Superted V

Blog & Photos - March 2012

Our passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas - a trip of 3091 miles - took us 18 days and 5 hours, arriving on the island of Hiva Oa at Atuona bay on March 16th.  All in all it was a very good passage which we both enjoyed - most of the time!  The 'laundry' days and a couple of frustrating days with no wind being the exceptions.   And yes we did get the spinnaker up!  We posted a daily blog on mailasail but have now included it here as a flotsam and added a couple of photos. 

The Marquesas are the northernmost group of volcanic islands belonging to French Polynesia.  The lush green vegetation and the sharp volcanic rock formations make for stunning scenery.  Both french and polynesian are spoken.  We met several of the 'locals' who were french nationals who, after their overseas posting - teaching or with the police or other government office - had decided to stay in French Polynesia - which wasn't surprising given the beauty and serenity of the islands.  But typically french - all the islands were very clean and tidy - no problem to dispose of our rubbish and always fresh water taps along the beaches and quays.  We were surprised at how prosperous it seemed to be with many 4 x 4 vehicles.  Fruit grows in abundance but we couldn't find it in the shops - you just had to ask a local if he had any spare to sell and more often than not we would come away with plenty.  There were also good pickings to be had on the walks we did.   We arrived to officially check in with the gendarmerie national on the island of Hiva Oa - after 18 days at sea we were glad to have a reasonably calm anchorage behind a sea wall and with such stunning scenery.  The village of Atuona was a 3 mile hike but invariably we were able to 'faire le stop' and someone would give us a lift. 

After we had welcomed in Jo and Trevor on Malarkey (3 days after us!!) it had started to get busy with the boats from the 'World ARC' also arriving so we hot footed it over to the nearby island of Tahuata for a bit of peace and quiet!  As we were dropping anchor we saw some black shapes in the clear blue water - at first we thought they were sharks but then we realised they were huge manta rays.  We had a great snorkel the next day with 2 in very close proximity - amazing creatures - so big but so gentle - a very special experience.  We also had another very close encounter - this time with several sharks who were swimming around the boat - I had been feeding a small friendly fish with some scraps of leftover tuna the previous evening and when we got in the water the next day there were 4 rather large sharks swimming around!  One of the silver tips had scars on his fins and apparently is known to the locals as being a bit mean so we didn't dangle our toes in the water for long!  There was no village near the anchorage but behind the palm trees, we found pamplemousse (a very large, very sweet grapefruit) and lime trees - no scurvy on our boat now!   We spent a few days visiting 2 other anchorages - one with a tiny village - with very welcoming locals and dolphins sweeping the bay early in the morning and the other a larger village where we were joined by a cruise/delivery ship which ferried the tourists ashore along with the supplies!

We had heard that the best island was Ua Huka, the smallest one in the northern part of the group but the anchorage could sometimes be a bit uncomfortable.  Anyway we decided to have a look at it - a great sail there - 60 miles in 7 hours - we arrived at 2pm - one other boat in the anchorage - but with the swells sweeping into the bay it was a case of now you see me now you don't.  We went in and on the 3rd attempt got the anchor down.  Sat and had a cuppa (as you do) and then decided that we weren't really that comfortable so we upped and went to investigate the only other 2 anchorages on the island - the first had a very narrow entrance with waves roaring around- no way!  The next was completely open to the swell - no way!   With the nearest island being about 30 miles away we really didn't have much of a choice but to go back to the first bay.  We got there and put 2 anchors down just before dark.  We had previously met Colin and Liz from the other boat (catamaran) - they called us on the VHF and told us they usually leave the boat at 6.30am and don't return until 5pm (the only way to survive the anchorage and their 2 young children were spending a week at the local school).  We arranged to meet them ashore the next day. We had a lovely day ashore - see flotsam - meeting locals and watching craftsmen carving tikis but that night was awful – we were pitching about wildly, the wind was all over the place, loads of squalls and we were quite often with either the side or the stern of the boat slamming into the waves – neither of us had much sleep. So the following day we uppped anchor early and sailed 35 miles to Ua Pou - thankfully the anchorage was very sheltered behind a sea wall.

                             Lat and Long 31st March:

                             09.21.514S   140.02.822W