Diving – Nuku Hiva, Marquesas…..

Dear F&F,
July 12-14, 2009

It is pretty rolly at anchorage today. We tried 3 times to re-anchor bow & stern to reduce the swell, but no luck so we are swinging on one. I had to take seasick meds which I hadn\’t had to do at anchor for awhile. I won\’t be able to write much.

Yesterday it was fuel & food shopping. Today Scott rewired our dinghy depth sounder while I swabbed the decks. I sweep the floors almost every other day, but had not actually washed them for…can\’t remember how long. Scott fell asleep last night earlier than me. He had hung laundry outside, which I have learned to never do overnight. For sure it will either blow like heck or rain or both. It blew like heck. I\’m outside at 10:30 p.m. with my headlight & step stool trying to get everything down without losing any bits to the wind & not fall off my step as the boat lurches. I re-hung/draped everything inside.

We thought our dive was going to be shut out as strong winds & hard rain kicked up just as we were ready to load up the dinghy. We waited it out & it passed. I know it sounds weird to care about rain when we\’re underwater, but even clouds really affect the light & what we can see down below. Rain causes muddy runoff to muck up the visibility. The wind is a concern since we dive out of our anchored dinghy & really don\’t want to surface & see it has been blown away. We waited & things calmed down so we went for it. We were richly rewarded for our efforts. Scott spied a manta ray swimming, possibly feeding just above us right after we got in. Fantastic to see a manta in the water again. I\’m afraid that San Benedicto forever spoiled us. Mantas are definitely the creature we get most excited to see in the water. Not much later, I spied a hammerhead shark below us in the sand. He seemed a bit curious in us, made a wide circle which gave us more viewing time. No worries – we wear our trusty shark shield deterrents all the time. Later on we found an octopus that would have happily taken Scott\’s finger into its lair for munching. Sometimes they are curious & will explore your hand with their tentacles. Other times they stay down in their hole & just grab yummy bits that drift along & take them down to their house. When Scott removed his glove to see how the octopus would react, it was clearly lunch time. Toward the end of the dive I saw a cute small jeweled eel under a rock. Ahhh, so good to be back in the swim! All our favorite friends out & about. The overall visibility wasn\’t great, only 25-40 feet like 2 days ago. But we saw plenty anyway. We are motivated to return tomorrow.

Happy Bastille Day!
On the first dive we were delighted to see 2 manta rays swimming in a possible mating-type fashion. They were not interested in us, but not especially skittish either. We know that the San Benedicto, Mexico mantas are unique in the world, seeking out human interaction. We also saw many lion fish sitting along a rocky ridge. There was also one that was different colored, much larger – 15 inches, compared to the average 9 incher. Always fun to see something new & different. The visibility on the 2nd dive was pretty poor as it was mostly overcast & very murky. But it was still great to blow bubbles.

I treated my ears with every tool I have (short of beginning antibiotics) yet still woke up with itchy canals in the night. I put in more drops of vinegar/peroxide mix. I\’ll have my head dry for 5-7 days now, so hopefully can save the antibiotics for diving in the Tuamotus. I am really eager to have my ear problem diagnosed & see if there is any better prevention of infections. I suspect whatever my problem, it is also contributing to my susceptibility to seasickness. There isn\’t enough wind in the anchorage to hold our boat in a good position to the swell, so we are rocking around a bit. I took more seasick meds before sitting down to the computer as reading /writing is the worst.

After cleaning up from our dives, we were able to reach Rose Corser by radio. She had time to visit, so picked us up at the dinghy cement wall. We tied off & climbed up the rusty metal ladder. How much you must climb depends on how high or low the tide is. She drove us in her Land Rover the mile to her home. As we enjoyed a cold beverage, we swapped stories & caught up on our lives. First coming here to work on her Master\’s thesis in art, she has lived here over 30 years. For the past 15 on her own, after her husband died of cancer. Scott knew them from cruising in Tahiti in 1977. I met her 13 years ago when we crewed here on the catamaran \”Sea Rose\”. There is only 1 other American that lives on this island. She said she is very happy here. She has no close family in the states. All her friends are Marquesans, not French, although she speaks French fluently. She runs a small museum/boutique & has plans to open an 8 room hotel. She feels she got ripped off in a partnership with a corporation that took over her original hotel & she seems keen to start again & maintain control. She has always been a good source of friendship & information for cruising boats. A well known & much appreciated institution in Nuku Hiva.

Only one French boat in the main anchorage \”dressed ship\” with all its flags flying in honor of Bastille Day. Everything is closed on holidays. In the evening there was some kind of local hang out, but it didn\’t look too inviting, so we just came home. Due to the frequent rain, we have the wet dive gear strewn about the house hoping it will dry out enough to stow before we set sail day after tomorrow for Daniel\’s Bay, a beautiful anchorage 3 miles to the west.

Cindy & Scott