Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cruising the North and West Coast of Nuku Hiva

Current Location: Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

From the main town of Taiohae, on the south coast, to Anaho Bay, on the NE corner, it is clearly best to go 'eastabout' to get to Anaho Bay... shorter and less windward work. But leaving from Daniel's Bay, on the SW corner, the choice was not so clear. It was slightly shorter to go eastabout, but with an ESE wind, it should be much calmer going westabout.

After flip-flopping several times, we finally decided to go around the west coast. It would give us smoother water (for awhile), a chance to see part of the coast that most people don't go, and a chance to make water with our engine-driven watermaker. (It's a little dicey making water in the anchorages due to the amount of particulate in the water).

We also opted to break the trip into two parts, stopping overnight at what's known as the 'airport anchorage'--Baie Haahopu at the NW corner of Nuku Hiva.

Exploring the west coast--motorsailing slowly north and ducking into every little bay we saw to check it out--was fun. We hadn't done that type of gunkholing in awhile. Though the guidebooks only mention one or two anchorages on the west coast, we found a total of 7 bays 'possible', with reasonable protection and anchorable depths. As follows, N to S:

- Baie Marquisienne
- Anse Haatapuna
- Anse Tataia
- Anse Tapueahu
- Anse Haatuatua
- the unnamed bay just N of Pt Matatekouehi
- Baie Haahopu

A couple of these had signs of habitation--one house and a small skiff. But most were completely deserted. Some had rocky beaches, but as we got further north, more of them had sand beaches. Baie Haahopu had a pretty sand beach, but an ugly concrete dock and a building (uninhabited).

Once we got around Cap Motumano, the waves started settling down, and after rounding Pt Matateteiko, it was flat calm for the rest of the way.

The west coast of Nuku Hiva is arid and dry, so with little runoff, the diving ought to be clearer. We could easily see the bottom in 25' in Haahopu. We found another cruising boat there when we arrived, and we anchored just inside of him in at 08-49.5S / 140-14.94W in sand. There are some coral heads around, but lots of sand, so try to pick a spot in sand. From here it is possible to dinghy a crewmember into a cement dock and (hopefully) hitch a ride to the airport (but we didn't do this, so don't know the logistics). Most people opt to taxi over from Taiohae.

The winds were kind of weird on the west coast in the afternoon--we had a good 12-15 knots blowing from the WEST (against the trades). Obviously a 'sea breeze'. It died down at night and switch to the east.

The next morning we left early to head east along the north coast of Nuku Hiva. With the wind south of east, we had hoped to find some lee by staying close in along the coast. We did, but it wasn't as much lee as we had hoped. It was really wild going around the NW corner--big steep waves, lots of wind, and a couple of knots of current against us. But that didn't last long (the current died and the waves lengthened). We short tacked along the coast, staying in as close as we dared to get a little shelter behind small headlands.

It took us about 4 hours to go the 12 miles to Anaho Bay, but we did duck in and explore 2 bays on the way. Baie Hakaehu, where the town of Pua is, and Baie Hatiheu, where the town of Hatiheu is, are both possible anchorages, but not nearly as nice as Anaho. There are other possible anchorages, I think, along the N coast that we didn't explore--we just got tired of bashing to windward and wanted to get it over with.

When we arrived in Anaho Bay, we found 3 other boats. Our friends on Infini were here, and a French boat and a Belgian boat. These other 2 boats, being EU citizens, have the luxury of just hanging out in French Poly--the French boat had been all over all of French Polynesia, diving, for the last 18 months. We have a nice anchorage here in 35' sand in a beautiful bay.
At 9/15/2010 2:35 AM (utc) our position was 08°49.35'S 140°03.89'W

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