Hiva Oa... again
04 May 2008 | Ua Pou, Marquesas
We left Tahuata Saturday in the company of Tin Soldier and headed over to Hanamenu Bay, on the north side of Hiva Oa. It was the kind of day that makes me really like sailing: we were doing close to 7 knots under sunny skies with 12 knots of wind just aft of the beam and (most important) a MELLOW sea state.
As we pulled into the pretty little bay we saw several other boats already anchored there, including Shambala. They told us about a "fantastic" fresh water pool just a short walk up from the beach. I believe the words "Heaven on earth" were used. Well, it just goes to show, one person's heaven can be another person's hell. Yes, there was a fresh water pool being fed by a little river. It wasn't very big, but that's okay. The problem was with the "no-nos", those biting, evil little nasties that were ALL OVER the place. Although I'd applied bug repellent, I was still constantly swatting to keep them off my face, neck, back. everywhere. We quickly said "enough of this!" and headed back to the beach. And of course those little buggers followed us! In fact we opted out of a hike with the crew of Tin Soldier because I felt like I was under a constant state of attack. When we got back to the boat I was feeling like I'd barely managed to avoid getting eaten alive.
The next day however, I started to notice some itchiness on my back and later in the day my body was in absolute BLOOM with hundreds of swollen bites. (We're talking freak show here.) Jennifer on Coco Kai said she read somewhere that the delayed reaction is due to little drops of acid the no-nos put on your skin as they're getting ready to feast. Nice. As I write this it's now a week later and these bites are still really bumpy and really itchy. Benadryl doesn't seem to help, but we have a Bactine-type spray that gives some relief. (Glen on Tin Soldier had had a similar experience earlier and went to the local doctor who applied cortisone cream and sent him on his way. his are slowly fading. I'm just thankful that neither the girls nor John were afflicted the way that I was.
Needless to say we were too ready to get out of that anchorage the next day so we headed about 7 miles along the coast to a beautiful anchorage with a lovely little village called Hanaiapa. When we arrived we were the only boat in the anchorage, Tin Soldier soon joined us. The surf on the beach was a bit rough so we secured our dinghy to the concrete wharf, setting the dinghy anchor to keep it from being pounded into the wharf by the surge.
Once on shore we were greeted by a friendly young man named "Rio". His English wasn't the greatest but he wanted to be helpful (and we'll take all the help we can get). He advised us that due to the swell and coral heads just beneath the surface at the head of the bay it might be better if we upped anchor and moved back a little. (Turns out he was right about that. After a leisurely stroll through the picturesque village we came back to the boat to assess the anchor situation. Our anchor and chain were indeed wrapped and jammed around some coral. We very gingerly maneuvered with the boat and the windlass to get our anchor and rode untangled, then re-anchored without further issues.)
Rio also brought us some mangoes and papayas, and then gave me a ride on the back of his ramshackle motorcycle to go talk to the local taxi driver. That was a fun ride, the roads are pretty rough and generally unpaved, but Rio was careful- not going too fast- and obviously having a good time. When we crossed a shallow stream (I didn't think we'd make it) I could hear him giggling as he carefully maneuvered to keep us from tipping over into it. The locals picnicking nearby laughed and shouted encouragement to him. To me they yelled "Comme ca!" indicating how I should hold on a bit tighter. It was really pretty fun.
We soon decided we'd seen everything we wanted to on Hiva Oa so we started making preparations to leave for Ua Pou (wapoo). Ua Pou lies about 60 miles to the northwest of Hiva Oa so in order to assure we'd arrive with plenty of daylight we opted for a night passage.
I'm actually kind of excited by the idea of sailing at night again. I was looking up at the night sky a few evenings ago and realized I kind of miss watching the constellations make their way across the sky as I did every night during our crossing.