Last Thursday we finally left Taiohae Bay and sailed 20 miles up around to the northeast corner of Nuku Hiva and dropped an anchor at Anaho Bay. A strong easterly was blowing, and we pounded heavily until we could turn the corner and sail on a beam reach up the east coast of the island. Then the wind died, 2 dolphins came out to say hello and everything was just great.
We were told that Anaho Bay was the best anchorage in the Marquesas, and we had to agree. We were surrounded on four sides with volcanic cliffs with sandy beaches and cocoanut groves at the water’s edge. The only other boat in the harbor was a small sloop with an older suntanned Canadian couple. We never really spoke with them, but we enjoyed watching them swim their dinghy to the beach and then paddle it back to their boat, canoe style.
With an air temperature near 100 and a sea temperature near 90, we didn’t do much on Friday except swim. The kids got to play with their snorkel gear for the first time in a year. There was coral at Anaho, but it was too deep to be interesting. 40 people live in the village there, but when we went to explore the town we didn’t see too much other than kids playing on the beach.
On Saturday we set out for adventure and the neighboring town of Hatiheu Bay. Our ATV tour guide Dofred – whose real name was Fredo, but his wife didn’t want to call him the same thing as her last 2 boyfriends so she reversed his name – suggested that if our dinghy engine was big enough we could bypass the 90 minute cliff hike to Hatiheu by simply motoring around the point separating the two bays. This involved being out in the open ocean. It was a bit of a white knuckled trip, but I am glad to report that at this point our two little ocean kids think it is completely normal to be out in 8 foot swells and chop in a small dinghy whose engine failed twice (loose fuel tank connector) completely out of sight from any sigh of other human beings, including boats and houses.
Anyway, Hatiheu was beautiful. We hiked up to the archeological tiki above town and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the jungle. We then visited the church, where the locals we laying out flowers and preparing bonfires in advance of their Easter Vigil service Saturday night. We considered going back to Sophie and taking her over to Hatiheu so we could attend, but it was too hot and logistically challenging in too short a time for us to do so.
So we did another white knuckled open ocean trip back to Anaho, where we were greeted by my best and favorite surprise so far on our trip. It turns out that Sophie increased the amount of juice in her batteries while we were gone for the day! Her solar panels and windmills, expensive gear that added a lot of weight to her back side, so to speak, were delivering on their promise of tradewind anchorage energy conservation. The solars were generating 22 amps, and the windmills were at 15-20 depending on the gust. Steve and Kent — all of this stuff actually works. And the small red LED display that shows the amount of electricity being produced by the windmills has now replaced the ice maker as my favorite part of the boat.
The kids discovered 2 Easter baskets in the main salon on Sunday morning. They had spent a week expressing serious concern about whether or not the Easter Bunny’s coverage area included 40 person villages on the outer edges of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands. The bunny delivers, and 90 minutes after basket discovery Leo and Hazel were lying on couches complaining of stomach aches.
At that point we decided to pull anchor and enjoy an Easter Sunday sail down to Taipivai, the town where Herman Melville lived after jumping ship from a whaler at the age of 23. It was a beautiful afternoon, and we followed the sail with pork loin a la Richy — seared pork loin covered with apples and vegetables slow roasted in the oven in a Le Creuset pot with the lid on. I am not sure if it was the candy or the pork or the tropical night air or the iced cocktails, but somehow after our Sophie Easter dinner we wound up having a dance party involving increasingly outlandish costumes worn by Leo and Hazel. It was such a blast, and we have to thank our friends Chuck and Cath for their gift of music.
After the dance party, the girls crashed and Leo and I stayed up until midnight watching the film “Midway”. Leo claims I look like Cliff Robertson.
Monday saw us set out on a hike we were woefully unprepared for, a 3 hour post-dance party, post-“Midway” trek through a very hot village then up a jungle cliff to a small tiki in a field. It was a national holiday, so none of the stores that could provide the promised ice cream and cold Orangina were open. But we survived, made it back to Sophie and then motored the 6 miles to back Taiohae Bay where we anchored next to a 150 foot super sloop.
We’ll check out of Nuku Hiva today, then start sailing southeast to explore the rest of the Marquesas, including Ua-Pou, Hiva-Oa, Tahuata and Nuku-Hiva. We are having a great time, and it was a lovely and peaceful way to spend a long Easter weekend in paradise.