Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Nuku Hiva - a gentle stroll around the bay

It took us some time to get ashore this morning as a tropical rainstorm came in just after a sunny breakfast. It half filled the dinghy with fresh water!

However once ashore we had a hit sunny day and, as always in a new place, we were soaking up all the new sights. The bay curves I. A full horseshoe, and we set off to walk along the sea front, from one side to the other it was Sunday so we didn't expect much to be open, but the only visible shop was in fact open and able to sell us eggs.

There was a fine archaeological site on the bay, restored as part of a Marquésan festival of culture, with great stone platforms, carved Tikis of warriors as a copy of a house.

We then gate crashed an inter island choix
Pirogue competition, with boys and girls competing in long outrigger canoes, paddling at a great pace across the bay and back, with wild chers of encouragement from their colleagues on shore.

Onwards we walked past pickup trucks drawn up in the shade of trees fringing the bay, with coolers of blue Hinano beer cans and music on the car sound system.

We had heard there was a cafe at the far end of the bay, but it was shut. However, higher up tte hill we spotted poolside umbrellas, and we arrived there drenched in sweat and mud spattered from the road to find our first sophisticated eatery with a little infinity pool overlooking the bay.

It was a very welcome stop for a lovely lunch and cold beer, enabling some wifi time and even a swim for Anne and Emily. Most relaxing !

Walking back we passed voting stations fore the presidential election with a few posters of Fillon, le Pen, Mélenchon and Macron. People thought Macron and le Pen would be the final two candidates.

Nuku Hiva - is this one of the 50 Worst Destinations in the World?

Anne has just shown us a new travel guide to browse. The Fifty Worst Destinations in the World !

It's a shock to find Nuku Hiva innit!

I'm pleased to report that our experience has been delightful so far.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Exploring Ua Pou

Jerome picked us up at 08:00, and we left Emily to go spear fishing with journalist, Alina, on their paddle boards. We collected three Tahitians from the Pension and set off towards Ho Hoi. The other passengers were a young couple who work in air traffic control, and a lady who tours the island's giving careers advice.

Jerome's Toyota 4x4 was worked hard during the day, as the concrete road would periodically turn into a rough slippery track, badly eroded by torrential rain. He explained that this was because the island was all privately owned in radial strips from mountain to sea. If the owner, or more usually entire did not agree then the government could not improve the road. He said it was a sign of intelligence of each family as we struggled through some sections, and then had easy going on the improved bits.

Down in HoHoi we met a sculptor of the unique Pierre Fleuri stone. Justin said he looked familiar, and we soon established that we had met his neighbour and cousin, Simon, working stone in the same style in Fatu Hiva. He gave us a demonstration of his technique, and we had the chance to buy some nice, small stone tikis in this unique stone. At 27,000 CFP each it was more than we felt like spending, but I gave him a London double decker bus key ring as a souvenir of a British visit.

We got down to the beach where the special stones get rolled down by the river, but failed to find one. The mozzies found me though, whilst I tried to sketch the scene! Finally we visited an archeological site, of a Marie or scared Chiefs court, getting a really good idea of how it was used, and seeing the well worn stones where adzes were sharpened and where tattooing ink was prepared. A relic of an extraordinary complex society, tuned to its environment, but overturned by foreigners bringing new ways and new diseases. The Marquesans were in danger of extinction but "saved" by foreign settlers who were encouraged to marry in, so that one can see O'Connors and many other European and Asian family names nowadays.

Back in town everyone was voting as today was the first round of the French presidential election. We got aboard and raised anchor and sail and set off the 25 miles north to Nuku Hiva, getting there at sundown.

Ua Pou-The Land of Men

Friday 21st April 2017

Above the little town of Hakahau, the island's dramatic volcanic spires point skywards, occasionally showing tempting glimpses in a dance of the seven veils with the clouds.

On the quay a group of lads cast their fishing lures out across the harbour while steady rain fell. As we ate breakfast there was a steady succession of elated yells from the quay as time after time they each pulled in six flapping silver fish the size of sardines. This went on all day as far as we could see and the shared elation was unstoppable. Into this arena paddled a girl on a stand up paddle board, with a bucket on the board and rod proceeding to catch her share.

It turned out that Alina came from a catamaran and, with her friend Julian, is doing a long term study of the people, customs and life of French Polynesia for a magazine, Geo. They do a repeat survey every five years to monitor and report on change in the region. They had lived for several years on Fakareva atoll, and were able to guide us with lots. Of local knowledge of the Tuamotus.

Ashore the village seemed sparser than others we'd found, but had a big yellow Postes & Telecoms building, a bank, an artisanal centre and a shop.

We found that the artisanal centre had a wide range of jewellery, bowls, tikis, and other items for sale from local craftspeople, at prices that mostly seemed unaffordable. However Anne and I chose some black pearl earrings as a memento. Meanwhile there was a sudden burst of music from the other end of the hall and there was Justin singing along with a long remembered Polynesian boating song whilst a Marquesan strummed the tune on a beautifully carved ukelele.

The rain had begun to fall very heavily, and we were invited to hurry across the courtyard to the cafe, where a buffet lunch was on offer, and being enjoyed by locals and visiting yachts folk alike. We soon had plates piled with rice, cooked bananas, poisson cru (raw tuna chunks in coconut milk and lime juice) in three styles, and a very tasty grilled fish and a yummy goat casserole. Outside the water level rose, drowning the road in orange muddy water.

Later when it all stopped, we waded out to find the post office shutting its doors at 2pm, so no stamps, and indeed no cash in the ATM.. We found the church, with its pulpit carved as a ship's prow, very peaceful inside with three people in silent prayer. Outside we met a goat on a car bonnet, found another general store and bought fishhook soft the type used on the pier. I also found a Chinese made rainbow coloured brolly, which should be useful here, plus a machete. The shop sold me a file to sharpen it, but the shop keeper also offered to take it home and sharpen it himself for me..so kind!

Our next mission was to track down some transport to see more of the island, and were directed to find Jerome (Que? Jerome?) ( sorry only Two Men in a Boat at present, so unfair literary joke) at a local Pension higher up the hill. En route of course we met two Swiss yacht crews; Jean-Claude and Françoise in Suditude, who had sailed from Panama down to Easter Island, Juan Fernandez, and the the Chilean fjords to visit Antarctica. The next couple, Tomas and Anya from Ribusta, had recently sailed back up from Patagonia. Very exciting to hear about that.

Here we found a terrace overlooking the bay, very welcome cold drinks and wifi. Jerome's wife turned out to be the Polynesian daughter of DouDou, the sole Frenchman on Tahuata.

Jerome eventually turned up, a compact wiry military looking man, liberally covered with superb geometric Marquesan tattoos. We arranged for him to give us a half day tour of the island and returned to the boat. Here we realised that we'd forgotten to take our rubbish into town, but a local man, Armand and his mother Yvonne, kindly told us to drop it in the back of their pick-up for disposal. Armand is a supervisor at the College Terre des Hommes, which has 200 boys boarding from all over Ua Pou. The youngest start at 6-7 years old but are driven home every weekend. For further education children go to Tahiti which is free, but costs parents the fees of host families, and occasionally to university in France when parents must pay.

We had a rolly night in the anchorage with no wind to hold us head to the swell.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Ua Pou

We set off at 5:30 am to sail to the next island, Ua Pou, some 65 miles away. The forecast showed that the wind should fill in from the east, but in the end it never got above 8knots, so we ended up motoring for 10 hours.

It was an extraordinary feeling to be out on the
Middle of the Pacific Ocean, and yet to have 4000' tall mountainous islands in view all around us, visible at least 50 miles off. Looking aft we could see Hiva Oa and Tahiata, and to our right the little island of Fatu Hulu. Ahead was Ua Pou, and out to Starboard Ua Haka. Amazingly we could also see Nuku Hiva 25 miles beyond Ia Pou. An extraordinary cruising ground, thousands of miles from anywhere!

As we closed Ua Pou it's colour and topography slowly emerged.
As we finally anchored behind a breakwater the clouds swirled a little,§ revealing two enormous black volcanic plugs disappearing and reappearing high above us.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Stations of the Cross in Hapatoni

We came to the church and were greeted by the larger pastor in his voluminous white robes attended by parishioners. It was 4pm andvtfey were gathering for Mass at 5:30. The church was peaceful and simple with all the wooden pillars beautifully dressed with palm fronds and flowered. The Virgin Mary had a wonderful
Necklace of flowers too.

We followed the Queens road until it was blocked by a rockfall. I clambered over and found a faint trail upwards, and after a long scramble we emerged in the lovely garden of an elegant white private house. I met the owner, who introduced himself as DuuDuu He is the only Frenchman on the island and has built a house to retire there. Once on the road we were soon ticking off the stations of the cross and reached the big white crucifix on the pinnacle of the Pain au Sucre. Here we had a magnificent view of Baie Hapatoni and the adjacent one, where four yachts had anchored in easier conditions.

Back on board Emily arced breadfruit curry and avocado lasagne. Breadfruit was a bit like chunks of potato but a little more floury lie gnocchi perhaps. Very good and very filling.

Exploring Tahuata Island

After our expedition ashore at Motopu bay we set off round to Hanamoenoa bay, reputed to be on of the top three in the world by sailing writer Eric Hiscox. (Sorry if I have repeated myself!). Here we found six yachts already anchored, and there were nine by nightfall. However we were the only ones to brave the surf and head for the great strip of golden sand. We picked our waves carefully and landed OK. The. Beach backed by palm trees was certainly spectacular with the mountains Reston up behind. We didn't venture into the hamlet as there were Privé signs up

The following morning after a Tilly night we snorkelled round the cliffs and then scrubbed the waterline to give a clean look to TinTin. Other yachts soon followed suit!

I had time for a sketch before lunch and then we set off in sudden rainstorms to the bay Hataponi.

Here we had a really difficult anchorage on steeply sloping bottom, so that we dropped anchor in 20 metres of water, but were soon in 8m of water just outside the surf line which was then crashing onto big boulders. Once secure we went shorewards via a little harbour and met a man on horseback with a wooden saddle.

The waterfront had a promenade built many years ago for Queen? It is a massive stone causeway along the seafront reminiscent of that but by Qu'en Victoria on the Isle of Wight.