Baie Hooumi

A few days before the JaJapami’s arrived, and the day after Krabat and A Capella had left for the Tuamotus, we headed out to Baie Hooumi – one of the three bays collectively known as Controller Bay, situated to the east of the island. Luckily, just before heading off, we met Graham and Joan onboard Karma. Graham, a rigger by profession, offered to help me retune our rig; this is something I hadn’t done since Montserrat, and the offer of help was very welcome.

An hour and a half after setting off from Taiohae, we dropped anchor in Baie Hooumi with three other boats. And by the time evening fell, Graham and I had tweaked the rig, and we were sat in the cockpit enjoying a beer with Maria and Joan just before sunset. Before leaving Lady Jane, Graham asked us if we wanted to join them for a walk to a waterfall the next morning with the folks on Pangea, one of the other boats in the bay.

Now, for the most part, as long as we keep the quantity of alcohol consumed when on other boats for sundowners, this sailing malarkey provides a reasonably healthy lifestyle. Both Maria and I are far more active now than when working, sitting at a desk or behind the wheel of a car for most of the day. But after almost three weeks of relative idleness crossing the Pacific and now a change of diet involving a lot of baguettes, I have developed what feels like a fat suit. So, that’s a long way of saying that we said yes, we are up for that walk.

Fat-Busting

At 0800, Graham, Joan and AA (Graham’s sister) picked us up in their dinghy to take us to shore. That’s where we met Isabella and Tim who are sailing onboard Pangea. They said Lady Jane is in their log as the boat that speeded past them in the Pacific. We have developed a reputation for being fast, we’ve been talked about, which is something of a surprise. But we’ll take that, thanks very much. We later checked our log, and we had also recorded Pangea as we passed them. It’s a bit like train spotting this, but I think rarer.

The walk to the waterfall and back was 20km, which I am sure helped to de-blubber yours truly at least a little bit. The walking distance would have been longer if we hadn’t been offered a lift to Taipivai village in the back of someone’s truck. On the way towards Taipivai, a crowd carrying religious banners came towards us. We assume the procession was something to do with Ascension and that it formed part of a mini-pilgrimage from Taipivai. That’s no mean feat given that the hills feel more like the Himalayas in this tropical heat.

A Proper Waterfall

Hats off to Joan for spotting this waterfall on the map; the walk was a good one. We passed many gardens with fruits of all varieties hanging on the trees: mango, soursop, breadfruit, banana and pamplemousse were all in abundance. And on the hunt for non-fruity food, we met a hunter on horseback searching for wild pigs together with his dog.

Unlike the one in Fatu Hiva, this waterfall had falling water. It wasn’t particularly high, but the roar of the water made it seem bigger than it appeared. And after that walk, it was good to get underneath it and let the cool water run over my head to clobber me sensible.

On the way back, after stopping at a shop in Taipivai for beer and food (red banana pastie, very nice), we lumbered back up the Himalayas and arrived back at Hooumi by early afternoon. The pilgrimage people had arrived at their destination, and the entertainment was in full swing with local dancers, singers and a band or two. And most of the women were dressed for the occasion in lovely dresses, and hats made with flowers. We stayed for a while to watch and listen to the entertainment before going back to Pangea for drinks, then later to Karma for a barbecue. I’m still wearing my fat suit.

Baie De Taioa (Daniel’s Bay)

After a brief overnight diversion to the north of the island and Baie D’Anaho to get some respite from the rolling, we headed off to Baie De Taioa – also known as Daniels Bay which is just past Taiohae. This probably wasn’t the best time to check the rig tuning, the combined wind and sea state meant that I spent most of the time doused in seawater, but at least the job is done.

We arrived at Daniels Bay mid-afternoon to join another three boats already there. One of them our fellow Salty Dog sailors on Wildside. The next morning as Wildside headed out, we headed off on the hike to the waterfall. There’s a fair rise of tide here and a steep beach, so we had to drag the dinghy as far up it as possible. But fortunately, a local guy, who I assume is the grandson of Daniel from whom the name of the bay originates, helped us to pull the dinghy up the beach.

Garden of Eden

The path to the waterfall threads up a hill at the side of the beach and between gardens that are the closest representation to the Garden of Eden that we have seen. They are simply stunning. And much of this area is owned by Koa, who offers lunch to anyone passing by, for a reasonable 1,0000 francs ($10 US) per person. All of the ingredients are local and couldn’t be fresher. Koa said that the walk from her place to the waterfall and back would be between 4 hours and 4 1/2 hours. And she was right.

The smooth path from the gardens gives way to a rocky trail leading gently up and down the hills and across rivers of varying depths. About halfway there, we met a family with a small child who were on their way back and didn’t look too knackered, which gave us some encouragement. And just as predicted by Koa, we arrived at the waterfall after 2 hours.

Like the waterfall at Fatu Hiva, the water was more of a trickle than a fall. But unlike the Fatu Hiva one, it was possible to swim in this one. So I did. And just after 4 pm, we arrived back at Koa’s garden for a very late lunch.

The food was good. Koa’s husband, Teiki, hunts for the meat, fish and lobster. And he, together with her son, helps Toa in the kitchen. It seems a nice business for them, with additional income coming from the sales of fruit.

Toa was very interested in where we are from and how we got here – she’s a very sharp woman. We stayed a while with her after eating, just to have a chat. And after buying some fruit, we made it back to the bay before dark – surprised to find that Lady Jane was the only boat there.

Return to Baie De Taiohae

The crew of JaJapami were due in from their Pacific crossing the next day, so we headed back to Baie de Taiohae the next day to meet them. And by mid-afternoon on the 6th June, after 21 days at sea, they dropped their anchor next to us. That evening we had a reunion dinner at a local Pizza restaurant where the pizzas are good but the beer and wine expensive.

The two crew onboard JaJapami decided to get tattoos done. I suppose if you want one, this is the place to get one. The tattoo artists will ask about you, your life story, and will design a tattoo based on what you say. And the results are pretty impressive:

Evil Moses

Here’s an odd one for you: Just outside a small chapel opposite Taiohae’s Notre Dame Cathedral is a wooden carving of Moses with his finger pointing at number one of the Ten Commandments. Aside from the quality of the sculpture, there’s nothing special about that; after all, it’s good to be reminded from time to time not to bump someone else off. What is unusual, however, are the appendages growing out the top of his head. It’s sinister stuff – he looks nothing like the Charlton Heston version of Moses I can assure you.

What isn’t sinister is the cathedral itself. It’s a simple building with simple beauty. It was the day before Ascension Day when Maria I visited, and volunteers were preparing the church with garlands of flowers, making sure everything was ready for the big day – a public holiday.

Staying with a spiritual theme, we also paid a visit to one of the local cemeteries, this one located near the town’s hospital. It’s an old one. The dates on the graves go back to the 1800s and some, unmarked apart from old rocks half buried in the ground, look even older than that. But the striking thing about this cemetery is flowers and trees. Not only does it make the graveyard look beautiful, but the fragrance from the flowers is also lovely.

From the cemetery, we walked up to the big Tiki on the hill overlooking Taiohae Bay. Looking up from the water, the Tiki has the appearance of a warrior next to a big minion. But what looks like a minions eye from the water is the ear of a large woman with exaggerated attributes. The creators of this Tiki have gone all in with anatomical parts. Looking up when walking between the Tiki’s legs delivered an unexpected sight. Perhaps it’s part of a male education programme (it’s in one of the photographs below.)

The wind forecast for the trip to the Tuamotus has kept us here for a little longer than expected. But that has given us the chance to catch up with boat jobs, including an oil change, and to try to get a new pump for the watermaker. Unfortunately, the feed pump has given up, so we reliant on water donations from JaJapami from their working watermaker. And we are buying bottled water and lugging it back to the boat – hopefully, we will get a replacement pump in Tahiti.

And while we have been hanging around we’ve been treated to some unplanned entertainment: The sharks that hover around the fish cleaning station reenacted a scene from Jaws, and we watched the locals race one another in the canoes – again we had front-row seats for that.

The weather forecast is suggesting that things will be calmer in the Tuamotus after Monday. So, we are planning to leave here to go to the next island, Ua Poa, over the weekend. Then we should be off to the Tuamotus on Monday or Tuesday.

Besides, there’s a new nudist in town, parked right in front of Lady Jane – and we’d rather have breakfast at sunrise than moonrise. 

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