Safely into Hiva Oa after a sporty passage yesterday. Since the equator we had a south east swell on our beam. On yesterday's passage we now had a north east swell on our beam ! The approach was simple but never fun to see big waves smashing onto the rocks on either side of the entrance to the little harbour here. Nice to be anchored solidly with good holding and no gusts.
No internet here so likely will see what we can find in Atouna tomorrow when we clear in.
Greetings & Salutations :)
We woke early today (not quite at first light, which on this sunset-at-5:30pm timezone is crazy early) and weighed anchor after stowing/securing a few things at 7:25 am. Good thing we secured for sea - from the minute we left our anchorage until we came past the breakwater into Atuona (Hiva Oa) at around 2:00 pm the boat was rolling from side to side like crazy. Max and Nancy drove the boat and I kept the kids in the aft cabin. Since it was just a one-day passage, we just had to get there, without worrying much about meals or watches. It was a long and tiring few hours. Max had the autopilot doing the driving, but he still stood at the helm and hovered over the steering wheel the whole time, because despite how well the autopilot was doing, it wasn't a given that a big wave wouldn't knock us off course [Also, was trying to find a course that minimized the discomfort and watched for the waves to start breaking. With the gusts near 30 also bore off a few times to reduce the apparent wind on the boat. Max}. The only thing we could thing of worse than going from Fatu Hiva to Hiva Oa (downwind) in the seas this morning was going from Hiva Oa to Fatu Hiva (upwind) in the seas the night before last, which is when our two friends on Rhapsody did the trip. As for me, I braced one leg in each direction to stay stable, and the kids read/slept beside (V&J) and on top (B) of me the whole way.
Grumbling about the conditions of the passage aside, it was lovely to arrive in Hiva Oa. The anchorage is beautiful, surrounded on all sides by green hills (and large nice houses - it is a much bigger center than Fatu Hiva), and protected from the sea by a breakwater, which means that the anchorage is (thus far) flat and calm. Everyone here uses a "stern anchor" as well as their usual bow anchor, which means that all the boats are held facing the same way regardless of wind/current. This lets more boats anchor in a small area (which is good ... other cruisers seem much more comfortable than we are in close quarters). We dropped our bow anchor near the stern of another boat, backed up further than we would eventually be, set the anchor (which means driving backwards on it to make sure that it will hold in big winds), then dropped our stern anchor, set the stern anchor, and took up chain in front while we let out line in the back until we were nicely balanced between both anchors, and a comfortable distance from the other boat. For the first time in days, it seems that conditions tonight will let Max get a full night's sleep without anchor and wind alarms waking him regularly. [I have the stern anchor rode now run to the large electric primary winch - a Barient 36 rough;y equivalent to a power ratio of 65 on a modern winch. Two big snatch blocks give the stern rode a fair lead around the deck boxes. Max]
Backtracking a bit, we had a fun visit yesterday morning before our hike. Just as I was boiling the kettle for coffee & oatmeal (the usual breakfast aboard Fluenta), I heard a cheery exchange of "good mornings" from Max and someone approaching the boat. On our outing to town the previous day, Max had made conversation with another boat (Defiance), which had the insignia of our watermaker company, Spectra, on their bow, asking if they were sponsored by them. "It's my company" was the reply. The cheery good morning was from the owner and his wife who had dropped over to have a look at our watermaker installation and offer any suggestions to optimize it. Now our watermaker has been blessed by its manufacturer, and we have the name of a company in New Zealand who will overhaul and upgrade one of our pumps for us when we get there this fall. Fun. You never know who you will meet on the other side of the world :)
Tomorrow we will lay low and spend some time restoring order post-passage (cleaning, laundry, organizing cubbies, tallying supplies, etc) and we will check into French Polynesia on Monday. We are all looking forward to a peaceful few days, relaxing and enjoying every minute that we have with Nancy before she flies home to Canada on Wednesday.
Love to all,
PS Dinner was Mom's Sweet & Sour Meat Crumbles (aka S&S Meatballs, but who has time to make meat balls when everyone is hungry and turning on the oven heats up the entire cabin?), Coconut Chicken, rice and some of Allison's chocolate for dessert. We still have apples and potatoes in the pantry, but otherwise we are eating canned veg with each meal. One of tomorrow's projects is to use about a dozen ripe bananas in as many ways as we can think of, and the other is to finally put the grommets into the flags we made so we can hoist our French, French Polynesian, and "Q" (Quarantine) flags early tomorrow.
At 5/18/2014 1:57 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 09°48.00'S 139°02.00'W
We went on an expedition today - there is a high waterfall on Fatu Hiva that is a 2hr (round trip) walk from the anchorage. We packed a picnic, and set off on reasonably sturdy post-passage legs in the late morning, and had a picnic at the top. The path was described rather benignly in our guidebook, but it turned out to be a bit tricky as we got nearer to the waterfall (nothing too surprising, but I found it funny that another hike in the next paragraph was noted as requiring sturdy shoes and water, while this one made no mention of the rocky path that we would eventually be scrambling over). It was a good thing that we were all strong and sure-footed. Benjamin rode along quite obliviously in his carrier, sound asleep most of the way. Once we started eating our picnic, however, it was a different story - he was wide awake and looking for lunch! I had never imagined seeing a five month old baby eating (our last Mexican) grapefruit, but I watched it today. He made sour faces, but he chowed down on it and reached for more! We are all having fun watching Benjamin experiencing foods for the first time :) Pictures to follow once we have wifi ...
As we walked by what looked like a chicken coop or a bunny house (raised screened room with a roof) we noticed that it was full of pieces of coconut. It turns out that the local people dry the coconut for several days, then they ship it off-island (Hiva Oa or Papeete) where it is processed to make coconut oil. This led to a conversation with the people who were leaving for the day, which led to trading for more pamplemousse and bananas. This time the woman asked if I had anything for eczema, so instead of tea towels, we traded a little tube of lotion and a tube of ointment. Nancy and Johnathan went to her house with her to get the fruit, while Max took me back to the boat by kayak for the trading items. Even though they were just coming to get fruit, once Nancy and Johnathan got to their house, they also offered banana treats; even as strangers, they were guests. It turns out that her 7 month old baby has really rashy skin, so I was glad that we were able to help. Now we have *lots* of bananas!
We had left our evening plans open, but once we got back to town, we found out that it was too late to arrange the Marquesan dinner, as we are leaving in the morning for Hiva Oa, so we saved our pennies (actually our gasoline) and invited our friends from SV Rhapsody for dinner instead. Rhapsody arrived from La Cruz last week after 37 days at sea, hand-steering most of the way, and they anchored beside us this morning.
All the boys were again waiting for Max when we got back to the boat launch, so he took me back to Fluenta and was good-humoured with them swimming and holding onto the boat. Their smiles are infectious!
Dinner was chicken strips and brown rice in what was supposed to be Allison's coconut / lime / soya sauce, but I think I will have to follow the recipe a bit better next time :) Thankfully, everyone was positive about their dinner and asked for seconds, then we shared a pamplemousse as a first dessert and a bar of dark chocolate as our second dessert. No one went home hungry :)
The anchorage has gotten really busy since we arrived. When we got here, there were two little boats, a big Swan (probably 70 ft) and a 45 ft Lagoon catamaran. We thought it was crowded then and it took us a few attempts to anchor in a way that we were satisfied with our swing room both with other boats and with the rocks (especially given the huge gusty winds we were experiencing). This morning, I counted 14 other boats in the anchorage! I guess it wasn't so busy on Tuesday after all... [A big fancy trimaran, Traveler, with a rotating carbon mast etc anchored right upwind from us. In the night we were less than a boat length from them. I figure our solid fiberglass hull would trump their fancy cored hull ... They had tomove to let us weigh anchor. Max]
We have an early start in the morning, so I will sign off and wish you a good night!
PS - We have changed time zones 3 1/2 times since leaving Mexico (UTC - 9.5). We are 6.5 hours behind Halifax and 2.5 hours behind BC. It is still the same day here, as we haven't crossed the date line yet.
At 5/15/2014 12:42 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 10°27.94'S 138°40.11'W
The boat is quiet, the 30 kt gusts of wind have eased for the moment (we are getting gusts to 15 kts instead, which is much more reasonable!), and just before going to bed I couldn't resist sending a quick email :) I am really enjoying staying in closer touch than we did in Mexico ... but I am also worried that if I "fall off the wagon" and skip a day, you might not hear from me for months! So, here we go ...
We went ashore for the first time today ... dinner last night was overtaken by the winds that were blowing through the anchorage, so we didn't feel comfortable leaving the boat (in fact, Max didn't even feel comfortable sleeping, so he rested in short segments between anchor and wind alarms). After the resulting slow morning and lunch time, we went ashore. The easiest small boat to launch from Fluenta is our double kayak, so Max got his exercise ferrying us into shore in two lots. This turned out to be kind of a fun thing to have done, because the local children were fascinated by our orange boat, and before we left to come back he took some of them for a bit of a ride/play. They wanted to try it themselves, but I had images of our family car going out past the breakwater and straight into the Pacific, so we insisted that Max would drive and they would go along. It reminded me of the question of how many people can fit into a VW bug ... how many little children could pile onto our kayak at once! They had such fun clambering aboard and then jumping off that he never did need to take them more than 20 feet from shore. The local people seem to appreciate that we are Canadian and that we can speak to them in French. They also told us some words in their Marquesan language, but these didn't seem to want to stick for me.
The town is sweet - very tidy, lush, green, and well maintained. There is a small store, but because we haven't been to the bank (and I didn't end up getting Euros in Mexico, let alone FP Francs) we will have to see about any shopping (one lady offered to buy our bread for us and we could give her something in exchange. She turned out to be one of the ladies who host the dinners, so we will talk to her again in the morning and see what we come up with). We think we will go back tomorrow and do a 2hr hike to a waterfall which is supposed to be beautiful. Hopefully it is an easy hike, because our legs feel like we have been sitting on a boat for a month!
The most fun part of today actually happened on board Fluenta ... we decided to let Benjamin (who has been grabbing at anything headed for our mouths for the last six weeks) have some food. I have been letting him suck the juice from apples for a week or so, but this Mexican baby's first actual food was South Pacific pamplemousse! He knew exactly what to do with it, and grabbed for more when we offered. We followed this up with rice at dinner, which he shoved in his mouth by the fistful! The kids were so excited to feed him that they even willingly swept up the debris field around him once dinner was over:) We have entered a new phase, for sure.
In case the muse does not strike tomorrow, our tentative plan is to stay here one more night (hike and dinner ashore tomorrow, we think) and then sail to Hiva Oa on Saturday (day sail of about 40-50 nm). Nancy's flights are booked back to Canada on Wednesday (thanks Marilyn!) so we will have a few days there to enjoy Atuona, do our official paperwork, and be ready.
The adventure continues ...
PS - Thanks for your emails. Sometimes I have a second to reply and sometimes I don't, but I grin with happiness with each one that arrives. Even though we are far away, it is so nice to hear about gardens, and moons, and children, and travel. It makes me feel much closer.
At 5/15/2014 12:42 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 10°27.94'S 138°40.11'W
I just had to write ... we feel like we really *are* at anchor in French Polynesia now - ie we have arrived!
After no rain to speak of in the last six months, we have had bucketing rain every few hours overnight and today. It lasts just long enough to have us close all the hatches, and then it stops. In the misty light today, the palm-covered cliff faces are vibrant shades of green & yellow, especially in contrast to the wisps of grey clouds that are blowing down from the high hills. Every few minutes we get a gust of wind that takes us from about 5 kts to 20 kts in the space of a minute or two...
..but, the biggest reason that it feels like we are really cruising is that we have done our first trade :) We had a couple come and visit our boat this morning with bananas and pamplemousse from their home. Pamplemousse may generally translate to English as grapefruit, but these (famous) south pacific pamplemousse are unlike *anything* we have ever eaten. They are so tasty that we can't even describe what they are like. Here are are some words that the kids came up with - Johnathan - unpredictable (sometimes as sour as a lime and sometimes as sweet as candy); Victoria - amazing; indescribable; sweet & sour. I think you get the idea! When I said that we hadn't been to the bank yet, and that we had no money, the couple (Jacques and Desiree) said that they would actually prefer to trade. Did we have any rum? Wine? Lines for the boat? Gasoline? Household items (bedsheets, towels)? perfume? We settled on a tea towel and a little hand towel for three pamplemousses (the smallest one was 7" diameter and the other two were probably 9-10" diameter) and two bunches of green bananas (directions: soak them in the sea for a few minutes and then hang them somewhere outside until they all ripen at once, then eat them quickly). We all shared one pamplemousse and we each had plenty. Even Benjamin got in on the act - he loved sucking on our juicy fingers, and I even gave him a large piece to gum and slobber over :) We are invited ashore for dinner tonight. They have a set price for making dinner in their home; since we have no local money (they were not interested in USD) we are hoping that we can pay for dinner with gasoline!
Just thought you might like this little vignette of day 1 at anchor. We are having a slow day (crepes for breakfast with bacon, cheese, apples, and precious maple syrup) sleeping, reading, and cleaning the boat. We saved our last 1.5 hr time zone change until today, so we had extra time for everything :) We will likely launch the RHIB and go ashore in the late afternoon.
Love to all,
At 5/14/2014 9:46 PM (utc) Fluenta's position was 10°31.00'S 138°40.00'W
At 5/18/2014 1:57 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 09°48.00'S 139°02.00'W
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