Fatu Hiva – Social Butterflies…..

Dear F&F,
June 30, 2009

We were awakened several times throughout the night with gusts of winds up to 35 knots. The feel & sound of this is impossible to ignore even though we are confident that our anchor will hold. It also rained hard off & on. We have had these conditions to some extent since we arrived a week ago, so I am getting a bit desensitized, although I could not say immune.

When we got up this morning, the Navy boat was already gone. It seemed like a good day to bake bread & since the oven would be on, also try to make a batch of Mary\’s oat cakes (actually a cracker). Scott really liked them & they should be an acceptable snack replacement to the sugar-laced granola bars he\’s been eating. I mixed 3 cups of oats (happened to be a slightly finer grain with about 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper & baking soda. A drizzle of olive oil & enough water to make it all stick together, but not be too wet. If you had the whole flake type oats you might need to chop them up a bit finer in a food processor or blender. I oiled my hands & spread it out on a cookie sheet, then scored them into 2×2 inch squares with a wet butter knife. Baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Mary cooks hers a bit soft & not brown. I left them in the oven another 10 minutes turned off to get a crispy & toasted result. They are really delicious! You could certainly improvise with garlic, onion or other herbs. Oats are great for lowering cholesterol & on the \”Montingnac Diet\” considered almost a \”free food\”, meaning you can eat as many as you want. Meanwhile the evil but delicious white bread also turned out great & will be enjoyed with abandon.

Just after cooking was complete a French couple in their dinghy came over to ask if we had any weather forecasts. We invited them in & I don\’t know how they resisted my offers of baked goods as the whole boat smelled delicious, but they took nothing but information. His mother is flying in from Germany to Hiva Oa, and they are supposed to meet her there July 2. The rough wind & sea is not predicted to subside significantly until July 4th. The mother is in a hotel on Nuka Hiva for 2 days, so they will try to contact her there & get her to postpone her arrival in Hiva Oa or take a hotel until they can safely cross & meet her there. I was impressed to hear that this mother will sail with them for 2 months, all through the Tuomotus finally departing from Tahiti. Good on her! It is always tricky timing to meet guests when you must first respect the weather. That is why we will only have non-sailor guests aboard when we know we can be in a marina & plan to stay there long enough for it to make sense for a visitor to make plans. Many boaters have put themselves at risk trying to meet a pre-arranged schedule for guests.

Just after Barbara & Eric left, we saw two new sailboats on the horizon, heading towards this bay. Scott is quick to get on the radio to welcome them & give them guidance on where to anchor. Today is absolutely the strongest winds we have had. Both boats are just arriving from the Galapagos. One is an Oyster 66 feet long called Looks to be Mom, Dad & 3 mid-sized children aboard with a hired captain. The captain reported they made the passage in 15 days with good conditions despite their mainsail ripping in the past few days, forcing them to sail with head sails alone. He also reported 60 knots of wind as they approached this island, which is a speed I hope to never see! In hindsight, I am grateful for our light air crossing rather than to have had overly strong winds. Things break a lot in strong winds. I know I\’ve said that before, but it is true. Even here at the anchorage we have had to make sure every possible item that could blow away is well secured or stowed away.

I know how discouraged I felt landing here after our 1 rough day from Hiva Oa. I hope the crew on new arrival \”Elvis the Gecko\” (looking forward to learning how that boat name evolved!) are able to get some rest despite the boisterous conditions here at anchor. The 2nd sailboat left shortly after making a tour of the anchorage. There is a 2nd bay south but our understanding is that it is less protected, but perhaps it does not have the notorious strong winds sweeping down off the mountains that we have here. But it appears they are just heading out to sea, not hugging the coast, so Lord knows where they will end up. We made the acquaintance of another family in the Galapagos that is en route to here, about 500 miles away still. I am praying that all who out at sea will be safe. Please join me in sending good vibes to all our fellow sailors.

For now we are 7 boats here at anchor. At the most there were 12. We don\’t plan to step one foot out into the open sea until we see the weather reports and feel it calming down. Although not the most relaxing anchorage due to the strong winds, it is safe & protected from swell. And at the moment the sun is shining, although that does not mean it won\’t rain in just a minute.

Mary just radioed an invitation for dinner. Yippee, no cooking! I will bring my oat cakes & wine. The couple from a boat called \”Red Herring II\” from New Zealand are coming as well. It will be a fun time no doubt. Social diversions are much better than staring at the wind speedometer & being a big edgy.

Later…just as I was about to prepare lunch for Scott & I, 2 Finnish guys we met in the Galapagos hailed us from their dinghy. We tied their dinghy to Beach House & invited them onboard. Apparently word has spread that Scott is a good resource for weather info & many boats are getting antsy to move on, but concerned about the strong winds. We shared all the weather charts & forecasts we\’ve uploaded recently. They are not planning to stop at any other Marquesas Islands but head next directly to the Tuamotus. We shared thoughts & plans about which islands have the safest entrances & loaned them a book to take notes from overnight. We also exchanged email addresses. It will be great to get recent info from them at each Tuamotu island they stop at – what the wind & sea state are, how easy is it to enter the pass to get inside the fringing coral reef to the more protected anchorage sites of the atolls. Their English is excellent which was good since our Finnish & Swedish is non-existent. We first met them at the tortoise reserve on San Cristobal, Galapagos. They arrived into Hiva Oa only 2 days after us (although they left 7 days before). And we crossed on the same exact day from Hiva Oa to here at Fatu Hiva (only 3 hours behind us). Since their boat is only a 31 foot monohull (named Chaconne) they have done pretty well keeping up with our 51 ft catamaran.

It was 1:00 pm & I was starving by the time we finished discussing weather & trip plans and Scott offered to show them our underwater slides & videos. They had nowhere to go & I had thought to invite them for lunch one day anyway, so threw together a nice platter. I sliced the entire small loaf of my freshly baked bread, laid it on a plate with ham & cheese slices, put mustard & mayo on the table, poured iced tea, passed around a few of Linda\’s decorative napkins & voila! An impromptu lunch! Tres jolie!

Right after they left, David hailed us on the radio to help him with a test of his Automatic Identification System which we did. We noticed another boat heading this way & it is now entering the bay so we are on close watch to make sure it lands safely away from all us already anchored boats. It is a 140 foot schooner. Really beautiful, extremely \”high tech\” (s/v \”Kaori\”). So the neighborhood is really tilting upscale today with 2 large fancy boats. Quite a lot of activity for our little bay!

Only 2 hours until dinner at \”Giselle\”. Time flies when you are having fun. And I am very happy to report that we are having fun in spite of the howling wind of 25-30 knots. The rain squalls have been a bit less. Hopefully we can time our dinghy dash to David & Mary\’s boat & not get drenched either way.

Cindy & Scott