip to the one little store here to buy canned butter and then went to trade for some fruit. I traded a small bottle of shampoo for a huge bunch of bananas, five pamplemoose (grapefruit), and whole bunch of citron (lemons). I also gave the woman a top for her daughter that I had bought in Panama that didn’t fit me quite right. This was just a gift-in-kind. People here are so friendly and it is a nice feeling to leave them with something that they need. What the woman want is perfume, fingernail polish, bright lipsticks, watches, smallish earrings, decorative pins-none of which I have onboard. What the men want is fishing lures, boat fenders, and bullets-again, none of which we have extras onboard. So we are at a bit of a disadvantage for trading. Shampoo is very expensive here, so I could at least get fruit in exchange for that. Anyone heading this way should stock up on the other items, however. The trading can be great fun.

Our final chore of the day was to get containers of water and take them out to Windbird. The drinking water here comes from that elusive waterfall at the top of the mountain and is quite good and safe. We are having watermaker difficulties, so we will fill up by carrying jugs of water from shore before we leave.

We had sundowners on a boat named Shiraz that came in yesterday. Steve and Renee are from Indianapolis and they had invited Bob and Cindy from Figment and Judy and Roger from Hanoua out of Brunswick, Maine. Bob and Cindy and Judy and Roger are all quite young, around the 40 mark, and when I asked them how they are affording to do this, they simply said that they will probably return and work at Walmart to a ripe old age to pay for this, but they are doing it in the prime of their lives so they can enjoy it to the fullest.

Mark and I are turning in early tonight. We are both exhausted. We had thought we would leave for Hiva Oa in the morning, but I think departure will depend on just how much our bodies can recuperate overnight. All is well; we are just plain tuckered out!