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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Raroia, Tuamotus

John threaded the needle perfectly and navigated us here to arrive just after dawn. Unfortunately we missed the morning slack after the high, and slack after the ebb wasn't technically until around 1 PM. We slowly tacked back and forth outside the lagoon entrance with only the reefed main, admiring the view of palm trees and motus from outside the atoll. At 12:30 we decided to give it a shot and had an easy 15 minute motor to the range inside the lagoon. From there it was another hour plus of motoring straight across to the East (weather side) of the lagoon.

We're anchored in 40' off of a motu to the north of the local pearl farm. We jumped in for a snorkel towards the beach but, gasp, the water is only 82 degrees. All I could think as we drifted from one coral head to the next was OMG. It is so beautiful here - above and below the water.

We ended the day with sundowners made of blended fresh mango, 7-Up, lime, and vodka over ice and we enjoyed them sitting in perfectly flat calm water. We figure the last calm anchorage we were in must have been Barra de Navidad in the 2011/12 season. And the last anchorage we were alone in might have been Carrizal, near Manzanillo this past winter. Ziggy is loving the stable platform as well and has been zooming around the decks and racing down below to start it all again.

Fortunately it all turned out well even though John was horrified when he realized we'd left the Marquesas on a Friday! We are thrilled beyond belief to be in this stunning place. How can it get even better than the Marquesas?



Friday, June 07, 2013

Marquesan Wrap-up

Friday afternoon, underway

As we depart the Marquesas today bound for the Tuamotus I'll take this opportunity to summarize the last days of our visit here.

A week ago we were warned of a large swell that could possibly affect SW facing anchorages. We were ready to move on from Tahuata and decided to try the north side of Hiva Oa. We considered Hanamenu but we just haven't been able to convince ourselves to spend any time there. We tried it in 2009, but we ended up turning around to go back to Tahuata after a brief stop for lunch. We were disenchanted with the brown water and the onshore wind howling into the anchorage. Other cruisers seem to enjoy it, so we'll have to try again someday.

Instead we went eight miles past Hanamenu to the bay and village of Hanaiapa. The other three boats in the bay had put stern anchors out but there was plenty of room for us to swing, and our rocker stopper was up to the job of keeping us from rolling too terribly. This is where we made a lunch stop at the beach during our 2009 touring day in a rental car with Quixotic. It's a pretty bay and we enjoyed walking along the well manicured road out of town to stretch our legs.

After our long walk we were ready to cool off with a dinghy ride to the blowhole. As we explored the bay's perimeter and the rock spire just off the point we came across a school of manta rays. We put on our snorkel gear and jumped in the water with 10 rays feeding back and forth in our patch of water. John kicked himself for not bringing his camera to get a shot of me with one particularly large manta. We floated next to the dinghy and just watched them swim towards us and then turn away or dive down to pass us. So magical.

Monday we returned to Hanamoenoa on our favorite Marquesan island of Tahuata. It was a bit of a zoo as 19 boats crowded into the anchorage (during our 2009 trip we were alone in this beautiful spot) , but we still managed to sight a couple of mantas and even a turtle from the dinghy.

Tuesday we made a round trip to Vaitahu, the main village a couple of miles south, where we stocked up on baguettes and fruit, possibly our last for awhile. We bought 10 pamplemousse, 10 large mangos, and a stalk of bananas for about $30. The mangos are ripening faster than we can eat them, as are the bananas. The stalk hanging under the solar panel on the stern has eight "hands" each of which has at least 15 bananas. It's a good thing these are the small "apple" style banana so we can each eat four at a time without overdoing it too much. They are so delicious and sweet, it's like eating candy.

We managed to fill our water tanks and do some laundry as it mostly rained on Thursday. That afternoon we went looking for a change of scene at the little sandy beach just to the north. But we weren't comfortable with the set of the bow anchor in 30' of water over rocks. Instead of setting a stern anchor as we'd planned, we pulled it all up and returned to Hanamoenoa for our last night in the Marquesas.

As we look out over Nakia's stern we can see Tahuata in the foreground, with Hiva Oa stretched out behind it to the left, and Fatu Hiva way off in the distance to the right. We spent far more time in the Marquesas than we had initially intended, but it still wasn't enough. We're very sorry that our time constraints are pushing us on before we're ready to leave, and we vow to get the long-stay visas for French Polynesia for our next visit (whenever that may be...).


{GMST}09|42.894|S|139|00.884|W|Hanaiapa, Hiva Oa|Marquesas{GEND}