Vaipo Waterfall Hike (Nuku Hiva, Marquesas)

June 13, 2012

We wrote a bit in a previous post (called “Paradise Again”) about the waterfall we hiked to from Daniel’s Bay in Nuku Hiva.  Here are some pictures to show you what it was like (though, pretty as they may be, they really don’t do it justice.)

Maybe this Blair Witch gate should have caused us to turn around but thankfully, it didn’t.

Even from the very beginning, we knew this was going to be a very special hike.  The small town you pass through on the way is landscaped like a world-class botanical garden.

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Back to North Fakarava (Tuamotus)






We motored about 30 miles today, all inside the atoll, back to the north end of Fakarava. On the way up, we anchored near a little hotel with wifi that broadcasts out into the bay and all the way to our boat. Now that we have internet for a night, we’ll post a bunch of pictures. Here they come… -Rich  (June 29, 2012)


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Lake Sailing (Southwest Fakarava, Tuamotus)

June 25, 2012

We made the 30 mile trip to the south anchorage of Fakarava today – traveling the entire way inside the atoll. It was like sailing in a great big lake. The wind switched around early this morning to come from the north as predicted and it made for a very pleasant trip. We motor-sailed all day as the wind was pretty light and we needed to run the engine to charge the batteries anyway. With all the turns in the channel, pearl farm bouys, and occasional high spot, I think it was the most vigilant we’ve ever had to be.

When we got to the south end of the atoll, it was a real challenge as it’s not charted well. You have to look into the water to try to see the spots that are too shallow to sail over. Right now, we’re anchored in about 12 feet of water. Our boat draws seven feet (sticks down seven feet underwater). There are rocks and coral heads all around us (called bombies). Being new at this, we had to jump in the water on arrival to see if the bombies were going to hit our keel. We have at least a good two feet to spare over the highest ones.

Such was our cruising adventure today. Another day, another steep learning curve! -Rich

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Fakarava (Tuamotus)

June 23, 2012

We got in yesterday after a long, hard passage. Ok, only four days but it seemed long. We’re at a nice, calm, safe anchorage today and loafing on the boat while the wind is still blowing hard. It’s supposed to ease tomorrow and change directions. If it does, we’re going to sail 30 miles to the south end of this atoll. It’ll be an interesting trip as the entire passage will be inside the huge lagoon inside the atoll. We’re told that the snorkeling is incredible by the south pass and that there are tiny islands called motus that we can have all to ourselves. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? -Rich

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Underway (still!) (Passage from Marquesas to Tuamotus)

June 21, 2012

We’re still underway from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus and it’s been a long, strange and kind of hard trip so far and last night took the prize for strange. We saw phantom boats on our instruments, I saw phantom lights ahead of us, and there were strange flashes both in the water and on the horizon.

The strange flashes in the water are about the only part of that we can explain. There are creatures living in the water that emit light when disturbed (bioluminescense). Our boat passing disturbs them. But these are not like the tiny bioluminescent plankton we’re used to – these are huge flashes. The individual flashes seem to range from about a six inch disk to an eighteen inch disk. It seems sometimes there may be many together making a flash that is several feet in diameter. Sometimes these greenish flashes are so bright we wonder if they don’t have there little fishy flash cameras out to take our picture as we pass – it’s like a strobe going off.

Maybe this bioluminescense explains some of the other strange things we saw last night but I don’t think so. For now, we’re going with UFO. -Rich

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Imagine this: (Hakamaii, Ua Pou, Marquesas)

June 18, 2012

You want to drive from San Diego to San Francisco to visit your Aunt Mavis. You really want to go tomorrow but you can’t because the wind isn’t blowing. Let me explain.

Your car only goes five miles an hour – that’s 120 miles a day if you drive 24 hours a day for around five days. You probably have enough gas to get there, but you a pretty sure there are no gas stations in San Francisco so once you leave San Francisco, you’ll have to drive to Portland to get gas.

Because of this, you need the wind to blow from behind or thereabouts so you can turn off the engine most of the way and coast with the wind. If it doesn’t blow, you might make it with your engine, but then you’ll be stuck there for a long, long time and how much sourdough bread can you eat?

We wanted to leave for the Tuamotus today. Our equivalent of Fritz Coleman told us the wind should be good for the next five days but he lied – they all lie. There were rain squalls today and no wind.

We had a little same-bay-too-long fever so we motored about 10 miles to the west side of Ua Pou. We’re now anchored in our first uninhabited bay and we’re the only boat here. It’s really pretty and we’re 10 miles closer to the Tuomotus (only 415 miles to go)! We’ll try again tomorrow if the wind comes up, if not, we’ll be forced to sit around for another day, read and eat. Darn! -Rich

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Paradise Again (Ua Pou, Marquesas)

June 16, 2012

Since we last posted:

We sailed about five miles west to Daniel’s Bay. It’s actually two small bights and after turning right into the east bight, we were treated to another beautiful bay that appeared to be completely land-locked because of the turn at the entrance. Also because of this turn, it was a very calm bay and it may have been our stillest night on the boat since leaving Redondo Beach.

At Daniel’s Bay there is a waterfall – we’re told the third tallest waterfall in the world. It’s about a two and a half hour hike to the falls. I just don’t have the words to describe the incredible beauty on walk to the falls. Whether it be God or Nature, I am in awe of it’s creator!

At the falls, we swam in wonderful cool pools with water cascading into the pool. Crayfish-like things cleaned our legs and feet. Strange, glowing growth lined the top of a deep crevice. After the hike back out, we had coffee at a local’s house. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful day!

Now we’re back at Ua Pou in a bay by the main town – the one that was too crowded for us last time we tried. We caught up with our friends Dean and Sabina on Local Talent here and went out for, what else, pizza.

The weather is looking good for a Monday departure on the 450 mile trip to the Tuamotus Atolls. It should take us three or four days. We’re not even sure which atoll we’ll head for and are planning to sail in the general direction of Takaroa and see what happens as we get closer. The fall-back is about another day’s sail: Fakarava. Google Earth should easily locate these. We’ll also try to check in with the Pacific Seafarers Net so there might be some updated tracking information on the “Track Us” link. -Rich

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A Typical Day in Hiva Oa (Marquesas)

May 25 – 29, 2012

For anyone wondering what we do all day, every anchorage is different.  But here, I’ll recount a typical day in Hiva Oa.

–5:30 am to 8am: Wake up to the peaceful sounds of water gently breaking on the rocks and 10 thousand screaming roosters all trying to outdo each other. Get up, put the big, comfortable West Marine chairs outside, make coffee and then go and enjoy one of best reasons for going cruising in the first place: drinking morning coffee in scenic places. Relax, enjoy the morning air as it’s cool, watch the bay come to life and see what the other cruisers are up to. Watch the show when someone tries to sail away as invariably someone else has put an anchor chain on top theirs. In a small bay where there are a lot of boats and everyone uses a bow and stern anchor, this is the result. You just have to accept this and know that when it’s your turn to leave, you need to make sure the people in front of you and behind you are on their boats and ready to take up their anchors.

–8 to 9am: Go ashore. This is the time to see our agent, who comes down to the dock, and take care of whatever business we might have: turning over laundry or getting it back, (she runs the laundry service, too) getting paperwork she may have prepared, getting accompanied to customs and immigration, or perhaps getting some fruit not sold in the stores. We also get to mingle with other cruisers gathered there dealing with their laundry and paperwork. When she heads back to town, she’ll take as many people as can fit in her Land Rover; so everyone piles in as best they can.

–9:30 to 10:30: This is the time to shop at one of the small grocery stores or the hardware store and to go to the park to look for the trucks selling produce or fresh fish. The produce lady collects fruit and vegetables from local gardens, and there is a surprisingly good selection of freshly picked stuff: tomatoes, cucumbers, papaya, green beans, chiles, two types of lettuce, and large local grapefruit called pamplemousse. There is often someone selling large cuts of fish, tuna and “white tuna” which may be yellowtail or wahoo (whatever it is, it’s fabulous). Then we go to the market where we can buy things like cheese, eggs, apples, oranges, pears, carrots, onions and potatoes. And always, there are fresh baguettes, which people eat daily here. We get a baguette or two for the boat, and one to eat as we’re walking around, plus maybe a delicious apple tart thing our favorite store sells. (There are plenty of canned goods, but we still have plenty of canned stuff on the boat.) What we don’t buy is chicken, beef, or milk. You would think with all the chickens running around they’d have it for sale, but it seems that those chickens are not good for eating. The only chicken parts sold (at least that I’ve seen) are drumsticks. And they have very little in the way of red meat, all frozen and expensive small steaks from New Zealand. While there is plenty of whipping cream and butter, there is no milk except for the powdered kind. They also don’t sell mangoes or bananas which are so plentiful here they don’t feel the need to sell them (we had to get them from our agent). We may also visit the ATM at the bank, which is in an air-conditioned enclosure and feels great after all the walking around.

–10:30 to 11:30: Now, it’s getting time to make the walk back to the boat, but we might go to the little lunch eatery and get an espresso while we wait for the start of lunch service at 11, when we can get a wonderful chicken curry. If not, we have something on the boat.

–12:00 to 4:00: The first thing we learned here is that the town mostly closes from 11 to 2:30, and there is a good reason for this: it gets hot. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to not exert yourself at this time of day, but instead to stay in the boat, fans on, and enjoy some reading or a nap. By the time we get back to the boat, we’re pretty hot. We open up all the hatches, turn on the fans, and I might throw on this cooling rubber towel thing I bought called a Chilly Pad. We might work on the computer, read, do small indoor boat projects, or nap. If we make lunch on the boat, it’s something cool like a sandwich.

–4:00 to 7:00: At 4, the sun is low enough to dip behind the clouds over the mountains, and then the mountains themselves. Now, the world is shaded, and it’s cool again. We put the chairs back outside and go sit in the cockpit to watch the world go by as the anchorage gets pretty active with people going to and fro. We’ll have a beer or a glass of wine or a shot of rum and enjoy watching the afternoon turn to evening. At some point, we’ll make dinner and eat that outside. Later, we might go join someone else for a drink or have them to our boat. If we’d gotten here a month or two earlier, we would be comparing passages with other cruisers from Mexico, but now most everyone here has gone through the Panama Canal and to the Galapagos before heading here. The people here are from all over the world, including a fair number of east coast Americans doing circumnavigations.

–7:00 – 9:00: We take showers and do miscellaneous computer work, then read before falling asleep early. We may have to get up during the night to close hatches if it rains, or put on the blanket as Hiva Oa can get cool overnight, sometimes approaching the low seventies!

So this is a typical day in Hiva Oa. I can see how someone could read this and think we must get terribly bored, but we don’t. When you get into the rhythm of the cruising lifestyle, the pace of life is slow, yet the days go by relatively quickly and there always seems to be plenty to do. In fact, Hiva Oa is now “big city” living for us as we live at an even slower pace at the “rural” anchorages. -Cyndi

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