We’ve been here in the Marquesas for 2 weeks, pretty much the whole time we have been anchored out in Taioha’e Bay on Nuku Hiva. Admittedly this wasn’t part of my original plan, which was to arrive in the Marquesas, rest a week or so and carry on to the next island group in French Polynesia the Tuamotos. Obviously plans change.
The loss of Otto the auto pilot, (who was renamed JC for the brief few hours I managed to get some life out of him – he was dead 3 days and was then resurrected, but alas, it was not to be, and our back from the dead helmsman gave up the ghost after a brief 12 hour stint of steering for us, relegating us to the joys of hand steering for the majority of our trip… ) contributed to that plan change… With the departure of our crew barely a day after we arrived, I realized that continuing on with just the three of us wasn’t an option, I can stand at the helm for a day or so if I have to but, with 450 miles to go before the next stop, that wasn’t happening, so we started looking around for crew to help out.
The first couple we lined up ended up leaving on another cat to Tahiti, the wife on board had suffered a heart attack and been flown to a hospital there, meaning the husband had to get the boat the 700 odd miles from here to there to get back to her, so obviously that boat needed help more than we did…. We have since met up with an American guy, Zac, who needs to get to tahiti some time, so our first reason for hanging out so long has been taken care of!
Then word got to us of fuel rationing on the island…. turns out a couple of big super yachts are coming by, and apparently they know the right people, which means us common folk are only allowed to buy 200 litres of the precious diesel thats left over… not so helpful when you need at least 600. Sure, we are a sail boat, and could most likely make it with half full tanks, which is almost what the 200 would get me, but the crossing taught me many things, including sometimes firing up an engine just makes life better. Wallowing around in a confused sea at 3 knots maybe fun for some folk, but not me! That aside, setting to sea without full tanks is pretty irresponsible considering the precious cargo we have onboard.
So instead we decided that we’d be hangin around until the supply ship shows up next tuesday so we can top up totally and leave without having to think twice about whether we would use dead dinosaurs to get there faster or not.
In the mean time we’ve been making the most of the cheap baguettes and not so cheap brie and having picnic lunches on shore, overlooking the anchorage, giving Alma time to try and figure out grass. Not something she’d encountered before, and despite us constantly stopping her from eating it and anything else she can pick up – leaves, sticks etc, she seems to be loving her time playing on solid ground!
We also moved Sea Raven around to the next bay to go and have lunch with a local friend we made since arriving. I even managed to catch a decent size mahi-mahi on the way around there, the first fish on the line for a LONG time! Unfortunately, after hiking up to Mahina’s place, we realized that the lunch had already been cooked, and the valiant mahi was relegated to the freezer for later – you can’t really say “oh, I’ll just take that really nice fish I brought to your house for lunch home with me again” , and they were so great for inviting us and showing us their village that it seems like a pretty modest repayment for their kindness and hospitality – plenty more fish in the sea! Mahina even wrote a song for Alma in Marquesan, I still have to figure out the chords, as he was playing it on a ukelele, but it was called “mata ere ere” which means “blue eyes”, Alma’s new Marquesan name!
A lot of time has passed hanging out with the other cruising boats in the bay, trading war stories about the crossing and figuring out where we will be going from here. Seems almost everybody lost their autopilot at some point, our friends on Dragonfly, another Sea Mercy vessel, managed to lose 2 and had to hand steer with only one of their rudders working, makes me feel better to know we weren’t the only ones breaking stuff out there!
The anchorage seems to be full of boat kids at the moment, although unfortunately no other boat baby’s as yet, (we’re still waiting for our friends on Adamastor to make it to this island so Alma can hang out with her friend Rocket again!), interesting considering the debate on whether it is responsible to be out here sailing across oceans with kids or not that seems to be getting some media attention, at least in the US, at the moment. With so many kids around, surely not all of us are bad parents!
Tomorrow is the fresh veggie market again, where we will stock up on a few things before rolling around to the other side of the island to check out a few of the other anchorages before the fuel shows up and we can move on. Hopefully we can also find somewhere with a little better visibility in the water and maybe even a few less sharks so I can clean the bottom of the boat again!