Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Marquesas - Entering French Polynesia
Fatu Hiva - 21 May to 25 May 2010 - (10.27.91S-138.40.08W)
After arriving at night, excited and exhausted we had a very quiet and well deserved sleep.
Waking up in the morning was magical, what a spectacular sight, Hanavave Bay also known as Bay of Virgins is just breathtaking, no wonder they say is one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The rock formations, the light on the bay late in the afternoon, the green forests and the cliffs coming down to the sea are stunning.
There is a small village in the valley and people seems generally friendly, although they are very isolated as there is no airport or ferries from other islands. They have plenty of juicy citrus fruits in the gardens and lots of fish and seafood.
Locals get their supplies from one ship that comes only once a month so they are happy to exchange their fruits for any goods the cruisers can offer. Alcohol, perfumes and ammunition are very popular. The ammunition they use to hunt the wild goats that abound in the hills.
After 19 consecutive days at sea we were after fresh fruit, specially pamplemousse, the giant grapefruit very juicy and sweet.
We happened to find a lady in her garden that needed rope for their boat. We had plenty of ropes in good condition so we came back with a long rope for her. She was so happy that sent her husband up the tree and we couldnít stop them until they realized we couldnít possible carry anymore fruit. Needless to say these were the best pamplemousse ever. They also gave us delicious bananas.
Later on we found young guys catching octopus in the shallow waters next to the docks, just so easy, we exchanged 2 cans of beer for 2 nice octopus.
On our way back from one of our hiking tours while we were passing along the villageís church we could hear a beautiful voice singing inside, it was late afternoon, we just stopped and listened for a while, so peaceful and magical.
In the meantime one of the cruisers in the anchorage was busy helping the villagers organize a big feast for all the cruisers on Sunday.
They prepared a traditional mix of fish, chicken, wild goat and bread fruit cooked in a big hole in the ground covered with banana leaves. They set all the tables in the garden and I was thinking it all looked good, a big crowd, a lot of food, but how are we going to eat under the scorching sun? Somehow we managed. An interesting afternoon.
A couple of days more and we had to leave this beautiful place. Our next destination was Hiva Oa, an official port of entry where we could legalize our entry in French Polynesia.
Hiva Oa - 25 May to 27 May 2010 - (09.48.15S-139.01.88W)
We left very early morning for a day sail towards Hiva Oa, 45 miles apart. Together with Tutatis and Toroa we had a nice day sail and arrived in good time at 1.00 PM.
The anchorage was very busy, most of our friends from the trip to Marquesas were already here when we arrived. As the anchorage is not very big everybody had set up a stern anchor so there was no swinging. Dave from Nikita helped to set ours.
The discovery process was easy as our friends gave us all details.
Town is quite far from the dingy dock, there is no public transportation but the islanders are nice enough to give you a lift if you ask in the road.
It is a nice long walk as well, quite a hike, going up hill. We had to do our laundry and there is a lady that picks up laundry at the dinghy dock, she gave us the first lift to town.
The entry procedures were easy, even though the officials opening hours are a bit laid back and we had to come back several times before we find them open.
Neither Murray, nor us need to pay the 300 Euros deposit as we have staff travel tickets and can fly home if needed. The deposit is required in French Polynesia for all cruisers that donít have tickets to go back home. This is to ensure they have means to go home if the visa runs out and they canít leave by boat. Actually visas are valid for 3 months only, while the cruising permit is valid for 1 year. You get the refund when you leave French Polynesia, for most people that is Bora Bora.
In the meantime Murray was having trouble finding an internet working and I had success finding a hair dresser for a very much needed hair cut. Apparently, the only hair dresser in all Marquesas, the French lady that owns this nice little salon tells me.
We also found a small super market, not much in terms of fresh produce but with all the French baguettes we could eat. Here we discovered the great New Zealand butter in a can, and thanks to the French subsidies, very, very cheap. So we stocked in baguettes and butter.
Later on we found the van that sells fresh fruits and vegetables, well, not a lot of variety but we could buy some very fresh greens and some fruits.
Walking in the streets we find either villagers or cruisers going up and down the main road, very few tourists in these remote islands.
We enter the offices of Air Tahiti and find out that itís easy and not too expensive to travel between the islands and Papeete. It seems a good alternative for Murray as he would like to go back to work early June.
The decision is made, he will fly to Papeete from Fakarava, Tuamotus, our next stop. Itís a good option but after buying the ticket we are committed with a date, June 3rd, to get there. We know this is not the best of the situations when sailing, but itís better indeed that going straight to Tahiti and either miss Tuamotus or have to get back against the wind.
Finally it seems there is a window with good winds and we decide to leave towards Tuamotus. Several boats had their anchor fouled in the bottom. Luckily we retrieved the 2 anchors without a problem.
There is a dock in the bay where the ferry stops once a week, it is possible to fill the water tanks from a tap there, so we anchored and reversed back to the dock to be able to hose water to our tanks. Once that was done we departed leaving Marquesas behind.
The village church
Sailing with Toroa
Murray enjoys the moment
Sandra and Graciela in Hiva Oa
Stunning Bay of Virgins