Marquesas – Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Nuka Hiva

04 June 2018
Photo: Gail produce shopping at the farm
The main anchorage in Hiva Oa is not the greatest, it can get very rolly and a stern anchor is often required. There is also construction work going on developing a new wharf and when the supply boat arrives, you have to move to allow it to enter the harbour and turn around. When we arrived there were more boats than we anticipated and we could not get in behind the sea wall to anchor. However the swell was not too bad so we anchored outside the sea wall and with the boats around us not having stern anchors out, we did not have to put out a stern anchor.
We radioed Sandra, our agent to advise her of our arrival and she said to meet her the following day to go into town to check in, but if we wanted to we could go ashore. We spent the rest of the day tidying the boat and relaxing, followed by an early dinner and sleep.
Monday 7th May at 10:00 we met Sandra ashore and went into Atuona to clear in with the Gendarmerie. Sandra drove us over the hill into Atuona, which would have been a 45 min walk. Clearing in was relatively easy but we had left our Bond Exception letter back on the boat, as non EU citizens we need to provide a bond the equivalent of an airfare home. However as part of the Pacific Puddle Jumpers we had an exemption letter. No problem, Sandra phoned the main office to get them to email a copy to the Gendarmerie, except the internet was so bad 20mins later it had not arrived. Next option was fax, could not do, we offered to go back to the boat to get the letter, then Brian remembered we had the laptop with us which had a copy of it, we fired it up, showed them the letter, they took a photo of it, all good. We were cleared in and good to go.
We went to the only café in town, Make Make, really a village, downloaded emails which took a while, then walked along to the community grounds and artist centre where the artists were working. We went back to Make Make for a drink while we waited for the supermarket to reopen after lunch and met Charles, an English solo sailor who has been out cruising for many years. The swell and therefore the roll in the anchorage increased during the day so we decided to move the following morning.
Tuesday morning, Brian went into the service station early to get some baguettes, and then we were off in 20+ knots of breeze around to Hanemoenoa Bay, Tahuata Island only 10nm away. What a difference, calm, sandy beach and crystal clear water. This was the place we could spend a few days cleaning the hull of the boat, we could not believe the amount of growth on the hull from the passage, and polishing the stainless steel with all its rust. The bay was peaceful with the wild goats bouncing up and down the hillside each day, they really are sure footed animals.
On Thursday, the bay started to fill up with boats, Pelizeno and Bajka arrived to be followed the next morning by La Cigale and Raftkin. It was time to catch up with everyone’s passage stories and relax. We went for a snorkel and were surprised by the wonderful fish of all shapes, sizes and colours, it really was an aquarium, although some of the coral looked like it may have been dying.
Saturday afternoon as the older kids were towing a doughnut behind the dinghy at the back of the bay, a pod of dolphins decided to join in, following along behind the dinghy jumping and frolicking, a great sight with the sun low in the sky. It was then a pot luck dinner and drinks ashore, most of the 15 or so boats in the bay came ashore and it was a great social evening with the kids toasting marshmallows in the fire.
We had a very social Sunday starting with morning tea on Dol with Johan and Lisa, Rubicon, then Adam and Sarah arrived on Latitude Adjustment, the ladies all had afternoon tea on Pelizeno while the guys took the kids ashore, then it was evening drinks on Latitude with Adam and Sarah and Pam and Denise, an American couple off Glide.
Monday morning, we, Pelizeno and Raftkin took our dinghies down to Vaitehu, the main village on Tahuata. The village sits in a valley at the bottom of some large hills and looks spectacular. Landing ashore however was a bit of a problem with the swell going into the landing dock, there were some locals working on water blasting who assisted the kids, Hayley, Megan and Zenon ashore along with Gail, Lisa and Tracey. The guys decided to stay with the dinghies as it was not possible to leave them at the dock. We walked the short distance to the local church, amazing. It was a low building built of wood and stone with no windows but well protected from the elements by the low eaves of the roof. It was a simple structure but very impressive. As we walked back past the school, listening to the children singing, we noticed 2 of the dinghies on a mooring in the bay and the 3rd one on the beach, the guys had made it ashore. It was then a trip to the supermarket for baguettes, next door was a man selling hands of bananas and then a lady we had been chatting too arrived with bags of mangoes.
As we walked back to the waterfront, La Cigale - Lucy, Xavier, Francis, Isabelle and Catherine greeted us, they had just arrived in their dinghy, Christian, Shawnigan, had also arrived on his paddle board. We all then went to the local café for drinks and lunch. The owner of the café had pamplemoose from his garden which we bought. It was then back to dinghies and the anchorage
Midafternoon we all went ashore for Ilian’s, Bajka, 4th birthday. The kids and adults alike all enjoyed swimming and playing in the surf and the chocolate cake was very well received. Back to the boat for evening drinks with Josie and Christian, Shawnigan to talk about New Zealand as they hope to spend some time there. While sitting on the back deck chatting we noticed a couple of very large Manta Rays swimming and feeding alongside the boat, what a way to end the day.
It has been a very social time in the bay, but time to move on. We plan to sail 82nm overnight Wednesday and head for Nuka Hiva. At the eleventh hour the plans changed and as we left Tahuata Island at 17:00 we were headed 62nm north to Hone Bay, Ua Hiva. It was not the most pleasant of night sails with moderate, rolly seas and more wind than in the forecast. We also reached the island too early and the 5 boats ended up killing time till first light. As it turned out when we entered Hone Bay the swell was rolling in and it was untenable. The decision was made to carry on to Anaho Bay, Nuka Hiva, arriving at midday and dropping the anchor in calm water. The bay has a spectacular backdrop of high hills and is much protected.
The following day was filled with activities. At 09:00 Gail, Tracey - Raftkin, Carlie - Yonder and Ella, Lucca, Martin, Nael and Ilian - Bajka, took the 40 minute walk around the bay to the base of the dramatic cliff formation to a fruit and vegetable farm. Unfortunately it was more fruit than vege season but we still bought plenty. It is something special to walk around a market garden picking your produce as you go. We walked back loaded with fruit and vegetables, it was quite a trek but worth it. A quick lunch then it was off for a walk ashore again with Lisa, Peter, Zenon - Pelizeno, Rob, Carli, Adrian - Yonder, Dave, Tracey, Hayley and Megan - Raftkin to the surf beach which was past the fruit and vege farm we had visited in the morning. What a place to play in the surf, high cliffs and rock formations formed the backdrop. We enjoyed half an hour or so before we walked back to the boats for a quick shower and then it was dinner ashore. With 17 of us for dinner, it was goat curry, salads, bread fruit, rice and tuna, plenty of it set out on a long table under a tree. A very social evening we even managed to negotiate the dinghy channel in the dark with the help of spotlights, avoiding the stingrays in the shallows.
It was time for a challenge, we all headed ashore on Friday morning after schoolwork for the walk across the ridge to Hatiheu Bay. It was a challenging climb along the switchbacks up to the top of the ridge, followed by a break for drinks and nibbles, then down the other side to Hatiheu Bay for lunch. The main form of transport for the north side of Nuka Hiva is horse as there are no roads and therefore no vehicles. We had passed a horse train the previous day on our walk to the surf beach and again as we went up the ridge on our return trip to Anaho we passed a horse train on the way down to Hatiheu. Back at the boat it was time for showers and drinks, followed by a relaxing evening.
A quiet day followed the mountain walk, although Brian did go for a snorkel and said it was very good, lots of fish and coral.
Sunday it was off to Taiohae Bay at midday, the main town on Nuka Hiva, in strong winds and moderate to high seas. We motor sailed most of the way and arrived to a calm anchorage with a slight roll, we had come around to refuel and provision in preparation for the Tuamotos. The calm anchorage did not last long and the Dol, along with all the other boats in the bay, rolled for the next 2 days. Monday morning we were ashore early as the grocery stores were only open for a couple of hours due it being a Public Holiday. Brian also managed to see Kevin, the agent for Tahiti Crew to get his Duty Free fuel document. The town is again small, we walked around and visited the Artisan Centre, always good to see examples of local arts and crafts, we then had lunch and walked up to Tiki Tuhiva monument on the hill. The story board gave a history of the Fort that used to occupy the headland, the monument is a giant Tiki and has been erected on the site of the old Fort. Back on the boat, Brian took the opportunity with light winds to repair the baton pockets on the mainsail that had blown during the Pacific crossing.
After refueling on Tuesday morning, we said goodbye to all the kids’ boats and motored around to Hakatea, Daniels Bay. The bay is beautifully calm, being almost totally enclosed by the headlands and once again as we have seen throughout the Marquesas Islands, the bay is surrounded by dramatic steep rock formations. The bay was used for the Survivor Marquesas TV programme. We arrived too late for the walk to the waterfall, it would have been dark before we could get back, so we opted for a shorter walk ashore. When we were back at the boat taking the outboard motor off in preparation for the next day, a manta ray swam around the dinghy, cool.
We planned to leave the Marquesas Wednesday, and head 500nm south to the Tuamotos Islands. We have enjoyed the Marquesas, for us it has been a very social time with all the kids’ boats, Pelizeno, Raftkin, Shawnigan, Bajka, Yonder and La Cigale, we may or may not meet up with them again further down the path, but that is cruising.
Vessel Name: Dol'Selene
Vessel Make/Model: Warwick 47 cutter, built in three skins of New Zealand heart kauri timber, glassed over.
Hailing Port: Auckland, New Zealand
Crew: Brian & Gail Jolliffe
About: Brian and Gail have retired, at least for now, to enjoy the opportunity to cruise further afield than has been possible in recent years.
Current cruising plans are not too well advanced but we are inspired by Mark Twain’s quote “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your [...]
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Dol'Selene's Photos -