Off to the Tuamotus
13 April 2012 | Tahuata, Marquesas Islands
Yesterday we said goodbye to the town in the main port at Nuku Hiva and motored around to Baie du Controleur for our last night in the Marquises Islands. Heather was particularly keen to at least visit this last bay since it was the setting for Herman Melville's book "Typee" (he also wrote Moby Dick after famously jumping ship in Nuku Hiva in the 1840s). We just rode at anchor in the bay and didn't bother going ashore as we had quite a few chores on board to take care of. Chores done, we set off at 10am for the Tuamotus, about 600 miles or so to the South-west.
As we hoisted our sails off the coast of Nuku Hiva, a pod of spinner dolphins came to frolic in our bow wave. They were the first dolphins we have seen since the Atlantic (we have seen whales, but strangely no dolphins!) so we were thrilled to have them around for half an hour or so. As they took off we had a squall come through with 20 knots or so of breeze, giving us over 7 knots of boat speed. The wind seems to have settled in now at about 12 to 15 knots and we are ticking along nicely on a broad reach at 6 or so knots. Who said Friday 13th was unlucky!!
A few days back we visited a place called "Daniels Bay" which is where some of the Survivor series of reality TV shows were apparently filmed. We met up with the crews of Zoe, Southern Cross and At Last for a few drinks aboard matilda before they headed back to the main town anchorage of Nuku Hiva. We stayed over night in Daniels Bay and did the 2 hour walk up to the waterfall the next morning. This is apparently the third-tallest waterfall in the world, and it was a spectacular walk. We had perfect conditions for walking, but the highlight for me was the evidence everywhere of a once great settlement here. This beautiful, fertile valley used to be the Royal seat of Polynesia, populated by thousands. There is an elevated stone track running for a few kilometres through the valley, about the width of a train track, which is still in good condition. In fact most of the dry stone platforms used for habitations and ceremony were in remarkably good condition, although overgrown with lush vegetation. It was a haunting walk through all these walls in the jungle, which left me wondering how it must have been at the height of its civilisation. Now there are just two families who live near the bay, cultivating the area beside the river as it empties into the sea. We met a few of these very friendly people on our way out, one of whom even treated us to a Haka when he learned Heather was a Rugby fan!
If this wind keeps up (fingers and toes crossed) we should reach Rangiroa within a few days. We plan to do some diving and snorkelling there, followed by a visit to Fakarava for more dives if we have time. We need to be in Papeete, Tahiti for our next ARC rendezvous by 24 April, so we still have eleven days or so up our sleeve.
The weather has become far more humid and hot since we arrived in the Marquises, which is a little uncomfortable at times. Thankfully though we were not too badly bothered by the nonos or mosquitos which we know gave others a hard time. We are sorry to have to leave this area; the people have all been so friendly, the landscape absolutely stunning and the sailing good. Let's hope it hasn't spoilt us for the rest of our destinations as we continue our journey around the world.