It’s been a bit full-on

Here’s a summary of what we’ve been up to In the last two months:

  • We bought a new boat
  • Sold our existing one
  • Sailed 500 nautical miles from the Tuamotus to the Marquesas
  • Hauled Lady Jane out to polish the hull and service the propeller
  • Emptied the contents of Lady Jane
  • Handed Lady Jane over to her new owners
  • Arranged for our belongings to be shipped to the USA
  • Flew to Tahiti for Christmas, then to Seattle where we will be holed up in a hotel room for New Year

So, we didn’t find the time to write about any of this. But with our self-imposed isolation here in a hotel in Seattle, its time to catch up:

Choose blue, not red

Here’s a tip for any salty sea dogs sailing north from the Tuamotus to the Marquesas: if the ECMWF forecast shows any hint of red in it, break out the beer and stay where you are.

When we left Hao, the forecast showed just a hint of pink rather than crimson, but despite that innocent-looking hint of freshness, the wind increased to 36 knots over the bow as we approached the halfway mark. That’s lively enough in flat seas but combined with Pacific swells and confused waves it creates a ride rougher than anything the sadists at Alton Towers can dream up. And, although Lady Jane took this in her stride, only half the crew did. Maria spent most of the trip down below suffering from seasickness.

Our destination, like last time, was Vaitahu on Tahuata. We chose this because we didn’t want to deal with a stern anchor at Hiva Oa after a few days in the ring with the ocean equivalent of Mike Tyson. Unlike last time, however, we sailed until the south side of the island before the wind collapsed and Maria revived.

A home from home

It was great to arrive back at our home-from-home, especially after taking such a nautical battering. Familiarity with the area makes life a lot easier arriving when tired. And meeting our world-girdling friend Eve again after such a long time was a bonus: we hadn’t seen her since sailing from Nuku Hiva earlier in the year. 

Chez Jimmy’s new sign

We spent a couple of days in Vaitahu, spending time with Eve, and Jimmy and co at Chez Jimmy’s. And we reintroduced ourselves to walking uphill after so much time in the flatlands of the Tuamotus, which helped put us in better shape to roll up our sleeves in Hiva Oa’s boatyard. 

Our last view of Lady Jane (nearest the shore) at Vaitahu

Nipping to the shops at Hiva Oa

Compared to the sail from Hao to Tahuata, sailing to Hiva Oa was the equivalent of nipping to the corner shop. And shopping was one of the things we needed to do, to get a new starter motor battery. It is possible to get most things in French Polynesia, at a price, but some places are better stocked than others. Tahiti is the prominent place to buy boat accessories, but Hiva Oa isn’t so bad if you know where to look. And for batteries, that is at the local petrol station or the hardware shop in town. 

My northern sensibilities rejected an impulse purchase, so we set off with Eve (who also sailed to Hiva Oa) on a stroll into town. After 40 minutes uphill, we had located a battery (we later got it delivered to the quay), Eve had filled her trolley full of groceries, and we were back down the hill – stopping at a restaurant on the way for lunch.

The scenery here is occasionally reminiscent of England. The first three photographs below look like the Hampshire countryside on a summer day.

Could be the English countryside – apart from the weather

Hiva Oa shopping trip

Eve & Horse

Hiva Oa – Bay Tahauku beach

Lady Jane at Tahauku Bay

Rolling our sleeves up at MMS boatyard

We weren’t the only ones going into the boatyard. Willem, who we hadn’t seen since our last time in the Marquesas was also getting hauled out. So we all clubbed together to give him a hand with getting his sails down, reducing his beer stocks and taking his boat to the ramp for Rambler to be lifted out the water. 

An expanded motley crew

Maria on the wrong boat

Vincent and his team at MMS lifted Lady Jane out a couple of days later. And that’s when the work started. 

Minion on the bow

The priority was to remove things from Lady Jane while we had gravity on our side. We gave some of our old tools to the boatyard and offloaded the paddleboard and Mini-B diving kit here. And, after watching the guy painting Lady Jane’s waterline listening to music with his phone fastened to his head, I gave him my Sony earphones.

Hard labour

We wanted to make sure that the new owners didn’t have to do anything major for at least a year. So, we set about polishing the hull, greasing the propeller and touching up areas where the Coppercoat has come off. And, because Tahauku Bay’s muddy waters can make the anchor locker take on the appearance of a swamp, we let out all the anchor chain to wash it and the anchor locker; otherwise, it would have smelled like Billingsgate Fish Market on at the height of summer.

The Covid situation means the MMS boatyard is at capacity because people can’t get back to their boats. So, we only had a few days to complete all the work and it was hard graft and long days. It was worth it though; Lady Jane was looking fresh and shiny.

Lady Jane – still looking good

I know how to treat a woman. Our stay at the MMS resort coincided with Maria’s birthday, so we celebrated that with a few beers on the terrace with Willem and a stray cat. Actually, I attached a couple of Luci lights to the ceiling and we sat at the table used by the workers just outside the office. But life is what you make of it, right?

Maria’s birthday at the boatyard

Launch and leave

After spending so much time cleaning Lady Jane, there was no way we were going to re-anchor in Tahauku Bay. Consequently, as soon as we slipped Lady Jane off the MMS tractor, we headed back to Vaitahu.

We put together some things to give to Jimmy. We know from our past visits that he is a keen fixer of electrical stuff, so we gave him some electrical things; and our Panasonic camera that hasn’t seen the light of day since buying a new SLR. Jimmy was confused about why we were giving him this stuff (culturally a bit out there I guess) so we enlisted a French sailor, working in Tahuata, to explain. We could see the lights come on when the penny dropped. Pleased? I should say so. 

As an unexpected gift in return, Jimmy gave us all the food we could handle (and more): a sackful of pamplemousse, a large portion of fresh tuna and a worryingly-fresh slab of beef. He also arranged a leaving party for us on the evening before leaving for Nuku Hiva. By this time, Eve had come along to join us in the anchorage. That was a fabulous night of guitar music, ukulele playing and dancing girls (well, just Maria actually). The beer flowed in copious quantities as did the laughter.

Kahu, pictured below, showed me where he is building his new house, which he assured me should be ready for us to see when we come back in a couple of years.

Kahu

Jimmy on the guitar and Maria on the stage

Lady Jane’s buyers were heading up from the Tuamotus to Nuku Hiva, so we wanted to make sure we were there to meet them. It’s less than 16 hours from Tahuata to Nuku Hiva, so we had plenty of time to recover from our farewell party and say our goodbyes before heading to Nuku Hiva at around 1600. 

Next time – Nuku Hiva and farewell to Lady Jane.

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