We've really been enjoying Nuku Hiva, the 5th island in the group we've explored here in the Marquesas. Our first stop was to Taiohae, the second largest town in the Marquesas. We felt like tourist for the first time in months, there were yacht amenities including laundry, a small chandlery, some food stalls and even a tourist info kiosk. We provisioned with some wonderful French foods, ate a few plates of steak and frits and rented a car to see the interior of the island. It was fun to explore something at faster than 6 knots and we felt like we were speeding as we puttered 35 miles around the island. Much like the other islands, Nuku Hiva is an island with an impressive topography. Volcanic in origin, the peaks are tall and jagged. The mountains trap moisture laden clouds in the interior and the canopy is lush and green. When it rains, it rains hard, and the valleys become rivers and the roads are often awash with runoff. We explored a Marquesan ceremonial/village site that had been excavated near the north coast, wandering around through the site looking for petroglyph's and ancient relics. The boys climbed down into a pit that was used to hold prisoners from warring villages that were going to be used for a future sacrifice. We drove over the spine of the island to the dry side crossing a patch of land that was used for grazing cattle. We often had to stop the car to wait for feral horses to move or a feral pig to cross. We got fantastic aerial views of bays and coasts from some prominent looks out points that we normally only see at sea level.
Back in Taiohae we provisioned for a week and headed out on our circumnavigation of Nuka Hiva. Our first stop at Daniel's Bay was the site for the reality show Survivors Marquesas. It's a dramatic bay and the boat was dwarfed by thousand foot cliffs. The valley was magical and we spent three days there. We met a Marquesan family that we ended up spending part of our three days with and really enjoying. Teiki and Kua were a good source of information and we did quite a bit of bartering with them. One thing I love about the Marquesans is that they never ask for a hand out. They may ask if you have something to trade, but we found them fair and if anything overly generous. Whenever you visit a Marquesan home you are given a gift. We've been given loads of fruit over the last few weeks. Ana even received a black pearl necklace in Fatu Hiva. Teiki and Kua gave us mangos and pomplemousse. When Michael mentioned we had 22 caliber bullets we'd love to gift them back they added some freshly caught wild pig and goat meat. After they loaded us down with a banana stalk so heavy I couldn't carry it, a burlap bag of pomplemousse, fresh meat and a random assortment of other small fruits we felt like we needed to offer more. The bullets cost us $3 in the US, but they are like gold here, costing anywhere between $50 and $100 for the box, if they can be found at all. When I asked if there was anything else I could give them from the boat Kua brought out some old cocoa powder and asked if I would bake her a chocolate cake. The next morning we brought our cake ashore and they were like children at Christmas. Apparently the Marquesans do not have a baking culture, but they do love their baked treats so we are now going to try to have cookies or brownies ready whenever we expect visitors. Teiki and Kua live in a home year round amongst a half a dozen other small houses of family members. Most live in Taiohae and stay in the valley only a few weeks at a time to harvest fruit, but some are year round residents.
From the small "village" we walked up an old royal road (paved with flat stones and from a time when the valley was home to thousands of people). It was a magical walk with a goat trimmed path, lined with lush tropical flowers and fruit bearing trees. The entire valley was littered with pae pae's and other ruins just short jaunts from the path. We found rock walls, pae pae's, and even a few intact Tiki's. At one point we found a horse tied to the head of an old tiki. The locals are so used to living with antiquity that they often build their own houses upon the foundations of their ancestors or use an ancient relic to tie up livestock. One day we followed the path up to the second tallest waterfall in the world, Vaipo Falls (1100 feet tall). The trail was often overgrown, but we managed to find our way after walking about 2 hours. We forded the river several times, at one crossing we ran head to head into a very friendly 2 foot fresh water eel. From that point forward Ana was on Michael's back for the rest of the river crossings! From a mile away we could see the upper part of the falls, but not the lower and once we got to the base, the river canyon was so steep we could not see the upper portion of the falls. But the roar of the water was deafening and the mist was refreshing. It was a great hike and besides feeding the valley's mosquito population we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
From Daniel's Bay we moved on to the west side of the island and finally the north spending the night in Pua. We swam ashore only to have to have Zander return and pick us up with the dingy because we couldn't swim back with all the fruit we were given by one of the residents. Since we didn't bring anything ashore with us we returned later with a few canned items that were well received. Mike made a fantastic curried goat for dinner and we had a lovely flat anchorage to ourselves.
After several nights in empty bays it was fun to see some friendly boats when we turned into Anaho Bay on the NE corner of the island later in the week. We had dinner with an American couple a Dutch couple and a Canadian solo sailor. It was one of many lovely shared meals we've experienced with fellow cruisers in the Marquesas. We also snorkeled the only coral reef in the whole island group. Visibility is still pretty poor with the constant runoff from daily rain showers (downpours), but the small black tipped sharks in the shallows were a first for us, so a less than ideal day snorkeling is still usually a pretty good day! The boys have also been busy wake boarding behind the dingy, and that never gets old. They teamed up with a few other 40 year old kids and have been the local motor heads.
Tomorrow we head back to Taiohae for probably just a night before we head to our last island of Ua Pou.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron