We've enjoyed a relaxing week in Taiohae Bay. Most of our time was spent exploring the small town. The small "magazine" grocery stores have allowed us to replenish most of our food supplies. We also have tried almost every restaurant in town. The luxurious Pearl Lodge was great for a dinner and a lunch. There is a good pizza restaurant as well. Last night we enjoyed happy hour and dinner at Rose's hotel. Also around town are a few snack vans, one of which is run by a German woman at the wharf who makes excellent crepes.
At the crepe van.
View of the bay from the Pearl Lodge.
I've had a couple of great violin practice sessions in a small park near the dock. These have been my first opportunities to play on land since we left Mexico. Playing there has been a great way to meet the locals as many of them have stopped by for a listen. Now, when walking around town I have lots of new friends coming up to say hi. It turns out that I am the first violinist to visit this island in ten years. A woman that works at the Yacht Services business has a son around 12 years old who has always been very interested in violins. He was very happy to see me and I let him try playing my violin. I think this was his first experience with a real violin.
The town is spread out along a road parallel to the water. Just opposite our boat is one of the small magazines and also the town basketball court. Beyond that is a nice park dotted with tiki statues. Across from the tikis is the cathedral, with very impressive wooden doors.
Tiki at waterfront.
Impressive cathedral doors.
While we were walking to dinner last night we came across some woman at a folding table distributing preventative pills for elephantiasis. This is a malady spread by mosquitoes which causes severe swelling, especially in the legs. We took our pills and barely made it to dinner without falling onto the table due to the tiredness and vertigo side effects. But once we started eating we felt much better. Evidently occurrences of elephantiasis are fairly high now, with perhaps up to 10% of the population being infected. The disease can take up to ten years to show signs, so all we can do now is hope we did not contract it before taking the pills. Luckily I don't get too many mosquito bites so my chances are probably pretty low.
Bruce has kept busy with a few miscellaneous boat projects. He made little extender straps for our preventer line so that it is not pinched by our fuel cans. Our friends from Georgia J had a crew member flying in today so we ordered a two small inverters which he brought with him. Bruce hopes to use the small inverter to power the televisions so that we don't need to run the full inverter as much. The anchor chain got some red paint where the chain attaches to the rope, and Bruce sewed in small leather markers every 20 feet along the rope rode. The red paint should help us know when we have put almost all the chain out and the markers on the rope will allow us to more precisely measure how much rope we have out. Yesterday a very nice new barometer arrived which Bruce installed in the main cabin. We think the one we obtained before leaving Mexico is not working properly as it does not seem to move much.
Because the bay is murky and full of sharks I have not done much swimming here. Today though I kayaked out almost to the bay and found a nice little cove where I braved the sharks and took a quick swim. I spotted two small sharks and a manta ray from the kayak. It is especially fun watching the sharks at the wharf when the fishermen toss the fish cuttings into the water around sunset. The water turns into a thrashing mess of sharks cutting and jumping trying to get to the handouts. Getting into an inflatable dinghy right next to that going on is a bit unnerving.
Shark infested dock area.
tempdata_name=escape("A Relaxing Week");
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05/13/2011, Nuku Hiva
Here Pascale relaxes by the pool at the Pearl Lodge, a fancy hotel where we had a delicious lunch. We also visited the nearby Rose's Museum and Boutique, displaying many Marquesan artifacts. I bought a beautiful yet scary looking spear carved from iron wood at the museum.
We all got our elephantiasis (filariasis) preventive treatments today. The WHO (World Health Organization) is making a concerted effort to reduce this very debilitating tropical mosquito borne parasite disease. We didn't know this, but 10 percent of Marquesans are infected with this. The scary results of the disease are irreversible.
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The crew of s/v Aeolus celebrate Mother's Day with us on board Calou. We had cocktails and toast with French pate, then went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant, the Pearl Lodge. Antoine made a shell necklace for Pascale (see photo) as a Mother's Day gift.
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We arrived in Nuku Hiva, a beautiful port and a delightful town. After dropping anchor in the afternoon, we hurried to get to town to do our grocery shopping before the stores closed Saturday afternoon for the weekend. This anchorage is a very large bay, very sheltered. There's some swell, but we set a stern anchor to keep the bow pointed into the swell so it is very comfortable. Best of all we have wifi internet access here!
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John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com Latitude: -8.91462 Longitude: -140.09825
Ua Huka anchorage turned out to be quite rough (big swells, waves breaking on shore all around us) so we left after only one night there. Francois and I did swim ashore with boogie boards when we arrived and I had a very brief walk towards town. Visiting the wood sculptors and the maritime museum will have to wait until my next visit.
We left Ua Huka yesterday morning and after four hours at sea we arrived at the biggest town in the Marquesas, Taiohae on the island of Nuku Hiva (which is the second biggest island in all of French Polynesia). We planned to sail, but while I was putting up the swim step I accidentally turned the hydraulic backstay tension adjuster which caused the backstay to loosen. At first we thought the hydraulic backstay had failed so we quickly furled the sails and started motoring. After doing all this we realized the tension adjuster had merely been released and to retension we just need to pump up the hydraulic piece. A relief to be sure since we thought for sure this was another project in the making. Since there was not much wind and the sails were already furled we decided just to motor the rest of the 26 miles we had to go.
We made good time by motoring and got our anchor down in the bay in time to go into town and shop for dinner before the stores closed. Prices seem a little less expensive here. Today we planned to walk around town and have dinner at a nice restaurant for Mother's Day. So far though it has been raining, often in hard downpours only like it can rain in the tropics, so we are still on the boat. At least we have decent wifi internet here so this is a good chance to update the blog and catch up on email.
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05/07/2011, Hiva Oa
After spending about a week in Atuona we have now moved on and are currently at the other side of the island. Sailing conditions were great for most of the four hours it took to get here, except for the last two miles when we were bashing into big seas and 20 knot winds. The main attraction at this anchorage is a lush freshwater spring just behind the beach.
Freshwater spring just behind the beach.
The water is very refreshingly cool and excellent drinking quality. This morning I filled two five gallon cans with the water and hauled them out through the surf to the kayak and back to our boat. We had some difficulty getting our watermaker going so we thought we would replenish our water supply from the spring. Just as I get back to the boat though, the watermaker started working normally. Thank goodness, because having to take on water manually like that would be very hard.
Driving around the island.
Rugged mountain scenery.
In Atuona we replaced our radar unit and picked up new parts for our refrigerator. Since the refrigerator is working well right now we are hesitant to change it, but we probably will anyway since the only reason it is working is because lots of holes are filled with epoxy which could potential give out at an unfavorable time.
Road across the island.
Bruce in front of a sheer cliff dropoff all the way to the water.
One day in Atuona we joined with the crew from Evergreen and took a day long tour of the island, visiting some of the historic tiki sites. We also drove on a narrow, treacherous road, along steep cliffs for part of the trip. In the highlands of the island the air was much cooler and there are even pine forests. During our trip we picked up a few big bunches of bananas and lots of grapefruit so we are now well supplied with fresh fruit.
John avec le gran tiki.
Last Sunday we celebrated Pascale's birthday by going out to a nice pizza restaurant (the only one available actually), and then having chocolate cake on the boat after dinner.
Chocolate cake for Pascale's birthday.
One day we hiked to the cemetery above town to visit the graves of two of the islands most known residents. Jacque Brel, the French singer, died here in 1973. Paul Gauguin, the French painter famous for scenes of the South Pacific, died here in 1903.
At the tomb of Paul Gauguin.
Tomorrow we set sail early for a 55 mile passage to the next island, Ua Huka.
tempdata_name=escape("Seeing the Sites");
tempdata=escape("Kids in front of local super market.
A few days ago we left a beautiful anchorage and are now anchored in a slightly less beautiful anchorage, at the harbor of Atuona. With approximately 1300 residents, this is the largest town we have stopped at since leaving Mexico. Here we have officially cleared customs into the country, picked up four packages that we ordered weeks ago, buy more food, and refuel. Tomorrow we are off on a day long tour of the island, one of the highlights is a large tiki statue.
Yesterday we had fun checking out the four small grocery stores on the island, and taking a hike in the jungle. Our first day here we enjoyed our first meals out in weeks. For lunch we had hamburgers and fries, and for dinner we had an enormous dinner at Alex's house. He and his family prepare big dinners for visitors. He even picked us up and dropped us off back at the boat. Good thing because his house is up a very steep road above the harbor.
Friends from SV Charade over for dinner.
Day trip to village with a big church.
tempdata_name=escape("Back in Civilization");
tempdata=escape("An amazing anchorage.
View of anchorage from hike.
What a great way to spend Easter, at anchor in one of the most beautiful anchorages in the Marquesas. We had a relaxed laid back day today. In the morning, a few hours working on my software, then Bruce and I removed the broken radar unit. After that a kayak to shore and a climb up the nearby hills for a view into the channel on the other side of the island.
Next cove over, seen from top of hike.
Followed by a snorkel session filled with lots of tropical fish. Next relaxing on the beach talking with our friends from Evergreen. Then I picked some grapefruit from semi wild trees, and made it back out to the boat just in time to say goodbye to Phambili. They left tonight for an overnight passage to their next stop. We hope to meet up with them in about a month in the Tuamotus.
Lots of fish.
The last few nights we had some great music sessions aboard our boats. I even gave a violin lesson to Neomi. It was my first time teaching, and definitely very memorable. We were outside in the back of their catamaran going through some Suzuki songs. Bruce and I scanned a bunch of Canadian fiddle music from Fiona, and I hope to be a real fiddler by the time we see them next.
Tommy, Fiona, and Pascale enjoying dinner on Calou.
Neomi and I providing after dinner entertainment.");
tempdata_name=escape("A Unique Easter");
tempdata=escape("Last night was a night to remember for sure. Bruce, Pascale and I joined the adults from Evergreen, Dennis, Carol, Mark, and Vicki, aboard Phambili with Tommy and Fiona for a potluck dinner followed by a mini music recital. All but one of the kids, Francois, Antoine, Josh from Evergreen, and Anina and Cameron from Phambili, had dinner on Calou followed by playing Uno and other games.
Each of the boats prepared a main dish for the adults dinner and we had a very filling dinner. Then the fun started with playing some music. Bruce kicked it off by playing a few French and Russian solo pieces on his button accordion. Then he accompanied Pascale as she sang some energetic French songs. After a brief intermission, Naoimi, age 12, and I played a few songs together on violin. She had been studying violin privately for a few years and is doing quite well, especially considering that it is difficult to keep practicing and advancing her skills while sailing. I wanted to play a few real violin pieces (instead of all the light classics that are more familiar to people) so I played the first few pages of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven violin concertos. Tommy has requested I play a full concerto next time as he really likes to hear the classics, so I better get a bit more practice in. To close our concert we got the spiral bound piano book of popular classics out and we all sang along with the violin to pieces such as themes from Carmen, an aria from Tosca, Tchaikovsky Piano Concert Number One. Fiona also had a few Beatles songs and songs from musicals.
By this time it was just past midnight and the crew from Evergreen were getting ready to leave when they discovered their dinghy was no longer tied to the back of Phambili. It looked like somehow the rope had loosened and the dinghy had drifted away. The bay we were anchored in is notoriously windy with huge gusts funneling down through the mountains and out to sea. The chances of finding it with such wind in the dark did not look good. A dinghy to a cruiser is like a car that an RV'er might tow behind them. Once anchored, the boat stays put and the dinghy is the way you get around. Losing it, especially so early in their trip, is a really terrible thing.
Tommy and Fiona set out in their dinghy with a flashlight and started inspecting the shores of the bay. Dennis joined us in our dinghy and planned to also join in the search. But then we started having trouble with our motor and it became clear that it would only add to the problems if we went out in the darkness, wind, and rain in a dinghy whose motor kept dying. So Dennis decided to weigh anchor and search using his boat. By the time Evergreen motored out of the bay into the open ocean it was well after 1:00 AM. On Calou we all went to bed about this time.
When we woke up in the morning Evergreen was not back. Phambili and us secured our decks and started motoring out of the bay, going over to the next island down, Tahuato. As we were leaving, Tommy contacted Dennis on the VHF radio and relayed to us the news that Evergreen had just located their dinghy! It was about 5 miles out, where it had actually drifted upwind, but with the current. We later talked with Dennis on the radio who said they had motored around all night without seeing any sign of their dinghy. They had given up the search and were motoring back when they spotted their dinghy only about 30 feet off of their course back into the bay. They practically ran into it! So, that was a relief to us to hear they had found it, and I am sure they were ecstatic to have found it. They will likely catch up on their sleep today and join us tomorrow in the new anchorage we are headed to.
Earlier in the day, yesterday, I spent about 4 hours working for ReservationKey, making some good progress on the new feature I am building. Since it was pouring rain most of the morning, this was a good day for programming. My work was interrupted quite a bit though as I had caused our aft head to become clogged. So I spent quite a bit of time working on unclogging the hose. I even dove under the boat and used a wire snake to work on the hose. Finally I decided to pour some white vinegar in and let it sit for a few hours.
Freshwater spring. Francois, Anina, and Josh.
Even though it was still pouring rain Francois and Josh decided to hike to the waterfall. I joined them and picked up Anina. We spoke to some of the local people as we walked through the village that warned the waterfall would be way to dangerous, but we decided to proceed anyway. It turned out fine. The only real danger would have been from falling debris if we had went swimming under the waterfall. The trail was well above the river and not a problem. When we arrived at the waterfall it was very obvious we would not be going in the water. In fact we could barely get close without being blasted by spray from the waterfall. It was a huge difference from my visit two days earlier. It was like we were standing at the base of the Niagra falls. On the way back we visited a fresh water spring surrounded by mint plants. We drank lots of the very refreshing and minty water.
Road up to the spring.
Currently we are closing in on our next anchorage. We hope to have a bonfire and another music party on the beach. Unfortunately this may be our last night with Phambili for awhile as they are on a schedule to get to Tahiti to meet Fiona's sister. Hopefully we will join up with them in the Tuamotus in a a month or so. We have had a lot of fun with them and enjoyed experiences we probably otherwise would not have had.
tempdata_name=escape("Music and Drama");
tempdata=escape("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.
Towing the dinghy in the rain.
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.
The other dinghy on the way out of Omoa.
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.
Cruise ship seen as we leave Omoa.
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.
Tommy on the way back from Omoa.
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.
tempdata_name=escape("Adventure to Small Village of Omoa");
tempdata=escape("Arriving last night.
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.
At anchor in Bay of Virgins.
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.
John with waterfall in background.
At the viewpoint.
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.
Approaching the waterfall.
So nice not to be in salt water.
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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05/05/2011, Hiva Oa
Here's a view of the wonderful watering hole with cool freshwater at Hanamenu Bay. A pipe delivers pure spring water from deep underground directly into this refreshing pool. John and Joshua from s/v Evergreen enjoy the water.
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05/05/2011, Hiva Oa
We arrived at the delightful anchorage of Hanamenu Bay on the north side of Hiva Oa. The anchorage is nestled in a canyon with steep cliffs on two sides and a tiny village with a half dozen huts and a freshwater spring at one end.
This is a view from the village toward the anchorage.
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