The rest of our time in Hiva Oa was fantastic. We stayed on the island for longer than expected because we wanted to welcome the last boat (Peat Smoke) into the harbor which had a difficult sail and ended up arriving almost one week later. There were quite a few other boats that also stayed and when Peat Smoke arrived we blew our fog horns and air horns. We made a big production and then quickly helped them anchor. Then we all went aboard their boat with drinks in hand.
We also took a tour of the island with a local woman, Mary Jo, who drove us around. The roads were quite rustic and the ride was very bumpy. We stopped along the tour to see several sites of stone tiki's. The views were incredible and we went to the home of a friend of Mary Jo's for lunch. All locally grown and raised food. Absolutely delicious. We were also able to purchase some of the fruit - their grapefruit is huge and tastes a bit of lime.
Our last day before we left we went to the grocery store for provisions. The stores had quite a bit of food which we were surprised by. It was just very expensive. I paid $8 for a box of Kellogg's cereal. Yikes!!! We also went to the Paul Gauguin museum. He lives and died on Hiva Oa and is buried in the local cemetery. The museum also had a replica of his "House of Pleasure." He was a very talented but controversial man. I encourage you to Google him.
From Hiva Oa we went to the small island of Tahuata. The bay had the most beautiful blue water that we have ever seen. The water was so clear that we could see our anchor in the sand 25 feet on the bottom. We had 2 sharks and 2 manta rays visit us. We went there to clean the bottom of the boat which was full of gunk and barnacles from the long passage. We had a wooden kitchen tool to scrape the barnacles and sponges to scrub off the green gunk. It was not pleasant and became a worse job when I got out of the water and realized that I had been stung by multiple jelly fish. I counted about fifty stings on seven different places on my body. Very itchy. Mark didn't get stung and apparently he didn't because he has hair on his body. I told Mark that either I couldn't clean the bottom of the boat again or I was going to grow the hair out on my legs. I was able to find some jelly fish ointment in the medical kit and it has become my new beauty routine along with the Neosporin for all of my cuts and scrapes.
We stayed in Tahuata for three nights and had the anchorage to ourselves the last night. It was our own little paradise.
The next island we went to was Oa Pou. Our time there was a bit traumatic. The first morning we saw several of the boats boarded by the Coast Guard/French Customs. Luckily they did not board our boat but in talking with other boats they searched the entire boat for undeclared alcohol and illegal drugs. They are concerned about the amount of alcohol people bring into the Marquesas because locals will try to barter their goods for alcohol. The Coast Guard warned us not to participate in this type of exchange.
We quickly went to shore when we determined the officials went back to their main boat. We were having a discussion about whether to tie the dinghy to the dock or land it on the beach, when we were caught unexpectedly by a big wave. The dinghy filled with water and I went overboard. We were both very wet and sandy but decided to walk through the town in this horrible condition because we were planning on leaving the island in just a few hours. On shore Mark got blisters on his feet and was trying to walk on the hot pavement without burning his feet - not easy. And then he stumbled a bit and broke the strap on our backpack. In the end we decided to get back to the safety of the boat and pull up anchor asap.
We arrived in Nuku Hiva on Good Friday which made things a bit difficult. The locals take much more time off for holidays and many things were closed. We were able to arrange to fill our fuel tank which we were warned was incredibly challenging. We had the crew from Southern Cross help us - two people on board with us and Kathy on land doing the paperwork for the fuel, catching the lines and paying for the fuel. The dock was a huge cement dock to which you needed to back your stern up to. We needed to what's called Med moor which means drop an anchor about 200 feet from the dock and back our stern toward the dock and throw two lines off our stern and tie them to the dock. It can work well but the water was so deep that our anchor did not set. So basically I held the boat off the dock with the motor while we filled the fuel tank. The swells were quite large so our boat bobbed up and down during the entire process. We even had to throw a line ashore and tie the fuel hose to it to then pull it on board. Many of the other boats ended up hitting the dock and damaging dinghy motors, wind vanes and chipping fiberglass. With Southern Cross's help we went through the process undamaged. We long for a floating dock with rubber rails in a protected anchorage. From what we hear, we may be waiting quite a while.
Our dinghy motor has not been working since being on Hiva Oa due to water getting into the engine. Mark spent the next day trying to fix it while Kathy from Southern Cross and I went into town to explore. When I returned to the boat Mark was almost down emptying the oil from the dinghy and replacing it. He also changed the spark plugs and cleaned the entire engine. I helped him drop the dinghy in the water and it started on the first try. He did a victory lap and everyone on Southern Cross cheered him on and they sounded their fog horn for him. These fixes become incredible victories and causes for huge celebration.
On Easter morning eight of us made it to the 8:00 am service at the Catholic Church. The primary religion in the Marquesas is Catholic. The service was almost entirely in the native Marquesian language with only the Bible readings in French. We did have a bulletin and several of us made every attempt to follow along. The music was beautiful with only a drum to accompany the singing. Many of the congregants, both men and women, were dressed all in white. Everyone who attended found the service very memorable.
While on Nuku Hiva we visited a nearby bay for a hike to a water fall. Nine of us went over to the bay on s/v (sailing vessel) Zoe. By the time we got to the beach for the hike it was later in the afternoon so we weren't able to hike the whole way. We did get to a lookout point where we had a magnificent view of the waterfall. The walk was beautiful. Homes along the way had incredibly groomed lawns with a plethora of flora and fruit trees. There were horses, dogs, cats and goats along the walk. We also needed to hike through a cold water river. Amazing. When we got back to the beach we were picked up and brought to s/v Matilda to drinks. Heather was playing the song "At Last" as we arrived! What a great day.
Steven and Kathy from Southern Cross called us the next day from the Pearl Lodge stating that we needed to get up to the Lodge and join them. They said that a car from the Lodge would pick us up at the dinghy dock in ½ an hour. We scrambled to get ready and arrived at the Lodge for a swim. The infinity pool overlooked the bay. We all swam and drank wine for the afternoon and then decided to stay for dinner. The dinner was magnificent and we asked to see the chef after the meal. He came out and we were surprised to see that he was the gentleman who picked us up at the dinghy dock. He also drove us all back to the dinghy dock. It was an amazing afternoon/evening with great friends from Southern Cross and Zoe.
We provisioned today and are on our way to the Tuamotu islands. We will be sailing along with Southern Cross and Zoe with two other boats on the way tomorrow. It will be a 500 mile sail which will take 3.5 days. We are a bit discouraged to hear that other boats that are making the trip now do not have wind. Our GPS tracking system that updates the World ARC web site (Yellow Brick Tracking) stopped working a few days ago. It started to report that we were heading back to the Galapagos. Don't worry we are not turning around. We will update the World ARC website daily as best we can from the boat. But we are heading southwest from here.
We are currently sitting at Henry's café called Café Vaeaki on the dock finishing the blog posts. They have been our gracious hosts for a barbecue, a breakfast birthday party and many other meals. We cannot recommend their food and hospitality enough. The photo gallery has been updated with all the photos of the Marquesas Islands. Enjoy!