Our passage from Hiva-Oa to Fatu-Hiva was only an 8 hour sail, but oh what a sail it was! We left at 6 AM. Right outside the anchorage the swells were big and the wind was strong. I was optimistic that I wouldn’t get seasick because I took something Jimmy swore by, (but I don’t honestly know what it was). 

It was a straight shot, no tacking. We put up all 4 sails and very little adjustment was needed. That part was nice, because the crew ended up being incapacitated and couldn’t help sail the boat. We went through 2 squalls in 1 hour – my first and second squalls, ever. The boat got broadsided by a breaking wave less than half way there. It swamped the cockpit and threw Marnie from one side to the other, hanging her leg up on the steering pedestal and then her face bounced off the lip of the other side. She bruised her leg and knee, her cheek and bridge of her nose and cut the side of her face a little. She was not a happy camper for a good while. I guess this is what crew abuse looks like…

And I got sick. I had to throw up on the high side of the boat because Marnie was slumped across the access to the low side and I got puke all over the side deck, the rail and on me. I did feel a lot better after that though. Brent gave me a Benadryl which seemed to help, but also made me sleepy. As we approached Fatu-Hiva and got behind the island, the winds calmed slightly and my outlook improved. Marnie and I were really wishing the wind would stop, but it didn’t – not for our entire stay here. A constant wind of 20+ kn was something we just had to get used to. Brent on the other hand, thought it was the best sail ever! This is what sailing is all about he said! This was my least favorite 8 hours of the trip so far. 

The anchorage is in the Bay of Virgins, which is supposedly the most beautiful place in the Marquesas. I can go along with that. It’s truly gorgeous. We are anticipating doing some nice hiking here.

By the second day, the wind started to taper off a bit, but it picked right back up again intermittently many times. The nights were very windy and full of periodic rain clouds that dumped for a short period of time – just enough to make us close our hatches a billion times throughout the night. Even with the wind, it’s too hot to keep the hatches closed for very long. 

We hiked to a big waterfall (Le Grand Cascade), which was about a 5 mile hike. The trail was jungle-like and full of exotic bird sounds and mosquitoes, but wow, was it beautiful! The waterfall was pretty tall and had flowing water, but the base of the falls were obscured with a pile of trees and bushes that had perhaps been pushed there by a flood of water from above, or from further upstream. Brent had a preconceived notion of jumping in the pool at the base of the falls and that was not at all possible, plus the water was kind of stagnant. This was still our favorite hike so far. It was just so uniquely Fatu-Hiva. 

We met a fellow cruiser from Scotland, named Robert Fox. He had single-handed the passage from Chile on a pretty small boat, to the Marquesas in 38 days. He said he would have liked to have had some crew, but he doesn’t have a water-maker, so he had to bring all the water he could carry and that would only be enough for him. His dingy was a row boat without a motor. It resembled a cute little bathtub. He informed us a great deal about the village and about trading for fruit. We were extremely interested in doing this, since we had very little fresh fruit left.

On an evening walk through town, we managed to run into the very woman who Robert had described as being an avid trader. Her name was Marie Priscilla and she lived with her husband, her 2 sons and her father. They brought us right into their kitchen to discuss the trade. We had some Polynesian printed fabric that we had gotten in Fiji and that was something she wanted, along with a belly pack and a bracelet made of polished shells. Her father was doing a side deal with Brent for some fishing lures. One of the sons knew some English and was very helpful with his Grandpa’s deal. Not only did they load us up with as much fruit as we could carry, they also invited us to dinner, which appeared to be boiled chicken and veggies. This was all communicated with sign language, Google Translate and our worst French. It worked beautifully, even though they speak Polynesian as their first language and that isn’t available on Google Translate. 

We walked away with a full bunch of green bananas, some ripe bananas, 6 Pamplemousses (like large grapefruit), a bag of limes and a few oranges, 3 papayas and a coconut. Since we didn’t have the fishing lures with us, we promised to bring them after church the following day. Extremely satisfied with our transaction, we happily struggled to lug all the fruit to the dingy. 

The next day, Sunday, Robert accompanied me to mass at the Catholic church. He had told us how beautiful it was to hear the singing in Polynesian, so I really wanted to go. We took a seat in the center of the church, where we could see the choir and we coincidentally sat right behind Marie Priscilla. I was completely enjoying the singing and the sounds of the mass being said in Polynesian. It was just before communion and I got a text message from Brent saying we had to leave now! The tidal surge in the cove where the dingy dock is had become scary and tumultuous. He had come back with Marnie to pick me up and they were worried they would be hurled  into the rocky breakwater, or against the concrete dock. Robert and I exited rather abruptly and walked quickly to the dinghies, but not before handing Marie Priscilla 2 lures in a baggie for her dad. Everything turned out fine. Robert even managed to row his little bathtub out of harms way. 

One observation about this island, was that the construction quality of the homes and the infrastructure for utilities seemed to be the best out of the islands we had visited. Mostly concrete and concrete block were used, along with surface plastering and some wood framing too. We marveled at how hard and expensive it must be to import building materials here and how do they afford to do this? There are very few obvious sources of income that we could see here. There is a power generating station in the center of the town and water purification was also located in the same buildings. Since they don’t have an airport, this island doesn’t get as many tourists as it could, just cruisers like us. It seems to make the community is very close knit and like a big family. I have also met some dogs I’d like to smuggle onboard. Every island has had lots of dogs and some cats, but the cutest ones have been here. 

Most Marquesans seem to be avid Petanque players and each town or village has their own teams and leagues. The tournaments are pretty serious and most of the graphics on the local’s T-shirts they wear represent their team. We have come to know the name of this game as Boules, or Boche Ball, but Petanque is uniquely French. The balls are slightly lighter and smaller than Bocce balls, but the games are very similar. We brought our Boules set on the boat with us, but I’m not sure what the Marquesans would think of playing Boules instead of Petanque. The purists would probably turn up their noses at us. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Gio Jones July 8, 2022 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I keep coming back to this post. Looks like a great place to rock climb. Thanks for sharing such awesome pics!

  2. Avatar
    Craig Augsburger August 21, 2022 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Outstanding photos and excellent writing Beth! Loved the bouquet with the cat and Madonna on the table!

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