05/08/2012, Marquesas-Hiva Oa-Atuona
I know what you are thinking, we are just laying around on beautiful white sandy beaches in the South Pacific, palm trees swaying in the wind, drinking tropical drinks and working on our tan. Couldn't be the furthest form the truth. Today was re-provision, re-fuel day so off we go, jerry cans in hand.
Getting supplies on a remote island is quite the experience. Here in Hiva Oa a supply ship comes in once a week, weather permitting, to resupply the island, this means everything, food, butane, diesel, gasoline.......The ship, named the Taporo IX, about 150-200 feet long comes in on Thursday. Quite the sight. The dock has been empty and quiet since we arrived, but come Thursday, all hell breaks loose. It seems like everyone on the island has something on the ship. After berthing along side the dock wall, the crew goes into action, there are two cranes lifting refrigerated units of the deck, while forklifts from inside the hull start driving out pallet upon pallet of supplies. We see pallets of water, Heineken, butane. Barrels of diesel and gasoline. It is a madhouse of activity. About 5:00pm after off loading their cargo, the Taporo shoves off, and it is a ghost town, the docks are empty, people have all vanished---Until next Thursday, then it starts all over again!
After consulting with other cruisers, we find out that in order to obtain more than 20 liters of diesel you buy it directly from the cargo ship, in 200 liter drums, so off we go. We find 2 other boats that want to split the barrel, so everyone gets about 15-20 gallons. We are not alone, the locals are doing the same. ship's crew fills the barrel, and then put it on a stand so it is on its side, with a valve and a hose we proceed to fill up all the jerry cans. Task completed! Oh, shoot, now we have to lug them back to the boat.
To obtain gasoline for the generator and outboard motor, there is a Mobil station near the commercial dock, they open at 8:00, yea right! The cars and trucks start lining up to obtain their 20 liters of the precious commodity. We are about number three in line. Well after watching a over a 100 cars and trucks get fuel, and after much smiling and Si'l vous plait's, it is our turn to get 20 liters per person, task done, darn, now we need to lug these back to the boat.
Nest task--reprovision fresh foods. The good news!! Supply ship means fresh food and supplies at the markets. Off we go into town to finish the last items before heading off to Fatu Hiva. Wouldn't you know it, raining like cats and dogs, sheets of water coming down. Should we go to the market or lay on the beach today :) Surprisingly, the markets are well stocked, fresh apples from Washington State, other frits and veggies, fresh eggs........most everything we wanted, except for maybe that maple syrup for pancakes and french toast. The re-provisioning goes well, after dropping about $250 for 4 bags of groceries, oh, and a case of Hinano, task done. Damnit, we got to lug this all down to the boat to, not from the dock, but from town a 45 minute walk away. Luckily, the tiki's were shinithough ng on us, as our friends on the Mason 44 Bob and Linda got a taxi, and were willing to share the right.
These cruisers are a pretty hardy group of people.
Maybe tomorrow we'll lay on the beach, yea right!!
05/07/2012, Marquesas-Hiva Oa-Atuona
Got settled into the anchorage here in Atuona after getting the boat squared away, and catching up on our sleep. A nice anchorage, a bit rolly, room for about 30 or so boats. There look to be about 25 right now. All very friendly. We have boats from US, UK, Australia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Germany, Italy, France, Bermuda that we have seen so far. Met lots of the other cruisers, a very friendly group--I think all the cruisers are. We all converge on this small dot in the Pacific with the same dreams of sailing to the S Pacific, all having to check into Polynesia here, get visas, re-fuel......
Hiva Oa is a very rugged, volcanic island, there are maybe 3 roads on the island. We are anchored near the town of Atuona, which is a 40 minute walk to town. The town has a population of 1500, and the island about 2500. We are anchored on the south side of the island, the roads take you to the north and east sides, were there are 2 other towns, as well as a couple small villages along the way. We are planning a 4WD tour tomorrow to the east end of the island.
Atuona is a one street town, but no stoplight, just a yield in the center, where the Gendarmarie is located. There are 3 little markets, the post office, a bank, hardware store, as well as a cafe and we think 2 or 3 restaurants. The markets, surprisingly are pretty well stocked, as well as the hardware store. The supply ship comes in on Thursday each week, so we are looking forward to seeing it come in and resupply the island. Oh and it looks like there are 2 resorts/hotels, a Pearl Resort, and one other a ways away.
It is a holiday today, Armistice Day, so not everything is open. We stopped at the cafe, and the first thing I got was an Orangina, reminded me of my days working for Club Med. The locals are very friendly and helpful. We used a yacht agent to help w/ the formalities, but closed today, so we will check in tomorrow before our tour of the island.
We walked down by the school, there is a big soccer/football field, as in Europe, and other parts of the world, soccer is the sportif no. 1. Pete said he watched a match and listened to some polynesian music on one of his walkabouts. Paul too has been exploring the town, doing the ship's fact finding mission to find the provisions we will need before we set sail for one of the other islands.
As we are in the tropics, it rains everyday, usually just a 20 minute shower, but we were reminded not to leave the hatches and ports open when we go to town, or you come back to a wet surprise. They keep things nice and cool, but also wake you up at 2am to shut all the ports, only to re-open them shortly after. But we are in paradise, no problem here.
05/07/2012, Anchored in Hiva Oa
Sailing along in a nice breeze of 15-20 knots with a furled jib only, and still making 6.5 knots. With the almost full moon rising, we expected to spot the island of Hiva Oa sometime in the night. Paul had first watch, 8-12am, nothing yet. I had the second watch 12-4.
You could faintly make out a dark shadow on the horizon in the general direction, but no confirmation, but the fragrances of the islands were in there air, we knew we were close. Pete came on at 4am, between the two of we determined we were indeed looking at the island. Land Ho!!! 4:30am The island rose out of the sea as we continued toward the east end. As the first light appeared, gradually the dark, black mass became a towering lush green tropical island. It was 7am, we progressed around the east end of the island, a rugged coastline, with no lights or beacons at all. I can only imagine how the original explorers felt as the came upon these gems in the middle of the Pacific after possibly months at sea. We continued to round the east end, waves crashing on the steep cliffs. The anchorage at Atuona is about 11 miles due west.
Majestic!! That is the best word to describe the view. The mountains are so lush and green. The elevations is approx. 3000+ feet high. It is obvious a large part of the island has never seen human footprints because of the steep rugged terrain. Tropical rain clouds shrouded the peaks, I'm sure they remain in rain clouds most of the year.
Atuona is the main town on the island, the anchorage is in a bay just to the west of there. From the sea the bay is a sharp right turn from the open ocean, so you really don't see it until you actually are upon it. At 10:30am we entered the anchorage to find around 20 sailboats anchored snugly together. We were the new kids on the block!!
There were flags from Norway, Australia, Bermuda, U.S., Germany, France to name a few, a blend of the many countries all anchored in paradise. Most of the boats were anchored bow to stern, so we quietly motored around to find a place to drop our hook(it was only about 8am local time).
Dropped anchored, shut down navigation equipment. We made it!! Pardon Monsieur, ou et la Baquettes?
05/07/2012, 30 miles from Hiva Oa
We all keep conning the horizon, looking for a glimpse of land. As we near the islands we have seen a lot more bird activity, as well as dolphins. The water has remained about 94-95 degrees, but the air temperature has been a pleasant 85 degrees or so, with the nice 12 knot trade winds, sunset dinner was perfect.
Yesterday, w/ Cinco de Mayo, we celebrated with Tamales, Rice and refrieds, no cole slaw, but Tecate beer and of course a snoot of the good tequila. Our provisions our holding up very well. We have used up almost all the fresh produce, but really had it most of the way. I think we lost 2 watermelons, what a shame, as they were so sweet to munch into as we crossed the equator. We still have Salmon, Steaks, Roasts, and Chicken, as well as tons of pasta, canned and boxed stuff to get us to Papeete, where the re-provisioning would be done. The Marquesas and Tuamotus probably won't have a great selection of food stuffs.
We expect to be in Atuona by 10am tomorrow, check in, and then go searching for ice cream (glace) and a baquette and frommage. We've also been reviewing the cruising guides to determine which anchorages we would like to visit, as well as check out the island via 4WD....
Next blog, Land Ho!
05/05/2012, 180 miles from Hiva Oa
I just got off the evening Pacific Seafarers net which I report our position and weather conditions. I do this for Sherpa nightly, adding to other vessels transiting the Pacific from Vancouver, Canada to Australia. I am just starting my watch 2000 to 2400 (8-12 PM) and get to see the sunset. My day started with the 0400 -0800 watch and got to see the green flash at sunrise first time, not as great as the double (first normal sunset flash then a wave lifted us and saw it again) I saw that sunset at beginning of trip. I will miss the awesome sunrises and sunsets as we get closer to our land fall. We are starting to feel the islands calling us. We are reading about anchorages and what to do there. We listened in to the Pacific Puddle Jump net and got an ear full of other cruisers activities. We learned the Marquesas Islands are 2.5 hours behind Pacific Standard time (PST) which we have kept as our on board time. This makes us more aware we need to really look out for other boats. We are converging on vessels coming from Central America to Marquesas. We have not seen any other vessels, planes, trains or automobiles for the last 9-10 days, very nice. Converging on the other cruisers will seem like the LA freeway, HAHA well not really we will still be moving. Only visitors are our nightly sea birds. We have been our own island surrounded by water and lots of sky. I don't recognize any constellations, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. We have been very self sufficient: food, entertainment. We are starting to run low on some food stuffs but we just substitute and the sea and boat provides us with the rest: excitement, thrills and beauty. Think you read some adventures/fire drills we just experienced. We sleep but with one eye open to jump to boat needs. We will have to change our lifestyle as we currently live it to land and society based. Hope we can adapt, our on board needs are few. Bring it o
05/05/2012, 250 miles NE of Hiva Oa
The winds down below the equator definitely are more temperamental than their northern counter-parts. We have experienced long hours of calms, then a lightning filled squall pushes the wind gauge to over thirty knots, and we quick;y race on deck to shorten sail before anything breaks or worse, we get knocked down or blow a sail out. These squalls generally don't last more than 20-30 minutes, but last night it seemed the we traveled in it for a couple of hours. I think we were both just heading the same direction at the same pace.
The calms seem to be consistent, right around 2-3 in the afternoon, wind lightens down to below 5 knots, which makes it difficult to keep wind in the sail and Passpartout complains it is so low he can't feel it over the deck to make any adjustments. We would normally motor, but with the raw water pump leaking at the seal, I would rather save our motoring for around the island. We have already ordered a replacement pump and should arrive shortly after we arrive in Hiva Oa, ahhh! email technology and fedex, well and Christina and Jason (my mechanic) helped also--thanks!!
We have not been immune to other breakage. On my dog watch, with a full moon, I watched as the spinnaker halyard snapped at the top of the sail, sending the code zero helplessly into the water, dragged at the bow. We quickly got her back on the boat and lashed on the deck. We'll go aloft when we get to the islands to re-run the halyard through the block at the top of the mast. Paul has volunteered to go up the stick, we'll wait until we are in a safe, smooth anchorage.
We have been getting our share of chafe on the running rigging. On a long passage like this, the consistent motion of of lines, going through blocks or rubbing against stuff, slowly starts to fray. You need to be diligent and keep an eye on things.
During the morning watch after the squalls, with a near full moon overhead, we were escorted by a pod of dolphins, that seemed to stay with us for about an hour, showing us the way. Must be a good sign we are nearing our first landfall.