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.