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Anthem Adrift
Let Them Eat Cake
05/24/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 23

This anchorage is the Hotel California. Had planned to leave two days ago, but with one thing and another... and couldn't miss pot luck on the beach tonight. Anyway, tomorrow for sure. May give Taipivai ("Typee") a pass to head directly to Taiohae for internet, laundry, propane, gasoline, fresh produce, bread and restaurant with petit dejeuner. Will be first professionally prepared breakfast in over a month. Cour de franc Pacifique (CFP, about 92 to the dollar) are burning a hole in the one pocket that doesn't already have one.

Idea of damaging coral causes a cringe, but with bottom here 95% covered with the stuff, idea of not getting an anchor back seems more urgent. Dived on it yesterday to find chain lying across tops and pointy end of hook not even stuck in tiny plot of sand where it rested. No obvious damage to any coral. See why all-chain road is de rigueur in the Pacific.

Well, time to go party. It's a hard life. Share dish will be brown rice with shredded, canned chicken. Delicious unless you have ever, in your life, used salt, then a tad bland. Would be more for me, but usually prefer what people who know how to, have cooked. Fact that OPF (other people's food) always tastes better surely not a commentary on personal culinary prowess... probably.


Same Difference
05/22/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 22

Again proceeded to Jackster, now armed with new version of Airmail application, to slay the dragon preventing contact with Sailmail shore stations. Tweaked a few parameters; checked that every cable was connected properly and each bit was intercommunicating properly and voila! No connection. Dragon 2, Jackster 0. Bugger! Obviously there's some PFM (ask a friend) at work here. Good news is that assistance record is intact. Consistency, the hobgoblin of great minds... something like that.

Due desire to dive on anchor, fearing ensnarlment (real word or not?) by ubiquitous coral, first took scuba to manta locale. Spotted two spotted eagle rays (how else to see this species?) playing on the surface (budding romance?) then found one at thirty feet and shortly thereafter the large manta. Way cool. Marginal video. Anticipating next island group with great visiblity.

Expect to bail Anaho tomorrow for Taipivai or the big village, then, in a week or less, off to next adventure. After convergence zone type weather, seven day GRIB shows good wind for four day reach into the atolls of Tuomotu, called "The Dangerous Archipelago" because the only things taller than a few feet are the sparsely distributed palms. They hide, then pounce. Pucker significantly ameliorated, but not eliminated, by advent of radar and GPS. Marquesas, all volcanic island; Tuamotus, all reef; Societies, volcanos surrounded by reef. No uniformity here, but, after all, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Oops.


Where'd the Day Go?
05/21/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 21

Problem with goofing off is that it's seductive. The first hit feels good, so you do it again and then again. You tell yourself that you can stop anytime, but find that projects lose their urgency. After breakfast a little nap of the dog feels good. A few hours go by and it's too late to get into defrosting the freezer or cleaning the deck so you read another chapter. Eyelids get heavy. You wake to discover that there's just time to grab a bite before heading over to a neighboring boat for drinks. You are ravaged by guilt, but tell yourself you deserve a little break and, after all, can stop anytime. But then, while licking peanut butter dinner off the spoon it hits you. You've hit bottom. You need help. Slackers Anonymous!

The vision was so frightening that I actually did defrost, clean, repair some holes in the hatch fiberglass and reorganize storage. After rationalizing the ability to handle it, lay down with a book for balance of day until time for crunchy Peter Pan and partying. I'm a functional slacker.

Bristol Roses braved first real wind in a few days with accompanying waves to make it here this afternoon. This may be our last sight of them until Australia (they're trying to catch up with World ARC and get home by October), but have thought same at every goodbye since Grenada, so remain skeptical.


Luscious Lingering Langor
05/21/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 20

Will never again utter a disparaging word concerning manta ray's sense of personal responsibility. One showed up on schedule, about three feet tip to tip and then another at perhaps four. Unfortunately, murky video missed barrel roll by smaller guy. This time missed two sharks, so another sortie in works for tomorrow, although they are notoriously unreliable. Promises of fame mean nothing to them.

Aussie buds are working around from Taiohae (Tah-ee-oh-HAY-ee), Gotham of the Marquesas (maybe 8000 residents on all five inhabited islands), so plan to stay in Anaho for their arrival tomorrow afternoon. No hardship as this is best anchorage in entire group, although wind sucks as it doesn't blow enough for generator. Finally, an excuse to goof off. And to answer the question on the tip of your tongue (look if you don't believe me), yes, all afternoon. Several little projects are planned for morning to patch guilt riddled psyche.

OK, enough of this twaddle. Further torpidity (real word) beckons.


A Forest Below
05/20/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 19

Although visibility is not the best, snorkeling here is amazing. Never seen such densely packed coral. Comes up six to ten feet off the bottom right under the keel. Spooky. Only occasionally is the underlying sand visible. Retrieving the CQR (it's the anchor, Cal, a play on word 'secure') could be a real challenge. There are also a plethora of winsome fish, turtles and rays. Jacksters saw a manta by Matoohotu Point after my pass. Have scheduled a reappearance for photo tomorrow morning although they are not very reliable. Brown cow-nose rays are the only ones even remotely conscientious about keeping appointments. Probably a sociological problem.

Next bay east is redolent of coastal South Carolina, especially the smell. Lots of sand, surf and even the short grass and crawling vines bring back memories of ill spent youthful summers around Myrtle Beach. Any reminiscence is quickly shattered, of course, by a quick look around at the volcanic skyline that accompanies an even more entertaining present.

Cleaned the boot stripe and prop, so the old girl runs well and looks good from a distance. Try not to let anyone aboard until after dark. Cockpit's OK, but poop deck still looks a bit shaggy awaiting future effort. Speaking of travail, this is the South Pacific (as far as you know) for crying out loud, so when do the feckless days of depraved indolence begin? Would use Paul Gauguin as my exemplar, but don't have a penchant for thirteen year old girls and can't paint.


Beau Bateau
05/18/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 18

It's not far, but you can't get there from here, almost. Hatiheu village, with an uncomfortably rolly bay, is across a ridge, an hour and some of steep climbing each way, from this lovely, smooth anchorage. Lunch at an outdoor eatery there was a reasonably priced Marquesan specialty, chow mein... OK, the price wasn't that reasonable, either, but it was quite good and provided the energy to climb back home. Not wanting to return empty handed, bought large grapefruit instead of sought after (and lighter), unavailable-until-tomorrow, bread and lettuce.

Was so revved up after jaunt, cleaned boat's topsides. No wait, that's not right, actually collapsed into a pile of quivering protoplasm for two hours. Then, driven by guilt, did that other thing. Boat had begun to look like a garbage scow with rust and drainage stains streaking her hull. She has now returned to her former sleek, pristine beauty. Close enough. Tomorrow may see cleaning of aft deck where gas, oil and fish guts have wreaked havoc and/or foredeck where rusty, befouled chain has merely played at it.

Snorkeling heads agenda le matin for the best early light with a relatively easy trek across to bay east l'apres-midi after breaking lunch, or, possibly, for it.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." - Miss Piggy


Tastes Like Chicken
05/18/2010, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 17

Needn't have worried about arriving in Anaho Bay early as wind died for and hour and a half in the middle, then again turning NE corner of Nuku Hiva. After sailing across the Pacific without cranking the thing once, diesel seemed a particularly obtrusive clatter. Trying to hoard fuel as Tahiti, with duty free, next reasonable fuel stop. A fill-up in Taiohae (Nuku Hiva's main port) requires a boat mortgage or your first born male child.

Dropped the hook at 0730 in a very well protected anchorage and snoozed until noon. With a good snorkeling reef inshore, a village 45 minutes over the hill and another bay east, will probably hang here for a couple of days before working around to bioluminescent Hanga Haa Bay at Taipivai. Cruisers who just arrived from there saw the perfect illuminated outline of a hammerhead shark as it swam by. Herman Melville wrote "Typee" after deserting his whaling ship and escaping to the kind attentions of cannibalistic Marquesans in the Taipi valley.

Took Dave & Jaqui on shore to explore. Found a few houses, a small chapel, four incredibly affectionate dogs and kittens (two each) and the most humongous lime tree on the planet, the size of a giant oak with itty bitty limes (iti in Marquesan means small). Jacksters invited me over for curried something dinner. It was excellent because it was delicious, but any meal someone else prepares has a leg up on greatness.


Blowing Through
05/16/2010, En Route to Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

May 16

Sleeping in meant waking up at 0615 instead of 0555. Major whoop! Charged batteries, desalinated water and found bits to fix. Really just need to clean the place, but always find something else to do: nap, visit, explore... nap.

Got itchy feet so took off before noon to anchor Hanamenu Bay on NW corner of Hiva Oa for a few hours and a nap before meeting others at Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva (about 85 miles) tomorrow after an overnight. Bad idea. Wind, having backed into northeast, came around headland right into thusly untenable bay. So, got early start on passage in stiff breeze and two meter sea. Will shorten sail later to avoid O dark approach. Things go bump in the night, you know.

Wouldn't you think, if retired with no schedule, one could relax with all the time in the world? Doesn't happen. Things to do, places to go, people to see. It's not an airline, but time pressure still nags. Plus cyclone season starts November and may want to be in New Zealand by then. Ninety mile an hour winds look way cooler on the weather channel than from the deck of your boat.


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?


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.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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