Hiva Oa & Tahuata
Day 9 & 10 & 11
The fuel dock in Atuona has a small boat ramp nearby so it is super easy to dinghy up and jerry can your jugs. The savings with the fuel papers the agents supplied us with was 60% - not bad at all! You can apply for the fuel papers without the agents, but for us we don't speak or understand French well and we are told the agents wrestle through the red tape quickly. Topping off and filling all our cans cost us $160 US.
(We motored out of Punta Mita, Mexico for several hours. We turned on the engine several times during our passage to charge the batteries before Jim re-wired the auto pilot. We motored slow for 40 hours through the ITCZ.)
While Jim fueled up, I went to locate Sandra and see about our fruit. I was stunned! The stalk of bananas was enormous. It must have held more than 50 bananas! The pamplemousses were large and there were 10 of them. The bag of limes must have held 40. And on top of it, she threw in 3 of the biggest avocados I have ever seen! The were the size of ostrich eggs!! We couldn't have been more thrilled.
We loaded our beautiful fruit aboard and waved good-bye to the precious island of Hiva Oa. Sailing slowly we rounded the point and stopped in a gorgeous little unmarked anchorage on the island of Tahuata. Coconut palms were painted thick along the horizon of the beach and the white sand glistened. We dropped anchor and a local man in a red kayak paddled out to greet us. His name was Tommy and he spoke a splatter of English. We met him up on the beach, he introduced us to his uncle and invited Jim to go spear fishing with them the following morning. He told us we were the first boat to stop there. We later realized why when the evening winds picked up and forced us out of the anchorage just before sunset. We had only one choice that late in the day - return to Atuona for the night – which we did. We were so sorry not to get to spend time with Tommy and his family.
The Secret Anchorage:
The next morning we attempted Tahuata again – and found another anchorage not listed in any of the cruising guides. It is a glorious little bight and the water is perfect – not as wide as Tommy's bay but there is better protection and a nice sandy bottom for secure anchoring. There are no local people here. We grabbed 2 coconuts laying on the beach and Jim took his machete and got the delicious meat out – after we drank the milk. We went snorkeling and saw an enormous sting ray – larger than any we have ever seen! I gasped under water when I laid eyes on him and involuntarily kicked backwards! When he viewed us his long skinny tail shot straight up as if he was warning us not to get any closer (he didn't have to worry because we weren't gonna!). There are loads of fish, remarkably some little colorful neon blue cuties that are very curious and swim just beneath us - a fingernail's length beyond our reach. We found large cowrie shells on the beach (the types they sell in stores) and some pretty black moon snails. There are gorgeous wild roosters and their hens running through the foliage and we spotted a very large coconut crab who, when he saw us, skittered away at amazing speed, squeezing his enormous thick body through a very small hole in the sand before he disappeared.
The anchorage is very narrow with reefs on either side and a smallish (but very strong) surf crashing onto the beach. Our dinghy landing was good; our departure not so good. Carolyne smartly paddled her surfboard back. Getting the dinghy launched in the surf is tricky business and Jim & I were premature - the dinghy was filled with water and mountains of sand, I toppled backwards (twice) and lost my orange floppy hat (Carolyne later dove and retrieved it) and Jim and I did a lot of screaming and yelling (Jim articulating angrily that I need to wait for his command – me loudly telling Jim that if he enunciated his words instead of whispering barely audible mumblings that I might have understood him better! Jim saying something about hearing aids – me saying something about not being a mind reader and communication going 2 ways... yadayadayada...) Anyway, we're pretty sure the island of Hiva Oa heard us an hour away. We made it back to the boat and apologized – then returned to the beach after lunch. Our dinghy landing and exit that time were so perfect that there is no story to tell.
We spent 2 days here. There are no people. There are no other boats. There is no litter on the beach. This is paradise.
I write these because I don't care how beautiful it is there seem to always be things on board that need fixing. My job was to clean the shower filter so the sump pump could perform faster – a disgusting, filthy, slimy job. Jim's job was to repair the Force 10 stove top – 2 of the 3 burners weren't working and the one that did was only at 50%. Some dummy made coffee on our passage and when a big wave hit the side of the boat the fiddles went flying and the fully filled pot turned upside down on the stove. (I really thought I had screwed those fiddles on tighter than that!) Caolyne's job was to rig the broken swimming ladder so it was usable. She can be clever that way.
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