We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our sail to the Marquesas. Just like our passage to the Gambier from the Tuamotus, this was also a single-tack sail all the way. And we only switched on the engine after five days and 800 miles to park up in Hanavave – the Bay of Virgins – almost four years since we first arrived in French Polynesia.
The place hasn’t changed much. The scenery is still stunning, and there’s a near-constant flow of small boats in and out of the small harbour. Maria and I were very grateful to the driver of one of those boats – he helped us to find a good spot to drop our anchor: near enough to shore but far enough away from the breakwater construction rubble.
We gave the guy a beer; he offered to take us ashore to get some fruit and look at his wood carvings. We accepted his offer and bought his and hers tikis as souvenirs. After that, he tried to strike a deal with us on a stone carving in exchange for a bottle of rum – but that’s where we drew the line.
An early morning departure and 14 knots of wind brought us to the island of Tahuata by noon. As we continued to sail in the island’s lee on our way to Vaitahu, the wind died, blew gently from the west, and then came roaring down the mountains with the mother of all vengeance. The wind speed instruments showed over 40 knots, and Jamala healed right over. Fortunately, I had left plenty of sea room so we could round up rather than fight the wind. But that wasn’t the most relaxing of arrivals. After that rude awakening, we took in all sail and motored the rest of the way into Tahuata.
Our objective here was to say goodbye to Jimmy and Rosa (of Chez Jimmy) for possibly the last time. After leaving French Polynesia later this year, we don’t intend to fight our way back here from New Zealand. So we had lunch at Chez Jimmy’s, said our goodbyes and Jimmy and Rosa gave us fruit from their garden.
We made our usual pilgrimage to the cross at the top of the hill and, a couple of days later, met up with Pierre and Lisa onboard Biotrek after they came from Hiva Oa to say goodbye to us.
Then, after a few days in Hanamoenoa Bay, where we had dinner with the lovely folks onboard Marmot and some other cruisers, we sailed over to Hiva Oa.
Things might not have changed in Fatu Hiva, but they have certainly changed in Hiva Oa. Some new anchoring restrictions are in place here, which everyone seems to ignore. But – unlike the old days of 2019 when there was some shape to boat positions in the harbour and a large yellow buoy to tie to – we saw no one with a stern anchor nor a yellow buoy to tie to.
Boats here typically face random directions driven by current and wind and affected by hull shape and keel. What that means is – it’s hard to find a parking spot. It took us about 40 minutes to find somewhere, then another hour to ensure we wouldn’t clobber another boat when the tide changed. And to achieve that, we had to anchor with an uncomfortably short scope, like others around us.
Unfortunately, Vincent at MMS is encountering a lot of resistance lobbying to install mooring balls in the harbour. It’s a shame because it would help sailors and may provide additional income for Atuona.
We weren’t staying long here. But we stayed long enough to say goodbye to Vincent, Maria, and the MMS boatyard guys. We also met up again with Cain (and Quinn the dog) on Spirit of Argo, bought some petrol and trekked into town to top up with provisions from the village shop, now a mini supermarket.
Our last stop in the Marquesas was Nuku Hiva to say farewell to Kevin at Nuku Hiva Yacht Services. Kevin has helped us with several things since we arrived in 2019 – including helping us to ship all our stuff to Seattle after we sold Lady Jane. We invited Kevin onboard for sundowners before we left, which was a lot of fun and a very late night.
When we were here before covid struck, we planned to get tattoos to mark our voyage to French Polynesia. But our chosen tattoo artist decided to give up the job for fear of his wife catching Covid, so we put things on hold. This time though, after over three years of alternate indecision and procrastination, we went for it after speaking with the local tattoo artist Daniel Moutarde.
And that was our farewell tour of the Marquesas: tikis, tattoos, and au revoir to old friends. We might not be back, but we have a permanent reminder of being here, And later this week, we plan to sail back to the Tuamotus for flat water and clear seas.