18 August 2022
Last week we left Tahuata, headed for Ua Huka, 55 miles away. We stopped at Hanamenu Bay on the north side of Hiva Oa to shorten the trip a bit. While the water was a bit muddy, the surrounding hills made us feel like we were back in Baja. Dry, volcanic rock with a few scattered dry bushes. The next morning we left for Ua Huka with a forecast of 20 knots just behind the beam. After a couple of morning squalls where we saw 35 knots the winds settled into a steady 25 to 30 knots. We fell off a bit for comfort and headed for Nuku Hiva instead. After a sporty sail averaging 8 knots and dipping into double digits we arrived at Controller Bay on the southeast side of the island in time for happy hour.Â
In the morning we took the dinghy up the river a bit and walked to the village of Taipivai, the Typee that Herman Melville wrote about. There we asked around until we found the trail to Tiki Paeke, a holy site in the mountains where thousands would gather for rituals. It is all but forgotten now, mostly reclaimed by the forest, giving it an Indiana Jones vibe. We did find a couple of Maraes, the ceremonial platforms, with several tikis in attendance and a stone in the middle that looked to our eyes just like a chopping block. We stopped at a small market on the way back to pick up some eggs and they loaded us down with avocados on our way out.Â
We then moved to Taiohae bay where the main town is. Along with stocking up on provisions as best we could we stopped in at the Notre Dame catholic church on Sunday to hear the singing. It was standing room only so we spent the service outside on a stone bench with some locals but there was no rear wall so we were able to see and hear the service that was in Marquesan with lots of hymn singing. It was a beautiful morning and the singing was a treat and I was not struck by lightning, which is always a particular concern of mine whenever I am near a place of worship, so a win win all around.Â
Our next stop was Anse Hakatea on the southwest end of the island where 1600 foot mountains created the backdrop on the west side of the anchorage. We beached the dinghy and, after feeding the no see-ums for what seemed a reasonable amount of time and watching blacktip sharks cruising the surfline, we hiked a couple of miles up the valley to an overlook where we could see Vaipo waterfall, at 1150 feet high the tallest in Polynesia. It was pretty dry and the falls were more of a trickle, but the mountains were stunning with ridges, fins and spires covered in green velvet rising straight up from the valley floor with tropic birds circling in the canyon. The entire trail followed the ancient Marquesan roadway that is still mostly intact. Built of stone, 8 feet wide and raised above the ground it went straight up the valley, at times carved out of the hillside. On both sides were lots of pae pae or stone foundations where huts used to stand giving us some idea of the thousands of
who lived here before European contact. We even passed a marae with a tiki, bult around a banyan tree, which were considered sacred. We had paid a small entrance fee to one of the few residents remaining and he told us to stop by on our way back. We did so and, as we are now becoming accustomed to, loaded us up with more pamplemousse, star fruit and a huge stalk of bananas.Â
After a rough trip against the wind back to Taiohae we have been restocking at the vegetable market, getting some fuel, fixing broken stuff and so on. We also found time to bottle our latest batch of beer that we have dubbed Typee A. We stopped by the tourist office and met Collette, a local Marquesan from Taipivai. We had her out to the boat for lunch and had a nice visit, learning about the island and such. It was particularly nice as she had lived in Hawaii for 11 years and speaks fluent English. As we speak no Marquesan and only enough French to buy eggs it was the first time we had any real interaction with a local.
You've got mail
13 August 2022
11 and a half weeks with out internet, thatâs how long itâs been since we last were online. On August 3rd we connected for the first time since leaving Valdivia on May 12th. The lack of internet has actually been a reprieve from the daily bombardment of ads, facebook requests and bad news. Except for the fact that weâve not been able to post pictures on the blog or google information we have questions about, itâs not been something terribly missed.
So when we finally did connect for 1 hour there were 500 emails waiting in each of our inboxes, mostly junk but also lots of news to catch up on, and a few hidden surprises but nothing serious. The highlight for us was going to our blog and reading all the thoughtful comments you all have been posting. Thank you so much for taking the time and participating with us by adding your thoughts. I do apologise for the gobbledy gook that shows up in the text of our posts. We knew that quotation marks, parentheses, and exclamation marks turned up wierd but I wasnât aware that apostrophies show up like a greek letter also.
Internet in the outer islands is virtually nonexisitant, even for the residents. Youâd have to get up at 2am, the stars have to be in alignment, and maybe then you could send off a picture or receive a large file but thatâs if you got lucky. Even now that we are on the main island of Nuka Hiva internet is limited to wifi in a resturant. Even our satellite connection is difficult and struggles because the anchorages are tucked deep inside canyons surrounded by steep 1,500- 3,500ft rock spires and mountain ranges. So it may be a while longer before we can post photos to accompany our posts.Â
Swimming with mantas
10 August 2022
Last night, after taking care of business in the big city of Atuona on Hiva Oa, we made the quick trip back to Hanamoenoe Bay on Tahuata Island, just south of Hiva Oa. We had been here before and were comfortable coming in at night and we anchored just outside of the other boats in a little bit deeper water to stay out of trouble. We were rewarded in the morning when a group of midsize manta rays, about 6 to 7 feet across, showed up and began feeding just behind our boat. We grabbed our masks and fins, one of us pausing long enough to put on a wetsuit against the bone chilling water, and jumped in. There must have been a lot of plankton in the water because we were immediately surrounded by anchovies whose jaws were working at top speed, gobbling up the invisible critters. Then the mantas appeared out of the blue, one, then two, then five, slowly flapping their wings with their head flaps funneling plankton into huge mouths. We were carefull not to approach them at first,
wanting to scare them off, but it became apparant that they couldnât care less and we became concerned about getting run over as they came close enough to touch. Looking down their gullets you realize that these things are mostly hollow, just a big tube with wings and when they were coming towards us you could look straight through from lips to sphincter. It may have been my imagination, but I thought I saw a tiny wink of light at the end of one.
Eventually they moved off but returned off and on during they day, then in the evening a couple treated us to an aerial display. Nobody knows why they jump. Some say itâs a mating thing or to dislodge parasites, but I suspect that sometimes it just feels good to be a fish and thatâs their way of letting the world to know it.
Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
08 August 2022
Almost every cruiser has experienced at least once the panic and sick feeling of looking off the back of the boat and seeing an empty space where there once was the dinghy. It was early morningÂ in Hanavave when we heard a shout from Erwen, our neighbor on S/V Vagabond, Our dingy is gone he hollered over in panic! We could feel his dispair. He had last seen the dinghy at 3:00 am and the wind had been blowing offshore towards the Tuamotus all night. Mike climbed up to the first spreader with binoculars and looked out to sea. After a few minutes, Mike called over to Erwin, I think I might see it, is it red? Yes, it is red, Erwin replied and immediately swam over to our boat to have a look himself. He agreed, with hope, that it could very well be the dinghy. As fast as they could the crew on Vagabond pulled anchor and headed in the direction of the red floating object about 2 miles offshore. As they got closer it became apparent that the object was not their dinghy, but a bu
Just then a fishing boat came arount the bend, towing a red dinghy! They had found it on itâs way out to sea and had been afraid that there had been sombody aboard and were as relieved as the crew of Vagabond to see it back home.Â Â
Two days later, after a beautiful, all day sail, we arrived in the crowed anchorage at Atuona. There were 16 boats in very tight quarters all swinging willy nilly around their anchore due to the flukey eddying winds.Â We only knew one boat there, Adam and Judy on S/V Vixen. We settled into the evening with dinner and a bit of TV.Â At appoximately 9:30 towards the end of our first show I spotted a flashlight blazing in through the back door and than all around the boat. Sensing something was up and not wanting to miss any action I poked my head outside and hear Rum Doxy, our dingy is gone! This time it was Vixenâs dinghy. We launched the dinghy and Mike went over and picked up Adam and went to look for the lost dinghy. Luckily, they quickly found it trapped behind a small breakwater. It was an easy rescue but nonetheless traumatic for those stranded on their boat. After retrieving the dinghy Adam mentioned that just the night before the same exact thing happened to S/V Sta
a Canadian boat we had met in Fatu Hiva. The next day another boat had itâs dinghy go walkabout in the bay.
There are any number of ways a dinghy can escape itâs attachment to a boat, a clip can pop open, an knot can come untied, a line can be chafed through etc., so we have learned the hard way just to always hoist it up on the davits.
Our Week in Hanavave
01 August 2022
We were so fortunate to spendÂ a week on Fatu Hiva. This outtermost island in the Marqueasan island group is known for the most dramatic in landscape, with itâs volcanic moai-looking spires, and razor edged ridges jutting out of palm covered hill sides, with a 5,000 foot mountian range providing the back drop. However, most cruisers miss it because, coming from the north as they do, it is a windward sail as the trades blow from the southeast.Â Fortunately for us, coming from the south as we were, it was, well, a windward sail as well as the trades had switched to the northeast, but it was well worth it.Â
The villiage of Hanavave is a quarter of the size of Rikitea, and barely visible from the anchorage as it is tucked beneath the trees and hidden behind volcanic narrows. There is absolutely no evidence of commercialism or tourism that we could see. There are no signs advertising stores or businesses as they are all part of peoples homes. The church, school and mayorâs office are the only public buildings. The locals we encountered at the concrete dock and along the main road greet us with a friendly bonjour and smile but alas that is about the extent of our limited French. We did have a couple of extended interactions. Once when we were approached by a man asking if we had any batteries to trade for fruit. We said yes then rowedÂ back to the boat and gathered a variety of different kinds not knowing exactly which ones he needed and what for. Mike returned to shore expectingÂ a quick exchange but was lead back to the mans house and learned that the batteries were for a hea
that was actually broken. Taking on the challenge, Mike offered to try and fix it and return it the next day at 10:00am. True to form, Mike-guiver fixed it and the next day the exchange was made with a few well chosen French words, hand gestures and lots of smiles.
Â We also were invited to a lunch put on by a local couple, Desire and Jaques, at their home for the cruisers in the anchorage. It was a traditional Marquesan Luau where locally hunted goat, pig and chicken are wrapped in banana leaves and placed in a pit over hot coals, covered with cloth tarps and more banana leaves then cooked for seven hours. In addition there was a variety of marinated fish in coconut, roasted bananas, baked breadfurit, rice with dried fruit, and salad from the garden. It was a delicious feast except for the bread fruit which tastes like wet cardboard no matter how you disguise it. Conversation with Jaques and Desire was in French through Isabel and Jeff who are from France, and in English between the German cruisers Adam and Judy and Mike and I. After lunchÂ and before naptime we had arts and crafts like in kindergaten, where Desire taught us how to weave palm serving platters, my souvenir from Fatu Hiva.
Getting off the boat was limited to a few trips into town and a couple of very steep hikes, with jaw dropping views which changed like a kaleidoscope as the rays of sunshine through the clouds spotlighted a different area. Snorkeling we found out wasnât such a good idea due to the number of sharks spotted hanging out around the rocky shores.Â Being anchored in Hanavave felt like being on the set of Jurassic Park and from Rum Doxy, anchored in the middle of the bay, we got the full sensurround experience, minus the dinosours which was a little disappointing, but with a little imaginationâ¦â¦
Welcome aboard RumDoxy
29 July 2022
Some of you who are reading our blog have never been aboard Rum Doxy and those of you who have itâs been a long time. So Iâll take you on a virtual tour.
But first a brief history. She was originally named Avalon, one of 3Â catamaran boats built in France by a designer named Coppelli in 1995. When Mike bought her in 2005Â sheâd been very neglected and pretty much abandoned in Phuket, Thailand. The intention was to do a few renovations, make some repairs and upgrade the navigation and electronics then weâd be off and sailing.Â 5 years later and all our money we had a totally redesigned boat, which Mike designed inspired by the famous, high performance, foreward cockpit Gunboats.Â When we finally launched and started sailing in 2010 she was basically brand new but an empty shell with two brand new motors, and a few old and worn out sails. There was no electricity, gas, plumbing or furniture. Instead we had buckets, a cooler, a camping stove, flashlights, a mattress on the floor, a compass, a portable GPS and hand radio. Over the next 3 years we built and installed all the basic necessities as we lived aboard and sailed a
South East Asia. By doing so we had a really good idea of where things should go and how things should be set up for safety, comfort and efficency. 12 years later and 42,000 nautical miles she has evolved and become our perfect boat and home even with all her little quirks, minor leaks and missing paint.Â
Now, welcome aboard and Iâll take you on the tour.
You can board from either stern and step down into our expansive aft cockpit. The entire area is coveredÂ with the cabin top which provides a cool place in the shade and a relatively dry place from the rain. There are storage bins on both the left and right side which also serve as seating platforms, but other than that the space is free of obstuction. There is plenty of room to hang a hammock, open the teak dining table, set up a construction table or rig up the big propane burner and 8 gallon kettle for brewing beer.Â
From the center of the cockpit you enter forward through the door into the main cabin.
Standing inside youâll notice the 360 degree view through full size tinted windows. This was my number one requirement if I was to go cruising. Itâs like living outside with the comfort and protection of being inside. The tinted windows give us complete privacy while also really cutting the heat and glare in the tropics.Â We have the views of a 5 star resort and the exotic feel of an open air bungalow on the water.
The other thing you will notice when you first walk into the main cabin is that you can walk straight through another door to a forward cockpit. This is the design Mike borrowed from the Gunboat. It is brilliant in itâs efficiency and safety in sail handling. All the sail handling is done from a deep well in the center of the boat right next to the helm which is located directly behind the cockpit inside the cabin where it is warm, dry and out of the wind. Unlike the majority of catamaran designs weâre not standing out in the elements while steering, or slipping and sliding on the decks in order to trim the sails. It gives us great peace of mind to know when one of us is down below sleeping the other isnât going over boardÂ while reefing the mainsail.
Looking around the cabin the galley and a 4 seater bar is on the aft port side and the navigation station, all the electronics, radioÂ and controls are on the forward port side with steps going down into the port hull in between. On the srarboard side lookng forward, where most catamarns have a settee that seats 6-8 we have a large, deep platform covering 6 large, easily accessable storage bins that is perfect base for my Japanese swivel recliner chair. In the aft starboard corner we haveÂ a day bed covering the refrigerator and freezer and on top of the daybed we have his and hers bean bag chairs where we spend most of our time, watchingÂ the world go by around us like a 360 degree movie theater.
You step down into the hulls on either side from the center of the main cabin. At the bottom of the steps on both sides there is a Dickinson diesal heater. These amazing little stoves kept us toasty, warm and dry while we were hunkered down in front of the glaciers in Chile. There are 60 gallon water tanks on both sides as well.Â The port hull is the master cabin with a seating/storage area, a library, shelves made of netting for clothes and the head. In the starboard hull there is the guest bunk, the brewery and Mikes workshop where he has every tool, scew or spare known to man.Â
Topside,Â Rum Doxyâs decks are flat and easy to walk around on with handholds where needed. There are 11 storage bins in the forward crossbeam and a large trampoline area between the hulls. On the cabin top there are 8 solar panels with still plenty of room for bean bag chairs or yoga mats.Â
The sails we use are a main which has 2 reef points, a small jib on a boom, a genny, a drifter and 2 spinnakers.
The 12 foot sailing dinghy lives in davits on the stern with SUPs and surfboards above and the 14 foot Hobie pedal kayak lives on the starboard deck.Â
So thatâs pretty much it in a nutshell, our floating island, our home and one way ticket to the next destination.