Back at Sea

Well, after almost 3 weeks in the Marquesas we decided to slip out yesterday morning and sail the 500 miles to the Tuomotos. For the first time it’s just me, Jenna and the kids on an offshore passage. So far, so good, except for the multiple squalls that hit us last night. We even had to pull down the spinnaker at night in 35 knot gusts. We succeeded and are better people for it!

Since we left you last week on Jenna’s birthday, we had arrived and anchored in the main harbor of Hiva Oa. The highlight of the weekend was definitely an outrigger race involving 5 6-man boats from across the Marquesas. They paddled a 20 mile offshore course through 5 foot waves in 3 hours! The teams were amazing and nuts all at the same time. Afterwards there was a concert in town that featured Marquesan native rap singers, and it was a lot of fun.

For the next four days we anchored in Hanamoenoa Bay on Tahuata Island, and we all agreed it was the best anchorage we had ever been to in our entire lives. It featured a gorgeous white sandy beach with no no-nos — beach insects that suck the lifeblood out of you — and crystal clear water. We could see the sandy bottom 30 feet below Sophie. Best of all about the harbor was the fact that there were three other boats, and they all had families with children onboard. One was a Lagoon 500 from Germany with 2 teens, one was a steel sloop from Austria that had just completed a circumnavigation of the Americas last year (including the Northwest Passage), and the third was a cat from Australia that was on the final leg of its trip around the world. We spent hours with the other families floating in the surf, playing on the beach, picking grapefruits, and enjoying long sundowners on each others’ boats. During one spectacular sunset, we could all even see the island of Ua-Pou, almost 60 miles away.

It was an amazing and memorable experience, but eventually we had to leave and head on to Fatu Hiva, the southernmost island in the chain. It involved a 40 mile upwind slog followed by anchorage in “The Bay of Virgins”, a spectacular harbor with poor holding and 25 knot gusts that come down from a mountain. After a sleepless night there, we decided it was time to take off and head for the Tuomotus. We should arrive the day after tomorrow and are looking forward to snorkeling around coral islands.

The Marquesas are wonderful. If we didn’t have a 90 day limit on our stay in French Polynesia we would have stayed longer. We will definitely return, most likely after the Panama Canal (returning Sophie to Seattle via Hawaii and Alaska). But that won’t be for another 10 years or so. 🙂

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