Rolling Along To Nuku Hiva
After around 15 hours of relaxed sailing under headsail only, we sailed into the vast Baie de Taiohae on the south of Nuku Hiva. It was a night of calm seas, bright moon, and an amazingly clear sky peppered with stars. Either the atmosphere is much cleaner here than the north, or the southern hemisphere is gifted an unfair share of celestial objects – it’s an incredible sight to see.
The Marquesas are outside of the cyclone area, so some people opt to stay here rather than head off to New Zealand or Hawaii for the cyclone season. I can understand the attraction. More than once we have heard the Marquesas referred to as paradise on earth. The islands here are beautiful. And Baie de Taiohae is one of the anchorages used during the cyclone season when up to 90 yachts (so we are told) come for shelter. We picked a spot to anchor away from other boats in 8 metres of water.
And there’s internet here. It’s getting to be a rare thing now that we are in the islands. But here it’s available at least one of the dockside restaurants and at the Yacht Services place where $7 US will buy a reasonably quick connection for a day. And there’s a good (albeit pricey) laundry service. Most of our clothes are in there at the moment.
The decade of the Bus Pass
There can’t be many better places in the world to slip into the decade of the bus pass, state pension and concessionary tickets than here. Maria dressed up the interior of the boat to remind me how old I am and made a birthday cake. And she gave me a present of words explaining why she is with an idiot like me (she is an excellent writer but won’t admit it) and two polo shirts with Allen and Lady Jane embroidered on them so that I won’t forget who I am or where I live.
We later shared a bottle of champagne and some of the birthday cake with Craig and Julie, our friends from Hullabaloo of Normandy, onboard Lady Jane. The four us then celebrated my 60th birthday up in the hills overlooking the Baie de Taiohae at the Pearl Lodge hotel. The food here is delicious. And the whole experience couldn’t have been better. The restaurant sent a car to the wharf to pick us up and the driver, Brian, announced that he would be our waiter for the evening. How’s that for end-to-end service?
After Brian brought the birthday cake that Maria had requested from the kitchen, I had the Happy Birthday song inflicted on me by my fellow guests. Then, the Marquesan band playing on the terrace showed us how it should be sung (sorry wife and friends, but you know this is true.) How these guys can create such a beautiful melody from Ukuleles, I have no idea. It sounds nothing like George Formby’s efforts in those old black and white films I can assure you. And after dinner, Brian swapped back to taxi driver mode and dropped us back at the wharf. Then Craig took Maria and I back to Lady Jane in the dinghy.
Island Flora and Fauna
On 27th May we took a trip around the west of the inland with Marté. He’s a fun fella with whom to do a tour. And he speaks very good English to complement his excellent sense of humour and knowledge of the island. He should know it well; he has lived here all his life. We arranged the trip through the tourist office just a short walk from the dinghy dock.
The interior of the island is stunning. Plants and trees of all types: teak, mahogany, acacia and mango, fringe the winding roads that climb up to the peaks. There’s coffee growing here as well as cacao, bananas of course, and a few pineapple plantations dotted around. We saw many pigs, cows, chickens and horses on the roadside and a couple of rare green pigeons in the air.
After a few miles, we stopped at a craft centre that serves a one-stop place for multiple artisans to sell their handiwork. We bought some lovely earrings for my beautiful wife, and a small percussion instrument so that I can ensure that any visitors to Lady Jane don’t overstay their welcome.
We then visited an archaeological site to look at the petroglyphs and to peer into the prison underneath the huge banyan tree where, until the end of the 19th century, the natives kept their prisoners before eating them. Cannibalism was a popular pastime. The chiefs preferred the heart for strength and courage, and the priests preferred the brains and the eyes for intelligence.
After that grizzly revelation, Marté took us to a beachside restaurant for lunch with more conventional items on the menu.
After the tour Marté dropped us back at the wharf, where we spotted the Krabat and A Capella of Belfast folks at the Yacht Services office. They had returned here for the laundry and internet before heading off to the Tuamotus later this week. This, of course, then led to a couple of boozy nights onboard Lady Jane and the local pizza restaurant.
There’s more to come, but I’d better wrap this up for now. Either the computer is going to run out of power, or the Internet supply is going to dry up, unlike the weather. There’s a reason it’s green here: it’s throwing it down with rain.