15 May 2012 | Hugh with our adopted pups
Nuku Hiva is recently most famous as the site of suspected cannabalism where German sailor Stefan Ramin was feared to have been eaten by locals last October, he wasn't but the Marquesas Islands were reputedly the last stronghold of cannabalism in French Polynesia. We're not too concerned though, everyone we've met is very friendly.
Nuku Hiva is a fascinating place, though it rains most every hour, the water murky, full of sharks and the anchorages rolly. The Marquesas Islands are not protected by a fringing reef (hence the rolly anchorages) are mountainous and are covered in a very fertile soil, ashore you can find mango, paw paw, pamplemousse (similar to grapefruit), coconut, limes, lemons, passion fruit, breadfruit, bananas and others all growing along the dirt trails between villages. Hibiscus grow everywhere too making it all very pretty. The locals are very friendly, will smile and wave from their houses is they see tourists, then offer directions or fruits for sale (or just give you fruit). Yesterday we did a 4 hour hike from Daniels Bay to a waterfall and returned with a coconut, 4 pamplemousse, 2 passionfruit an orange and a mango all from the local gardens.
We're also enjoying catching up with all the other cruising yachts, Nuku Hiva is a popular gathering place for yachts entering French Polynesia and recuperating from their pacific crossings. In Taiohae Bay there are about 30 yachts and no less that 10 would be Aussies. We had a flash dinner one nigh at a hotel overlooking the bay with about 7 other crews and a couple days later we met the remaining yachts at an early morning fresh produce market. The market which started at 4am was good though you realise your priorities are not what they once were when fresh veggies justifies taking the dinghy ashore before sunrise! Fresh french pastries and coffee helped somewhat. Following the market we visited the fish market where we bought some crayfish. We didn't buy any fish but they had huge red snapper and yellow fin tuna cut into steaks on request. You don't want to stand to close while they do this, Mike and I both got splattered with tuna blood. It looked like most of the fish though was being bought in commercial quanities by local restaurants. The fishermen were tossing the entrails into the water and a couple times we saw big splashes from some bull noise sharks.
With all this rain and murky water though we're starting to look forward to the clear waters and white sand of the Tuamotu Archipelago (our next stop). We are waiting for a replacement depth sounder to arrive by post (it stopped working around the Galapagos) and hopefully it'll be here soon. Once again the wind is looking light for the 500NM passage to Tuamotu's, we'll stay a few more days in the hope of better wind and our package arriving.
PS: We are also pleased to have eradicated a rather obnoxious and mysterious smell in the cockpit, it turned out to be a wayward flying fish hidden in the cavity our ropes run under-deck. While at sea we often find dead flying fish or baby squid having committed suicide on our decks overnight, it's normally the job of whoever is on first watch to clean them away but we missed this poor guy yuk!