Exploring the Marquesas together with Sylke and Michel

Atuona in Hiva Oa

So finally we have arrived at Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. Our eyes are very pleased to look at the steep green slopes, what a change after 37 days surrounded by water. Of course, soon we realize why everything is so green here…

Finally arrived after 37 days at sea!
beautiful rainbow in the bay of Atuona
Tikis and paepaes at the artisanal market in Atuona, Hiva Oa
inbetween the rain we have a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains

After a good night sleep we get our walking shoes on and enjoy the 45 min walk to the village of Atuona, where we present ourselves at the Gendarmerie in order to check in. Being Swiss and belonging to Schengen this is easily done and we don’t even get a stamp in our passports.

Next thing we check out the village, have a look at the few supermarkets and get our first french bread. We see and learn that vegetables are scarce, many locals tell us that this is due to the unusual amount of rain.

We purchase a Vini Wifi card at the post office, but have to find out that it only works well right next to the post office.
After our first Hinano and Heineken we walk back to the harbor and find some nice cucumbers at the gas station, well, better than nothing…

The next two days we are busy cleaning up the boat because on Thursday, the 13th of April, our friends Sylke and Michel are arriving from Switzerland (via Amsterdam, LA and Papeete).
After getting on board of She San Sylke soon doesn’t feel so well, since the swell is making the boat move almost like outside in the ocean. We quickly decide to spend the afternoon on land and do everything in order to be able to leave for a more quite anchorage the next day.

at the grave of Paul Gauguin

So we have another walk to the village, pay another visit to the gendarmerie and since everything else is closed (due to eastern) we check out the cementary with the grave of Paul Gauguin.
Due to rain and tired feet we decide to take a break at the pizzeria, goood decision! Even the small pizzas are more than enough for two persons and it is the only place in town with free wifi we learn!

Hana Moe Noa and Hana Tefua Bay in Tahuata

On Friday noon we move over to Tahuata into the beautiful bay of Hana Moe Noa. Here it is perfect to clean the barnecles and algea from the underwater ship and at the side of the bay the snorkeling is a lot of fun.

in the beautiful bay of Hana Moe Noa in Tahuata

On Easter Sunday we move a few miles south into the bay called Hana Tefua. We plan to visit the village, which is supposd to be very friendly but the unusual high swell coming from the West makes a landing impossible. Instead we invite Kristy and Dan from the Te Poe Rava to enjoy the Sundowner together with us, so we have a good time chatting and munching Pop Corn and Chips together with Rum Punch…

To Hanavave in Fatu Hiva

Fatu Hiva in sight

After a horrible shaky night we get up at 5 am in order to go to Fatu Hiva, the southernmost of the Marquesan islands. We have to engine almost all the way, good for our water and electricity balance. Only the last hour we have enough wind to put up the Parasailor.

also the Aranui 5 has just arrived
the impressive stones in the bay of Hanavave
the village road in Hanavave, Fatu Hiva
at the bridge in Hanavave

In addition to the many sailing vessels also the cruise/commercial ship Aranui 5 just anchored in the bay and many transports of tourists and goods are moved back and forth the whole afternoon.
In the middle of this action we are happy to find a safe spot to anchor.

Later in the afternoon we make our first excursion into the village. The people are extremely friendly, everybody gives us a smile, we feel well and welcome right away. The houses and gardens are well kept and there is absolutely no litter to be found anywhere. For me and Reto this is quite a change after Panama, especially the Puerto Lindo and San Blas area…

the waterfall is especially powerful after the heavy rainfalls this morning

The next day we do the obligatory hike to the cascade, the waterfall and due to the heavy rainfalls in the morning it must be especially beautiful for us. It is also extremely wet and we don’t even get close to the little pool because of the heavy spray. But also the moskitoes are more than nasty, so we quickly decide to move away and have our picknick a bit further away.

Back in the village we pass by at the house of Veronika and Rodolpho who we already met the evening before. We had agreed to exchange an old anchor that we don’t use anymore for some fruit. Veronika first of all serves us pieces of chilled pomelo, incredibly refreshing!!

Rodolpho brings us a full load of fruits

Then we get a bundle of bananas, pomelos, papayas, lemon and cherimoyas as well as pommes cyternes and Rodolpho helps us to carry them to the dinghy. Only then he sees the anchor which makes his eyes also shine brightly like mine do when I look at all the fruit.

We are in France, the grass on the side of the road is being cut!
view down to the anchorage
from far we thought it was a restaurant…

The following day we start for the hike up to the view point. We follow the main road which is very steep but in an excellent condition. On the way up we meet a man in charge of cutting the grass at the side of the road. Well, also this we haven’t seen for a long time anymore…

The views are worth the sweat and we have our picknick looking down at the She San in the bay at our feet.

a coulorful small bird
Rodolpho is scraping the nut
Sylke tasting the fresh coconut flakes
Rodolpho shows Reto how to turn the nut
then the milk is pressed out
Rodolpho shows us the anchor which is now clean and without rust

Back down in the village Veronika surprises us with an ice cold self made limonade while Rodolpho starts to show us how to prepare coconit milk from coconuts.

First he gets rid of the bast around the nut, then opens the nut with the machete. The water in the lower half we drink immediately.

Then he gets out his coconut scraper tool, which is fixed to a piece of wood, on which he can sit on. Next step is the scraping out of the white meat.
Once this is done, he mixes a bit of water into the flakes and presses the milk out of the flakes through a piece of cloth. And ready is the fresh made coconut milk!

With this process the residual flakes are still so tasty, that we use them in cakes or with the oatmeal in the morning.

while David is sewing his kajak, Reto is repairing the radio of Rodolpho
rainbow in Hanavave
and once again a beautiful sunset

On the way back to our dinghy we meet Pearl and David in the pouring rain sewing their kajak under two little umbrellas. It doesn’t take long to persuade David that he should better use our sewing machine.

So while Pearl is waiting in the rain, David is sewing his kajak sewing his kajak in our cockpit next to Reto who is fixing the radio from Rodolpho and chasing behind the cockroaches that jump out of the radio.. What an action. In the meantime I make my first coconut cake whis is well approved and quickly eaten…

Back to Tahuata

Then we head back to Tahuata, but this time at least we have wind for more than half the passage. We visit again the Hana Moe Noa bay and enjoy the more or less clear water and the snorkeling. In between the frequent showers the visibility is good enough to enjoy the new species of reef fish and Reto and I even see a small black tipped reef shark.

Hanamenu on Hiva Oa

the Hanamenu bay in the northeast of Hiva Oa
drawing circles around the She San…
of course all bananas are ripe at the same time…
2 bonitos with 5.5 kg each – our food for the next couple of days

After two nights we move to the bay of Hanamenu in the northwest of Hiva Oa.
The water here is very brown and we see a characteristic black triangle looking out of the water  doing circles around our She San.

After some engine maintenance the following morning we start at noon for an overnight passage on to Nuku Hiva, which is 75 nm away.

We have good sailing conditions and just enough wind, so we move with 5 knots using the screacher.

In the afternoon Reto sees birds and the moment he says “there should be fish here” we have two 5.5 kg bonitos on each rod. Good thing so the thuna reserve is replenished just in time.

While I clean the fish fillets Sylke and Michel make an awesome and large bowl of Kokoda. This is a polyneisian recipe for raw fish in lime, vegetables and coconut milk and probably the same as the poisson cru they make here (but we didn’t try yet).

Unfortunately once finished Sylke prefers to go to sleep instead of getting sea sick and also the rest of us is not so hungry after dealing with all that fish.
With 3 people sharing the watch it is an easy night and we arrive 2 hours too early in Taiohae.

Taiohae on Nuku Hiva

With the first sunlight we go into the bay which is so large that it is no problem in finding a place to anchor.

After a quick breakfast we get into the dinghy and go to town. Michel urgently needs to have a doctor to look at his leg. A small wound from getting into the dinghy got infected in the sea water after almost being healed and has become severly infected within the last few hours.

Michel is getting professional care and has the best room of the hospital
view of a part of Taiohae
a new modern Tiki
in this rain it is better to wait a few minutes…

He immediately gets an infusion with antibiotics and the doctor keeps him at the hospital. He is lucky, the only single bed room having an aircon is free. Also this is the only hospital in the Marquesas, what a coincidence that we just arrive here this morning.

The rest of the She San crew spends the next two days checking out the village with the 3 supermarkets and using the sometimes working wifi connections of the two restaurants next to the pier.

view down on the bay of Taiohae
the Tikis and Paepaes of Taipivai
on the beach of Hatiheu
we enjoy our picknick lunch, luckily protected from the rain…
we look at the “Dents du Midi”, the pinacles of Aakapa

One day before their return flight to Papeete we rent a car to explore the island.

We start at noon to the bays in the northeast of Nuku Hiva. It goes up and up on a steep mountain road, well maintained but in these days full with stones and mud slides. On the other side we reach the valley of Taipivai and visit our first site of paepaes (house platforms) and tikis (sculptures).

Further up the road just before reaching Hatiheu we find another archeological site with many paepaes and me’aes (temple platforms).

The former inhabitants of this region seam to have been quite infamous for their cannibalism. Today it is only the mosquitoes that attack me although I just pit the second layer of deet on my feet. I run back to the car and decide for myself that the history has to wait for another time…

We reach Hatiheu where we turn left and make our way until the view point to the pinnacles of Aakapa. A great place to enjoy the lunch picknick with cheese from Switzerland, selfmade bread and hummus.

looking at landscape and road we almost feel like in Switzerland..
on the “view point” in front of the grand canyon
Nuku Hiva airport
a landslide is blocking our passage

The next morning we follow the road to the other side of the island until the airport.

At a height of 800 m the landscape starts to change, we move past cows and horses in meadows that remind me of France or Switzerland rather then the South Pacific.

Soon after we stand on the edge of the mountains in the mist with needle trees instead of bananas and coconut palms.

On the airport we have to say goodbye to Sylke and Michel who will spend a few more days ins Moorea before flying back home.

We rush back to bring back the rental car, but soon stand blocked behind a land slide blocking the road. No chance to pass, we have to wait for a truck able to clean the road.

On the other side of the road there are Aniata and Jerome, also being blocked by the slide. Jerome needs to go to the airport, but we should bring back our car – no problem, Aniata knows Antonio from the car rental and calls him that we are blocked and we use the time and bring Jerome to the plane…

Now we are back on our She San and “the vacation” is over, there is a lot to do: cleaning the boat, engine service, small repairs, laundry, blog… good that the weather forecast doesn’t show us any good sailing weather anyway, so we will for sure stay another couple of days…

One thought on “Exploring the Marquesas together with Sylke and Michel”

  1. Hey ihr zwei – wir sitzen hier im Aprilwetter, freuen uns für euch und über eure Berichte – ganz liebe Grüße! Monika Stefan Felix von der Mira

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *