A Special 2 Days in Omoa
05/09/2012, 09 41'S:139 26'W, Fatu Hiva - Omoa
We have spent the last 2 days in a bay towards the south end of Fatu Hiva, a few miles south of the Bay of Virgins and it has been a terrific experience. Other than 2 local boats anchored with no one aboard, we are the only cruiser boat in the bay. The cruiser guides scare people away from anchoring here - saying the holding is not good, and there is no safe place to land the dingy. We have found the holding to be very good in 28 feet of water, and there is a new concrete breakwater where you can safely tie up the dink. It is a shame the other cruisers are missing out on this stop.
Omoa is slightly larger and more modern than Hanavave (the village at Bay of Virgins) - they have a semi-indoor soccer arena, a few more street lights (no stop sign yet), and they sell beer and some frozen goods in the slightly larger grocery store.
We have done our best shopping in this little village! Yesterday (Monday) we went for a long walk to the edge of town - just before the road turned to dirt and started winding up the valley. On our way back into town a lady offered to show us some of her tapa. Tapa is a cloth-like material made from the inner bark of mulberry, banyan, and breadfruit trees. The women pound on it with a wood stick against a smooth flat rock until it is smooth and the fibers adhere ¬- it takes many many days just to tap out a single 1 by 2 foot piece of tapa. When they finish pounding it out, they then paint it with Marquesan designs that their ancestors wore as tattoos. You can hear the ¬"tapping¬" all around the village as you walk through. This is the only island that the tapa cloth is still produced. We purchased some of her beautiful tapa and then asked where we might find some wood carvings. So she handed us off to a friend (or family?) a few houses down. This gal had lots of wood carved tiki s and bowls. Their traditional tikis have an E.T. (E.T. phone home...) look to them! We bought one of her tikis and then explained that we were also looking for a ukulele. She was happy to call another friend (or relative?) in town who came by and picked us up in her pickup truck and took us to her house on the other side of the stream, where she and her husband made beautiful ukuleles! So we struck up a deal and purchased a ukulele, a carved paddle with engravings, and John put on order a new flag pole (1.3 meter long) for the boat. The fellow had the flag pole ready for John by 1 o¬'clock this afternoon ¬- and it turned out beautiful. Made of rosewood ¬- it is almost too beautiful to use as a flag pole! We also exchanged some gifts ¬- I brought along some guitar pics to give him since he is an excellent ukulele player (he played for us a bit yesterday), and gave her some scented lotion. When we asked if there was a bakery where we could by a baguette she told us we were too la te, that it was already closed. So she ran in the house and came out with one of her fresh baguettes to give us. Score!
So after saying our goodbyes we walked back into town to check out the grocery store one last time to buy a few things. On our way back to the boat, we took a little side road that we thought might be a road but we ended up in a nice ladies back yard. She called ¬"bonjour - pardon¬" to us a few times (like ¬"hello ¬- don¬'t you know you¬'re wondering around in someone¬'s backyard ¬- get a clue¬"). Well, according to the guidebook there was suppose to be an old home nearby that was built in the 1800s and was now a museum - just ask for Sarah Vaki. So in my best french (i.e. really bad french) I tried to explain that we were looking for the museum ¬- and sure enough, that was Sarah¬'s backyard we happened to be tromping through. So once we got the formalities over with and I showed her in the guidebook where her name was mentioned, she was more than happy to show us her grandfather¬'s house with his collection of Marquesan wood carvings. The house (now just a museum) was actually behind he r current home. Her grandfather came to Omoa from Switzerland in the 1800s, married a Marquesan woman, built a home and ran a store out of part of it, and remained in Omao the rest of his life. His son (her father) became chief of the village and was very involved in Polynesian politics. Anyway ¬- we had a great visit with her. Once we looked through the house with all the interesting carvings (large bowls, war clubs, spears, tikis, etc.) she walked us around the yard. She explained how the almond tree was used in making tattoos. Burning 7 almonds on a palm frond wick will give 3 hours of light. The almond tree is called a ¬"lamp tree¬" (so to speak) in Marquesan french. The black oil residue that is left after burning the almond seed is what is used for the ¬"ink¬" in a tattoo. She also loaded us up with pamplemousse, mangos, other citron we have yet to figure out ¬- and of course the mighty banana! These are dried bananas though ¬- a bit chewy and sweet. So our somewhat accidenta l trespassing turned out to be a really nice afternoon.
Once we got back to the boat we had a fellow from in town ¬- Roberto ¬- calling us on the VHF radio to ask if we would like to buy some fresh goat. However much we would like ¬- the whole goat, or half the goat, whatever we needed. Unfortunately our tiny little fridge-freezer does not have much room in it, let alone room for half a goat. We were definitely up for trying some new goat recipes, but it will have to wait until another time.
Tonight we are doing an overnight passage to Nuka Hiva, checking out the main village there of Taiohae. It is about 130 miles away. We hope to possibly get the dingy¬'s outboard motor running consistently again. John has taken it apart half a dozen times now ¬- but it still only runs when it wants to. We have no carborator spray, so maybe if we can find some that will do the trick. Then we would also like to get the freezer back up and running. We will be away from major provisioning stops for about 4 weeks once we head to the Tuamotos, so it would be nice to stock up on a bit of frozen meats, fish and vegies before we go.
I have posted a picture from Saturday night in Hanavave. The locals prepared us a nice meal (actually we participated in the preparation this time ¬- we had a cooking class in the afternoon!). Anyway, they also played music for us that evening. And I got a lesson on the ukulele from one of the local fellows! That evening was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far. All for now!l
Bay Watching and Choir
05/05/2012, 10 27.8'S:138 40.0'W, Fatu Hiva - Bay of Virgins
We are sitting here at anchor in a very picturesque bay. Rumor has it the missionaries didn't like the original name so they renamed it. I will leave the two different names here for your own translation. Original was Baie des Verges renamed to Baie des Vierges (French).
Well we left the Isle Tahuata day before yesterday and tried for about three hours to catch a fish. No luck so headed towards Fatu Hiva. We arrived here around 1630 local and set our anchor with a nice firm hold. Unfortunately, there was a boat anchored behind us (they were here first), Just Jane and the gal was JUST JANE. She immediately came to her bow and informed us that she was not comfortable with how close were were to them (30 yards). So undoing our nice firm anchor we moved closer to shore and then it took us three more attempts to finally get a good hook. So as this story goes we were now out of shouting distance from Just Jane so last night around 9pm she calls the boat right behind her, friends of ours on The Rose, and tells them that she thought they were too close and when they set their anchor a couple days ago she thought she would see how it went and hadn't said anything, but now they were concened. The Rose was very nice and went to bed knowing their anchor wasn't going to crawl up under Just Jane. This moring about 0500, The Rose being nice weighed anchor and moved over about 75 yards. Shortly after The Rose got set, Just Jane weighs anchor and leaves. See what happens when you try to be nice to someone who doesn't trust thier own anchoring skills?
We are anchored here with four other friends we have met over the past months. The group excepting John on The Rose and myself went for a day hike yesterday to climb up to a 300 foot waterfall. Just as they were going ashore it started raining and pretty much never stopped all day. They forstalled the waterfall and went shopping. I got the sewing machine out, finished a sun awning for Orcinius and repaired a hoisting strap for John. After John left I pulled out the torn spinnaker and proceeded to make a repair. The tear was about 10 feet long so I figured I wouldn't be able to use the sticky backed nylon sail repair tape and proceeded to clean up the tear, burn the edges so it wouldn't frey and cut a ripstop nylon strip to sew in the gap. That took me the rest of the day but I am satisified with the repair and it should be good enough to get us to Tahiti in a month.
We decided to expand my culinary skills by making pizza for dinner. Sorry Susan, didn't use the no nead recipe, so took one out of a pizza cook book we have. Started the dough and had the pizza in the oven an hour and 30 minutes later. It was a double batch so we made two and have had some for breakfast. The pizza crust turned out great as well as the pizzas. Today will be some more culinary artisan work. Pat on The Rose gave us a packet of Yogurt starter so will give that an attempt and have it chilled on my cerial for breakfast tomorrow. I am going to give the sourdough starter another try later next week. Once I can get all this bacteria growing we can have a feast.
So we are here in this bay waiting for church tomorrow. It is reported that this little community of maybe 150 people (all of Fatu Hiva is 620) have a music session prior to church where they play ekeleles and sing songs so we will attend that and then see how the church session goes. It will probably all be in French or Marquesan so won't understand a thing. After that we will weigh anchor and move about 10 miles around the point for a night then pick up the trades the next morning on our way back Northwest towards Nuku Hiva.
John & Lisa
05/02/2012, 09 54.5'S:139 06.3'W, Tahuata, Hane Moe Noa Bay
We left Atuona, Hiva Oa yesterday to do a little island hopping. Plan on two nights here then on to Fatu Hiva which is a little Southeast of here by about 45 miles. We had to bypass it on the way in because we could only check into French Polynesia at Hiva Oa. Now we are going to do a little back tracking upwind.
If you like bananas this is he place to be. We bought a green stalk the other day and left them in our dinghy. By the time we got back to our dinghy that evening they were almost ripe. The stalk must have had fifty bananas on it. We ended up giving away 2/3rds of them and still can't eat them all. Making banana nut bread today. Another fruit that is very abundant and popular is the Pompalmoose. Like a giant grapefruit but a little sweeter. Grows on trees everywhere. And of course coconuts both green and ripe.
We have been having more and more problems with the Dinghy motor so I thought I would hire a local to fix it. He never showed so that afternoon I proceeded to pull the carberator off, over the water and got lucky because I never dropped anything into the water. Anyway, pulled it off and apart and the float bowl was completely dry. Cleaned it, put it back together and checked the fuel pump. Thought all was well and fired it up. Now the float was sticking open and raw gas was coming out of the intake port. We got to this Island by late afternoon and I proceeded to remove the carberator again. Quicker the second time. Pulled it apart and sure enough the float was stuck open, fixed it and put it back on the engine. Fired it up and it runs a little better than before the problems but I still think it was defective from the factory so will pursue a new carberator and fuel pump.
I repaired the clew of the symetrical spinnaker and will patch the holes today. Finally pulled the sewing machine out of its hiding place and now that it is out may attempt to repair the heavy spinnaker and sew an awning cover to reduce the afternoon heat.
Also today is scrub the hull day. We are anchored in 18 feet of water looking onto the shore. This is a picturesque, typical beach here in the Marqueses. Will go into the water (94 degrees) and get rid of some of the barnecles that grew on the bottom while crossing the Pacific. It is interesting because where the salt water splashed up on the hull above the waterline, we have green slime growing. You would think it would dry out and die but that hasn't happened. Another interesting thing is that barnecles can grow on a hull even though the water is rushing by. The visibility in the water is over 50 feet. I could see the anchor chain below the bow of the boat from the stern. Not quite crystal clear but very good visibility and I doubt we will get hypothermia.
All for now. Will update after we leave tomorrow and chase down weather.
John & Lisa
Hanging Out in Hiva Oa
04/30/2012, Atuona Hiva Oa Still
We have spent the last week enjoying Hiva Oa.
Friday night was the pig roast and it turned out great - over 30 people showed up! And the food was terrific. We tried Poisson Cru for the first time and it was very good. It is similar to ceviche - it is made by marinating fish in lime juice, but they also use coconut cream - very tasty! We are going to try and make it on the boat - if we ever happen to catch a fish.
We took a tour of the island yesterday. We visited a few archeological sites that were quite interesting. The Marquesans are known for being cannibals back in the day, and we saw a ceremonial site where they killed and devoured their enemies. Not sure if lime juice or coconut milk was also involved. From what we understand, the women were not allowed to partake though. Men can be such savages sometimes! We also saw another site with some large stone sculptures on the northeast side of the island. They are believed to be linked to tikis on both Easter Island and Necker island near Hawaii. The scenery along the way was outstanding. Check out the latest album. Luckily our guide, Mary Jo, had inside connections to most everyone on the island so we also scavangered for limes, pamplemousse, and breadfruit along the way. And we learned the differences between green and brown coconuts - and coconuts that have fallen from the tree and are beginning to sprout on the ground. The core of those fallen coconuts contain a white soft mass that is cooked eaten like a dessert - it is sweet but not over the top sweet. We also like the pamplemousse - they are like a large grapefruit - and are usually very sweet.
We expect to be here in Hiva Oa one more night, then onto a small island called Tahuata nearby. There is a tatoo artist there that is quite well known for his talent. Some of the other cruisers are going to seek him out and get a tatoo from him. John and I are on the fence about it - we'll let ya know....
Then onto Fatu Hiva - which many say is the most beautiful island in the Marquesas group, and the most remote. So we will probably be out of cell phone/wifi coverage for the next 10 days or so. But we can do some blog updates via sat phone.
Well Rested and Back into Repair Mode
04/27/2012, Hiva Oa
We have finally caught up on some well needed sleep and are doing great. We got settled into the anchorage just before dark (and inbetween some heavy squalls) on Monday night. Had an excellent steak dinner baked potatoes and Pina Coladas, in bed by 8pm, and didn't stir until around 6:30-7am the next morning. Ahhhhhh.
We headed into town Tuesday morning to check in with the officials - which was extemely painless! A single sheet of paper to fill out and we were on our way. We also picked up a few groceries while in town. I can see we will be eating lots of baguettes and brie while in French Polynesia - no complaints there! The walk into town is a couple of miles, which can be brutal during the heat of the day - we try to call a taxi when we can, but there is not always one available. Good thing I like to walk, but John - not so much....
Then began our assessment of the boat and what fixes we could do ourselves and which would need to wait until Papeete or even New Zealand. I will let John update y'all on the list in another blog as it is constantly changing!
We have also been enjoying catching up with other boaters that we met earlier this year and have made the crossing out of Puerto Vallarta Mexico. A bunch of us (21 people) are getting together for a pig roast tonight. Our taxi driver - John - and his wife Mary Jo are going to do the cooking at their home! They are preparing the traditional pig in the ground for a few hours - along with some local delicacies. I will take lots of pics to share!
We also caught a local dance performance/competition in town yesterday. School kids of all different ages participated in dancing, singing, and story telling in the park. I have posted some pics. We also get to watch the locals paddling their outriggers around the anchorage in the evening. Looks like they are preparing for the big competition that happens in Papeete Tahiti in late June.
See new album (Hiva Oa Arrival) with latest pics. All for now.