impressions of Nuku Hiva after 14 years
22 June 2021 | 08 55.038'S:140 05.994'W, At sea to Nuku Hiva
08 55.038 S
140 05.994 W
Weather; sunny, wind N/A, waves N/A
We slept like the dead but still woke up feeling like we needed at least another 24hours sleep but that was going to have to wait as we have things to do. First off let me say that Nuku Hiva is a beautiful place, a large bowl shaped harbour that is surrounded by very high hills all of which are green, yes there must be lots of rain fall here! We immediately noticed a few changes since the last time we were here, there are more houses, but relatively still only a few, there are street lights all along the shore line road which weren't there last time, there is an extended fuel dock but apparently you still have to dingy in and cart the fuel to your boat in jerry cans. There is a helicopter based here which services the nearby islands, we noticed a grove of some sort - oranges or olives or mangoes or something- too hard to tell from the harbour, there are new Tiki's visible and there are shore lead lights which didn't exist before and there appears to be more stuff at the dock which we need to explore. On our arrival we saw a boat that we had been on for drinks in Panama, they had intended to do a straight shot to Fiji so we were a little surprised to see them at anchor here and called out to them to find out what the story was. After we had anchored and got settled in they radioed and then came across to speak to us, even though we were flying the quarantine flag and hadn't yet checked in. We thought our 29 days was bad enough, they had taken 33 days to get this far and had been totally becalmed for 3 of those days to the extent that they had taken down all their sails as they were just wallowing with them up and going nowhere. They had an issue with their iridium go phone, which had an intermittent problem causing their SOS not to work; as they rely on this as their EPIRB there was no safe way for them to continue without getting it sorted out so they stopped off here as an emergency stop. Talking to them we realized that a few boats have stopped here as an "emergency stop" we aren't sure if the reasons are genuine or not but it is a convenient way of getting around the hoops that you have to jump through to get permission to stop regularly as we had, plus it appears that the emergency stop off is given more than the 4 day visa that we got - so who's the idiots? Anyway we were here, had done it the right way and were now wondering how we were expected to check in as we had thought that with the mandated visa and hoop jumping there would be a boat coming out to greet us, test us for Covid and check us in, who are we kidding this is a French island! As it was Sunday no one was working so it would give us an extra half day to recover, read sleep! We got up at a reasonable hour ready to do the official stuff and start on our list of urgent repair work. Gerry, being the self-appointed captain, had emailed our FP contact to ask what the procedure was for checking in as no one had made any contact and we weren't sure that we were allowed to get off the boat. Our neighbour had kindly purchased a sim card from the agent he used and dropped it off to us this morning, not cheap at $80 for 10 gigs but there was no way we could manage without it. Gerry hadn't heard anything back from our FP contact by 10 am so decided that he would go into the gendarmerie where we knew that everyone had to clear in under normal circumstances. Our dinghy got lowered into the water for the first time since we left Curacao, not without a little difficulty as our bird B&T had been well used and the block at one end of the hoist was encased in bird guano which had set like cement and had to be chipped off first. Having said that we got the dinghy and outboard (after applying a bit of grease to the locks which held it in place - at least we know that no one could have stolen it even if they had tried!)ready to go for its first outing in a while, it started first go without any problems, thank goodness. Armed with all of our documentation and a bag of trash Gerry set off to make us legal. I stayed on board and did the tidy up, cleaned a bit and made inroads to getting back on top of things. Gerry was back sooner than I had expected, everything went as you expect in a French run county, the gendarmerie would only see you to check you in between 7.30 am and 10 am so that didn't happen - a job for tomorrow! He did go and speak with Kevin, who is apparently the local agent ( there was no requirement to use an agent here but he's the guy you need to go to to get anything done apparently) anyway Gerry spoke with him and found out the local facilities as they are at present. There are still just 2 supermarkets, at a fair walking distance from the dock, there is a local fruit/veggie open market at the dock, the artisan centre for carvings and seed jewellery is still operational, there is a cafe with internet access a short distance from the dock and a hospital/clinic near the gendarmerie. Then came the blow of the day, they do not do PCR testing here. This is a big issue for us as we have to send a Negative PCR test done 72 hours before departing our last port to gain access to Fiji. Apparently they can do the PCR testing in Tahiti but the first hurdle with that is we have already applied to FP to and been granted our 4 day stop off here in Nuku Hiva and we aren't sure that we will be allowed to enter Tahiti but we will send in another request and fingers crossed it will be granted as we will be sighting the need to haul out to replace the through valve ( not really urgent but we won't be telling them that), and the need to have our furler fixed (Gerry has it working but who knows!) and we need to get a heap of fuel filters to make sure our dirty fuel from Panama lets us make it home; the reasons are all a bit flimsy but it's the only way we can get somewhere for another bloody PCR test for Fiji entry. Everyone keeps saying get the vaccine but we have checked with Fiji and they don't care if you have been vaccinated or not, they still want the PCR test, Governments at work!
Anyway once we had got past the bad news it all looks good as we now have an extra day on top of the 4 that we will get tomorrow to start fixing stuff. Talking of which it was time to attack the first thing, the jib and furler. Down came the jib and was laid along the side of the deck so that Gerry could grease and check the top of the furler and at the same time he asked if I could stitch part of the sacrificial edge of the sail which was beginning to unravel. Out came the sail mending sewing box with needles the size of large nail, thread as thick as knitting wool but much stronger and waxed, pliers, a sailmaker's palm and a whole lot of attitude. It was a job I really didn't want to have to tackle, it's a sail loft repair job as far as I'm concerned as the whole sacrificial needs replacing and some overstitching on the sails need to be done but there is no loft here so it was down to me. I spent the entire afternoon grunting and groaning as I stabbed the needle, pushed and tugged the damn thing through the layers of canvas and sail to effect a repair. I only stabbed the needle in myself 4 times and none of them through the eyeball so that was all good. My fingers at the end of the session were stiff and numb, it hasn't helped the arthritis one bit! Meanwhile instead of doing what he had planned and working on the furler, Gerry jumped in the water and did a scrub of the water line to try and get rid of our garden and its inhabitants, with some success. Our anti fouling has done a good job but the little buggers have clung to just above the water line and needed scrapping off. Gerry says that our prop looks in good shape which is a relief after 29 days at sea. By 5 pm we were both pooped and retired to the cockpit for a cold drink, not even alcohol at this point. We were too tired to even consider dinner but I threw a rib roast into the oven and did up some vegetables because we needed to eat something. The meat really didn't have long or slow enough cooking but it was edible and washed down with enough wine that we didn't care anyway. Shortly afterwards it was time for a shower and bed. Tomorrow we will be trying to check in once again and looking at more of the fixing stuff, I'm just not too sure when the rest bit is going to come into effect but I hope it's soon.