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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva

So far it's either very windy or very rainy here in this beautiful bay. We've been doing a lot of reading and watching movies to pass the time, but we've also managed to take a few walks and do some snorkeling in between. The best thing about being here is that we are tucked back into a large bay with a long entrance to block the swells. So other than some wind chop (we're on the lee shore) it's very comfortable on the boat for a change. No stern anchor and no rocker stopper required!

Unfortunately the water is green and murky which is a shame because we are anchored right in front of a coral reef off of a narrow, but extensive sandy beach. There's a pass through the coral to take small boats through for landing on the shallow beach. There are less than a dozen homes and guest houses, no road, no cars, several horses, a few dogs, pigs, a cow and her calf, with wild goats and chickens roaming the hills. It's rare to see a light on shore at night, though we saw at least one generator. We're sharing the anchorage with Romany Star and two French boats.

We first took a hike along the perimeter of the bay over a low ridge to the wild and rugged Haataivea Bay which is totally exposed to the incoming swell and had waves crashing on the wide sandy beach. As we came out of the forest to approach the beach John remarked that he wished he'd thought to bring his 9-iron because the grass over gently sloping dunes was cropped to the quality of a golf course. We watched slender foot-long eels hunting in a tide pool, and our patience was rewarded by seeing one catch and eat a little tadpole of a fish. We eyed the huge stalks of bananas which were part of what looked like a primitive copra camp, but they were carefully propped up with heavy sticks and are obviously tended by an absentee landlord.

We are at the low tides of the full moon which expose the reef between Nakia and the beach. One or more of the local men hunt for octopus most days and we wonder what they will do when all the octopus are gone. We took a walk on the reef on Saturday and Leopold had taken three of them because he had guests arriving yesterday. We saw some tiny bluish purple brittle stars and finger length eels, but I wasn't comfortable walking on a living reef with anemones and spongy stuff (that I won't even touch when we see them snorkeling) so we soon returned to the beach.

On Sunday we thought it might have been dry enough to hike to the ridge top on the trail to Hatiheu Bay to the south of us. It was mostly a good trail but our shoes became muddy clogs and we decided not to go all the way into the village since we hadn't brought any money with us and everything would probably be closed anyway. That afternoon we were getting ready to take the dinghy over to the windward shore for a snorkel when John was stung by a bee. He immediately got the Sawyer venom extractor out of its case, but we left the stinger in too long, and his hand swelled up like a little balloon. He took a Benadryl right away and is applying the ointment form as well to help ease the incredible itching. He was still game for a snorkel (only the finger had swollen by then) and we had a great Easter egg hunt for cowries. We easily saw over a dozen large shells but still aren't up to taking any with the animal living in them. They're so beautiful when they sparkle in the sun against the dull rock, and we have a lot of fun searching for them. We hadn't been in the water for long when I heard John shout and I hurriedly swam back to see what he'd found. I was so intent on swimming to him that I didn't look up until I was about to do a head on with a manta ray with another one right behind it. They swam past us into the murk, but what a thrill.

Yesterday I swam into shore for a beach walk and saw a foot-long baby black-tip shark as I was shuffling my feet along to avoid the sting rays in the ankle deep water. John went for a late snorkel around the point from Nakia and saw another manta ray and more cowries. We've also both had quick glimpses of turtles taking a breath in the anchorage. Today we were supposed to walk all the way to the village at Hatiheu with Romany Star for provisions but it rained all night and is still raining off and on so we decided against the muddy trek, and it's back to more reading and DVDs.

This a perfect place to be but it's looking a lot like the "dry" season is over.