We visited Ua Pou on our last stop in the Marquesas before heading south to the Tuamotus. Our expectations were low, since we didn't have much literature on the island, but the scenery blew our minds. When you approach the island the peaks poke through the clouds giving you the illusion of a majestic castle in the clouds. We thought we had seen the best of the best, but Ua Pou was really exceptional.
We stopped in two villages, Hakahetau and Haakuti. Haakuti was quaint and very small with the obligatory backdrop of breathtaking volcanic spires. We walked through the village, which was busy prepping for the Arinui 5 to come into port. The Arinui is a hybrid cruise ship cargo ship and it comes into many of the villages of French Polynesia monthly. They leave from Tahiti, stop in a dozen spots in the Tuamotus and then continue on to the Marquesas where they make another dozen stops. We've already overlapped ports once with the ship and there are some advantages. The artisans come out of the woodwork in town to show their wares to the passengers (80-100 of them) when the ship is in port. We get to see all the beautiful carvings and other artwork that the Marquesas are known for. They also often have some type of exhibit for the passengers; dancing, artwork demonstration, singing, etc., and we have tagged along in the past. The cruise/cargo ship is a brilliant combination; passengers get to see a part of the world that is virtually inaccessible except by private sailboat or small plane and villagers get much needed provisions. The villagers also get to ship fresh produce to Tahiti to sell and they were busy bundling up limes and pomplemousse to ship out while we were in town. After the excitement of the Arinui we hiked to a waterfall and found some flower stone rock (phonolite). This rare rock is only found in two places on the planet, on Ua Pou and a location in Brazil. A few pieces may have made it into our backpacks as souvenirs. Waterfalls are a dime a dozen in the Marquesas, but with the heavy rains we've experienced, they've often been a little muddy with run off. This time we managed to hit it perfectly and we had a beautiful pool of crystal clear water all to ourselves. A few freshwater eels made their presence, but none as big as the ones we saw in Daniel's Bay. One of the highlights of our visit to the village was the daily water park like activities for the kids at the pier. The surge in the harbor is pretty strong and the local "big" kids use the pier to jump and dive from and then get pushed in through the rushing water to the ramp on shore. The smaller kids slide down the algae covered ramp and dive into the swirling water at the bottom, only to get pushed back when the wave floods back in. Its hard to explain other than it is a free for all of rushing, gushing white water that the locals have all figured out how to navigate. The first day we were there, there must have been 30 kids on the ramp and pier, all having a great time. Our kids were welcomed, but the locals had spent their lives learning where every little crack and cranny was that could potentially scrape them up. Zander and Porter came back bruised and bloody, but all smiles. Zander's comment was "this would never be allowed in the USA". No, probably not, but it sure looked fun!
We then went to the village of Hakaetau, the more "cosmopolitan" of two larger villages on the island. The village, while a little more commercial looking, but it was still nestled in a beautiful valley with huge spires looming like sentinels around the periphery. Its an old story in the Marquesas; little town, huge peaks, cascading waterfalls, fruit everywhere...we are getting a little spoiled! While in town, we crossed paths with the arriving Hawaiian canoe named the Hokule'a. This was a boat we also saw in Panama and was on the tail end of their circumnavigation without any modern navigational equipment: no GPS, no sextant, only dead reckoning and an old Polynesian style of navigation using the stars. Not only was it fun to see the traditional looking vessel again, the locals put on a show for the arrivals including a local feast, dancing and music. On the world discoverer (my old ship) we often had villagers perform for us, and while it was great, they were performing for tourists. In this case the locals, who were in traditional dress, were performing as a celebration for their people as well as the visiting Hawaiian's and it felt very authentic. As the boat was arriving, all the local kids got in their dugouts and escorted them in. The mayor invited the anchored sailboats to join the festivities and we were glad we got to witness a real Polynesian celebration. We ate curried goat, poi (breadfruit mashed and soaked in coconut milk), poisson cru (ceviche style tuna soaked in coconut milk) and rice. There were a few delicacies absent that we've learned to avoid including the fermented breadfruit and fresh fish soaked in fermented fish liquid.
Alas, we are now coming to the end of our Marquesan visit. I recently asked the kids if visiting the Marquesas was worth the passage and they all enthusiastically replied "yes". It is a monumental effort to get here, but of our whole trip, these are probably the islands we will dream about the most on a rainy Portland winter day.....at least until we get back out here!
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