Arrival at Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands…..

Dear F&F,
June 17-18, 2009

Yesterday (June 16) was a good day. Scott & I have had some nice times while Mike was off watch in his cabin. We are so used to being alone together, we have been a bit restrained from our usual playfulness with crew onboard. We would usually play a lot more music, dance, sing & cuddle. Mike was a huge help & we would certainly have him along again. But it will soon be time to return him to wife Beth who is missing him greatly and resume our duo .

I MADE BREAD! We were motoring during my 4:00-8:00 a.m. watch. I followed Mike\’s English Muffin bread recipe and it came out great. Delicious and easy, no kneading, or punching down. It just rises once in the pan. So I am all set now: I can make yogurt & bread, what more could we want? Yes a steady supply of fruits & veggies is nice. I am happy that I\’ve been able to pace the ripening of my papayas so they will just last for the duration. I don\’t remember anything about the market on Hiva Oa, other than it was small. But Scott has been in contact with several boats recently there & has information and recommendations on everything.

We are using an agent to check in to French Polynesia. The company\’s main office is in Papeete with a representative for the Marquesas at Hiva Oa. She will help with check-in and getting flight reservations for Mike. We will also get a fuel permit through the agent. This gives us a discount of nearly 50% from what they would charge foreigners without this permit. We need a lot of fuel since we motored about 72 hours plus ran the generator every day. The savings to us is well worth the cost of the permit.

We are sailing right now but the pattern the past few days is that it dies off at night so then we motor. It works out fine. I will have the midnight – 4:00 a.m. shift tonight so will hopefully be the one to see Land Ho first. At least on radar. We have seen a couple of fishing boats, but far in the distance so no worries about collision. It is interesting that over 200 miles away from the islands they are out here fishing.

It rained, the islands were blanketed in low clouds, visible only on radar for a long time. But we knew they were there and the miles were ticking down. I had told the guys to let me sleep as long as I could, to not wake me for the first Land Ho! When I got up of my own accord at 9:30 a.m. (another long 5 hour sleep – yippee!) I could see Fatu Hiva and a couple of the other islands. The clouds hid them entirely then the sun & breeze made them visible again.

It was midday as we came alongside Hiva Oa, our entry island, and we had good visual. We had to make the 90 degree right turn into the bay before any anchored boats could be seen. We were the 9th cruising boat in the anchorage, 4 of them catamarans. Because it is somewhat close quarters, all the boats set bow & stern anchors (front & back) to prevent swinging with the change of wind & current. A single-hander from Arizona was right in front of us & friendly with information about check-in, the town, internet etc. It was mid afternoon by the time we settled in. We celebrated with an early happy hour then took a nap. I slept like an unconscious person. When I awoke at 6:00 p.m. I knew I\’d better feed the guys. I heated a can of beans & served it with chips so no one went to bed hungry. It was so fantastic to stay in bed all night. I showered & went to bed about 8:00 p.m. & did not get up until 7:00 a.m. Even my couple of trips to the bathroom were enjoyable, knowing I was awake in the middle of the night & did not have to go on watch!

June 18
Scott hailed our agent on the VHF radio as instructed, but no response. He then emailed their main office in Tahiti, and a quick reply with Sandra\’s phone numbers. We were told her radio was not working. We called via satellite phone & she said she would pick us up onshore in 10 minutes. There is no dinghy dock (as a barge which is � sunk on it has put it out of commission) , but it is still a dry landing. You step off onto a small wooden platform & tie up with a long line. You have to throw an anchor off the back of the dinghy to keep it away from being bashed against the rocky shore. You have to notice whether the tide is rising or falling. This will determine how much scope (length) of anchor line you need out to still be able to pull the dinghy in when you return & want to retrieve the dinghy.

We had 2 bags of plastic trash that we had saved from our crossing & deposited in barrels onshore. I had carefully washed each bit as tossed so it was not stinky after 17 1/2 days. Sandra, our agent, greeted us & we struggled to speak French to her. A bit tough to switch after nearly 2 years in Spanish speaking countries. She also understood & spoke enough English that we managed. She said she would take our passports & other check-in documents to the Gendarme tomorrow. It seems they only work in the morning and on certain days for check ins. She showed us where the small Air Tahiti office was (to book Mike\’s flight home) & told us that the Post Office had internet connections. It was sunny, hot & humid on land. The roads were paved & many more homes & buildings have been built since Scott & I were here 13 years ago.

Long story short, Mike has a flight from here to Nuka Hiva to Tahiti. His Tahiti to LA flight is in question. The office had a problem with their fax machine. We took the information to the hardware store to fax from there. The travel guy said to check with him in the morning, he should have an email from Air Tahiti with the confirmation code. Meanwhile we have to make sure Mike will get his passport back before getting on any airplanes. I\’m sure it will all work out.

I took advantage of the market opportunity. Of course a baguette. A long lovely French baguette. A can of whole tomatoes, olives, red wine, shortbread cookies, eggs, flour. The cargo ship came in today, so the shopping should be better tomorrow. There was no produce of interest, only apples and massive cucumbers. As we walked back to the bay, we saw 2 busloads of tourists that obviously had just come off the ship. We didn\’t know there was much tourism here besides cruisers. We have no idea where they were being taken. We tried to hitchhike but the locals just kept driving by. After we walked more than half of the 2 mile distance, a truck finally stopped. It was hot but lovely to be walking. The green trees & foliage seemed extra green after days of only blue & grey at sea.

Mike helped hoist Scott up the mast to cut off the broken piece of our mainsail track. They want to do one or two other projects before Mike departs. He is schlepping back a bunch of stuff that we don\’t need onboard any more. I washed all my mildew smelling clothes, wiped the closet out with vinegar & transferred the last of the produce to the main fridge so I can take the small one offline. Tonight\’s dinner is pork chops (from the Galapagos) with a can of madera sauce I just bought in town plus frozen peas & of course the baguette. The French cabernet syrah is delicious and it is cooling off as the sun goes behind the mountain. A good first day.

Scott & I will be here at least through Wednesday since Sandra said it will take three business days to get the fuel permit. Then we will sail to some of the other Marquesas Islands, all day sail distance.

Fellow passagemakers \”Uliad\” got in today and we expect \”Giselle\” tomorrow. They were the 2 other sailboats Scott talked with the most via single sideband radio. At some point I\’m sure we will have a get acquainted gathering. Sending Love & Hugs to you all!
Cindy at Anchor – Day #1