Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tahuata, Marquesas

Current Location: Hanamoenoa, Tahuata, Marquesas, French Polynesia 09°54.45'S 139°06.28'W

We sailed from the Bay of Virgins on the island of Fatu Hiva to Baie Hanamoenoa on the island of Tahuata. This had been our friends on s/v Nakia's favorite anchorage in all of the Marquesas. We were ready to get out of the gusty Bay of Virgins and into someplace a little calmer.

We had quite a rousing sail with winds 18-20 on our starboard quarter. The seas were still pretty big, so we were surfing and slewing around a lot. We saw 8.5 knots on the GPS on one really nice wave. We were really happy to see that Hanamoenoa was as nice as Nakia had promised. Beautiful white sand beach, no town ashore, very little swell, and non-gusty winds. The bay also looks directly west, so it's a great place to watch the sun set.

There was one boat already in the anchorage when we got there--an American boat from Seattle who's name I've now forgotten. They left before we got a chance to go over and say hello. We got in late and we were tired, and didn't even put the dinghy down. We called them a couple of times on VHF, but they must have had their VHF off. The next day a French boat came in, and the the third day both boats left, heading in opposite directions.

We were so happy to be in a nice calm pretty anchorage, that we really just goofed off for 2 days. Dave did a little bit of maintenance, and we snorkeled over to the rocks and little reef on the north side of the bay, but mainly we just hung out on the boat. I snorkeled around quite a bit looking among the rocks for cowrie shells, but the surge was really bad, the water clarity so-so, and there were spiny sea urchins around. And then I remembered that we had bought some nice cleaned cowries in the Bay of Virgins for only $1 apiece. For that price, it isn't worth it to go through all the effort to clean a live animal from a shell.

While we were in Hanamoenoa, the cruise ship/freighter, Ara Nui III, was visiting Tahuata. They came late in the day, probably from Hiva Oa, only 10 miles away, and anchored right off our pretty bay. The next morning early, the Ara Nui picked up anchor and headed south, probably to the tiny village of Hapatoni, which we visited a couple of days later. They were back again in the evening, and again anchored in the same spot off Hanamoenoe. Must be a good anchoring spot!! Fortunately, they anchored far enough offshore that it didn't crowd us at all.

The final day in Tahuata, we motored about 7 miles south (no wind at all in the lee of the island) to the tiny village of Hapatoni, where our friends on Nakia had told us there were some great wood carvers, and a pretty little town. We spent a nice day walking around Hapatoni... stopping to see the wood carvers in their building by the water, strolling down the ancient 'boulevard' shaded by giant trees (from pre-European times), and hiking up to the cross on the hill overlooking our anchorage. The mangos were all getting ripe at once in Hapatoni, and there were fermenting mangoes on the ground under every tree. But the trees were so high that it was difficult to find even a newly-dropped one that wasn't smashed by its flight to the ground. We did manage to collect about 6 or 8 that weren't too mushy.

We really enjoyed Tahuata, and could easily have hung out in that area for a month. However, we really needed to be heading north--we're trying to hook back up with our friends on s/v Infini so we can cruise a bit with them before we leave for Hawaii.

So we left that night for the overnight sail to Oa Pou.
At 8/15/2010 4:46 AM (utc) our position was 09°54.45'S 139°06.28'W

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