We are in Paradise, and it is drop dead Gorgeous.....
We left Hiva Oa today, having spent 4 days longer there than planned, as we loved the island, and were so thankful to be able to spend time with Pifa and his extended family. We needed to move on, and headed for Fatu Hiva at 7am,, about 44 miles south and to windward of us. Many more boats had arrived from Mexico and the bay had swelled to 24 boats inside and outside of the bay. We had waited a bit to let the seas die down and we had a spectacular motorsail, eventually getting enough of an angle to fly our full sails, including our repaired batten pocket..
We covered the miles quickly, with the kids sleeping in for the first section, and Heather and I enjoying our coffee. We also had what I view as the Marquesan breakfast of champions: Chunks of fresh Pamplemousse, accompanied by fresh baguettes with Nutella on it - a certain recipe for lifelong happiness and a trim waistline. The seas were flat enough that I was able to make 8 new squid lures with braided steel wire that I bought the parts for at the "hardware store" in Hiva Oa- they weren't successful in their maiden voyage- but we have time. It was nice after all to get back out on the sea and feel the breeze under a spectacular sun. The boat also felt much cleaner after multiple rain showers over the last week, and we were also able to run our water maker again and fill our tanks.
After several hours we started seeing more detail of Fatu Hiva, and with polarized lenses, you really got a sense for the vegetation on the island. As we approached, we were awed by the straight black cliffs, interspersed with steep hillsides covered in foliage. The anchorage is known as the Bay of Virgins, or Baie Hanavave, and it is a small anchorage surrounded by black rocks and cliffs, multiple steep spires of rock, and Palm and Mango trees covering the shoreline. Many say that is its one of the anchorages most seen on the front of Sailing magazines and tourism paraphenelia and it doesn't disappoint. (google Fatu Iva Images if you can, as we wont be able to upload pictures for a while) We anchored amongst five other boats in a mix of rock, coral and sand, and jumped in the 85 degree water for a swim. After anchoring, another cruising boat's dinghy came by and said hello. A group of four Swedes, they had been here for several days, and were on their way in for ice cream. We got the local knowledge from them and followed a short while later, amazed to find a proper break water and simple dinghy tie up- a far cry from the stern anchor, surge carnage we had experienced in Hiva Oa. The tiny protected dock sits directly under a massive black rock monolith that shoots vertically for at least 500 feet high. Walking, we wandered through town past the Church and School, right next to the docks, and in the distance saw the most awesomest soccer field ever- situated right next to the town river, and bordering the black rock beach.
School had just got out, and the kids beat us to the "store", but there was still some ice cream left for us and a few drinks to take on our little walk. We meandered about, local children giggling at us, and all the townspeople very welcoming with their "Bonjours". Our kids are fascinated by the animals, and I love the flowers and trees. We saw many pigs and dogs, and plants were blooming fruits and flowers everywhere. Within 5 minutes we had found the "Marie" or town square and post office, and had started our return along the river when we ran in to three young Germans who had just returned from a hike. We asked about the "cascade" or waterfall we had heard about, and they confirmed the directions we had gotten, and went so far to share a small "secret" map that some Finns had given them. We are excited to go on that adventure tomorrow and find the falls and pool.
The tiny town sits in a very small valley whose sides are straight up for 1000-2000 feet - its quite stunning, and the homes border the river and streams that flow down to the sea. We turned up a street based on a small sign and found a carver working at his trade. Marc spoke fantastic English, and was working away on some stone tikis. He showed us his diamond blade and shaping blades and the various sand paper grades he uses. His wife brought out some stunning shell pendants and wooden tikis he had carved but they were somewhat out of our price range. We enjoyed sitting and chatting though and the kids found a new puppy to play with. He pointed out where the tapa makers live which we hope to explore as well. On the way, one more man pulled us over asking if we wanted to trade for Pamplemousse, which we fortunately loaded up on yesterday, but we saw his wooden tiki carvings, as well as his "atelier" where he plies his trade, starting from a log of rosewood. He asked if I was a mechanic, as he had a washer problem, but sadly that's not in my wheelhouse, I am more in to marine toilets. He also asked about a diving mask, and I will see if we have something to trade tomorrow. I tried to show the kids all the work he did, but alas, he had a 7 month old goat in his front yard, tied to a small anchor, that got all of their attention and several gigabytes of photos devoted to it. The kids want to make sure we get back tomorrow.
We returned to the anchorage, giving three other folks a ride to their boat, and set up getting rum drinks for sunset. I realized one of my favorite parts of French Polynesia cruising now is that the other boats aren't all American or Canadian as they were in Mexico. There are currently two German boats, a Canadian, a Swedish boat and a catamaran with two families aboard from New Zealand that just sailed in from the Galapagos. (and us) Its fun to here the different banter, and making language barriers break down with various phrases and hand gestures. Hopefully we can spend some time with them all and expose the kids to more perspectives.
Sunset was stunning, as you would expect, though we faced away from the mountains and watched the sun go down over Hiva Oa- a rum drink in hand. Its been an amazing day in paradise and we hope to exceed it tomorrow with the trip to the waterfall.
As I type this, a local fisherman in an 8 foot homemade outrigger is fishing off our stern, and has asked to tie up to us. He uses hooks with no bait, and bobs his hand up and down, pulling in "Rouges" - little 6 inch red fish, every few minutes. We have offered him dinner, and he's offered us fish, but he seems quite content working away the night, and occasionally bailing out his boat. The stars are out, the kids are actually doing a little bit of late homeschooling so that we can play some more tomorrow, and all is well.
I wish you could all be here.......... Have a great night. CHRIS
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