As many of you know, yesterday was Jenna’s birthday.
She started her day at midnight in Hakahau Bay on the Island of Ua-Pou. We were holed up there waiting for the wind to die down a bit before sailing 65 miles east (against the trade winds) to Hiva Oa. The weather forecast indicated there would be no wind that night, so we decided to do a night crossing, but it was a technically difficult anchorage to depart from. It was pitch black, there were no lights, and we were anchored within 100 feet of another big cat and a breakwater. She maneuvered the boat perfectly through the harbor in the darkness while I got the anchors up. We decided after leaving an Island harbor at night that we would NEVER try to enter one at night. But we both felt pretty good about our performance getting the boat out of there at night.
I love her madly.
We motored with no sails up in calm seas with a bit of a swell that night. There were lightning storms all around us, and at one point we motored 10 miles more to the east to get around one. Neither of us felt like getting hit by lightning, especially on Jenna’s birthday.
After the sun was up and we were in the Canal de Bordelais approaching Atuona, we came upon a large pod of dolphins. But this one appeared a little different from the pods we had seen over the years. There were dolphins jumping straight up, as if looking around, and then heading straight back down again, landing on their tails. As we got closer, we saw two mother dolphins with little babies swimming by their sides! Jenna believes she got photos of them! She said it was a wonderful birthday experience.
After that we anchored in Baie Tahauku, the small port for Atuona and the main entry point into the Marquesas for boats making the passage across the Pacific. There are 15 other boats here anchored closely together in 2 fathoms of water and a mud floor. We have our stern anchor down again and love the security it provides in tight spots like this.
There was no wind in the harbor, the humidity was quite high, and it felt HOT. Easily the hottest we had felt on the entire trip. Despite the fact that we had pulled an all-nighter, we told the kids they were going to have a movie day and we broke out a bottle of birthday champagne. Even though the bottle was chilled, Jenna requested birthday ice for her birthday champagne within 3 minutes.
Our immediate neighbor in the anchorage was a cat from Australia with a family onboard.They had come from Panama and had lost their steering during the passage. The captain/dad thinks they ran over a fishing net, because there was damage all along one of their hulls. After the incident, they stopped for 3 days in the open ocean to try to fix it. Apparently their rudder stock had bent and couldn’t move. They finally decided to rig two drogues (cloth buckets dragging behind them) as a makeshift steering mechanism and sailed 1,400 miles at 4 knots to make it to the Marqueses. They normally sail at 12-14 knots. He thinks it won’t be completely fixed until they haul the boat in Papeete.
After the champagne we put on swimsuits and paddle boarded around the harbor for a bit to meet our neighbors. They were mostly English, German, and Australian boats, including three Oysters. Oyster is a British company that makes luxury cruising monohulls, and they have organized a round-the-world-rally with 30 boats participating. We think we will be seeing most of them throughout the summer as we make our trip west across the islands.
We met an Australian family on a 30 foot sloop doing a great Pacific Circle route, and they came over to Sophie with their 2 year old boy. He watched Star Wars with Leo and Hazel while the parents enjoyed ice water in our shaded cockpit. (Ice maker anyone?)
After naps, we hiked over a hill and into town. It was very quiet, with 4 stores. They did have more art and native craft stalls than the harbor in Nuku Hiva, but overall it was a very quiet and hot Friday afternoon. We then celebrated Jenna’s birthday at the Black Pearl Lodge, a rustic French resort hotel at the top of the hill overlooking the entire southern end of the Island. It was a lovely and warm meal.
It’s now Saturday morning. (I can only write these posts when I get a reliable Internet connection). There is a big outrigger race today with teams from across the Marquesas assembled on the shore. We are listening to the pre-race ceremonial dancing and singing from across the harbor. Later, we will go our into the bay in the dinghy and watch the races. I think it will be a blast.
Finally, the best way for us to celebrate Jenna’s birthday is to share one of her passions with all of you. As you know, she loves to take photos and videos of our passage. The first four sets of photos since San Diego are now ready for sharing on this blog. Assuming we can find a good Internet connection, we’ll try to post them today and tomorrow.