A disappointing discovery, the jerry can shuffle, north to Anaho Bay
19 May 2016 | Hakaehu Bay, Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
After a week enjoying Daniel's Bay, we returned to Taiohae Bay. Our new radar was supposed to be arriving within days, and we also needed to buy some groceries and replenish SCOOTS' fuel tanks with some duty-free Polynesian diesel. Upon arriving, we learned that one portion of our radar order had been back ordered and the new expected arrival date in Taiohae was May 24. Shucks.
Yachts in transit, like SCOOTS, are eligible to buy diesel tax-free at the fuel docks in French Polynesia. This is a great thing, as it reduces the price per liter from 134 francs (approx $1.34 US) to 64 francs (you can do the math). As there are 3.78 liters in a gallon, this amounts to about $2.42 US per gallon of diesel. Quite a deal, especially when we've been used to paying almost $5 US per gallon of diesel in Mexico. Finally, something that's cheaper in French Polynesia than in Mexico!
But there's a little catch, and that's the fuel dock. The dock at Taiohae is a high concrete wall more suited to servicing supply ships, than to filling up sailboats. Immovable by nature, in contrast to sailboats, which are in constant motion by nature, the juxtaposition of the two is a dicey proposition. To get fuel directly from the fuel dock hose, a boat has to do what's called Med-mooring (as in Mediterranean, where apparently this sort of mooring is popular), which is to drop the anchor off the bow, then back up toward the concrete wall until the stern gets close enough for the hose to reach - maybe ten or twenty feet away - then throw lines to the workers who will tie your boat to cleats on the wall. Remember that you will be doing all this in rolly swells.
We and many of our cruising friends opted instead to leave our boats in the anchorage and fill our diesel tanks by shuttling 5 gallon jerry cans multiple times between the fuel dock and our boats. Though more labor intensive than the direct approach, it lessened the probability of an unhappy meeting between dock and boat to zero, and it certainly lessened the associated stress. For the task, our friends on s/v Impulsive, Morris and Debbie, were kind enough to lend us not only their eight jerry cans, but also Morris. For the next couple of hours, Eric and Morris loaded the dinghy with jerry cans, dinghied to the fuel dock, lifted the cans onto the dock, filled the cans, lowered them down to the dinghy, shuttled them back to the boats, lifted them onto the deck, emptied one can at a time into the tank, then repeated the process until both SCOOTS and Impulsive's tanks were full. As SCOOTS required more than 80 gallons, you can see why this took awhile. One upside of this procedure is that it allowed us to do a detailed calibration of our fuel gauge.
Since it would be ten more days before our radar would arrive in Taiohae, we decided to do a slow circumnavigation of Nuku Hiva, visiting its other anchorages, while we waited.
The first stop was Anaho Bay 08 49.3'S, 140 03.8'W, on the north shore of Nuku Hiva. One of Anaho's claims to fame is the presence of a rather extensive coral reef, a rarity in the Marquesas, which are rocky, volcanic islands. After a motorsail through sloppy waves around the southeast corner of Nuku Hiva, up the eastern shore, and around the northwest point, we were happy to arrive in Anaho's calm water. Described by one cruising guide as "the finest anchorage in French Polynesia," Anaho Bay is yet another gorgeous palm-tree fringed, white-sand-beach rimmed jewel. I'm unable to post pictures of Anaho Bay at the moment, but if you take a look at the Daniel's Bay photos, you'll be pretty close.
Though this same cruising guide recommends anchoring in the nook formed behind a little point, in 12 to 20 feet of sand and coral - "don't worry, you'll get used to hearing your anchor chain grind on the coral heads" - this area is now off-limits to anchoring, in the hope of giving the damaged coral an opportunity to revitalize. I guess too many people got used to hearing their anchor chains grinding on the coral heads. We anchored in sand, further out in the bay, where our anchor chain didn't make any noise at all.