Back to the Bay of Virgins

I’d heard it’s possible to buy a hand-crafted ukulele on Fatu Hiva, so I wanted to go back there. Maria wasn’t so keen, but on 14th March the wind came around to an ideal direction – she acquiesced – and off we went.

The sailing gods were with us for a comfortable sail all the way to Hanavave – the Bay of Virgins.

The first time we came here it took us three attempts at anchoring. This time: four. I know this contradicts my earlier statement about anchoring being easy, but Hanavave has only a few places where holding is good, and you can’t see them. Unfortunately, someone else was anchored in the last spot we used, so we had to sound around and hope for the best. An hour and a half later, with a sigh of relief, we found good holding in a patch of sand at the north side of the bay (I snorkelled down to take a look.)

It is worth the effort, though. The place hasn’t changed at all:

Approaching Fatu Hiva

Bay of Virgins

Towards evening

View out to sea

Dinghy dock

Up the hills powered by Holy Water

Maria and I took a walk up the hills the next day. It had been a while since we stressed our legs and lungs, so we decided to go up until we gave up. Maria, the sensible one, stopped in the shade of a large mango tree. Me, like Forest Gump, just kept on going.

Up towards the hills

Up the hills

And here are the photos from above the bay with Lady Jane in the foreground and a French Warship in the distance.

Lady Jane and her warship escort

While taking photographs I met up with some French people, also more sensible than me. They had arranged for a lift up the hill by car so that all they had to do was walk down. Good idea. On the way down I captured this image of tropic birds soaring above the hills:

Tropicbirds

I met up again with Maria, again drunk some water generously supplied by the Virgin Mary statue up the hill and we continued back down to take more photographs of the town.

Holy water

Locals out for a stroll

Local church

Big bananas

Church interior

Search for the Ukulele

We asked Simon (the big fella in the photograph below who we met last year) if he knew where we could get one from. He said there’s a man who makes them in Omaha (the next village) and he said he would take us the next day to see him. Unfortunately, when we turned up at Simon’s house at 1000 the next morning, he broke the news that no ukuleles were available due to the local elections. Maybe there had been a run on them by the candidates or something. Maybe we struck lucky.

We later found out from our new Danish friends on TAO, Bente, Marie, Trine and Oliver, with whom we shared the anchorage, that they had bought two ukuleles from the guy in Omaha, but ended up a little disappointed when they heard the quality of the ones made by the luthier in Nuku Hiva.

Craftsmanship and Danish hospitality

Instead of the ukulele, as a souvenir of Fatu Hiva we bought an ornate bowl made by Simon. Carved out of rosewood, it has the symbol of the Marquesas on one side and a turtle on the other. The top of the handle is carved out of bone and the lid has a mother of pearl inlay. In short, it’s lovely, similar to the ones that we are holding in the photograph, and it’s a tribute to Simon’s skill. We also bought a small tapa cloth painting of a turtle made by Simon’s wife, Cece.

Simon with some skinny fella

The TAO crew treated us to sundowners onboard their boat later that evening and it was great fun. And as an added bonus they gave us some of the yellowfin tuna they had caught between the islands. It was massive – weighing in at around 50 kilos. I’ve seen the photographic proof of that catch and it’s very impressive. Our section of tuna will keep the Lady Jane motley crew happy for a few weeks.

Oliver with tuna starters

We were considering whether or not to take Lady Jane round to the bay outside Omaha, the next village along, but heavy rain the next morning put paid to that idea. It wasn’t the kind of fine rain a light jacket would protect against; it was like standing under a waterfall. So we stayed put. The next day, again with a favourable wind, we headed back to Tuahata – not knowing that the Covid-19 restrictions were about to start.

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