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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daniel's Bay and then back to Taiohae

Nuku Hiva
Day 29-32

What we planned to be the perfect ending to our cruising in the Marquesas went south – like, not in wind terms. Hotspur heard a Mayday call on the VHF, we experienced some serious equipment failure and wet, muddy weather threw a wrench in our plans. We anchored in Daniel's Bay, a picturesque and stunning anchorage, to hike the 3rd largest waterfall in the world. It never happened.

While on passage to Daniel's Bay, Jim answered a Mayday call from a woman requesting an "SOS! We need help!" No one responded that we could hear. Jim tried again, requesting nature of the emergency and location. No response. Then a man came on the radio and requested a "Mayday" and then either began a dialogue in French or there was someone answering him in French- we couldn't decipher. Jim tried answering again. But since no one could hear our calls to intercept we got off the radio, fearing that we might be stepping on responses we couldn't hear.

We headed to our destination and while we were anchoring, I noticed the display on our Raymarine C80 freeze up and the depth sounder reading disappear completely. Jim fiddled with it, took it apart, Voltmeter readings, Jim read all the manuals... nothing. No amount of babying would coax it back to life. This was very troubling to us – after Daniel's Bay we were jumping to the Tuamotus... atolls, reefs, coral heads. Jim smartly has the electronic charts downloaded on his Android so we have GPS back-up. But no radar (no way to anticipate boats or upcoming squalls in the dark) and no depth reading. And we just heard about dear, sweet John Berg on sv Seaquell running up on a reef in Hawaii after his electronics went caput. We do have a leadline on board, but it's not the same.

Hiking the waterfall was on Jim's bucket list and he was eager. But the hike would have been like mud wrestling the mountainside – it rained hard every night. We did manage to jerry can fresh spring water up the river. But, we took the dinghy in at low tide... and broke the sheer pin on the propeller. So when returning, Jim and I navigated the surf and took turns paddling with our one oar (the other oar lept off the boat somewhere and escaped) until Jeff on sv Rockstar spotted us and gave us a tow in the rest of the way.

After much deliberation and discussion with friends what our options were (because we really, really didn't want to turn around and go back to Taiohae), we turned around and made a very choppy motor ride back to Taihoe to investigate ordering parts and having them shipped to us. Long story short and for a variety of reasons too mundane to list, we plan to go ahead without the depth gauge and radar until we get to Tahiti and try to resolve our issues there. This limits our excursions to the larger, open bays only in the Tuamotus. No secret anchorages; no toodling around. It is simply too risky without radar at night and knowing our depth.

Carolyne was not too unhappy to return to Taiohae. She and her friends re-connected and she has mulitple invites to visit them in Tasmania, New Zealand and France.

As for the Mayday call, I learned from a French speaking cruising friend that someone fell in the water after some festivities in the bay at Taiohae around 2pm Sunday afternoon. Apparently an abulance was called... something about alcohol being involved. It is unclear whether the man fell off the docks or off a boat anchored in the bay. But no one died and Hotspur has a clear conscience.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Taiohae, Nuku Hiva Day 24-28

We were boarded by the French navy. Unlike other cruisers we know who were searched (and were found to have had some things they neglected to mention to the authorities... like 6 or 7 bottles of rum... Oopsie!!... “forgotten” in a sock drawer), we were not searched. They asked us a few questions: How much alcohol did we bring on board? Do we have drugs or guns? Do we have any black pearls? Do we have any animals or plants? Cigarettes? They wanted to see our flare guns and recorded the number of flares we had. They were polite, official and then they left.

Spicy red peppers grow wild and are cultivated
Jim is antsy to get going... the 90 day Visa thing – tick-tock-tick-tock... and he wants to see more of French Polynesia.
Carolyne is eager to get her school work done every day so that she can hook up with her cruising friends collected here. She is in no hurry to leave Nuku Hiva.
I am blissful as can be... I could stay or I could go. I get up early to visit the fishermen and see their daily catch and watch them feed fish heads to the sharks. I take in the panoramic view. I skip off to the stores before the other cruisers so I can buy fresh baked baguettes before they're gone. I use the internet. I take in the panoramic view. I read a good novel after lunch. I do a boat chore or 2. I take in the panoramic view. And I take a 1-2 hour nap in the late afternoon.
Marquesan Tattoos

A local woman going to church
The Taiohae anchorage is by far the most uncomfortable anchorage we have experienced in the Marquesas. The bay is wide open and so the swell rolls in. It can also be gusty and there are currents that mimic the La Paz Waltz. I think it would be best if cruisers followed the advice in Charlie's Charts and bow and stern anchored. When we arrived, however, only one boat had a stern anchor. Whether they were there first or not I don't know, but the rule of thumb is that you do as everyone else when you arrive. It just doesn't work to have some boats swinging and others not. And it annoys me to no end to find a good spot to drop the hook, back down on the anchor and THEN discover that the boat on the port side has a stern anchor... and no one else does. All you can do is hiss at the offender and find another spot.
Veg & fruit market
Market Day in Nuku Hiva is on Wednesday and Saturday. Fresh supplies of veggies and fruits are brought into town and quickly sold. I was advised to get there early... before 6am. The produce is fresh, a bit pricey and there is not a lot of it – but what is there is beautiful! Everyone waits in line (cruisers and local people) – first come, first serve style. You go in one family at a time and buy your goods. Carolyne and I came out with a small bag of tomatoes, a small bag of sweet potatoes, green beans, 3 cucumbers, a large white radish and a small head of cabbage for $20. And the flavors of the fruit and veg are out of this world – definitly worth the money and the wait in line in my opinion. Eggs are a mystery – especially with all the chickens running around. Almost none of the cruisers have been able to buy eggs – not even pre-order. The cruisers that did manage to beg, borrow or steal eggs said they were very, very small – and at the price they paid for a dozen, probably not worth it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva... Day 21-23

Rain, rain and more rain. A day inside to watch movies and read, discover more leaks and make clam chowder. A wonderful time and place to finish up the Herman Melville novel “Typee”, where Melville recounts his adventures after jumping a whaling ship in 1842... exactly here.
Carolyne... standing a little too close

Global cruising kids
France, Australia, US & New Zealand
Swimming and playing in Daniel's Bay 
 We were approached by a Frenchman named Oliver on a catamaran with 3 daughters our first day here who invited us to accompany them to Taioa Bay (or Daniel's Bay) sometime over the weekend. Lovely family! Jim stayed behind to do some internet and chores (and to have some peace and quiet, I suspect). A couple of Australian teens also joined us for the trip, just an hour away from Taiohae.

The kids had a blast, swimming and hiking and playing on the beach. Oliver and his wife Dania dinghied to fetch fresh water from the little village inside the riverlet while the kids and I hiked around the cliffs to meet them at the river. The ground was soggy from the rain the day before and I was covered head to toe in my long clothing to protect my skin from sun and insects. And when we reached the river the kids swam across in their swimsuits while I tried to locate a shallow spot to walk across. It was unfortunately rising tide and there seemed to be no shallow spots left. But, I was told I just had to see the beautiful village. So I rolled up my pants and got soaked up to the waist anyway.

There are only a few inhabitants here in this hamlet, but what beautiful surroundings! We didn't have time to hike up to the waterfall – the 3rd largest in the world - it was getting late. As the kids and I meandered through the fruit trees we were suddenly greeted by a splendidly savage looking man resembling descriptions of the Polynesian natives in Melville's novel. He was so beautifully fabulous that I had to have a photo of him. Mia, Carolyne's new French friend, interpreted for me and the Marquesan agreed --- only if I was in the photo with him. Looking quite sweaty from our hike and still sopping in my drenched clothing I tossed vanity to the wind. He sported brilliant tattoos on his head, face, arms... and a cannibalistic design ran from his chest to his navel. He had a bone earbob in his left lobe and his head was shaved on both sides. He was glorious! And he could ham it up!

I promised him a photo – a promise I plan to keep... once I can find someone with a color printer.

We will sail Hotspur back to this spot in a day or so – Jim just has to see this place and hopefully my new friend is still around.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hakahau, Ua Poa & Nuku Hiva Day 20 & 21

Carolyne during passage
Bushy and tired

Generator with broken pulley yanker

Leaving Mexico
Finally – some photos - and finally, some internet!!

Hotspur has a large, wide deck. Many responses from those people who come aboard the first time is, “Look at this dance floor!” or “It's a ballroom!” The Tartan TOCK does feel very roomy and I had no problem getting our jib on deck and sewing the UV Sunbrella panel on... as well as restitching (4) seams I opened and then reduced to hopefully get rid of that awful flutter at the head (adjusting the puckerstring didn't work). But it was a 2-day job and my back was killing me from sewing on a flat plane, using my thigh to press the foot pedal, hunched over for hours on end. (Nothing a little Cat-Cow won't cure!)
Doug off sv Anitra with his pamplemousse

Carolyne sitting in the ancient groom's seat where the men awaited
their tattoos at the ruin site at Hiva Oa

Jean, our Marquesan tour guide

Standing among the ancient ruins

Our Read's Sailmaker machine works beautifully with the inverter. It doesn't have a walking foot, which is a bummer, but I easily sewed through several layers of Sunbrella. I also had to do some hand work at the clew. Sadly, I thought our UV cover on the headsail was in better shape before we left – and it probably was. The 23 day trip across really took a toll on the material. I just hope it will last another year. I used the last of the blue Sunbrella I had on board to replace that panel.
A fading petroglyph in Atuona

Incredible view

Jim capturing the Smiling Tiki
Tappa cloth

Rosewood Christ

Atuona, Hiva Oa 

During the night a French boat next to us chafed through their stern anchor line. Luckily, they didn't hit us – we were anchored fairly close to one another. I'm sure they woke up wondering why the were rolling about in the incoming swell. Smartly, they have 2 extra stern anchors on board and were able to move and re-anchor. As we left the bay, Bernard was diving in the cloudy water- trying to recover the stern anchor that broke free. Very important in French Polynesia to have back-up anchors!
During passage after a squall

Land Ho!

Smiling Tiki up close

That would be me - covered head to toe
We headed to the island of Nuku Hiva on a lovely beam reach. Everyone, even Jim who never gets sea sick, felt “off”... large 8' swells every 8 seconds on the starboard side... but the sailing was lovely all the same. And we tested my jib adjustments... Success! – No more flutter! There was nothing more irritating than the thought that I might have to do that again.

Beautiful Island Girl!


Pamplemousse and Banana

Island of Ua Pou

Sail repairs - covered head to toe

Our farewell Mexico photo