A Shore Encounter
25 April 2013 | Hiva Oa, Marqueses
We finally went ashore in Hanamenu Bay yesterday after a couple of windy, and therefore high surf days. The winds had subsided and the surf looked manageable for landing our dingy on the beach so we headed off. On the way in were motioned by two men on the beach to come to shore on the right side of the beach. When we got closer we could see why as the left side was covered with rocks! As we came through the surf (not completely under control) the men grabbed our dingy and helped us lift it up the shore to safety. They then led us up the beach to a beautiful fresh water pool that could have been a scene from any South Seas movie. We rinsed the salt water off of our bodies while one of the men rinsed his fishing nets in the cool fresh water pool. He had a bucket full of small fish he'd caught early that morning, and we realized we'd seen him in the bay earlier that morning in a small outrigger canoe. The older of the two men, who was obviously the owner of the property, invited us into his home for a breakfast of the fried fish caught that morning (it doesn't get any fresher!), plantains and papaya from his property, and caf√© au lait. We were impressed by his generosity and were eager to learn more about him. We learned that his family had owned the property for generations, and he spent two weeks out of each month there. The rest of his time he lived with his wife and two boys in Atuona, which the biggest town on the Island (1800 people), and is where we had just come from. He has two sons who live on the Island and two daughters, both of whom had moved with their husbands to Tahiti. His property is set in a valley between two monstrous mountains, and is only accessible by boat. He built each of his various buildings himself, most of which are very simple, open air structures with woven roofs made from bamboo and palm tree fronds. He even has a sleeping hut reserved for guests and weary sailors who want to spend the night. After chatting a while, we realized by coincidence, that we had actually met him on the dock 3 days before when we were getting our bikes out of the dingy for a bike ride. After breakfast he suggested we take some fresh fruit for our next journey. He led us on a meandering hike through his property while cutting ripe grapefruit, papayas and limes from trees. Heavily laden with two bulging bags of fruit, we headed back to our dingy, and again with his assistance getting through the surf, headed back to the boat. All of this before 11:30 - we had the whole day to sail to the next bay, which was only 12 miles away. This has been our most interesting and memorable experience yet - one we expect will be difficult to top! We are now anchored in Hanaiapa Bay, having arrived yesterday afternoon. We took our dinghy to shore in the morning to stretch our legs and explore, and took advantage of fresh water at the dock to do laundry and have a shower. On returning to the boat we enjoyed a grapefruit and a papaya for lunch. Ahhh, the simple life! Our next destination is Fatu Hiva, which is an Island approximately 60 miles south. We plan to hoist anchor at 7:00 this evening for a overnight sail to what we've heard is even more beautiful than Hiva Oa. Is this possible?