Marquesas & Tuamotos
13 May 2013
NOTE: The rainbow above was taken about 15 minutes after we dropped the hook in Fatu Hiva, Marquesas. This was our first stop after the crossing and was a dramatic welcome to the Marquesas!
We arrived in calm blue waters of Rangiroa last week and have spent a quiet week enjoying the great views and good weather. This is the first true "restful" anchorage with great protection from all directions and flat calm water.
Our 600+ mile passage from the Marquesas was very eventful with 50 Knot winds and 3.5 days of endless squalls. It finally lifted upon our entry into the atolls pass. The Tuamotos are low lying atolls and can be hard to identify from sea, coral reef and dangerous passes in bad weather can be difficult. Rangiroa is on the direct route to Papeete and therefore we decided to check out this spot first. The more time we are spending here, the slower and more enjoyable things are becoming! It has been the best snorkeling we have seen yet. We finally feel like we have reached the South Pacific. French Polynesia has changed our allowance in country from 3 months to 6 months. This couldn't make us more happy because we wanted to spend at least a couple months just in Bora Bora and the Leewards alone. Once we get to Papeete, (Tahiti), and if we like what we see we will extend our visa for the additional 3 months. This is all pending on if we can find adequate storage for Maestro come October/November Cyclone season. Fiji is a good option for storage as well so we will have to make our decision in the next week or so.
The Marquesas Islands were a lot of fun. High peaks meeting the deep ocean. Lots of tropical rain. The culture was a bit dissapointing as the French have seemingly wiped out their customs of the past. I am having a hard time with the hospitality here - assuming it is all over French Polynesia. They are not very welcoming at all? There is a resurgence to bring back the Marquesean tranditions which is creating some hostility. You can feel it everywhere. We are reading Herman Melville's "Typee" which is a true account of how the writer abandoned his whaling ship in 1842 and lived with the "cannibals". This is an amazing insight of how the natives actually lived - of course, not savages at all. The missionary groups and French, in my opinion, have done many crimes to these peaceful people - the world is an unfair place. It was not so long ago, that we would hear stories of sailors being greated by the warm hospitality of the Marquesan people. (15-25 years ago) Gifts of flowers and fruit traded for boat food stores - today you will find that you will pay dearly for fruit! Again, in my opinion, there is very little left of the authentic culture. We went to Sunday Catholic mass which is mixed with native drum and polynesian guitar. The polynesians do like to sing and harmonize very well. It was another interesting expirience to see the transformation these people have endured.
I cant be more impressed with the sailors we have been meeting? It has been a long time since we have come across any old school sailors and there are a lot of them out here. The kind that inspire you never to complain about anything, ever again! They travel great distances with small boats & seemingly little effort? Many circumnavigators on their way back to the states and quite a few boats heading to sell in Austrailia and New Zealand. But there are also lots of new cruising sailors making the crossing which is great as well. It is wonderful to learn something from everyone we meet.