Monday, April 28, 2014

Back in Taiohae, Nuka Hiva

My last post was several weeks ago, from Hanavave Bay on Fatu Hiva.  I promised I would post a few photos when I could.  This post does that as well as bringing the blog up to date.

Now, think back in time, to when Luckness was in Hanavave Bay, The Bay of Virgins, on Fatu Hiva...

Hanavave, Fatu Hiva
A cruise/cargo ship arrived a couple days after I did.  For the village, this is a big day.  I saw many of the locals carrying packages from the dock up into the village - they had clearly ordered things from afar and their packages had arrived.  There is only a very tiny store in the village, with a larger village 17km away.  Having the cargo ship arrive is a big deal.  After a few trips in with cargo, the cargo tenders started freighting tourists over to the dock.

The villagers had set up little stands selling locally produced crafts.  There was also a dance welcoming the tourists.

Check out drummer junior!
One of the Things To Do here is to walk to a local waterfall.  I don't have a good cruising guide of this area and there was nobody on shore when I arrived for my first attempt at a walk, so I just started walking along the main, and only, road.  There are a number of turn offs which I ignored as I kept on walking.  I was mainly out for a walk, if I happened to stumble across a waterfall, that would be ok too.  It is a beautiful area for a walk.  Hot though.

After a while I realized that I had walked far past the waterfall turnoff but decided to just keep walking up the hill, looking for a view.  I found the views.

A view to the waterfall, in the right hand valley

What a coconut wants to do!
Copra.  Coconuts drying in the sun
On the way down I detoured along what I thought was the most promising road to the falls and came across a truck with a full load of cruisers who were returning.  They verified I was on the right road, so I turned around and decided to come back the following day.

The hike to the waterfall was shorter than I expected, and the trail, once you had found it, is well marked.  For those of you who may be there, its the second left hand turn, the big one past the first obvious one with the creek crossing.  You walk through areas that used to be much more densely populated.  There used to be tens of thousands of Marquesians in this area.  I came across the remains of an old village - whenever I saw a straight line of overgrown rocks in the area I knew I was looking at an old wall.  There were quite a number of them.

I have a few pictures of the waterfall, but the light was poor and they do not do it justice.  So you are going to have to go see it for yourself!

From Fatu Hiva I sailed to Hane Moe Noa on the island of Tahuata.  This sail was beautiful, a beam reach in 12 to 15 knots all day.  I sailed east of Tahuata, heading for the channel between Tahuata and Hiva Oa, expecting the winds to accelerate as they did in Hawaii between all of the islands.  The winds accelerated slightly, but not by much.  I also expected to be jibing back and forth across the channel as it runs almost directly west - but the wind started to back (turn toward the north) as I approached the channel and that continued as I made my way into the channel and down it.  I ended up half way down the channel, sailing parallel to it in 12-14 knots of wind, toward the Hiva Oa side, where I jibed and had a perfect reach over to Hane Moe Noa.  Most excellent.

I don't have very many photos of my stay there, but it was a beautiful spot.  The bay is toward the north end of the island, and as you may be able to see from the photo, the island generated clouds are concentrated further south where Tahuata rises in elevation.  This means that my solar panels had good sun most of the day while I was there and power was never a worry.  On Fatu Hiva the winds tended to blow through the anchorage so my wind generator was very useful there, but the solar panels were shaded by cloud very often.  Taiohae has both poor wind and solar, power is an issue there on most days.

Hane Moe Noa is a good swim spot.  I would paddle my dinghy over to one of the rock walls on the side of the anchorage, anchor the dinghy and swim the wall back and forth, looking at the coral and fish as I went.  Then dinghy over to the other side and do it again.  It was good to get some exercise.

s/v Mintaka
My next destination was Anaho Bay back on Nuka Hiva, 90 miles from Hane Moe Noa.  I decided to sail overnight so that I could guaranteed a daylight arrival.  I left Hane Moe Noa Bay at 4pm and arrived at Anaho at 9:45am the next day.  Leaving Tahuata was a little tedious as the trade winds are bounced around quite a lot by all of the land.  I sailed almost the entire way, except for a brief 10 minute interval where the swirling winds behind Hiva Oa finally got the better of me.  10 minutes of motoring took me from swirling light wind back into clean tradewinds, just around sunset.  From there the sail was beautiful.

From this anchorage you are protected completely from the swell.  This was the calmest the water has felt since leaving Mexico.  Looking around, there is 360 degrees of land around you.  There is a reef toward shore with a channel making its way to the beach.  There is good walking here.

I stayed for a little while, walking around, meeting with other sailors and enjoying my time.

I recently sailed from Anaho on Nuka Hiva, back to Taiohae, where my travels in the Marquesas began.  This sail was going to be a four to six hour sail with a beautiful beam reach planned for my trip down the east side of the island.  The reality didn't turn out that way, with the wind veered over to SE or SSE on the east side, so I ended up with an upwind slog in 10-14 knots of wind, lots of confused swell and against 3/4 of a knot of current.  Once I rounded the SW corner of the island the winds started to behave themselves and I finally arrived at 8:45pm, relying on my previous knowledge of the bay and my radar to get me to anchor as it was a moonless dark night.

In my previous post I mentioned that cruising can be like maintaining your equipment in paradise?  My shoes are starting to fall apart, and buying a new pair before Tahiti is not going to happen.  But they can, and have, been fixed!

I also mentioned that my water maker was causing some worry, with oil leaking.  I was able to exchange email with the manufacturer and over that period the motor got worse and worse.  Luckily the water maker I have is able to be converted to manual operation, and that's what I ended up doing.  The water maker is composed of the membrane, the pump, the motor and the drive which converts the circular motion of the motor into the in/out motion needed to run the pump.  The drive is field fixable, the motor is not.  The motor is the unit which had failed.  When I was considering which unit to buy, long ago, back when I was in my comfortable arm chair in Seattle, I thought that the 40E being able to be run manually might be useful one day.  Since the unit was installed I've been carrying the manual lever in amongst my spare equipment stores.  Now I've attached the long lever to the pump and I have become the new motor.  From now on, when I say "I'm making water" I mean that literally.  I'm actually making it, not just turning on a motor and letting the machine make it.  It takes me around 90 minutes a day to make water, and that be reduced once my tank is full.  Its not that bad.  The pieces of the watermaker which are remaining appear to be very reliable and the little extra exercise is good for me.  My water tank had dropped down to 1/2 full while I was corresponding and the motor was failing - I've now managed to bring the tank back to almost full with manual pumping.  One bonus of this is that I can make water even on those bad solar days when, in the past, I didn't want to spare the energy to run the water maker.  I've made water every day in Taiohae Bay, which is a bad solar location.  I've also become much more aware of how much work the water I use takes.  I'll put two cups of water into a pot to make porridge in the morning and think: that's 5 minutes worth of water.  The water maker being manual may end up being a good thing.  I'm lucky I'm single handing though - if I had to make water manually for two or three people I would have a different attitude toward it!

I have one more bay I want to visit, Daniels Bay, which is only 5 miles away.  I plan to leave where I am and sail over the Daniels Bay before leaving for the Tuamotus.  I'll probably stay around the Marquesas until the end of the month and perhaps a little beyond.  I last looked at weather two days ago and there was a period of light wind between the Marquesas and the Tuamotus during my planned passage time, so I'm going to delay until the wind improves.

This sailing thing is pretty awesome.

Friday, April 11, 2014

At anchor, Hanavave, Fatu Hiva

I'm in Hanavave Bay, also known as Baie de Vierges or Bay of Virgins, on Fatu Hiva. I arrived yesterday after an overnight sail from Taiohae Bay, 125 miles away. The upwind sail was beautiful in parts, hard work in parts and straight out ugly for the last five hours. Most of the sailing was in 12 to 16 knots from the east. As I sailed 8 miles behind Hiva Oa and Tahuata the wind weakened until I sailed out of their wind shadows. As I approached Fatu Hiva, from about 35 miles away the wind started weakening and veering to the south. This left me making little progress on my port tack. When I tacked I was bashing NNE across the east swell as the light wind and steep waves didn't allow me to make a very good angle east. What would be a nice upwind sail in calm waters was difficult sailing in the waves and swell. I tacked back and forth for a while, and finally at 11am, 25 miles away, I turned the engine on so that I could arrive before dark. I started motoring in 8 knots of wind and over the next 5 hours the winds varied from 8 to 20 knots, from the east. The swell was wrapping around Fatu Hiva from both sides merging where I was. I had foolishly sailed into the washing machine area, downwind of many islands. Anyway, after much bashing, Luckness and I arrived in Hahavave. Its a gorgeous bay, pictures will follow. I'm so glad I decided to make the effort to get here, in spite of having to sail against the trades.

There were eight boats in the bay when I first arrived. I found a good spot in 75 feet of water, put a bunch of chain out and ended up in a pretty good spot. This anchorage lives up to all the praise I have heard about it, however at the same time, its fairly small and deep, so anchoring can be tricky. You wouldn't want to arrive here and anchor at night.

Fatu Hiva is the anchorage you would want to arrive in as you were finishing a passage. Its positioned in the SE corner of the Marquesas so all the other islands are downwind from here. However, there is no Gendarme here, so you aren't supposed to arrive here as your first stop. You are supposed to arrive at one of the two approved towns, check in, and after that you are free to move around as you please. Those are the rules anyway. At the moment, seven of the twelve boats are flying their yellow quarantine flags, showing that they have made this their first stop. I have mixed feeling about their being here.

I spent the day doing a few boat chores. I've rid my hull of the gooseneck barnacles. They didn't grow on my bottom paint at all, the paint worked well. However the barnacles did attach on my hull above the paint, at the stern. I've also started to look at a problem with my water maker, the gear oil from the motor is leaking and the motor housing is getting quite hot. I have replacement gear oil but there are no directions in my manual for what to do with it. I'll need internet or a phone call to solve this one. The carb on my outboard also needs to be rebuilt, as its leaking fuel. One of the jokes you hear about cruising is that its "boat maintenance in paradise." There is some truth to that saying.

I'll head to shore tomorrow. At the moment, I'm planning for my next stop to be Hane Moe Noa Bay on Tahuata.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

From Nuka Hiva

I've been in Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva for a week now, and am finally feeling normal again. It took a few days to recover from the passage.  My first nights sleep was a solid 12 hours, after which I woke and felt pretty good. I felt progressively better each day for about three days in a row - it seems to take me a little while to recover from a passage.

Some stats from the passage:

The water temperature rose from 68.9 in Mexico when I left, to 85.1 where I am now.

I burned something like two gallons of diesel getting here. I ran the engine for just over two hours after leaving the marina, and then for just over an hour coming into the anchorage and anchoring. Sweet!

Its rained several of the days that I've been here, which is good and bad. The boat is clean again! There has been enough rain, and hard enough rain, to have cleaned all the decks and canvas.  However when it rains I need to close the boat up, and that can make it pretty hot and humid inside… I need to work on rain covers for Luckness so I can leave several of the hatches open when its raining.

Tuesday morning, the morning after my arrival, I spoke with Kevin from Yacht Services, the Pacific Puddle Jump sub-agent here in the bay, and arranged a time to meet him on shore to start my checkin procedure. I arranged to meet him at 1pm, giving myself a leisurely morning to get ready. I put the dinghy in the water, cleaned up a little, ate and went to shore. Checkin is a breeze. I met with Kevin for 1/2 an hour or so and filled in the paperwork. The Gendarme was closed by then for checkins and Kevin offered to go the next morning to finish my checkin and have me pick it up later at his office. I decided to meet him at the Gendarme then next morning at 7:30am. That process took about 10 minutes. There were no questions, no boat inspection, no questioning the amount of alcohol I had onboard (its cheaper in Mexico) - completely painless.

I've had some time to find out where things are here now. There is a nice cafe on land right at the dinghy dock. They have free wifi which is fantastic. They also have fresh juice of various sorts, pastries while they last in the morning, coffee and some food. It seems to be the yachtie hangout.

When I first pulled into the anchorage there were over 50 boats at anchor. The world ARC boat rally was here and they had a party on shore on wednesday evening. After the party the fleet has been slowly dispersing and there are only 14 sailboats at anchor now, and a few of those are local boats which look like they don't move. This is a huge anchorage and even at the peak, finding a spot to anchor was not a problem at all. I'm really glad I arrived here, rather than Hiva Oa, as I've been able to have stress free nights at anchor - plenty of room around me.

The town has several stores with a variety of food. I haven't timed my arrival at one of the stores with their having eggs yet - I guess they are available sometimes, not always. Vegetables in the stores is in short supply, although there is a fruit/vegetable market here six days a week, with Wednesday and Saturday being larger markets - the market has a good selection of fruit/veg. The prices, outside of the market, are on the high side. Items which have traveled a long way to get here are expensive, which is not surprising. You can buy baguette's for less than a dollar each, and they are fantastic. I haven't seen brown rice here, but provisioning won't be a problem. There is a nice selection and some items I don't recognize and will be trying. One thing I couldn't find in Mexico was sweet chili sauce such as Mae Ploy. Both of the stores here have an equivalent, along with black bean sauce, and so on. Its not a huge selection, but its good.

I will probably leave here on Tuesday or Wednesday to continue my adventure. I plan to spend roughly a month here in the Marquesas, a month in the Tuamotus and then a month in the Society Islands. My visa is only good for 90 days, so I have to travel through these beautiful islands faster than I would have liked.

A few pictures:
Out there, one morning.

Ua Huka.  The first island I saw from the Marquesas
Nuka Hiva!
So happy to see land again!

Part of my welcoming party!

Luckness in Taiohae Bay
s/v Discovery arriving!
The crew of Discovery!
Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva