26 April 2008 | Tahuata, Marquesas
We left Hiva Oa yesterday (April 21) and motor-sailed the 3 miles to Baie Hanamoenoa at the north end of the island of Tahuata. This lovely anchorage has a gorgeous white sand beach and clear turquoise water. (Fatu Hiva has black sand and the water was so deep it appeared a deep teal color.) We were happy to get away from Atuona. The town is very nice and we were able to eat pizza, buy groceries (almost everything is very expensive!) and pick up baguettes for 60 cents from the baker. But the anchorage was quite crowded (everyone needed to have a stern anchor out) and enclosed- preventing any cooling breeze from reaching the boats. According to the guide book the water was not recommended for swimming due to the "large shark population". Enough said!
So we were all thrilled to be able to jump in the water and swim to the beach when we arrived at Hanamoenoa.. While ashore, the crews of Nataraja and Shambala showed us how to get a coconut open to drink the "milk". Yep, we're in the islands now.
After a couple of days swimming and snorkeling (and doing school) at Baie Hanamoenoa we sailed around to the west side of the island to visit a couple Marquesan villages. We anchored in Baie Hanatefau, right next to the village of Hapatoni and took a 10 minute dinghy ride to the village of Vaitahu. While ashore we visited the beautiful Eglise Sainte Marie de L'enfant Jesus, a Catholic church that was built with a combination of local wood and stones that had been used as ballast for 19th century trading ships. The beautiful wood/stone combo in addition to a gorgeous stained glass window behind the altar really took our breath away. The next day Tin Soldier arrived and we took a quick dinghy ride to the village of Hapatoni. We grabbed a cold drink at the market and then were invited to check out the bone and wood carvings made by local artisans. There are many talented artisans on all of these islands. What they don't sell to the tourists who visit their island they take or send to Papeete for sale. The girls and I bought carved bone necklaces and John got a beautifully carved Marquesan war club. Not as large as the one he admired on Fatu Hiva but impressive nonetheless. When you heft this thing you KNOW you can inflict some serious damage!
Unfortunately the anchorage of Baie Hanatefau had a few too many little jelly fish during our visit. So even though it was a beautiful, calm anchorage- and reported to have the best snorkeling in the Marquesas- we opted to head over with Tin Soldier to a quiet little anchorage with a nice sandy beach just around the corner from Hanamoenoa. It was pretty wonderful having the place all to ourselves- that doesn't seem to happen much. There are just too many boats following the same wind and currents and reading the same guidebooks!
We were able to repay Tin Soldier's kindness in helping with our boom vang by pulling our sewing machine out and helping them repair their head sail, which had started to shred pretty good during their crossing. Projects sure are easier with more heads, hands and supplies.