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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We've been enjoying our stay here at Hanamoenoa even though the weather has steadily deteriorated a bit. This anchorage is on the leeward side of the island with golden grass on the hills and much drier and warmer air. I woke the first night to the scent of dry grasses instead of the lush foliage of Atuona. In fact when we entered the bay at Atuona at sunset last Friday there was a definite chill in the air, probably from the small river running down the valley into the bay. The warmth here makes for a nice change but our night time cabin temps don't get much below 78 F and we're up to around 84 F during the day. Our first day here was calm and clear but we've had successively cloudier and breezier days, culminating in brief, heavy showers and lots of gusty wind beginning at sunset last night with no sign of letting up this morning.

Which is disappointing because the snorkeling here is fabulous. We definitely need to get a new fish book because, other than a few old friends like the sargent majors, moorish idols, golden puffers, parrot fish, and black spiny urchins, everywhere we turn there is a fish we don't recognize. Not to mention all the different kinds of coral, sponges, and what I think must be a sea star that looks like a small throw pillow and comes in at least a couple of color variations. It could be a sponge, but you can just make out the five points on the pillow and the edges are smooth and even, not irregular like a sponge. Everything is absolutely beautiful, even the duller colored fish. On two of our swims back to the boat from the reefs we've spotted an enormous stingray with maybe a four foot wing span hunkered down on the sandy bottom. We've snorkeled every day, both sides of the bay and it's better than anything we've ever seen. But with the windier and wetter weather the water clarity has dropped and we haven't had as much sunlight through the clouds to help cut through the murk. We're anchored over sand but it must not be very deep over the rock because the anchor hasn't completely buried itself. But even on a somewhat short scope (125' in 25' of water) to avoid scraping our chain on a nearby exposed rock we haven't budged an inch.

We took a long dinghy ride on Saturday to explore the nearby bays. There are a couple of nice blow holes but we didn't find any anchorage that we liked better than this one. We went as far as the village at Vaitahu to check out the landing possibilities there. The large swell makes the shore landing at the launch ramp in the middle of the bay look dicey. Over on the northern side of the bay the swell doesn't seem as extreme at the concrete wharf with steps carved into the side. We'll take Nakia over there during the next calm weather window to see if we can do some trading for carvings. We inventoried our rum supply and think we can part with one of our big bottles of Abuela if we can find a carver who's willing to make a trade.

I mentioned before that we haven't had any problems with bugs yet. It's true we haven't seen anything biting except for a few mosquitos at the cascade in Fatu Hiva, and a lot of mosquitos at the ti'i site in Hiva Oa. But everywhere we go we are investigated by some kind of large yellow/orange wasp. They occasionally fly into the cabin and are easily encouraged back outside without getting agressive. Having had a bad sting under his chin in his first encounter with something similar in Mexico, Ziggy stays out of their way and I've even seen him take cover in the cockpit well to avoid one.

Wind Weaver moved to another anchorage on Sunday to be replaced by a French family yesterday, but that boat left this morning and now we have the anchorage to ourselves again. Other than glimpses of a few goats and even a horse on the ridge, we haven't seen anyone on shore. A small boat stopped to load the copra drying in the building above the beach(that's all it turned out to be), and the scent still lingers in the air as you walk by it. There are a few lime trees accessible but no pamplemousse or bananas. As beautiful as this beach is we were surprised that no families arrived over the weekend to enjoy it, as they surely would have in Mexico or Panama. We found evidence of beach fire rings on shore and several pencil urchins appear to have been harvested for a meal, but those could have been taken by cruisers as much as by locals. A friend told us this joke about French cruisers, "When the tide is out, the table is set!"

Linda and John