Archive for April, 2010

Ua Pou

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

We sailed north from Fatu Hiva stopping overnight at Tahuata where the palm trees were thick and the mango trees labored under huge loads of mangoes.

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We were escorted by energetic dolphins,

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to the spires of Ua Pou.

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These peaks are camera shy. They peek through the clouds one by one, always ensuring that their neighbors are fully cloaked before they take a turn. 

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We sailed around the north end of the island and saw these peaks from multiple angles before we anchored ourselves directly before them at the village of Hakahetau.

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The village was more relaxed than most due to the poor ferry and dinghy access.  Not a lot of visitors come through here and it was the first place we saw the traditional woven mat construction (along with the now-traditional satellite dish).

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There were other characters out of the past still in action. This codger had a farm several miles back into the bush.

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His front door view was something like this:

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The government has invested in several kiosks displaying multi-lingual posters of the various attributes of the island.  With promises of a loop trail where we’d see two small waterfalls (the blue dots) and an archeological site (the red splotch), we traipsed up what felt like several miles of gravelly road through the woods, gathering windfall fruit  and ‘encouraging’ other roadside fruit to fall along the way. 

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We must’ve taken a wrong turn because we never found any waterfalls, and the road ended at the front gate of a splendid garden.   We were greeted by a fierce guard dog, but luckily his owner, Terés, came out and called him off while we were still intact.    Terés, a native islander, and her Dutch husband have what appears to us to be an ideal spread, complete with abundant fruit trees, chickens, and milk goats.   She invited us up to her open-air kitchen and served cold limeade while we sat and tried to chat in bits of French and English.  K quizzed them mercilessly about the various goat products on offer on the island.   Terés made a face when asked if she makes goat cheese and told us her goats are only for milk; she doesn’t like the smell of goat cheese.  Her husband recommended a man to see in the village if we were interested in going on a goat hunt.  We foolishly passed on her offer of a cup of homegrown coffee, but accepted her offer of three of the largest avocados we’ve ever seen.  She refused our request for a photo before we left, but allowed us to take one of her dog.

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We made our way back to the boat and retired to the cockpit to watch the local lads race around the bay,

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while the sunset set fire to the volcanic plug and made the cold lava glow again.

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09°21.86′S 140°06.25′W 24-Apr-10 04:30 PDT

Fatu Hiva From Below

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Fatu Hiva doesn’t have the best reef or visibility in the world but for us it has been the most memorable time in the water in the last 20 years (“and how!” as Grandma Kelley would say).

The regular cast of characters were all there – and then some.

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Butterflyfish…

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juvenile Triggerfish only a few centimeters long…

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a flashy Lionfish…

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a well-disguised Stonefish…

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morays with Cleaner Wrasses and red-eyed crabs…

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(These Cleaner Wrasses were very interested in K but not so much in S. K assumed they just wanted their pictures taken, S thinks they saw a lot of material to work with.)

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one of S’s favorites – a little Lemonpeel Angelfish with comical blue eyeliner…

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dapper peppermint shrimp with blue shoulders (who thinks this stuff up?)…

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and lots of octopuses.

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In a stroke of luck we even parked the dinghy directly over this huge manta ray

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Then we went around a point with a crazy keyhole arch

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and were minding our own business when a dozen of these 6 footers suddenly showed up and milled around less than 10 ft away from us with unnerving curiosity.

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It seemed like a very long swim back to the dinghy only 100 ft away (on the other side of the sharks). We tried to whistle nonchalantly in our snorkels as we passed.  It must have worked. For a short time we thought they might want to eat us (S looked just like a yummy ocean cupcake in her flowery shorts) but after reflection, K thinks this pack of hammerheads was acting like a pack of friendly neighborhood dogs (S thinks: yeah, a pack of 6-ft long, extremely toothy neighborhood dogs!). 

They were probably just looking for any goats that may have fallen off the very steep cliffs surrounding the bay where they’ve lived since Captain Cook brought them here 200 years ago. Who can blame a shark?

10°28.36′S 138°40.50′W 10-Apr-20 12:30 PDT

The Dogs of Hanavave

Monday, April 19th, 2010

We are pretty sure that the dogs of Hanavave lead a largely vegetarian existence. We know this by the lack of dog food in the shop, their remarkable cohabitation with chickens and  their affinity for rotten bananas and coconuts.

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Most of them were sleepy at all times. This good comfort hound had the coolest spot in the house.

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There was one exceptionally alert specimen who warned us away from his shed, his killer instincts held in check only by his heavy chain.

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The youngest four of these six jungle construction dogs eagerly put on a good show of making sure we continued past their front yard.  S thought it was a laughing matter.

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10°27.80′S 138°38.75′W 10-Apr-19 12:30 PDT

Hanavave Falls, Fatu Hiva

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

There is a famous waterfall about an hour outside the village.

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At times the occasional stone markers in the jungle were our only clue that we were going the right way.

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It was a hot muddy trek to the falls but worth the effort.

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The pond is home to crawfish and blue eyed eels. To S’s relief we only saw crawfish.

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After swimming over for a crawfish eye view of the falls,

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and a c-nut snack,

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we took the scenic rode home, climbing a ridge to see the anchorage.

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The view of the valley was incredible.

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K really wanted to go see this hole in the rock curtain just below the top of the ridge but it would have taken days to get there.

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We passed a Mary spring in the side of a hill and stopped to have a sip. As you’d expect, the Mary water was miraculous; it was cool and clear and didn’t taste at all like the crawfish that were living in the catchment. 

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We also saw reminders of the pre-Christian era. This gent was probably the well-endowed chairman of the ancient village.

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We left the 6 ton petroglyph in place and brought home coffee beans instead.

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10°27.80′S 138°37.75′W 10-Apr-18 12:30 PDT

Le Petit Village

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

The village of Hanavave on the island of Fatu Hiva gives many edenistic impressions to the casual observer fresh from a long ocean passage. 

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We began our investigation of this community in the small but heavily attended Catholic church on Sunday morning.

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There was lots of guitar and uke playing, with strong vocals from the packed pews.

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The entire service was in Marquesan except for a spicy Marquesan-French message about the habits and pitfalls of unmarried couples.  This part was very entertaining for the young people, including our new friend Marie.

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Marie brought us home to check out her husband’s carvings and then loaded us up with free bread fruit, lemons, and starfruit even though we didn’t initially buy anything. She had an awesome fruit picking net …

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and a groovy turtle tattoo.

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We gave her kids some stickers and lifesavers. Candy was in high demand among the village kids, one enterprising 8 year old had set himself up as a godfather in the local Bonbon Mafia. They shook down S for half a bag of Jolly Ranchers and then came back for more after performing an inventory audit that showed  irregularities in the distribution.  Other kids were normal. Bobo and his sister both liked lifesavers without extremism.

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There were lots of cute kids in the village.

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On Sunday afternoon the local tots were turned out into the boat basin to frolic among the dock lines.

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We strolled into the suburbs and began to appreciate daily life in this place.

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The houses were all lightly built, off the ground in the standard Polynesian style.

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Everyone had a banana rack and a boat out back.

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Some of the boats were beautiful outriggers that don’t see much use anymore.

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We passed pigs, chickens, copra drying sheds and at least one candidate for “What Not to Wear.”

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We put down an offer on this one room retirement home (it’s within our projected budget)

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and made our out way out of town and into the bush.

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10°27.80′S 138°39.75′W 10-Apr-18 12:30 PDT

Baie Hanavave, Fatu Hiva

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

This bay is advertised by the French as the most beautiful bay in the world. They are probably right.

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Curtains of rock enclose the bay on three sides.

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Spires and pillars tower above the tiny village among the palms.

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While most of this landscape is the domain of birds and goats…

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there is a rift in the mountain wall cut by  a cold stream

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and a path into the jungle beyond.

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It’s a challenging anchorage. We dropped the hook in 90 ft and payed out 200 ft of chain plus 100 ft of rode. The steep walls of the valley funnel very strong gusts into the anchorage. Most nights it rained intermittently leaving the sleeper with the options of wet and cool or dry(er) and hot.

10°27.89′S 138°40.16′W 10-Apr-17 12:30 PDT

Canal Du Bordelais

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

We spent several days on the fringes of the channel between the islands of Tahuata and Hiva Oa.  Tahuata fulfilled the postcard image that kept us motivated during the 3 week crossing.

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We spent two days collecting green c-nuts, limes, pamplemoose and pictures. There was a very nice low reef in 30 ft of water where  anchors had not done their devilish work

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and interesting lava walls bracketing the bay.

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We saw many beautiful things, some of which we were able to get good photos of.

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There were blacktip sharks large and small. The small ones lurked in the ankle biting zone.  K thought they were super-cute. S feared they might bite her ankles.

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The more arid west coast of Hiva Oa reminded us of Baja.

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This side of the island is in a rain shadow and only the valleys are well watered.

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We met up with our friends on Paikea Mist (who we met in Sausalito) and shared an uncomfortable night of rare 20 kt west wind. The 3-point anchor spread went out and held us off the lee shore rocks 200 ft astern.

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We missed all the good stuff the guide books mention about this bay but found a cool  hermit crab the size of a baseball.

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09°54.45′S 139°06.28′W 10-Apr-14 12:30 PDT

Fruits of Hiva Oa

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

There is more fruit per square foot in Hiva Oa than any place we’ve ever seen. But it is not for sale and requires a significant investment in time and energy. This was not unexpected and we set off into the jungle full of gear and cunning plans, stopping along the way to look at flowers…

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And feed horses

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The highest expenditure of effort for food was tied between coconuts and bananas. We started with a heaving line and monkey’s fist. This eventually worked, but not nearly as well as the 20 ft 1×1 that someone had thoughtfully left by the side of the path for us to use.

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Getting them down is really just half the fun

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Opening them up is the really dangerous part

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We tied our machete to a long stick and eventually cut down a fine brace of bananas.

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S shook all the papaya trees she could find and also collected a bunch of limes.  She learned the hard way that lime trees have some nasty thorns.  We snagged a breadfuit from a parking lot.

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Mangoes are the holy grail because they are incredibly good. There are huge mango trees all over the village and the primary recipients are 1,000’s of feral chickens that roam the island, continually crossing all the roads (really!).

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K was indignant that he was out-foraged by these chickens and it only got worse when a golden 3 lb mango fell out of a tree a smacked onto the sidewalk 5 feet in front of him.  We almost cried when we saw it.

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We did find a slightly less damaged street mango that turned out to be most delicious. For as we all know, there is no mango sweeter than a free street mango.

We’ll be working hard for this fruit in the weeks ahead in spite of our cafe-lifestyle background, mostly because we can’t afford the insanely priced local cafe lifestyle, however relaxing it might be.  Here’s what $13 (U.S.) worth of Schmidt’s-like beer looks like.

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09°48.22′S 139°02.41′W 10-Apr-11 12:30 PDT

Landfall

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

We were lucky to just see the islands in the evening before standing off to wait for sunrise.

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S sussed out the hole in the mountains leading into a hidden bay.

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And when the sun came out we found ourselves in the most beautiful of anchorages.

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All fun was suspended for the following 24 hours as we force marched into town a couple of miles away and caught up on 3 weeks of housekeeping.

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It was hard work but a grand location to be working outside.

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We really needed a bigger boat for the required miles of clothes lines.

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09°48.22′S 139°01.93′W 10-Apr-11 11:30 PDT

Marquesas Transit

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Except for a LOT of water, there really was not much to see between Mexico and the Marquesas but we did take a few pics.

For those of you obsessed with K’s plastic pants we’ll get this right out of the way:

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There are about 3 perspectives on a long crossing with only two people. The on-watch person sits in the stern seat and watches the feet of the off-watch sleeper.

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The off-watch person wakes up and checks on the on-watch person in the stern seat.

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And either person could be found sweating in the nav station hot box, checking the nav software, writing email, or playing electronic mah-jong solitaire.

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Occasionally one of us would make a crazy excursion out on the deck (clipped in, of course).

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Sometimes it got so boring the S would stick her head in a bucket just for fun (or to wash her hair) and K would call her “Ole Bucket Head” (but not to her face).

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We did have a pet booby for several days. We (K) immediately named him Boomby… Boomby Boomrider.

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Boomby would spend hours working on his feathers and then fly around and catch flying fish spooked by our passing. His feathers were a terrible mess for some reason and we were glad he found us 1,000’s of miles form the nearest land.

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He became very comfortable in his spot on the boom and with suprisingly grippy webbed feet could ride the mainsail outhaul line in and out like a moving sidewalk as we reefed and unreefed.  He tried to sit on the solar panels but they were, quite comically, like an ice rink for him, so he resigned himself to his perch on the outhaul.

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We expected to have him forever and told him “we’ll ride together til Kingdom Come” but it was not meant to be and he went about his business one day. 

But we can’t resist one more ridiculous boobie picture:

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We had dozens of flying fish but they don’t make good pets. They’re a lot like Marilyn Monroe because they live their lives like a candle in the waves, never knowing where to jump to when the boat comes by. We would have like to have known them but they were usually all dried up in the morning.  (We got to the point of thinking this was funny sometime during Week 3 at sea.)  This one’s wee, but not even the smallest we one we had.

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There was a small party at the equator, S put on some funny goggles and got out a super hero screaming monkey that K had no idea we had. We all posed with the GPS as proof the we are not “Crowhursting” around in Sequim, photoshopping pictures of the Olympic foothills and posting fake position reports.

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There were many clear nights below the southern sky and a sunset just about every night.

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09°45.58′S 138°43.81′W 10-Apr-10 02:30 PDT