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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Hike to Omoa Bay
04/20/2011, Fatu Hiva

Today I went (along with Francois, the crew of Phambili, and the crew of Evergreen) on a 5 hour hike over the mountains (to 800m elevation) 17 kilometers to the next village, Omoa. The road was at times extremely steep and, at the higher elevations, rocky and muddy. I took a water taxi to get back to the boat.

We were asked what our meal plan is here in Fatu Hiva. Regarding cooking, we are very restricted because we have (for now) no refrigeration, until we get it repaired. Also, the "groceries" are EXTREMELY limited here at Fatu Hiva. There is one "store", no more than 100 square feet, with canned goods and a very tiny selection of frozen meats which we cannot use because they are large pieces (several kilos) which we can't store without refrigeration.

Also, we have only dollars, and the stores accept only Polynesian Francs, or Euros. No credit cards accepted and there are no banks or ATMs. Not to worry, we have PLENTY of provisions on board Calou.

Fatu Hiva remains, I think, not that different from Thor Heyerdahl's days, as there are no tourist facilities (no restaurants, no cafes, no souvenir shops). There's just a post office and the aforementioned tiny store. The natives are very friendly and love to talk to us (in French) and they like to hear about our sailing voyage.

The main difference from Heyerdahl's day is that there is now electric power, and a paved road (which ends once one has left the village).

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04/22/2011 | Bob Haley
WOW How does it feel to have Jimmy Buffit jealous of you?
Congrads to all aboard.Gardner Mackay would be proud.
Bruce,incase you don't know, do not silver solder any refridgeration lines unless you purge them with either nitrogen or argon.Ifyou don't theheat and freon creates a peskey by-product called Fosgene gas.
By the way, your name appears in lat.38 at a recent party for people to report to principal Diana Garsiski for detention??
Keep having a great and safe adventure,as we all are living vicariously on Calou.
Akoli Maluna
Bob Haley
Adventure to Small Village of Omoa

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: -10.51235 Longitude: -138.68654

Today was another fun filled day of adventure. Our friends on Phambili and Evergreen decided to hike 17km to the next village, Omoa. Francois went and Bruce joined in at the last minute. The big problem was how everyone was to get back to the boats. Since my legs were sore from yesterday's hike I volunteered to drive one dinghy and tow another dinghy behind me the three miles to Omoa. After spending a few hours scrubbing off lots of growth that had accumulated during our passage on the bottom of our boat, I took off.

I had a great trip over, going slowly and exploring all the little coves. The cliffs are incredible. They rise up from the water near vertical and around every corner is another jungle filled canyon. This trip was made more memorable by the fact that it was pouring rain the way it pours only in the tropics. Even though I was only wearing my swim shorts I was not cold and the fresh water rinse was a nice treat. About halfway to Omoa, in the pouring rain, with another dinghy in tow, a pod of about 50 dolphins surrounded me. It was a really great moment.

When I arrived at Omoa, it was still pouring rain, and the whole bay was muddy brown from the run off. At first I did not see the harbor and I was thinking they would have to swim out to me since there were huge breakers at the shore. But then the clouds lifted a little bit and I was able to make out the new harbor. I towed the dinghy in and went to work securing both of them to the wall. After a few minutes I realized I was going to need to make a better arrangement because the surge kept pulling the dinghies under a cement lip on the wall, and then crushing them when the water rose up. They easily could have become punctured if they stayed that way. So I then took a really long rope and tied it diagonally from the cement dock out onto the breakwater, which held the dinghies off the wall.

I then called up Tommy on the radio and found out that the group has just arrived in town. They had a very tough hike, with pouring rain more than half of the five hours it took them to make the trek to Omoa. The road started out nicely paid, but it went only about one third of the way. We had heard that the government paid for the road to be completed the entire way, but somehow it never was completed.

A medium size cruise ship was in port today so there was more activity than usual. Many of the local vendors brought in their handicrafts to sell. Apparently this island only sees cruise ships three times a year. So we were very fortunate to see the cruise ship. I even talked to some Americans from Laguna Beach. They said they had expected the boat to be all Americans but it turned out there were only about 20 percent Americans on the boat. Most of the others were from France. Unlike cruising in Mexico, here we are seeing a lot more nationalities, which is great.

Last night we had a mini-seminar about best cruising areas in French Polynesia on a French couple's catamaran. Arno and Carol had arrived only hours earlier, after a 17 day passage from the Galapagos. They left France about 18 months ago. Michele, a German, with 35 years of experience cruising in these waters was the presenter. He also is a dentist, with a complete surgical set up on board his catamaran. He spends time around the islands volunteering dental work, specializing in correcting cleft palate in infants. Tommy and Fiona, South African/British/Canadian, from Phambili were there, plus American Dennis and crew Mark from Evergreen. Michele gave us tons of information and it was very encouraging to hear about all the great places we have yet to explore. These include an island filled with wild horses, a great spot to visit tropical fruit farms, an anchorage with the best restaurant in the Marquesas, an island with the third largest waterfall in the world (have to wear hard hats because of possibility of falling rocks), a river where they have it set up for bathing and massages, a family farm on an atoll with great diving, plus so many more. I can't wait! It sounds like the real fun part of our trip may just be starting.

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04/21/2011 | Gunnar Wetlesen
After reading that cruise ships occassionaly visit the island, I did a search which netted a site with great photos taken from the passenger freighter Aranui 3. See:
At Anchor at Fatu Hiva

Calou rests at anchor, along with her crew, at Fatu Hiva.

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04/20/2011 | Blair Hunt
Congratulations on your safe arrival! Your blog has been an absolute delight reading. Enjoy your new adventure & friends and we'll be tuned in for more updates on your travels.
S/V Sabrina Faire, Semiahmoo, WA
Day Hike in Fatu Hiva
04/19/2011, les Isles Marquises

We explored the island of Fatu Hiva a bit today, walking through the tiny village and hiking through the jungle to a swimming hole at the base of a 200 foot (70 m) waterfall. The hike began gently but toward the end became very challenging, requiring clambering over boulders and tree limbs over an uncertain path marked every 100 meters by a small pile of stones. At the base of the waterfall was a pool of fresh water at a cool temperature of about 75 F (22 C), which was very refreshing considering the sea and air temperature around here is 90 F (30 C). John brought swimming goggles and explored some of the underwater caves at the base of the waterfall, only to come face to face with a large black and white freshwater eel. That came as quite a surprise.

We stopped to talk to the locals, which was very easy for us since they all speak French. We found the locals extremely friendly. It is definitely a plus to speak French here.

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Landfall in Paradise

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: -10.46494 Longitude: -138.66841

We have landed in a real paradise! This morning Antoine and I joined friends from the boat Phombili and hiked up to a great view point. From there we had a great view of the village, the bay, and the mountains. The way back down was harder than going up since it was so steep. We followed a paved road, but still, after not walking for 24 days, my legs were in not that great of shape. Tomorrow we are planning to hike 17 kilometers to the other town, but after today's hike, I am not sure I will be up to it.

On the way down from the view point we met Bruce and Pascale and we went off on a side trail and hiked to the base of a 60 meter tall waterfall. It was rough going through the jungle, but the hike was worth it. We swam in a nice pool at the base of the falls.

After the waterfall we walked slowly through the village and talked with some of the locals. It is great that Pascale and Bruce are fluent in French as it is much easier to get to know people here if you can speak French.

Tonight we expect our friends on the boat Evergreen to arrive. We will probably all go to Phombili and have dinner together there, once they arrive.

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Landfall at Fatu Hiva

We have had our first sight of land since we left Mexico 23 days and 2700 miles ago! We are just a few miles from Fatu Hiva, our first port of call. Today's sail has been the windiest (and fastest) sail of our entire trip. The winds have averaged 20 to 30 knots all day, so we have been able to maintain boat speed of 7 to 9 knots with a reefed mainsail and jib. The seas have been at times been pretty big; at one point we had a wave come over the bow and spill into the cockpit.

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04/18/2011 | Bob Elix
Well done ! Great feeling after 3 weeks or so,
enjoy a "cold" drink
04/19/2011 | Judy Armstrong
Well done!
Just A Few More Hours (Day 24)

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: Latitude: -10.04453 Longitude: -138.30516

With only 33 miles to go we are anxiously peering over the horizon trying to spot our first glimpse of dry land. Visibility is limited though thanks to a lots of clouds in the area. I think the ocean wanted to give us one last taste of its power before letting us out of its grasp for this leg of our trip. Today has been one of our windiest days of the entire trip. But that means we are moving along at a good clip and are on track to have the anchor down just after sunset today.

During lunch the storm really opened up, giving us a good drenching. I did not mind since I had been at work all morning in my cabin and was quite hot. I did make a lot of progress on a nice new feature for my software.

While today marks the last day of what will likely be the longest ocean passage I will ever make, never fear, the blog posts will continue. You can look forward to new sections for Marquesas, Tuamotus, and Tahiti. I've had a good time writing these daily updates and I am sure I will enjoy reading back over them in the future. Although we haven't yet seen the new world we have entered, there are lots of signs we are very close. Now instead of receiving KCBS from San Francisco, I can only tune in a French station on AM 740. Even the satellite terminal knows we are in a different part of the world as I now have the choice of whether to beam my signal to the Americas satellite or the Asia Pacific satellite. On the short wave radio I am now pulling in signals from Australia and New Zealand. Tomorrow we will begin exploring our new world that we have finally reached. Stay tuned.

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04/19/2011 | Jan Koehler
You guys must be in Fatu Hiva now. Get some sleep!
Getting Close
04/17/2011, 150 nautical miles from the Islands

The last 24 hours we logged 138 miles. We had very good winds so we were able to make good time. We're just 150 nautical miles from our landfall, if we have good winds we might arrive tomorrow evening, if not, the day after. There has been a slight change of destination. We are heading to Fatu Hiva to meet up with our friends on sailing vessel Phambili. Fatu Hiva is just 30 miles from Hiva Oa so we just had to adjust our course a few degrees to the left to go to Fatu Hiva.

We are all looking forward to not having to do any more night watches, and getting a full night's sleep.

Pascale baked a loaf of bread this afternoon. So for dinner we had garlic bread, made with Pascale's freshly baked bread and fresh butter and garlic, and pasta with clam sauce. We had a whole pound of baby clams from from Costco which went into the clam sauce.

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