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Anthem Adrift
Head for Bed
05/16/2010, Hana Moe Noa Bay, Tahuata, Marquesas

May 15

Ho hum, another spectacular anchorage at Tahuata. At least Resolution Bay allows one to surf his dinghy between the riprap to go ashore. Gary and Jackie caught an especially large breaker up into the rocks. Looked like those pictures you see of roller coasters just as riders realize they've made a terrible mistake. Dog-eared prop appears to have been lone casualty.

More head trouble. No, not the crazy one that got me here, the porcelain rascal that's been such a nuisance. After rewiring, tank gauge had again gone dead. Turns out that discharge siphon break was spewing effluvium onto new wire connection corroding it right through in just a few weeks. Bad stuff. Spent a delightfully heady afternoon repairing all. Gray clothing evidences that nearly depleted Clorox has been used for other than laundry.

After exploring Vaitahu, motored a few miles north to Hana Moe Noa Bay to look for mantas. Nada, but a nice beach and beautiful sunset followed by Mexican train dominoes on Jackster. I am a graceful winner.

Considered rising in the O darks to attempt Ua Pao by sunset tomorrow. Sixty five miles and eleven hours if the wind blows. Reconsidered. Sleeping in. Could go to Hanamenu on Hiva Oa tomorrow night for shorter hop next day. Alternatively, sleeping in could become habitual. Hey, what's paradise for, anyway?

Jack

A Mark of Excelence
05/14/2010, Resolution Bay, Hatuata, Marquesas

May 14

Quite a todo in the village this morning. Looked like entire population turned out for the marathon. Young guys on horses followed each runner in to the finish line with drum accompaniment. Strangely, none of the witnessed finishers looked close to death. Suspect times were a smidge over Olympic record.

Foul bottom in Atuona anchorage was kind to Anthem, but Inspiration Lady got their stern road wrapped under a gabion requiring scuba to cut line, freeing virtual family heirloom, stainless steel Danforth. Didn't even know there was such a thing. Dave on Jackster had to shinny to top of mizzen to reeve a halyard that had come free. With no such difficulties aboard Anthem and after offering aid, skipped out so as to finally get to new location first. Enjoyed a beautiful two hour sail to Resolution Bay on Tahuata (Fire Spirit), where a European named Mendana killed 70 Marquesans when he landed here in 1595. They don't seem to hold a grudge.

Bristol Rose sons, here for previous two days, got tattoos in Polynesian style. Had not, heretofore, the slightest desire for one, but these look quite nice. After reflection, decided to heed apposite description as "a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling" and demur. Besides, I can get one in Papeete.

Jack

All Washed Up
05/13/2010, Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas

The Laundry

May 13

Have been reintroduced to wifi at the boat. Love it even if a skosh pricey and torpid. A few pictures are appearing on the web site with more to follow. Although some of photos on passage to Marquesas relate to immediate activities, many will be from previous adventures. Realm of possible shots was somewhat limited on passage.

Used a pool chemical bucket (thanks, Richard) to conduct laundering this morning/afternoon. Beating it on a rock at streamside would have been easier. Plenty of water at a wash stand near what passes for a dinghy dock, but six loads of one wash and two rinse and you could hang us all out to dry. Cockpit is adrape with drippy apparel as spin cycle left something to be desired.

Three speed, sixteen inch, Dahon, folding bike made its first appearance since, possibly, the Bahamas. Rotting tires (twenty years old) still manage to inhibit tube from escaping, but barely. After adjusting shifter, rode over the hill into Atuona to discover nearly everything closed for the holiday, but made it up to cemetiere to see a beautiful view and gravesites of Jacques Brel and Gauguin. Paul liked 13 year old girls and was not a favorite with the Catholic church.

Before sail to neighboring Tahuata may ride to village early tomorrow for annual marathon. Huh? Yup, sponsored by Air Tahiti. With minimum flat surface, 26 miles must be a grueling exercise. Of course, miles are statute, not nautical, and it's only the last 23 that really hurt.

Jack

Tres Facile
05/13/2010, Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas

Anthem at Anthem

May 12

Atuona is more developed than anticipated, almost European in feel, with a few paved roads and numerous cars. Hiva Oa is, however, a huge disappointment. Scenery is merely spectacular instead of breathtakingly stunning. It had to happen eventually. One must make do.

Three kilometer walk into town was not toilsome at 0700 and offered a scenic view of anchorage. Lovely as was going, hitched a ride back on purpose. Caribbean customs and immigration offices are often disobligingly hidden, but finding gendarmerie here, where one can clear into all of French Polynesia, is not too difficult if one follows a few basic clues. Large 'Gendarmerie' sign on main roadway can be somewhat helpful. The lone official requested completion of a simple form (which was returned for mailing to Tahiti at nearby poste) at which he didn't look, nor at zarpe from Galapagos, didn't ask for bond, stamped passport and took up, perhaps, 10 minutes of the valuable time that would otherwise have been spent serving all mankind. Au revoir. Total cost about $.77. I love the French, even discounting le croissant et le baguette.

In the bird segment, today, we will recognize the distinctive whippoorwill, which have made their way here, possibly for the subsidized pastry. Also, while chicken on the hoof are generally not a favorite, roosters in Marquesas have brilliant plumage and are beautiful. However, at risk of hurt feelings or damaged psyches, regrettably, they are still rather stupid.

Jack

Shooting the Breeze
05/11/2010, Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas

Taahuku Anchorage

May 11

Rip roaring reach up to Hiva Oa. Got knocked down as wind veered and blasted around north end of Fatu Hiva. Retrieval of Gary's gas can, which had floated away, was a barrel of laughs, allowing Jackster to zoom by and avoiding the ignominy of getting trounced under full sail. Two other boat provided that enchanting experience. Boat remained at or above theoretical hull speed most of way, but feel like the scrawny kid at the beach who gets sand kicked in his face as the three bigger boats slid by. Nevertheless, anchor up to anchor down after 50 nautical miles, including snail's pace in lee of both islands, was eight hours. Scotty gave her all he had and she dinna come apart.

Goat rope of setting bow and stern anchors in a crowded anchorage with little breeze through the boat and still rolly engendering reflection on whole inner vs. outer anchorage thing. At least inside, outboard can remain on stern rail as dinghy dock is rowably close. Operative word there, of course, is 'row' which has its own negative connotations.

Three klick trek into gendarmerie to clear in starts at 0630 as office closes for the day at 0900 and there looks to be a crowd. France contributes one billion Euro a year (1/3 or the GDP) to Fr. Poly. and forty percent of the population works for the government. French expat civil servants make 84% more than their counterparts in France. Wonder if they give green cards to Yanks?

Show of hands, who thinks I'm in the South Pacific sailing through French Polynesia? Wow, still quite a few. Ok, I'll keep it going.

Jack

Better Than Best
05/11/2010, Hanavave, Fatu Hive, Marquesas

Jacksters Looking For a Dive

May 10

Another beautiful day in paradise, only this time it's for real. Every so often, during the day, a big SE grin (ask a friend) breaks out along with irrepressible giddiness (OK, little girls get giddy - think adult male version).

Climbed the mast to fix wind transducer twice as many times as necessary due shiftless crew not suggesting reading the single page addendum giving instructions for "replacement in existing systems". Oh well, would have had to go back up sometime to install bird discourager anyway. New unit not nearly the flimsy piece of crap as old.

Scoped out other bays, but found anchorage as good as any for scuba. With Jacksters, at 30 to 40 feet, found minimum coral, but quite a few fish and a dozen or so octopuses, some quite large. Don't know whether they typically change colors to hide from predators or from prey, but these guy apparently don't feel a need for either reason. Some were very dark and biggest ones almost white. They are very shy unless you are food. Another plus to top of food chain.

Early departure AM, sailing to Hiva Oa to shed life of crime and clear in with customs. Like in French Caribbean, officials here are reported very mellow. Atuona, besides allowing removal of "Q" flag, has a Chinese restaurant beside a hardware store that sells ice cream. How could it possibly get better?

Jack

Boring Recitation of Day - Don't Read
05/09/2010, Hanavave, Fatu Hive, Marquesas

Climb to the Cross

May 9

Didn't stir for a straight ten hours until alarmed at 0700. Das mo' bettah. Expect to replicate comatose state this evening as well.

Fare at 1100 barbecue was domesticated (pig and chicken), caught (fish) or shot. Goats live on cliffs surrounding bay and are easily picked off to land in water near collecting panga-borne hunters. You'd think the little dummies would catch on, but where else would they go? Since all that was left of porky was fat and skin, ate more than my share of chevre and poisson cru au lait de coco. It was delicious and tasted so much better in French.

Borrowed 5 Euro to buy 6 humongous pamplemousse (grapefruit) while returning to boat. Seller plucked them from tree as we waited. Firm, sweet and seedless (shame on you, Cal). With rum, dinner.

Spent morning before fete cleaning port topside and all afternoon on starboard. Tenacious green, yellow and purple growth went up to and sometimes above rub strake, wherever ocean splashed. Can't believe how filthy boat looked after just three weeks. Hope west Pacific less verdant than east - and it looked so crystal clear pure, too.

Jack

Stick a Fork in Me
05/08/2010, Hanavave, Fatu Hive, Marquesas

Anthem at Fatu Hiva

May 8

Arrived in Hanavave just at sunrise after minimal sleep, tidied working rig, unshipped dinghy and motor, ate breakfast and, then, accompanied friends on several kilometer trek up to mountaintop cross overlooking anchorage, then another to waterfall for icy plunge in its lower pool where crawfish nibbled our toes. Large sixteen year old Fatu Havan girl gave me papaya and requested to visit boat, was waiting at quay for our return. Jacksters graciously volunteered to stay while large (did I mention large) jeune fille requested gifts of everything from rope to rum. Interesting exchange, but will henceforth look gift fruit in mouth.

While hefty guest was denied adult beverage, host was not and imbibed mass quantities before and after canned chicken and dumplings dinner. Will now shower and retire to boudoir where long, uninterrupted repose will ensue to prepare for onshore, local prepared barbecue of pig, goat, fish and chicken at 1100.

Chamber of Commerce type hyperbole has described this anchorage as most beautiful in the world. With disappointment written all over expectations, was surprised to discover agreement. The place is absolutely stunning. A photo gives some sense, but the panoramic vista from a boat (or walking around) is quite remarkable. Catholic missionaries, shocked by inhabitant given appellation, renamed it Bay of Virgins. From picture (pending), guess original name and which is more apropos. Think naughty. Starts with a 'P' ends with an 'S' - too easy.

Jack

Rocks and Rolling
05/07/2010, Day Twenty

May 7

Last day turns out to be most uncomfortable of trip. Surrounded by very short period 2 and 3 meter peaks that throw the boat around like a rag doll. Despite previous comments, wouldn't want to do this indefinitely. Am now eagerly anticipating anchorage at Hanavave (Hah-nah-VAH-vay). About 40 NM remaining and have slowed to arrive dawn tomorrow.

Conditions did, however, provide a convenient excuse for not doing housework. Boat looks like the last hour of a garage sale and it's OK. Things that had been secure for nearly two weeks were flung about and that's OK, too. Will clean it all up after sufficient rest in a day or two or so... probably.

Talked to a couple of boats (manner of speaking, actually spoke to people inhabiting them) about anchorage. They loved it. It's crowded, 100 feet deep, rolly and subject to williwaws. After three weeks at sea, Playita in Panama would probably seem like heaven.

Not too much sleep tonight watching out for converging cruisers, a big motu (rock) about 15 NM this side of Fatu Hiva and, of course, the island itself which is quite hard and must be avoided even during arrival at leeward side anchorage.

Jack

Perplexing Occupation
05/06/2010, Day Nineteen

May 6

Leaving the poled-out drifter in place overnight was a not completely unforeseeable error. By late evening wind had piped up to an unlikely 20 to 25 with commensurate sea. Crashing along at more than hull speed was second least desirable option behind going forward at moonless midnight to stow 700 square foot sail and whisker pole. Fortunately, nothing carried away and boat behaved remarkable well until morning. After SSB nets and breakfast (marlin, cheddar, onion omelet and bacon with pear nectar), switched sail plan to yankee and double reefed main with wind still 18 to 20 and 3 meter choppy sea. Speed only decreased to 6 and frenetic motion became merely uncomfortable. This hour of effort bore an uncanny resemblance to work. Really ought to retire. Appropriate individuals have been notified; steps will be taken.

Having gotten into toil mode, finished scouring/waxing cockpit and did a load of laundry. While permissible to turn underwear inside out for a second day, prefer to have fresh clean skivvies next to baby soft keister.

Three quarters of this passage has been in 'confused' seas causing, well, confusion. What happened to lazy, long-period swells, gentle days of easy motion? Have been told this is atypical, possibly caused by El Nino. That baby's a real pain. I want some of that famed Coconut Milk Run, but can't kvetch at 20 days instead of planned 25.

Expect to spend a goodly portion of tomorrow preparing boat and crew to be reintroduced into civilized society. This will include, but not be limited to, shaving, combing hair and not only finding clean clothes, but wearing them.

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." - Mark Twain

Jack

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