Saturday, May 30, 2015

Makemo

The water here inside the lagoon at Makemo is so clear. We are anchored in 40-50 feet and can see the bottom!

We had a wonderful time in the village when we arrived. We placed a pastry order at the bakery and the next morning Malcolm went to collect croissants, pain chocolate, apple turnovers, twisted pain chocolate and baguettes. Not all for us! We took orders for the other boats, too!

We thought about going back for cheese as the stores here are surprisingly well stocked. After "breakfast" we couldn't move our pastry-filled bellies to go back into town to buy anything. Instead it was a good reading day.

The next day we motored 15 miles through part of the lagoon. Most of it is 40 to 60 feet deep, but there are coral heads scattered around. Malcolm hung out at the bow keeping watch. You need to look for the colour change and perhaps a funny wave pattern. We did just fine, although we had been quite nervous. We arrived at a much quieter anchorage. No town, just a lovely beach and 5 other boats.

The following morning we explored the beach and took a classic "Tropical beach" photo. We still don't have Internet access so we are doing the "blog update via email". Hopefully the photo looks good.

Our friends on Belle Epoque suggested a pot luck dinner on the beach for all the boats in the anchorage. In addition to some good food, good company and a little bonfire, we got to see lots of sargeant crabs (like large hermit crabs) on the beach and one little rat.

We knew the wind was still good so we made plans to sail to Tahanea. Perhaps we will catch up to Chuck and Laurie on Free Spirit.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Arrival in the Tuamotus

We had a great 3 1/2 day passage to the Tuamotus. The wind was a steady 20 knots on the beam. Swells were high at times, but far enough apart to make it fine. The wind dropped to 15 knots on the last day but we were still dumping wind to slow down and not arrive before sunrise.

The Tuamotus are all atolls, which are low lying ring shaped islands. Many of them have entrance channels to the interior lagoon where people can anchor and explore. Our tide information indicated slack tide was about an hour after sunrise which is when we got to the entrance. As our friends Jennifer and Campbell explained, the current in these channels is usually based on the wind and the tidal effects are negligible. It seems that the wind pushed water over the low lying portions of these atolls (sometimes basically at water level) and fills them up like a big bucket. If there has been much wind in the past few days the channels all have outbound currents. Sometimes a lot of current.

We got into the lagoon at Makemo, our first stop in the Tuamotus, but it was a bit of work. We had quite a good current going against us and lots of turbulence as the water squeezed through the channel. We weren't worried about hitting anything as the channel is 300 feet wide and 60 feet deep. The issue was whether or not our engine had enough horsepower to fight the current and whether or not we could keep the bow pointed the right way. It took a while, and we ran the engine hard for about 20 minutes, but that got us through the 1/2 mile channel and off to the nice anchorage.

Now that we are anchored we can do a better investigation as to that smell. We finally found two jars of chopped garlic in the bilge that suddenly started leaking yesterday. The jars are not broken and the lids are tight but the plastic around them is oily and OMG does the boat reek of garlic! Good as Garlic!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Nuka Hiva - Marquesas

We left Ua Pou and sailed north for 5 hours to Nuka Hiva. We stopped in the main town of Taiohae and were shocked to count well over 40 sailboats at anchor! Taiohae is the administrative centre of the Marquesa Islands and it has the feel of a "city". The atmosphere was a little less welcoming. People seemed a bit less friendly or maybe just busier.

The town seemed to be alive between 4 and 7 am, or so we were told. We know that by 9 am the bakeries were closed for the day and the fruit and vegetable market had minimal items. We did get up early one morning and, with coffee in our travel mugs, dinghied to shore. We didn't go to shop but to see the shark feeding frenzy we had heard about from our early-riser friends. The fishermen return early in the morning and clean the huge fish they catch right at the dinghy dock. They pitch the heads and entrails into the water, right next to the dinghies, and the black-tip sharks go wild. We tied Tubby to the breakwater wall and climbed up rather than risky slipping on the dinghy dock ladder!

We left Taiohae Bay and motored west about 5 nautical miles to Hakatea Bay, or it is also known as Daniel's Bay. The waves pushed us through the narrow entrance into the gorgeous and tranquil bay. The bay is surrounded by vibrant green mountains, white sand beach and stunning and immense steep cliffs. As the sun moves across the sky, the crevices, cliffs and peaks around the bay changed colour and depth.

We took Tubby to the western beach and made a successful landing at the mouth of the river at low tide. Once over the sandbar, we drove Tubby up river a bit and tied him to a palm tree. We walked along a path passing a few homes, gardens and horses. As the path wound into the Hakaui canyon, we crossed small rivers and passed by ancient, overgrown stone ceremonial sites. From the path we caught glimpses, and heard, the 610 metre waterfall. Once at the base, we swam in the small pool where the water was roaring down. The downdraft and spray from the force of the water was impressive!

From Daniel's Bay, we motored almost 10 nautical miles west, past Taiohae, to Controleur's Bay, on the south east corner of the island. This is a very deep and calm bay. The local town, Taipivai, is small and friendly. The locals told us it wasn't worth the hike to the two local waterfalls as they both now have hydroelectric turbines. Instead, they pointed us to a hike to an ancient ceremonial site with well preserved stone tikis. The next day we hitched a ride up over the mountain north across the island to Hatiheu Bay. Another beautiful tropical beach surrounded by palm trees and lush mountains. On the return, we hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck. The views were stunning!

We started checking the weather to sail to the Tuamotus, but there was very little wind. There was also no gasoline in Taiohae and we wanted to top up Tubby's tank and jerry can. We decided to wait in Anaho Bay on the north east coast of the island. We had a lovely beam-reach sail up the east coast and right around and into the bay.

There were 8 sailboats from the Pacific Puddle Jump anchored in the bay. They were having a floating appetizer potluck with their dinghies all tied together as we anchored, then re-anchored, then tried anchoring in a different spot, then it was dark when we finally settled on the other side of the bay! The next evening, we had everyone, 18 people, over for red wine on Good as Gold. It was a great way to meet some of the people we will be seeing in anchorages across the South Pacific. Plus it was nice to put faces and names to some of the boats we had been hearing on the nightly radio net during our Pacific crossing.

Once back in Taiohae Bay, there was good wind predicted for the 3-4 day sail to the Tuamotu Island group so we provisioned, topped up our diesel and gasoline and set sail for another passage.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ua Pou

We sailed to the small island of Ua Poa that lies to the north west of Tahuata and south south west of Nuka Hiva. The island has beautiful volcanic spires and dramatic mountains. We anchored in the small harbour of Hakahau and enjoyed the lovely town with its well kept buildings and the houses with gardens full of fruit and flowers.

We met Xavier, a Frenchman who has lived in the Marquesas for 14-15 years. As a way to meet people, Xavier offered "island tours" to cruisers. With Lauri and Chuck from Free Spirit, we piled into Xavier's old SUV and drove through the mountains, across small rivers, down into valleys and to coves and beaches. We drove south 2/3rds along the east side of the island, as far as the road went, to the village of Hohoi. Then we turned west and went up and over the centre spine of the island. We were able to hike up along a ridge near one of the volcanic spires for excellent views of both the west and east sides of the island. We had a picnic lunch at the bay in the village of Hakatao on the southwest of the island.

Everyone in Ua Pou was waiting for the French Polynesia cruise ship Aranui to arrive. The ship not only brings about 120 tourists to the island but it also brings much needed supplies - food, construction material, fuel, etc. The day the cruise ship arrived, the market was overflowing with artisans and there was music and dancing. Most importantly, that afternoon the grocery stores were full! We fully provisioned with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, even frozen beef bourguignon from France.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Photos from the Marquesas

We are at a cafe in Tiaohae, on Nuka Hiva, with mediocre Internet access.  That means we can finally post some photos that we've taken since leaving Mexico.

This is what a squall looks like.  It's a safe distance behind us.

Crowded anchorage in Hiva Oa.

Dina trying out the outdoor shower.

Black sand beach on Hiva Oa.
Locals cooling their horses off in the water.
This horse loved the water.


Local refreshments!

Colourful outrigger canoes.

Mountain spires on Ua Poa

Church on Ua Poa.
More mountain spires on Ua Poa

Church on Hapatoni.

Main street - Hapatoni.

Tiki with lichen

Round eyes - typical Marquesian tiki

Modern Tiki - Mother and Child

Tikis at archaeological site.

More tikis at archaeological site.

Marquesian dancers.

Marquesian Dancer

Marquesian Dancer.

Marquesian girl looking at Mom.

Marquesian guitar players.

Marquesian Lady

600 meter waterfall

Malcolm - selfie at base of waterfall.

Malcolm, Dina and Marcus swimming in the pool at base of waterfall

Big wasp on rim on glass.

Yellow-green bird on Banana Tree

Tropical rain, while we're anchored near Hapatoni