As we came into the anchorage, we wanted to tuck up out of the swell behind the breakwater, which meant being close to the pier where the supply ship, Aranui berths. The ship had left a day before our arrival, so we knew we had a few days to spare. All the yachts have stern anchors, so not only did we have to deploy ours, we had to squeeze in; not being used to either. We did entertain a few boats with first anchoring, then having to move back away from the pier; done with letting out more rope on our stern anchor to go forward to pull up our bow anchor, then pulling back on our stern anchor again to reset the bow anchor. Sounds confusing??? …it took us a while to think it through. Of course it worked!!!
We had a great beam reach south to Fatu Hiva, the southernmost island and the ‘best anchorage in THE world’.
The French Customs boat came in to check our papers as some yachts go there first before clearing in. What a nice bunch of young guys!!! Clearing into French Polynesia was as easy as Malaysia and trouble free. It’s been a while to experience this. The Gendarmeries are all helpful and easy to get along with, and their system of keeping track of yachts is computerized.
The island of Tahuata had some nice sandy beach anchorages where we could see the grains of sand underneath us at 8m. Nice! We took this opportunity to give the bottom a good scrub. Many other bays have black beaches and sharks! Manta Rays swam past the boat every morning and the Toad fish waited patiently underneath the boat for any morsel we may have cleaned off the bottom.
Nuku Hiva, some 25 miles from Ou Pou is the main island and it is where we spent most of our time, albeit unintentionally. As we had been on the move since early January, we just wanted to rest. Had the weather in the Tuamotos been more favourable, we would have left earlier. We were so lazy that we did not venture into any of the other bays, but did see some of them by land! Our days were taken up by reading, going for a walk and the daily Aussie bocce game,
... not to mention boat maintenance and keeping the waterline clean. Most of the yachts here are Australian and only two have circumnavigated. We met one guy who keeps his boat in Malaysia and we remember the boat from when we were up there.
With around 40% unemployment in the Marquesas there are many people who work for the government for their social security payment. Hence the villages are all neat and tidy with whipper snipping the grasses on verges an all out activity.
We are really enjoying the clean environment, but of course it comes at a cost with higher prices...almost like home. Extended families play an active part in families and we hear that if there is no girls born into the family, then the youngest boy is reared as a girl to help look after the family. Not sure if this is true but there seems a disporoportionate of 'lady boys' in the town. They are easy to pick if not because they seem to smile more than the girs!!!!!!!
We did come across this very fat, happy pig! We have not seen pigs wagging their tails like dogs before…………. hence the saying……happy as a pig in.............
Taiohae Bay houses the main town and THE centre of the Marquesas. It is somewhat small, but offers a few supermarkets, wonderful begets and a Saturday morning market, that the bleary eyed cruisers scramble for at 0400 in order to get a few vegetables.
The anchorage itself is a little rolly at times, with light winds it has not been as bad as others have noted. We are the dark spot on the LHS of the photo, close to the pier and the beach. Ua Pou Island can be seen in the background, some 25 miles away.
Richard, a local Marquesean, found us on the pier and offered us a deal we could not refuse! His tour of the island was well worth it; for the vista, the history and stories he shared with us and for his company. We teamed up with Deb and Don from Buena Vista whom we met in the Sea some 18 months ago.
Original ceremonial sites on the islands are now being restored and archaeological digs have unearthed tools and weapons used to combat enemies. Some of the Tikis found demonstrate sacrifice, which was so much a part of their culture.
At one site, a Banyan Tree (crummy photo but you get the idea of size!) has a large hole behind it where the skulls were stored.
The Marquesas are now huge exporters of Noni fruit, the juice of which claims to solve all ailments and popular in the west. It is from such sales that the people can now afford 4 wheel drive vehicles. Even the smallest villages have vehicles which seems a little strange as they do not have far to drive. However, even the short distance makes their life easier.
Being part of the Christian world, churches are very much part of the landscape with Crosses and Virgin Mary's located on the highest points above the villages. Beautiful flowers are arranged each weak for the services.
We have really enjoyed interacting with the Marquesan people who are helpful and friendly and even after short encounters in the supermarket or banks and the like, they wave and say bonjour! They have told us that the people in Papeete are not so friendly (more French??) but you get that in any city environment. We know after the Tuamotos we have to lock the boat and the dinghy/outboard all the time. Although an interesting place to visit, the Marquesas is not a WOW destination for us. We look forward to the atolls of the Tuamotos and the stunning locations of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.