Wednesday, April 14, 2010
We're here! It took 22 days, 10 cabbages, 33 watches, 22 cooked meals, 5 buckets of laundry, a crunched middle toe, some shin bruises and a few head bonks, but we made it.
We arrived at about 9am (ship's time; Hiva Oa time it was 7:30am) and were greeted by the enthusiastic waves of our friends Gordon and Sherry from Serenity, who guided us to a nice spot next to them, then proceeded to share all the ins and outs of the town: the bank, the exchange rate, the formalities of checking in with the Gendarme, how much lunch costs, (a lot!) where to do laundry and so on. Then Andre and Martin dropped by with a fresh baguette (very welcome snack food, indeed!) and more advice. ` We spent the day learning how to walk again. It was odd. I felt the motion for a few hours, like a slight earthquake beneath my feet., it was a bit disconcerting. It's a 3km hike to the town of Hiva Oa, a clean, quiet little South Pacific town with all the necessities, including ice cream. Checking in with the Gendarme was a simple matter, in part because Tahiti Yacht Agents handled a lot of the paperwork in advance, and partly because he was a genuinely nice guy. Recently relocated from his home in France to the Gendarmarie in Hiva Oa, where he is 12 time zones from his grown kids, he was still getting used to life in the Marquises. We practiced our French with him, and Greg -- who took actual French in high school -- wowed him so much that he dropped his efforts to speak English and directed his full-speed French at Greg, who hung in there amazingly well.
So we did all the usual things you do when you're in a new, remote country: get money, marvel at how colorful it is and wonder why ours is so dull, check in with the officials, and eat lunch at Snack Make Make. We wandered through town a little, but like many places around the world, the entire place shuts down between 11 and 2, so we found ourselves face to face with a lot of locked doors, in the hottest part of the afternoon.
Eventually things opened back up, we got some ice cream, a few necessities for dinner, and walked back.
It's beautiful here, and it's humid. We'll spend a few days here and get our bearings and wait for Rod and Elisabeth on Proximity,, then sail around the Marquises Islands (the French spelling) from bottom to top for a few weeks. We're sort of in denial that we're here, that we completed this huge endeavor, that the boat isn't moving anymore. And it's a bit odd to think that when I finish writing this I won't have to go right to bed to be ready for my 3:45am wakeup call for my watch. Or that the reason we can't see the sunset is because it's obscured by, uh, what is that hard stuff with the green palm trees all over it? Oh, land! Land -- gorgeous, tall striking shots of lush land with clouds on top -- land with dirt and bugs. Land that we are anxious to explore.
April 13, 2010
Did the last day drag by, like a slow, sweltery eternity? Yes, uh, I mean no, but it was agonizingly slow. The wind is totally playing games with us -- the nearer we get, the less it blows. It it weren't for the 2 knot ocean current we've been riding since the equator, we'd be even slower. So we're dragging along, riding the current, going about 3-4 knots, which is really okay ... as you might remember, we have to drag our feet anyhow to get in after the sun comes up. But we are awfully tired of this woggeling! Slap slap, thrash, toss. Puhlease.
Like everyday, we got some stuff done: Tiffany finished her sewing project, Greg has perfected his ukulele song, Allan and I spent a good deal of time organizing photos and files on the computers, and making lists of things to do in Atuona.
Beyond that, there's not much to say except as I write we are 66.88 miles from Atuona. 66.87 ... 66.86 ...
Monday, April 12, 2010
Today was a big, big day on this boat, a happy day. Today we threw out the cabbage! It was freeing, maybe not like a 60's undergarment burning party, but a great satisfaction. It was still edible, barely, but had no redeeming value. Nothing left nutritionally, very little flavor. To our credit we did have a few cabbage- containing meals in the last few days, so we tried, but we were ready to cast off the bonds of cabbage and we are better for it.
We're inside the 200 mile marker, and still moving a bit too fast for a daylight arrival. The irony of trying to eke out a knot or two here and there along an almost 3000 mile route and then arriving too soon and having to slow down!
The French lessons continue, Allan spent quite a bit of time today with the French for Cruisers book and I'm discovering he's fun to learn a new language with, because he looks for rules and patterns. And he says "Oh I get it!" a lot. Me, I just try to memorize and get the pronunciation right. We did more research on the islands as well. Did you know that the Marquesas are UTC + 9.5 hours? It's the 5 part that's funny, I've never been anywhere where the time zone was half an hour different from the next one over.
So we just woggled along some more today, with the sea coming from two different directions and forming little spouts where they crashed together. Sometimes these little spouts jump right into the cockpit or through a small window, just a quick spritz. It's actually hilarious, like the sea is playing a little squirt gun game, like a child. We ignored it all for the most part and got things done, like valiant soldiers. Tiff had the sewing machine out today, she's working on a backpack. It's tough to sew when the boat keeps lurching, and the machine keeps launching, but we set the machine on the salon floor in the center of the boat, the most stable place, albeit a bit of an inconvenient sewing position. Helps to be flexible.
So. Tomorrow is our last full day. We are READY!
Jour du Vingt (Day 20) (I Think) Sunday, April 11, 2010
After a woggely morning (a nautical term for the boat going this way and that with no warning and no apparent regularity) (very annoying) the seas have calmed somewhat, and the winds have kept us moving forward at a very nice clip. We're inside 360 miles from Hiva Oa now.
Another rather normal day on the ocean, as if there were such a thing. Laundry, showers on deck, ukulele practice, some French, and a great lunch with the leftover pizza dough -- olive oil, basil and garlic with Parmesan & feta cheeses, kalamata olives and red onion -- a few naps here and there and now it's almost dinnertime.
We're listening to the Pacific Puddle Jump Net, which as I've mentioned or you may already know, airs twice a day, am and pm, and keeps us all connected. It's fun to hear who's getting close to the Marquesas. Our friends Martin and Andre on Coup de Soleil are 50 miles out and have had to slow in order to not arrive in the middle of the night. Looks like we'll have to do that as well, right now we're projecting a 9pm arrival Tuesday night, so we'll lollygag and pull in to Atuona Wednesday morning.
We've been doing a lot of reading about the Marquesas and Polynesia in general. Very interesting. I realize how little I know about this ancient part of the world. The Marquesan language is very similar to Hawaiian, and it's theorized that Marquesans populated the Hawaiian Islands. Tattoos were very big here before the arrival of the missionaries, who were a little put out by the subject matter of some of the tattoos and "forbade" them for tattooing. But nowadays they are back at it, and I may just get a big ol' turtle on my back or something. Okay, just kidding. I hate pain.
Hiva Oa (the "h" is silent) is mostly known these days as the former home of artist Paul Gauguin, who is also buried there. A small gallery in town has reproductions of his work, but as far as I can glean, none of the originals are there.
There's an island here that is the only place in French Polynesia where they still make tapa cloth, and I'm anxious to visit, since our family has been connected to many tapa (masi) artists in the Fijian Islands over the last 35 years.
We're getting anxious. Still doing fine, nobody is going crazy, tempers are not flaring and nerves are not really frayed -- except when the boat is woggeling, of course, everyone hates that -- but we do have a mild case of Get-There-Itis. We know one thing for sure that keeps our anticipation at bay: there will be bugs. We've been living a bug-free life for 20 days, and it's truly blissful. But the mosquitos and the dreaded no-no's are waiting for us, rubbing their little bug hands together and looking forward to sinking their teeth into Greg, who is apparently quite the gourmet dish to the bug world, and no doubt we will be on their menu as well.
In the meantime, a few more days at sea, a few more days with only sunscreen to clog our skin before the Deet goes on.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Greetings from the Fly Aweigh Pizza Kitchen, conveniently located 510 miles NE of Hiva Oa.
That's right, home made pizza, and I mean real dough and creative toppings and all that. I haven't had much luck in my life with yeast breads, in fact making bread is one of my greater fears -- my dough always seems to fall flat and weigh 100 pounds. Bread making in our family has always fallen to the capable hands of my sister Susy. But they say the heat of the tropics is perfect for rising bread dough, so I decided to try.
I'm only going on and on about the pizza because there really isn't much else to say. Another eventless day. We are finally in the trades and have had a very solid day of sailing with the wind on our port beam. (News Flash!! Allan just announced a boat speed of 9.04 knots! Screaming, we are, this boat is anxious to get there. We rarely see over 8 knots, and 6 is average.)
We did see a huge school of dolphin, and massive schools of flying fish. I did a little repair work on the line bag that hangs off the bow pulpit, seems the bottom of the genoa sail rubs on it and had abraded a hole through the top.
But that sort of stuff pales in comparison to the pizza. Let me tell you just a little about it: It took me all day. I spent an hour after my morning watch perusing cookbooks to pick just the right dough recipe. At 10am I started rehydrating the red peppers and mushrooms. Chopped red onions, salami and black olives around noon, then grated the cheese. I was in deep thought about the dough making from noon to 4pm. By 5pm the risen dough looked terrific, and by 7 we were eating pizza.
Pizza... What more can I say?