Off to the Tuamotus

The weather forecast looks good and it’s time to say goodbye to the Marquesas and head to the Tuamotus. Our water maker is fitted with a new membrane and working a dream producing 40 litres an hour of the purest most delicious drinking water! Woohoo! Luckily Seathan had all the tools onboard required and the job was done in a few hours. Our old membrane was producing maximum 30 litres an hour and the quality started going downhill a few weeks ago. So this is great news! And I guess worth the extra import, export and shipping costs! To celebrate that and our upcoming departure we had a few leaving drinks last night with fellow cruisers whilst enjoying the local music festival in the little port. It’s the first time we really feel part of the cruising community. Now that we’re in the Pacific there’s only long term cruisers around and everyone is doing similar voyages. Apart from cruisers there aren’t any other tourists around either. It’s interesting to meet so many new people from so many different nationalities, different age groups, different backgrounds. 

It will probably be a while until we find wifi again so we will make sure to update our other blog regularly (we can do this using our satellite phone connection). Wifi has been very patchy ever since we left Panama. It’s amazing how we got so used to always having fast connections and I never imagined it would be so hard to get online … Uploading pictures sometimes takes hours, app updates or video Skype calls are challenging to say the least and downloading the new Shaun the Sheep movie isn’t even worth trying (even though I did try). I guess none of that is important… And we certainly have a lot more technology available than cruisers had a few years ago. We will just have to keep enjoying the weather, the sailing and paradise which is all around us 🙂

For position and other updates while we are “offline” check out http://blog.mailasail.com/rehua

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Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

We’ve been in Nuku Hiva for over a week now and it feels good to take a little pause somewhere. We’ve been getting on with some schoolwork, exploring the sights ashore and catching up with friends. We’ve also been waiting for delivery of a new membrane for our water maker which we ordered from the U.S. and got shipped here. The cost of shipping was about 100 USD but we really need this part. We found out subsequently that there is an additional import and export tax to pay as well. This adds another 300 USD to the cost! Crazy as the actual value of the membrane is just 200 USD. The only advantage is that we don’t have to pay the local tax as we are a ship in transit. Ha! So our advice to other cruisers: don’t get anything delivered to French Polynesia!!! 

Nuku Hiva is the main island in the Marquesas and has the best choice in fruit and veg we’ve seen in a long time. We will be stocking up on provisions here before heading to the Tuamotus in a few days where fresh produce is quite scarce we’ve been told. Niku Hiva somehow reminds us of Scotland and New Zealand with its imposing green mountains and dramatic scenery. The sail to the Tuomutus is about 500NM and should take us about 4 days and we are looking forward to some turquoise water, white sandy beaches and evening campfires on the beach! 

 

the anchorage in Taiohae, Niku Hiva

  

dramatic scenery

  

there’s even a cathedral in Taiohae

  

cruising kids after a game of footie

  

cruising kids hanging in the local tree

 

school!

  

Hiva Oa, Marquesas

Ah Les Îles Marquises! Stunningly beautiful islands, so green and lush, mountainous and full of wildlife! These islands are as far away as you can get from any continent. There are thirteen islands in the archipelago of which six are inhabited. We spent three nights in Fatu Hiva and then sailed to Tahuata for a swim and a snorkel in Hana Moe Noa Bay where we also caught up with some friend boats including two kid boats and had a great time. Now we are in Hiva Oa where we cleared in on Friday at the local gendarmerie. Check in was easy (one form only), free of charge and the gendarmes were very friendly (they even commented I looked so much younger than my passport picture :-D). They also guessed we had stopped in Fatu Hiva but made no big deal about that. Normally you are required to clear in at Hiva Oa first before visiting Fatu Hiva but it would have made for a hard upwind sail back and most people stop at Fatu Hiva first. We bought some delicious fruit on Fatu Hiva from the villagers. We had no local money yet but the locals preferred trading anyway. They asked us for wine, rope, petrol, bullets (for hunting), perfume or clothing. We settled on a bottle of wine in return for a big box of fruit and veg and some eggs. The fruit was most delicious especially the grapefruit (pamplemousse) was the best we ever tasted (and it grows everywhere here!). Hiva Oa is more populated and here we have to pay for our fruit and veg. On Saturday we did a tour of this island and visited an ancient archeological site with various size tikis. Hiva Oa is the best known of the Marquesas thanks to Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel who both stayed here. Gauguin painted some of his most famous works here and died here in 1903.

Tomorrow we leave Hiva Oa and continue our tour of the Marquesas: we still want to visit Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou before heading to the Tuamotus.

Iipona site with tikis

Iipona site


Iipona site with collection of various size tikis

Iipona site with collection of various size tikis


Aeneas is not scared of this warrior tiki

Aeneas is not scared of this warrior tiki


Beautiful coastline

Beautiful coastline


North coast of Hiva Oa

North coast of Hiva Oa


Smiling tiki of Punaei. It is more than 2000 years old apparently!

Smiling tiki of Punaei. It is more than 2000 years old apparently!


Takauku bay

Takauku bay


Anchored in Hiva Oa

Anchored in Hiva Oa


Gauguin's resting place

Gauguin’s resting place


Jacques Brel's grave

Jacques Brel’s grave


Double rainbow on the way to Tahuata

Double rainbow on the way to Tahuata

Galapagos to Marquesas

18 days to cross 3000 NM is a great result and much faster than expected. It was also a lot more relaxed than our Atlantic crossing (which was very rough with big seas and a constant 25 to 30 knots). We had our spinnaker up for a few days but most of the way it was mainsail + genoa. We usually put one or two reefs in before sunset to allow for a quiet night with no sail changes required in the darkness. 

We left Galapagos on a Tuesday afternoon and one of the seals who had adopted our stern as his new home stayed on the boat until we were well clear of the coast. Very cute. The first few days were a bit bouncy with the swell from the Galapagos and the kids and I didn’t feel great but we got our sea legs back soon enough and enjoyed the rest of the trip. The days went by quickly and we read many books, the kids played with their toys, we had afternoon naps, ate lots of food, did some painting or colouring, tried fishing most days, … And we got used to the night shifts again too. They were split in 3 hours blocks between 8pm and 8am and we swapped every night (shifts 1 and 3 vs shifts 2 and 4) for some variety. The last 48 hours the wind picked up to around 25 knots (with peaks of 35) and the sea started building. But we didn’t mind because we were nearly there and getting there even faster. Finally, on Saturday morning we saw Fatu Hiva looming up in the distance as the sun was rising (it’s very weird by the way to see the sun moving from right to left now that we are in the Southern Hemisphere). It was a spectacular sunrise and we were taken aback by the height and rugged beauty of Fatu Hiva. We sailed along the west coast and dropped anchor in the bay of virgins between the high cliffs covered with lush green vegetation. The few other yachts at the anchorage were all welcoming us; they had also sailed a long way to get here. A bit later on our buddy boat Toucan arrived and a few arrival drinks were had! Then an early night and a good sleep (the first non interrupted 8 hours sleep since 18 days!). This morning we woke up all refreshed, cleaned the boat and then went to explore ashore. We walked up to a stunning waterfall and had a delicious swim (and a good workout for our legs as it was a 2 hour hike there and back). Everyone’s happy and it’s nice to be here!