Hiva Oa, Marquesas
20 April 2010 | Atuona
We have arrived in the Marquesas, at Hiva Oa after 22 days at sea.
As day dawned on our last day, we could see the island in the distance, and as we got closer it became more and more spectacular. Steep sided, jagged ridges and cliffs and lush, verdant valleys.
We spoke with Serenity who was just rounding a headland as we passed. They told us the anchorage at Atuona was crowded and they weren't wrong.
All the yachts have to be behind a certain line across the basin to leave room for the weekly arrival of a cargo vessel, which makes for limited space. All the yachts also lay out stern anchors to help keep the boats head to the swell that comes in, but this makes also for more obstructions in the anchoring area. We spent about an hour trying to find a spot, laying out the bow anchor, stern anchor, finding we were too close to other boats, pulling it all in again and starting the process all over again. It could have been quite irritating but we stayed calm and took our time. Isabelle eventually spotted a nice little corner next to the dinghy landing area where we were just able to squeeze in, snug and secure. Finally we were able to relax with boat tidied away.
It was strange to have the boat so still and silent after 22 days of movement and the inevitable boat noises...the water swishing by, waves slapping the boat, halyards tapping the mast, creaks and groans.
We were both rather awed by our surroundings. We hadn't expected such scenery. A precipitous volcanic ridge circles right around this end of the island, rising quickly behind the village to just over 3000 feet.
We made an exploratory trip into the village later in the afternoon and found many familiar items such as Cadbury's and Arnott's (Tim Tams !!) and also a delicious selection of French cheeses. We had heard much talk about high prices in French Polynesia but we found many of the prices to be fairly reaqsonable, in some cases even cheaper than Australia -baguettes for instance! Alas there were no baguettes left. It seems you can live fairly cheaply here if you eat simply and as the locals do. Eating out however is another story.. We saw Peter from Yanada, another Australian boat, whom we had met in the Galapagos. He told us that he and his crew, Max had eaten out the night before. Two cheeseburgers and eight beers for $70! Peter then kindly invited us to dinner on their boat. It was very welcome to have a nice meal cooked for us and share stories about the crossing.
I was quite weary after having been up since midnight on night shift, and once we got back to the boat, i lay down. Can't even remember my head hitting the pillow. I was completely out to it. It was one of the best sleeps ever!
Refreshed next morning, i walked into the village while Isabelle snoozed and bought some fresh baguettes. It's about three kilometres into town, or at least feels that way, especially once the sun gets higher. It was Sunday and I passed a local woman, all dressed in white with a red hibiscus flower in her hair, on her way to church. Once back at the boat, Isabelle and i were in heaven, eating our fresh baguettes with plenty of butter, cheese or apricot jam.
It certainly felt like we were in paradise!