Onward to the Tuamotus
09 April 2016 | 5 00.0'S 100 24.0'W
Steve & Kate Jenkins
So long Marquesas islands!
We are currently rollicking in the South Pacific, en route from Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas islands to Fakarava in the Tuamotu islands, a 450 mile sail, south and westward. Our seventeen days in the Marquesas islands were the highlight of the trip thus far for me (Kate), and barely enough time to merely scratch the surface of this South Pacific paradise. We were spellbound by the stunning beauty of the Marquesas- high volcanic islands, with black lava spires rising out of luxuriant forests and swirled with clouds. Some of the fluted peaks pile up to 3500 feet and more. Without coral barrier reefs, wild waves smash against the black cliffs and there are few sandy beaches. There are a limited number of anchorages and virtually all (all that we anchored in) experienced a strong swell that makes landing a dinghy a challenge in good conditions and impossible in rough conditions. In one anchorage we tied the dinghy to a mooring and swam ashore as that looked safer and in another, we were simply unable to land as the surge was well over the quay.
We went on three major hikes, two to large waterfalls (one, Vaipo Waterfall plunges over 1000 feet into a basin)and one to a ridge with a spectacular view of Hiva Oa and several meaes (sacred sites)alongg the way. We also visited several archeological sites with tikis, temples and stone dwellings that date back twoo hundred years. Our sea legs were thrilled to walk again after our eighteen day crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas and we walked A LOT!. We also snorkeled, explored smalls villages, wandered through breath-taking open air churches with ornate wood carved pulpits,altars and baptismal fonts, rented a car to explore the north coast of Nuku Hiva, enjoyed happy hours with crews from other boats, and feasted on baguettes, croissants, cheeses, tropical fruits, and of course, pizza. Gotta love French islands for provisioning!
Several days each week were spent cleaning the boat, reprovisioning, catching up on email, filing for tax extensions, doing laundry etc...you know, the fun stuff of every day life. After the Pacific crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas, our sojourn in the Marquesas was heavenly. We shared cocktails with several cruisers who had been in French Polynesia for several years and we were more than a tad jealous of their being able to explore these islands at a leisurely pace.
We pulled our anchor up from Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva on Wednesday morning, bound for the Tuamotus and are currently in a period of "free cruising" where boats are free to explore the Marquesas, Tuamotu or Society islands at their own pace. Most boats have left the Marquesas and are either en route or are scattered around the 70 islets and atolls that make up the Tuamotus. We are traveling with several boats now, a wonderful motley mix of English speakers; three Brit boats, two American boats and a Kiwi boat. Given the vast expanse of ocean, it's a joy to travel in the company of others!
This has been a relatively slow passage with light winds, warm temperatures and no fish on our dinner plates. We have had several "strikes" each day, have lost two lures, and had two "almost" catches; one tuna broke the line just as we were pulling him onboard (after Steve had battled for 20-30 minutes) and then several hours later we lost another tuna, to a shark. Steve was reeling it in when Hannah said "there's something in the water behind the fish," and sure enough, there were the fins... The greedy bastard ate the entire meaty middle of our fish and left just the head and tail. At least we didn't lose the lure. The thief then had the audacity to follow the boat for several hours, waiting for more. Grrrrr. We need to buy more lures in Tahiti.
During a momentary lapse in sanity we ordered a "bunch" of bananas which turned out to be a stalk (about 80 bananas) so we now have a freezer full of bananas for smoothies and bread as they all ripened at once. However, all is not lost! A friend on another boat shared a fabulous recipe that we are loving! You simply slice a few bananas up, layer them with a little brown sugar, pour some Myer's rum on them and refrigerate. Drizzle whipping cream (or ice cream if you have it, which we don't) on them and enjoy. We just may have to get another stalk before we leave the Society island in May....
We will be exploring the Tuamotu islands for about two weeks before moving onto the Society islands. The fleet assembles in Papeete, Tahiti on April 27th for a dinner then we'll move north to explore the Society Islands (Moorea, Bora Bora, and Huahine)north of Tahiti before leaving for the Cook Islands around May 12