We made the good decision to go to Tahuata for a few days while we were waiting for a new regulator to come in from Tahiti for the engine. The 2-hour afternoon sail from Atuona, Hiva-Oa to Tahuata was pretty short, even though we had little wind to sail and the engine wouldn’t go over 5.3 kn. Our targeted bay was one that is known to have dolphins and mantas called Hanamoenoa Bay. We called it Dolphin Bay because we’re having difficulty remembering Polynesian names of places. 

The first things we noticed about our anchorage was that the breeze was strong – which was very welcome. Secondly, the white sand beach is densely populated with palms, making it look like a paradise movie set. We watched a lovely sunset and later we shined a bright search light out on the water to see if we could attract any mantas. All we attracted were schools of bait fish, but it was still fun. 

After consulting the book All the Colours of Polynesia that I read prior to this trip, the author Jasna Tutu, wrote about meeting Steve – the sole inhabitant of this cove in 2016. He was apparently generous with what little he had and he shared fruit with visitors and liked the chocolate chip pancakes the author shared with him in return. He had a garden and was often spotted lobster hunting at night, off the rocks on either side of the bay. From the photo of him in the book he looked to be in his late 30’s. The author and her boyfriend spent 2 different stints of time with him. They took him to the neighboring cove (where he knew and was related to most of the villagers) to get supplies and spent one Christmas with him. 

Unfortunately, we found out after our return to Hiva-Oa that Steve died of ciguatera in 2021. He had 3 serious bouts of it and the last one did him in. He left behind his 8×8 shack with a neatly made bed that his walking stick was placed on top of, along with a copy of his French ID. This did look like a memorial of sorts, but I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. His little home only had enough room for a simple nightstand made of plywood, a square table pushed up, into the corner and his single bed. No electricity. No water. No bathroom. No kitchen. He had build a very nice dining/gathering enclosure a short distance in front of his shack. This structure had elaborately woven side panels that infilled between support posts. It had a woven thatch table top and the table and benches were hewn from palm trunks. There was a wind chime and woven basket hanging above the table.  There was evidence of a fire pit and some other stick racks that looked like they were for hanging or drying things. I saw no signs of a garden, but there was a long run of black PVC pipe that could have brought fresh water from a spring, I suppose. It looked like he had been gone far longer than a year. What a tragedy. I was hoping to meet him and make chocolate chip pancakes for him! 

The following day, I set up my portable elliptical on the deck and spent 15 minutes testing it out. This was the perfect situation to use it – calm seas, a good breeze and cooler temps. The neighbors anchored closest to us told me later that they thought I was generating power when I was pedaling away! Not a bad idea…

After exploring our bay and the adjacent one, as well as walking from end to end on the beach, we concluded that this would be a very challenging place to live. If you don’t have a hearty supply of fruit trees, a fresh water source and a way to get other supplies, it would be a test of a person’s fortitude to survive here. There are goats on the island, like the others we’ve visited and they are a good source of protein if you get tired of fish. Steve’s shack had a goat skull proudly mounted to a post on the front. He should have eaten more goats…it might have saved his life.

The star gazing has been awesome! The Milky Way is so visible here. We can see shooting stars and satellites in a matter of minutes. The clouds have not obscured our nighttime viewing here, like they continually did in Hiva-Oa, plus there is no light pollution here. We know we should enjoy this as much as possible because it’s unlikely that we’ll have this clarity of the sky anytime  soon. 

Our final boat project before pulling up the anchor to head back to Hiva-Oa to get our engine regulator, was to scrape the barnacles and algae off the hull this afternoon. Brent is adamant that we’re going to go faster when we’re done. More likely we’ll go faster because he changed the oil filter for the engine today. This was a very nice side trip and it really refreshed us after sweltering in Hiva-Oa. 

Good news – the regulator seemed to do the trick. Along with the bottom cleaning and the oil and filter change, the boat was back up to speed for our next passage. 

 

 

 

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