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Monday, June 2, 2008

May 28- 30, 2008 Island of Nuku Hiva

We have never had an experience such as we did getting fuel on Tuesday. The fuel dock in Taiohae Bay is solid concrete and is built like a wall about 15 feet high at the edge where boats tie up to take on fuel. It was low tide by the time we were queued up, and the waterline was below the bottom of this high wall. The drill is: you drop anchor and back up to the concrete dock, while your boat is being tossed around in the strong surge of the tide coming back in. It took two men on the dock above and our new friend Mark (from Margarita) to try to secure stern lines while I was manipulating the anchor line and Frank was manning the helm. The surge was so strong that a few times we nearly smashed the solar panels into the dock, which are mounted in back on top of the dinghy hoist. I was running back and forth from anchor to stern to take in and let out chain and to push us off from the wall. Mark got into the dinghy to bring the fuel hose to Frank so that he could pump the diesel into our tank which is located amidships. The bucking and tossing continued while Frank manhandled the fuel hose and the rest of us tried to keep Destiny out of harm's way. The stressing of our dock lines sent shivers through our bones. I kept wondering how much load they could endure, while watching the last of our snubbers pop. The fueling process lasted about 2 hours, and by the time we got Mark back to Margarita it was too late in the day to go anywhere. We dropped anchor and spent one more night. Side note: a snubber is a heavy-duty rubber gismo that wraps onto your dock line in order to relieve tension that would normally cause the line to break or fray. The snubber takes the stress and will break when the line is under tremendous pressure. Between the anchorage at Manzanillo and the fueling ordeal in Nuku Hiva, all of ours have now blown.
Because of the increasing surge in this bay we spent a restless night and Frank awoke at 5 AM to find that we had moved much too close to Margarita, so it seemed like a good time to raise the hook and head out. After pulling up the anchor I went below to fix coffee and breakfast while Frank maneuvered us out of Taiohae. As we left the safety of the bay, all of a sudden I felt the boat thrash from side to side and heard crashing all about. Frank started yelling for me to come up and help him. I quickly unplugged the coffee pot, set it down into the sink, turned off the oven and ran up topside. The lines holding the dinghy had snapped and the poor little guy was swinging wildly, twisting and pitching, slamming into the hoist's frame. Frank was frantically trying to head the boat away from the churning waves that were throwing Destiny all about, but I could not get a secure hold on the dinghy, and braced there with tears streaming down my face I felt so helpless and inept. We quickly switched places and I turned us back into Taiohae Bay while Frank re-secured the dinghy. We decided at that time to take the longer, opposite route around to the north side. For a fleeting moment we considered just following the prevailing winds and going on to the Tuamotus, but we had promised Imagine that we would meet them at Baie D'Anaho, and it was too late to change the plan. We had heard that Baie D'Anaho and its neighbor, Baie Hatiheu were not to be missed before leaving Nuku Hiva so we journeyed forth.
Wow, what a trip just to get to the northern side of Nuku Hiva. We had good winds until we reached the northwestern edge, then we hit the leeward side, lost the wind and motored. The geography of this island is spectacular and dramatic, with steep rising bluffs and ever changing colors of both landscape and sea. We tried to take pictures but just do not have equipment sufficient to capture the remarkable beauty here. After a while a large group of dolphins came charging toward our wake. Frank and I went up to the front of the boat and propped ourselves on the pulpit to watch them swim and play in our bow wake. They stayed with us for several miles. I never tire of watching them. We came around the next point to face strong gusting winds right on our nose and very rough seas, crashing to shore like a symphony. About 5 hours after our morning departure we spotted Hatiheu Bay and ducked quickly into there and set anchor. Our guide books speak fondly of the town but not of the anchorage. The village looked so charming and inviting and is known to have many archaeological sites, tiki carvings along the shore, various amenities and an excellent restaurant. Unfortunately, our dinghy looked like a raisin, with two of its bladders now deflated and was in serious need of repair. The patch job Frank had done in Taiohae Bay hadn't held. As he worked to remove the former patch we realized that the anchorage was getting too uncomfortable to stay without the possibility of going ashore there, so we pulled the anchor and beat back into the wind around to Baie D'Anaho. We were welcomed with calm, crystal clear waters and a beautiful beach area. Soon after we dropped the hook we saw a turtle swimming and bobbing around, a manta ray drifted by and swarms of fish were all around. The bay is dotted with coral heads. The guide books call this the bay "right out of a Robinson Caruso tale". There are beautiful rocky spires to the eastern side which look like something from the Land of Oz. This is a good place to repair our dinghy and our states of mind. Unfortunately, the watermaker is once again out of commission and this bay has no village so we cannot stay long. There is only one other boat here, so it feels like we have a private paradise!
Thursday (May 29th), we awoke to discover that a third very large sailing ship had arrived, carrying at least a dozen passengers. We watched the crew take guests back and forth to shore while Frank patched up the dinghy and we decided it should set for a full day. There are hiking paths here, and one that would take us over the saddle back to the other village of Hatiheu, where we had first tried to settle, but it is a 1 ½ - 2 hour hike and we cannot get to shore unless we swim so we will try that tomorrow. We hung around, went for a little dip in the water and just enjoyed the serenity of this place. In the afternoon two more boats pulled into the bay. At night we sat on deck and just looked at the clear skies, again ooh-ing and aah-ing over shooting stars and trying to figure out what constellations we are seeing.
Friday morning, we noted that the charter boat had left. We decided to head out around 10 AM for the hike to Hatiheu. There is no dinghy dock here - only the sand beach. Beaching our dinghy with its oversized - very heavy outboard is a chore so we figured we would row to shore. We loaded ourselves and our gear into the dinghy and began to row. The wind was fierce and the current pretty strong (the tide was coming in), and after getting about half-way there we decided we may be able to get to shore but would have a devil of a time getting back out. We ditched the row to shore idea and headed back for Destiny. Once back on board Frank tried the watermaker again and announced that we had better get somewhere to get some water because the thing is probably down for the count this time until we reach Tahiti. I reorganized the galley for the 4th or 5th time and by 1 PM we decided we are tired of being held hostage on our boat, so we attached the motor and set out again for shore. It was high tide so we had little trouble getting the dinghy dragged up onto the shore. Because it was late in the day a hike to the next village was not an option because it gets dark around 5 PM, and when the sun goes down it is DARK. Charlie's charts mentioned that the oldest archaeological site in the Marquesas is around the east side of this bay so we chose that direction. We had a great hike along jungle paths and through some small homesteads, picked some lemons and saw lots of deserted campsites but nothing that looked like an ancient archaeological site. When we reached the head of another bay we turned around and got back in time to watch the sunset over the mountain side. By then several other boats had arrived, really crowding the small bay. We stowed gear and tightened everything down for an early departure to Ua Pou on Sat. morning.
while at sea:
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

1 comment:

sheri said...

cHappy birthday, Barb!I love to read of your adventures.Sheri