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Baie d’Hakahetou, Ua-Pou, day 2

We had agreed to meet Gerald and Dianne ashore at 9 O’Clock. We had arrived a little early and were hanging around a map of the area. There were two waterfalls shown on the map. I asked a local sitting in his car, using my pigeon French, which of the falls was best. I was having trouble understanding his responses until he switched to English which was a whole lot easier to understand. He explained that the map was made by the tourism office in Tahiti and was not accurate and there really was only one waterfall to go and see.

I ended up asking him if he was Etienne who I knew to be someone who offered dinners at his home and knew a lot about the local area. Turned out he was. I asked about eating with them that evening and he was free. When Dianne and Gerald arrived we asked if they were interested too and they were so we had a booking for five. We’d seen Sea Mist arrive in the anchorage and figured if we met them around town we’d invite them too. Etienne said this would be ok too.

So we walked off towards the one waterfall. On the way we passed the beginning of a reconstruction/repair of a traditional village just behind the main village. It was interesting albeit far from finished/complete. The location was stunning so we took a few pictures before moving on. The hike to the waterfall was not too arduous. Our efforts were rewarded with a perfect waterfall and pool set amongst the rocks and jungle. We swam in the pool for a short while – not too long as it was quite cool. We dried off on the rocks before returning the way we came.

On the way we bumped into Dominique and Milou from Catafjord. We invited them along to dinner in the evening and they were glad to join. We gave them directions to the falls and parted company. All the way back we were scanning for fruit trees away from private property. We found some lemons but not a lot else.

Back in the town there was a great big tree in what looked like common land. We were looking up at the huge but unreachable mangoes and examining the squished ones that had fallen when a local women said we could use their stick with a net on the end to help ourselves to mangoes. We managed to collect quite a few mangoes which were delicious. To get at some of the bigger ones I climbed the tree in my bare feet and had the mango net passed up.

We didn’t get to see Sea Mist as it turned out they had decided to move on. I later learned they wanted somewhere less rolly for the night and following day as it was Cheryll’s birthday the following day. Understandable. So far, our contact with Sea Mist has always been by radio – first time in The Saintes off Guadaloupe. Soon we must meet.

Back on the boat I learned our water maker part had in fact arrived in Tahiti and was already with the local freight company to arrive in Nuku Hiva today (Monday) at 11:30am. Quick work. We are not going to get there until tomorrow as we have other plans for today. Helen and I have been discussing getting a Marquesan tattoo for some time. Ordinarily I am dead against tattoos but a Marquesan tattoo performed by a native Marquesan in the Marquesas would be somewhat special. A lot of sailors do it so it’s not uncommon. It’s kind of a mark of ones crossing the Pacific. We have that lined up here on this island today. Helen is still in two minds about it but we’ll see. We don’t want to leave it to Nuku Hiva as it is the largest island, has a little more tourism and hence will be more expensive.

We were back ashore by 5pm and met up with the others. Etienne soon showed up. He only had room for 4 in his vehicle and couldn’t use the back of his truck as if spotted by the gendarmes could be subject to a fine. I opted to walk with the Catafjords for a while while the rest were dropped off. Etienne returned and picked us up. We ate out in his garden which was in an idyllic location looking out over the bay. They had around 32 cats which seemed to get on ok with the chickens also living there. The meal itself was not as good as the one we had in Fatu Hiva but it’s more about the setting and the company. Etienne was a great host. We learned he was once major of the town. He also gave us a one man rendition of the Marquesan pig dance complete with sound effects. It’s a dance about a male pig coming home and making love to his sow. You can fill the rest in with your imagination.

As it was dark we were all able to ride in his pickup down to the dock where we headed back to our boats for an early nights sleep.

Baies Vaitahu & Hanatefau

By 8am we had the deck cleared and we were off to Baie Vaitahu just 3nm to the south. The little village/town there was in a valley surrounded by a towering ridge – quite picturesque. We were soon ashore having tied the dinghy to the dock and thrown out an anchor to stop the dinghy crashing into the dock/rocks.

The town was quite tranquil and I felt a restful feeling as we walked around. The main church had the most stunning architecture. It looked recently built made of a mixture of cemented round stones and wood carved using Marquesan designs. You’ll have to wait for the eventual photos to see. Helen and I both agreed we’d love to have a house built in a similar design albeit somewhat smaller.

There were two small stores in town. In the first one we picked up a stick of bread to eat as we walked around. We decided to walk up to another white cross placed at a point looking down on the bay/town. They seem to have a habit of choosing excellent scenic spots to place these crosses so they become an obvious target for a hike. The walk wasn’t as arduous as the one in Fatu Hiva but we were well rewarded with the view once we reached our goal.

We returned to the town and checked out the second store. It had less in it than the first so we returned to the first for supplies. We bought a couple of boxes of chicken pieces for a really low price as well as burgers and some more bread – we were set for an evening BBQ. Along with a number of other items we headed back to the boat to put things away. On the way we bumped into the Catafjords who’d made their way round in their dinghy.

After a rest, John and I returned to the dock to fill our empty bottles with fresh water from the tap at the dock. John washed some of his clothes while I washed myself down. Nice to do as we’re rationed on the boat as a result of the broken water maker.

We decided to try the next bay down to stay for the night as it was close to a small village called Hapatoni which we’d heard was interesting. We sailed the 2nm using just the headsail. It was quite a challenge as the winds came from all directions and changed strength due to the steep cliffs/mountains.

We picked a spot at the north end of the bay but soon found the boat swinging in the changing winds. I went in the water to check the anchor. Swimming was a trial as the water was full of the stinging type of jelly fish. I found that if I kept my arms in and kept moving the jellies tended to be pushed out of my way although I did my best to avoid them. I did get stung a few times including my top lip which was annoying. I dove 40ft down to the anchor and checked it and the sand around. It seemed fairly well set. All I could see looking up while returning to the surface was a gauntlet of jellies. I had to pick my way through carefully.

Back on the boat we waited a while to see which way the boat would swing. We decided to reanchor slightly further out so we wouldn’t swing too close to the shore as the wind often blew in towards the shore. Once moved we felt a lot more comfortable.

We stayed put for the afternoon and evening. John cooked up the chicken and burgers and we had a good meal of it. We finished the evening watching a couple more episodes of the Fringe.

This morning we’ll head over to Hapatoni to have a look around the village. Depending on how things go there we may then move on to Baie Hanamenu on the north side of Hiva Oa.

Another “relaxing” day

The morning started badly. Helen used the head resulting in a nasty stink outside the boat. The holding tank had overflowed down the side of the boat. Looks like we had a problem all along. Thinking about how we might tackle the problem from above I realized we had two pieces of plastic pipe aboard that fitted into each other. This would be perfect for ramming down from the access port in the deck and into the tank – perhaps all the way down to the sea cock below.

I taped the pipes together lest one get left behind and started probing down. I managed to get beyond the bottom of the tank and down to the valve but there was no release of the tank contents. I briefly considered blowing down the pipe but thought better of that. I then taped the deck wash hose to the end of the pipe and ran the pump. This caused the entire contents of the tank to overflow down the side of the boat into the sea. It was disgusting. But still the tank wouldn’t empty properly. I asked Helen to cycle the sea cock a few times. It was then that we learned I’d accidentally left it closed when we were trying to fix the tank before. The tank emptied creating the typical brown cloud into the sea. We decided to refill and flush the tank a couple more times before extracting and cleaning everything.

Looking back there must have been a blockage. It takes a lot more than a day and a half to fill the tank so leaving the sea cock closed wasn’t the only problem. At least that’s sorted out now.

Next stop was the beach to go looking for fruit. We’d heard other cruisers had managed to find fruit in the trees behind and hoped there might be some left. We passed by the obvious trail into the trees behind the beach thinking that we may find some isolated fruit trees elsewhere. We scrambled through dry foliage for a while. John headed back as the flies were after him but Helen and I carried on. After a long circle we were again back at the beach having found no fruit trees.

We went back to the obvious path and found the fruit trees. There were very many lemon trees from which we collected a lot of the small lemons they have here. We also found grapefruit. small jackfruit and mango trees from which we were able to acquire some bounty. Having filled a plastic bag full of fruit we headed back to the boat. John had already swum back to Dignity.

Next effort was to look at the Hookah again. We removed it from it’s case and overfilled it with oil again. Cranking the engine with a spanner revealed some grinding noises from the air compressor section. We open that up and found lots of metal shards. It looked like some bearing casing had got all mangled up. Once this was all removed the motor turned extremely easily. We drained the oil and it fired up straight away. However, the air pressure to the regulator wasn’t what it should be at first although that improved in time.

Before lunch we headed over to Cata Fjord to visit the couple who’d swung by the previous day and invited us over. This is a 60 foot catamaran occupied by a French couple who had been racing boats all their lives and working in the boating industry. The catamaran had two masts and was very sleek. The living area was quite large and open – one could have a disco in there. We spent a while chatting before it was time to eat.

After lunch I decided it was worth cleaning out the compressor section of the hookah while we had it apart. During the cleaning I noticed that the pistons were quite loose. Fortunately I had spares so I replaced both ends of the compressor. On testing everything seemed fine. By now it was early afternoon. We decided to all go out and test the unit so we set it up for three divers and headed out.

All seemed fine for around 15 minutes until suddenly we all found we couldn’t breath. We ascended slowly and found we could breath around 20ft down. We returned to the boat at this depth and pulled everything aboard. I didn’t have the will to dismantle everything again and troubleshoot this new issue. I’m going to have to get a picture of the metal shards off to the manufacturer to see if they can provide some insight. The diagrams we have of the compressor provide no insight into what could have mangled up.

After I’d washed up lunch John and I went ashore to prepare a fire for sunset. Having done this we headed back to the boat to wait for half an hour before we all headed ashore. Claims were again made on the beach that a green flash had occurred. I’m convinced I’m destined never to see one. I was looking at the sunset like everyone else and saw just perhaps a tinge of green as it set. Nothing outstanding and more perhaps the afterimage of the red sunset.

We lit the fire. The wood we had was so light and dry it burned up quite quickly. The kids from the family boat had a good time collecting additional sticks and throwing them on the fire.

We left John’s camera equipment ashore as he’d been planning to do some long exposure night shots for months and tonight was a perfect opportunity. We ate dinner aboard then I dropped John off back at the beach with the hand held radio. Helen and I watched another Fringe episode before I returned to collect John.

Phew.

This morning we’ll head round to Baie Vaitahu about 3nm away and the village of the same name. There’s supposed to be a small museum there as well as a couple of stores and French bread.

… later …

We have now moved to Baie Vaitahu.