Our fourth week here is at an end
17 July 2021 | 08 55.038'S:140 05.994'W, Nuku Hiva , Marquesas
08 55.038 S
140 05.994 W
Weather; wet, wet, wet. Wind blowing at gale force, waves very rolly
We are now permanent residents of Nuku Hiva as we have been here for 4 weeks, so much for a 4 day visa! It's a jolly good job that no one seems to care or check up on anyone, I'm pretty sure you could just sail in here, drop your anchor and never check in as there is no coast guard and the gendarmes never check-up to see who is here and who has left. Having said that at least we have clear consciences as we have done the right thing and gotten permission to stay, even if it did take far too many emails and much worrying on our part. We have come across a couple of boats that haven't bothered to check in for various reasons, mostly to do with the (refundable) bond that the French authorities want none EU passport holders to pay, which is around US$2000 per person. Funnily enough we weren't ever asked for the bond or a bond letter from an agent, we suspect it is because we had submitted our personal insurance documents with our original application to stop here and that covers us for repatriation to our home country but we really aren't certain, just glad that we didn't have to stump up the bond money.
There hasn't been too much happening in the past week which is why there has been a lull in blog entries, there just hasn't been much to write about.
The weather this last week has been horrible, we have had really gusty wind most days reaching up to 30 knots which is quite a bit considering we are in a bowl shaped harbour surrounded by high hillside on 3 sides and is only open at the entrance to the sea. Luckily the holding here seems to be really good, we haven't seen anything drag and believe me, it has been so gusty during the night time that we have got up to check that we haven't moved on more than one occasion. We have also had rain, rain and more rain which is good from the point of view that we haven't had to run the water maker every day, we have just collected the run off and funnelled it into the water tanks. The flip side to that is that the inside of the boat has been a bit humid and stuffy and we haven't wanted to go ashore as the dinghy ride in would see us looking like drowned rats from both the rain coming down and the sea water coming into the dinghy from the bumpy swell. Just getting into the dinghy has been a mission in itself on the couple of times that we have braved the weather and gone ashore - mostly to get away from the constant rolling of the boat, even Disney hasn't got a ride that throws you around as much as the swell that we have been seeing.
With most of our jobs done that can be done for the time being there has been very little to entertain ourselves with other than reading books and watching movies (again). Gerry has tried on a few occasions to find out why we are still having start up issues with the gen set and has systematically gone through every possible cause with no positive results. He continues to scratch his head over the sluggish start and is thinking of all sorts of things that might need replacing when we reach an exotic place that has a chandlery. His latest thinking is that we need to get our batteries checked along with the fuel injector and the glow plug - all of which can't be replaced here so there is no point in taking them out for the time being. The odd thing is that the main engine, which runs off of the same fuel line, starts first time every time - it is a frustrating boat thing I'm sure!
As I mentioned we have struggled ashore on a couple of the days, just to get away from the rolling. The dinghy ride has been rough each time but the real issue comes when you get to the dock and it's low tide and you have to climb up the ladder to get onto the dock - what could possibly go wrong? Then when you return to the boat there is the problem of trying to get back onboard a boat, via a flimsy ladder, that is going up and down like a lift from a dinghy that is going in the opposite direction to the boat - again what could possibly go wrong! then of course there is the fact that we usually have at least 2 bags with groceries or laundry in them to try and get on board as well, it would be comical to watch if it wasn't so damn difficult! So far we have managed to get ourselves and the bags back on board without any mishaps but I'm sure it's just a matter of time and one bad move away.
Both times when we have gone ashore we have tried to stay there for a good deal of the day which has meant having coffee and pastries before doing the shoreline walk to the shop and then having lunch on the way back. I was amused by another menu item this week, it said "Poulet roti" now knowing that it wasn't going to be the West Indian sort of roti that we know and love but the French translation of "ribs" and that Poulet is chicken, we speculated just how big these chicken ribs must be, of course we suspect that what you would actually be served was chicken wings but we weren't going to be caught out for a third time! Gerry did one deviation from our regular shopping tour and went in search of the hardware store, he invited me along but I declined as it was up a hill from the supermarket with a couple of twists and turns making the walk a further kilometre that I just didn't need to be doing. He found the place and managed to buy a couple of bits that he was chasing along with some more Muriatic acid (you can never have too much of that stuff!)before returning to the supermarket where we loaded up with essential supplies once again. It's very odd doing shopping here, there is no rhyme nor reason to what you will find in the store from one day to the next, if you see something that you might need in the next week you have to buy it there and then as it won't be available the next time you look! This week's buy of the week was broccoli and celery - the first and only time they have been in the shop since we have been here, I wasn't sure why it suddenly appeared as the supply ship hasn't been here this week so where did it come from? yes I bought some! We have been here so long now that the girl behind the counter in the cafe knows Gerry by name, how sad is that!
This week has seen the harbour almost completely empty out of boats that are just passing through, we think they are heading out to other French Polynesian islands whilst they can. The few of us remaining here are either locals or, like ourselves, waiting for parts to arrive from outer space. Our shroud was apparently lodged at the post office for delivery last Friday and was supposed to be coming via airmail, well as of yesterday (exactly one week later) it hasn't turned up yet and the post office guy said to try again on Monday! We have become somewhat resigned to the French way of being slow to get anything done, I think we will be lucky to get this darn shroud by next Friday! Even Gerry has given up fretting about it and just shrugs his shoulders and says it will get here when it arrives. The most frustrating thing is that we really can't take off without it and we have missed 2 weather windows whilst waiting, I guess it could be so much worse so we just have to enjoy paradise on the days when it's not blowing a gale and pouring with rain.
It's not as if we can do much in the way of cleaning the exterior of the boat whilst we wait, it's far too wet and the swell is much too rough to be getting in the water to scrub the hull or in the dinghy to try and reach the above water line bits that so badly need to be cleaned, they are just going to have to wait until we are back in a calm anchorage or a yard.
There was a celebration of sorts here on Wednesday as it was Bastille Day, the French version of Independence Day, and of course it was a public holiday. We asked the local source of all knowledge at the Yacht Services office what activities were planned and got a brief outline of things that might be going on, nothing definite. They had a parade at around 9am, it was very short and we could see it from the comfort of our cockpit, luckily the rain held off for that morning . We could hear some speeches being made from the shore but couldn't understand what was being said. There was a flea market being held outside the local hall which seemed to be mostly selling plants and home-made conserves and we are told that there was food and drinks along with some dancing and music later in the evening inside the hall. We never went ashore as the weather was too unpredictable for dinghy rides. We could hear the drums in the evening coming from the hall but they didn't seem to go on for too long, I'm sure we missed out on a good bit of entertainment but it just wasn't worth the hassle to get into the dock and back out again in the dark.
We are slowly getting through our stores on the boat and I've become an expert bread maker, I have even had a success with some spelt flour this week - something I was a bit reluctant to try as I had read a few reports of it being difficult to work with - it's not and it turned out delicious.
We have heard this week that Covid (Delta variant) has arrived in Nuku Hiva, we aren't sure how many cases there are currently but everyone and everywhere is being more conscientious about mask wearing and social distancing. Guess being stuck out in the harbour is going to be a good way to avoid getting it.
So really that's about all for the week, there isn't much to say when nothing is going on, says she who has just written 1800 words to say nothing! I'll probably leave it for another week before writing again unless something exceptional happens before then.