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s/v Sand Dollar
May 3, 2007 - Provisioning
05/03/2007, Traitors Bay, Hiva Oa, Marquesas

There are a few stores in the near-by town of Atuona where I checked in with the Gendarme yesterday. I was able to buy eggs, some vegetables, apples, cheese and baguettes. The baguettes were cheap but everything else was extremely expensive. Fortunately, I am still well-provisioned with staples from Mexico. Not far from the anchorage there is a fresh water spigot and a petrol station with diesel. The only internet service I can find is at the post office and it is very slow, busy, and US$26/hour!

The check-in process went very well, mostly because I used the services of an agent who charged me US$360 (ouch!). The process involves customs clearance (everything onboard is "ship's stores"), visa extension from the normal 30 days to 90 days, and bond exemption which means the agent guarantees that I will leave the country within 90 days. They are very sensitive to foreigners out-staying their welcome. Now I can go to the Tuamotus without worrying about being in Papeete, Tahiti within 30 days to renew my visa.

There is no good reason to stay here beyond the time it takes to buy supplies and check in with the Gendarme. The bay is not extremely attractive and it is noisy. Tomorrow I will leave for the neighboring Island of Tahuata where there is reported to be an excellent anchorage offering very good snorkeling with 100 ft visibility. We will see.

May 2, 2007 Hiva Oa
05/02/2007, Hiva Oa, Marquesas

The 8 hour passage from Fatu Hiva to Hiva Oa was uneventful except for the landing of a 30 lb mahi mahi caught on a handline. Ninety percent of the fish was given to other cruisers in the anchorage and some local people who came by to give me some grapefruit. My friends on "Bold Spirit" from Seattle, also anchored in the bay, had me over for dinner. This is one of the main benefits of sharing the catch. Today I go to the gendarmarie to check in with the authorities.

Day Sail to Hiva Oa
05/01/2007, 17 miles southeast of Hiva Oa, Marquesas

Sand Dollar weighed anchor at 4:45 AM for the 45 mile trip to the next island, Hiva Oa. The Dutch boat departed shortly before I did. I expect to arrive sometime after 1 PM. Today is Labor Day so all government services are closed and I will have to clear in tomorrow.

All is well but I am anxious to find an internet cafe.

R and R on Monday April 30
04/30/2007, Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

One more day of rest before continuing on to Hiva Oa. Most of the small repair projects are completed and the boat is almost shipshape. I am hoping for a good rainstorm in order to fill the water tanks and do some laundry. Each day a few boats leave and a few more arrive so there are always new people to meet.

First Day Ashore
04/28/2007, Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

Remarkably, I had no burning desire to go ashore and was quite content to remain on the boat resting, reading, and catching up on odd jobs and minor repairs. When most of that was finished, though, I blew up the kayak and ventured ashore where I soon met the crew of half a dozen other boats, all European and out of the Galapagos. Their route comes from a bit farther south than mine so this island is the first encountered and they all stop here. Most of the American boats make landfall at Hiva Oa, a day's sail the the northwest.

The village of Hanavave is situated in a breathtaking ravine with vertical volcanic rock formations rising 1000 ft. and covered with vegetation. There are maybe 100 people living in the village in small, simple prefab housing and they have all have gardens with fruit trees but no vegetables which they do not seem to eat. I met up with four crew from a Dutch boat and had a Polynesian dinner at one of these homes. There are no restaurants here so some of the enterprising locals cook meals for the cruisers who inundate the town for two months each year. We had goat meat cooked in coco milk, tuna marinated in lime juice, garlic and goat's milk, several preparations of bananas, and grapefruit. It was all very good, especially considering what my options were onboard.

Sunday morning I will go to 8 AM Mass at the little church and then watch some soccer games in the village. In the evening, the locals are putting on a goat cookout for the cruisers. Should be interesting. Wish I spoke a little more French.

Day 24 - Landfall!
04/27/2007, 2790 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas at Bay of Virgins Fatu Hiva, Marquesas

Sand Dollar dropped her anchor in the Bay of Virgins at Fatu Hiva, Iles Marquesas, French Polynesia at 9:30 AM local time. What a fantastic trip! I am thrilled to be here and happy that the passage went so well. There were no gear failures, accidents, or difficult times. The weather was more or less as expected but the passage time was better than predicted. May all my passages go so well.

Land was sighted just after sunrise 24 miles off and what a sight it was. The wind had been blowing 20-25 knots most of the night and I was tired and anxious to drop the hook and get some sleep. The Bay of Virgins is well protected from the swell but the wind howls down from the steep valley above. The landscape is precipitous and the vegetation lush as you might expect of a tropical volcanic island. There are 17 other boats in the crowded anchorage, mostly Europeans who have come by way of the Panama Canal and the Galapagos. My mileage for the final day was 104 for an average speed of 4.3 knots. The trip total was 2790 miles at an average speed of 5.0 kts. in 23 days.

I will rest today, drink a few beers and go ashore tomorrow. There are some interesting hikes to stretch my legs and I am told there is a French bakery and some fresh fruit.

Life is good!

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Sand Dollar
Who: Don Pratten
Port: Beaux Arts, WA
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