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Thursday, September 03, 2009

To Hiva Oa and back to Tahuata

On Monday we watched the Taporo IX unload cargo and take on copra at Hapatoni, Tahuata, and then we pulled up anchor for the short sail to Vaitahu. There we put 38 gallons of water into our tank, and loaded another 25 in jugs. We did it by taking a long hose to the quay from the dinghy. John stayed in the dinghy with the filter end of the hose filling the jugs, and I manned the water faucet and tried to hold the dinghy off the rough concrete wall with a stern line. There was a little surge but we managed to get that chore done without incident and before it started raining in earnest.

The next morning John dropped me off on shore with a bucket load of laundry which we'd let soak in soapy water on the boat overnight. I put it in the first rinse cycle (a bucket of fresh water) and then went off to see what new food items the Taporo IX might have off-loaded. We hadn't gone into the first store you come to on our last visit and to my delight I found fresh baked baguettes on bakery racks inside the front door. We're discovering that the great thing about shopping in the Marquesas is that all the prices seem to be somewhat fixed. So no matter where you shop, baguettes are always 64 CFP. Of course I loaded up on those, along with some onions and potatoes, and went back to finish rinsing the laundry in between showers. I saw some beautiful rainbows as I hurried to get done before the next big shower arrived. Fortunately John saw the black cloud coming in down the valley and raced over in the dinghy to pick me up before it really started to pour.

We waited out that shower and then got underway for Hanamenu on the NW side of Hiva Oa, only about 14 nm away. The sail across the channel was nice and fast, and we managed to get out of the worst of the rain as soon as we left Tahuata. The wind died in the lee of the cape, so we already had the engine running when we rounded it and ran smack into a building headwind and chop. Well, this was unexpected! As unpleasant as it looked, we persevered through another hour of slow motoring (to avoid taking salt water splashes over the bow) to get to the anchorage where the wind and chop were blowing straight into the beach. We were shocked to find another cruising boat bow and stern anchored in very shallow water off to the north side of the bay. Why would anyone want to stay there in such awful weather conditions?! We anchored twice because the first time we ended up too close to some submerged rocks extending out from the side of the bay. We ate lunch, watched the wind build, and thought about spending a sleepless night there. John did some calculating and figured we still had enough time to make it back to Tahuata before sunset so we got the heck out of there. I guess it could be nice under better circumstances but I was not impressed with the dry Baja-like scenery, the murky water, or the brown/gray sand at the head of the bay. Yes, there is a coco plantation covering the little valley in between Grand Canyon like walls, but we wanted to get back to the blue water backed by green tropical cliffs that we'd grown accustomed to.

We sailed over to Ivaiva Nui anchorage on Tahuata, arriving just at sunset. This is a pretty little anchorage with a private home and neat farm above the sandy beach. It doesn't get much protection from the swell though, which has been higher than when we first arrived, so yesterday we sailed back to our favorite Tahuata anchorage at Hana Tefau. That afternoon we saw our first shark, a 3' black-tip, on our swim from the boat (anchored in 55') to a great snorkeling rock close to shore (where we saw yet another new to us kind of fish!). This morning the dolphins were back in the anchorage where they've been all day. I got a closer look at them and they have white tips on their noses and are speckled so now I think they must be spotted dolphins, although they do a lot of acrobatics similar to their cousins, the spinning dolphins. There seem to be lots of babies, so I wonder if this isn't a nursery of sorts for them.

Today we did chores. I defrosted the freezer and cleaned the fridge, and puttered with some additional cleaning, while John sewed himself a new pair of swim trunks. We should go into Hapatoni tomorrow for a walk I guess, but for now we're just enjoying the solitude and beautiful scenery of the anchorage. Here's wishing you all safe travels over the Labor Day weekend!

Linda and John