Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Anchored in the Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva

Having joined Justin on watch early I was thrilled to spot land at 05:40 while we were still 27 miles away. Given the distance there was a huge bulk of land standing high above the itch a most promise vertical cliff.

We reached the southern tip by about 10:00 and with Emily at the helm, came in to the Baie des Vierges, lining up a prominent pillar of rock with a pale patch of the mountain behind..at least we would, have done if we could irk out which pale patch to use!

There were ten yachts at anchor already and as we motored slowly in, the depths were still far too great for us to anchor. However it shelved steep,y and we chose a spot inside all the others, and closer to the beach, dropping the hook in 8 metres.

The bay is without doubt the most stunning I have ever seen. Huge rock pillars tower and everywhere one sees faces and outlines of great trolls and Easter Island Aku Aku in the rocks. There is a great vertical gorge flanked by pillars beyond which the mountains rise vertically in shades of green into swirling cloud more than 3,000 feet high.

A river rushes into the bay splitting the great stony strand and sitting with her feet in the water there was a mother in a green pareo wrap with her toddler splashing the the stream. To the left there was a flat space with afoot all pitch, and two white goals glowing against the rich gree foliage. To the rights crane was moving great concrete blocks to make the little harbour more secure against storms.

We went ashore I the dinghy and wandered up the street between wonderful flooring shrubs and trees, and low bungalows set on little legs in case of floods. Every house seems to have an aluminium boat in the yard. We learned that people go fishing for tuna and bring in 200kg monsters,

The road wound gently up between. The rock pillars and we spoke to a few people on the way, all keen for us to trade for their fruit. We spotted men collecting honey fm beehives, the beekeeper in a full besuited with smoker, but his two tattooed assistants standing unconcerned in nothing but swimming trunks as they took the combs and put them into a bin. They wave us down and gave us a comb to eat then and there, with the bees buzzing around us.

People asked if we were walking to the cascade. We weren't, but when they said it, then suddenly we were! Simple enough at first but then some rock hopping across the river, then lots of mud, which doesn't work in flip flops - so bare feet for Emily and me. Then the trail
became more meant with stone steps and little stone cairns, and wound up steeply through rain forest. At one point it ducked under an overhanging cliff and the path had fallen away into the river below. The others had managed it. But with tired legs and a large heavy bag over my found it hard, and with bare feet slipping in soft mud had to squat and sit on a rock, holding onto a projection I the cliff. As I swung through to the other side, my handhold gave way and I was covered with earth, but I didn't go down into the gorge below thankfully. Now it began to rain hard, so I stuffed my shirt into my waterproof bag and let the rain wash mud off me. We soon came to a most spectacular waterfall thundering 200 feet into a pool, and were soon swimming happily in spray and rain.

Back down in the village Emily and I met the lady selling honey (3000 CFA Pacific for a wine bottle full is about €25). She gave us 4 large pamplemousse as a present and we said we'd come back once we'd found some money. Then we met a man who needed rivets to repair his aluminium boat, but mine were sadly all too short to be useful.. He took us to see his carvings which were very fine. If we had been able to exchange .22 bullets we could have bought lots of things. Justin had told us that on his last trip he'd bought .22 ammunition to trade with, when they went through Panama. This confirmed that completely. We met another sailor lugging a big bag up the street full of stuff he was going to trade.

At the little store, Therese the shopkeeper was friendly, but wouldn't take euros. However she suggested that we might like to have a local meal, and that Katy from the school served meals to visiting yachts. Sure enough we soon met Katy coming fro the school, with a frangipani flower behind her ear, and a reasonable number of teeth in her smile. In a few minutes we had agreed to have supper at €15/ head the following night. Turns out that most of the yachts were doing the same tonight. We'll have to see whether any others want to join us tomorrow,

Back on board the sunset blazed straight into the bay illuminating the rock pillars with fire . We sat in the dark rocking gently to the swell, with the waves breaking soothingly on the rocks either side and ten anchor lights swaying in a little mobile constellation.

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