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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To Hatiheu and back to Anaho

On the verge of running completely out of staples we needed to make a trip to the grocery store. We could hike for an hour up and over a ridge on a, by now, very muddy horse trail, and then hike back another hour laden with our heavy purchases. Not. Instead we decided to raise anchor for the five nm, one hour trip to Hatiheu Bay. Except that raising anchor turned out to be the hardest part because our chain had become entangled on coral covered rocks. John raised and lowered the chain and backed and filled with the engine to finally free us. With the water still murky there wasn't any possibility of his seeing anything in 35' of water, so diving to free the chain wasn't a reasonable option in this case.

We motored to Hatiheu before breakfast hoping to find fresh baguettes, but that wasn't being very realistic. We set the anchor in the pretty bay near the quay, put the rocker stopper out, lowered the dinghy off the foredeck and put the outboard on, shut all the hatches and portholes in case of rain, and set off for the quay. It was a another case of needing to set a stern anchor in deep water to keep the dinghy from bouncing off the rough concrete in the surge, and it took John two tries to get the spacing right.

Finally we were off to the two little magasins where we found frozen baguettes, and the last of some sad onions and potatoes, but plenty of eggs and basic dry staples. They were out of fresh cheese so we settled for experimenting with Velveeta style "fondu" or melting cheese. Six baguettes, 12 packets of crackers, six onions, three tins of New Zealand butter, four kilos of flour, two kilos of sugar, two dozen eggs, and two little boxes of cheese set us back 5,091 CFPs or about $64. It doesn't seem like much when I pick up the individual items, but 550 CFPs for a dozen eggs really hurts the grocery budget.

We didn't see any fresh vegetables for sale and it had started to rain so we didn't spend time asking around for them. We hurried back on the dirt road, pausing under a tree to wait for the worst of the rain to stop, and then went through the reverse procedure to get back to Anaho. As pretty as Hatiheu is, the anchorage is too rolly to stay without setting a stern anchor. With Anaho just around the corner it doesn't make sense to stay any longer than necessary, let alone overnight. It's too bad the trail is so muddy because that would be a much more enjoyable option for spending the day exploring the village.

Speaking of muddy trails, I have to admit some confusion of mine over the wet versus dry seasons here. Since the North American winter months are cyclone season in this area of the world, I assumed that equated to "wet." But I've now read in two sources that the cruiser season here (North American summer) is the wet season, and the dry months are October/November to March/April when most boats leave to avoid potential cyclones coming this way.

So we've apparently been lucky to have enjoyed so much dry weather until recently, and that has no doubt been why we've had no problem with bugs until lately. We made another hike to Haataivea last week to show Romany Star the "golf course" on the beach. After so much rain, and with no breeze to speak of, we were literally engulfed by tiny gnat-like bugs (no-nos?) as soon as we hit the beach. We immediately dug out the DEET but it was too late and we all had bites. It's true though that people are affected very differently. It took at least 24-48 hours for me to notice any bumps and only a couple of them were in areas irritated by clothing. I lucked out and had one slightly uncomfortable night, but John has been applying the Benadryl ointment and even took a couple of Benadryl pills to help him sleep at night. Paul and Erin got the worst of it, perhaps because their bug juice wasn't strong enough or they didn't apply it liberally enough.

Needless to say we didn't linger on the beach, but ran back to the trail where we managed to lose the bugs. On our way to the beach we had taken a different fork in the trail this time and were surprised to find a very rustic cabin and "farm" occupied by the elderly Rose Marie, who offered to cut a "pasteque" fresh from her garden. Her husband (and daughter?) had gone to Hatiheu with horses and she was happy to sit and chat with us while we ate our watermelon slices. Erin's French is good so we got a bit beyond our names and the weather to learn that they have regular homes in Anaho, Hatiheu, and Taiohae. She was very friendly and offered to give us some figs when we returned from the beach. But after our escape from the bugs we arrived to find that her husband had returned with the horses and there wasn't time for tourists any more. So we thanked Rose Marie again for the pasteque and quickly went on our way hoping she wasn't going to be in trouble for giving away fruit to strangers.

Ziggy has been very good about keeping his distance from the wasps and small bees that persist in visiting the boat. He's definitely interested in the ones that come below but so far he hasn't gone after them. I made the mistake of playing a new game with him when I was eating pamplemousse out in the cockpit and now I can't eat one without his avid attention. I cut them into quarters, take off the peel, and eat the individual sections by using a knife and my fingers to cut and tear away the segmenting "skins." I then throw those overboard, setting aside the thicker peel to dispose of offshore or on land. (It's a silly, complicated, messy affair, but it makes it last longer and I enjoy the process!) Ziggy is fascinated by anything we throw overboard, so I started dangling the transparent pieces of skin in front of him before tossing them, or putting them in a hawse pipe for him to paw back on deck, and he thought this was very exciting. Go figure. Now I can't even eat a pamplemousse when he's taking his afternoon siesta without him groggily coming out into the cockpit to play the pamplemousse game!


NOTE: The GPS coordinates which follow are for geographical reference only and should not be used as cruising waypoints.

Hatiheu, Nuku Hiva

Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva