Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia
Wednesday 8 June – Thursday 21 July, 2016
We arrived in Taiohae Baie, Nuku Hiva around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon. Taiohae being largest town & administrative capital of the Marquesas. After anchoring we launched the dinghy and went to check out “town”. Happy to see friends Vivien & Oliver from S/V Maryann loading up their dinghy with supplies as they were getting ready to leave soon. We made plans to go by their boat for Happy Hour and catch up since we had last seen them in Panama over a year before. Our first stop right off the dock was to meet Kevin from Yacht Services. Kevin is from the US and has been living in Nuku Hiva for 8 years after sailing in and meeting his future wife Annabella. His business is helping out all the yachts coming into the Marquesas. He wound up being a tremendous help to us with many different issues. Next stop an electronic store to see if they would have parts to fix our WiFi antenna problem. Then just a quick walk down the main street to see where the grocery “stores” were. Later a great visit with Vivien & Oliver who shared a lot of knowledge on Nuku Hiva and other areas. A productive day for gathering information.
Thursday morning we took down our genoa sail, got it rolled up and into the sail bag on deck to bring to shore for repair to drop off with Kevin. Steve had hand stitched the sail cover that had torn on our crossing, but it needed to be reinforced with a machine stitch. Also picking up a list of what we needed for our Carte De Sejour / temporary resident card, part 2 of our long stay visas. Lunch at a nearby restaurant that had WiFi, nice to have 3 spots right by the dock area to get WiFi, BUT not as good as having it on the boat.
Friday we brought our big computers into shore to update. Not a lot of boats in the bay, maybe 30 as most have come and gone by this time. The dinghy dock is a challenge, a concrete wall with a 5 foot tide and a big surge most of the time. It can get very crowded by the 2 ladders (a week later one had to be removed). On another section there are some tires to climb up & down on. Just NOT easy getting in & out, especially carrying computers or anything. Friday nights Kevin helps arrange a restaurant outing with whoever is in the bay and wants to go, a nice way to meet other boats if you don't meet them doing internet on shore.
Saturday we bring our dinghy chaps into Kevin for repair. During the crossing it had chaffed in a couple of spots, we had materials to reinforce those spots but it would need to be machine stitched also.
Monday we have the paper work needed for our Carte De Sejour, so we go with Kevin to the Haut-Commissariat (High Commission) where he helps interpret for us getting the paperwork submitted. Steve has identified the problem with our WiFi antenna to be the Cat5 cable between the antenna and POI (Power over Internet) point and decides to replace the whole cable and the electronic store has it, so that project gets started and finished the following day. Now it is possible to get internet on the boat. A chip that the post office sells is needed separate ones are used for internet and phone. We already had the phone chip, but the internet chip is only available in Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas so we purchased 2 of those also. Once you have the chip, you then purchase a time card that comes with a user name & password to sign onto the internet. We had been told that some of the cards from Nuku Hiva have a glitch as they never run out of time. Luckily we received two of those 10 hour cards that we have been able to use well past the 10 hours.
Tuesday the Aranui came in, the supply ship that comes every 3 weeks. No moving of boats needed here since the bay is huge and the cargo ship dock is far enough away from the anchorage. Grocery shopping in the afternoon and the following day as they unpack. Steve made the decision to order batteries from Miami to be delivered to Tahiti and then to Nuku Hiva, so that process was started.
Our first week in Nuku Hiva went well, getting many of the to do projects taken care of as planed.
Thursday 6/16 Steve finds a FUEL leak in the generator !! This time it is the fuel injector pump, Steve & Kevin decide it will need to come off and be sent to Papeete for repair. In the meantime we will need to run the engine to charge the batteries so a good time to go explore some of the other bays of Nuku Hiva.
Saturday we are underway by 10 for the short 3 mile trip west to Hakatea Bay, AKA Daniel's Bay. The entrance to the bay is almost hidden as you approach from sea so it looks like you will be running into the mountain. We were anchored by 11:30. Afternoon swim and dinghy ride around the bay. Still need to run the engine in idle for a few hours to charge the batteries, this is not good for the engine but for now our only option. Sunday talked to a few other boats nearby to find out more about the hike to the waterfall. We had heard back in Taiohae that part of the trail going to the waterfall was closed due to huge chunks of mountain falling off onto the trail. This was confirmed but you could still go part way and see the remains of the old village of Hakaui where once several thousand Marquesans lived but now only about a dozen. Monday Steve & I along with the crew from S/V Kia Ora, Russ & Greg met with Paul, a local guide, at 8:30 AM on the sand beach in front of our anchorage. This was a better option then trying to get the dinghy over the rocks with waves pushing you in the other cove. A short hike around the shoreline brought us over to the other cove to start the hike. Paul showed us around his home area, fertile land that once supported many, only a few remaining in the area now. There is no road access to this area, it can only be reached by boat. As we start the hike Paul points out the remains of roads and buildings long since abandoned. A beautiful area, with a very interesting history. We cross several streams and have a nice view of the waterfall we can't get all the way to. The last stream we come to has giant fresh water eels (3 ft long and 3 ½ inch diameter!) that you can feed & pet. Back down to a locals home for a wonderful lunch by 2. Paul also loaded us up with many fruits from his yard. Glad we did the hike on Monday as we had heavy rains that night & Tuesday morning which would have made the trail a mess.
Tuesday 6/21 in between showers we made our way back to Taiohae Bay. Steve made his way to shore between another set of showers to drop off the fuel injector pump that he had removed while we were over in Daniel's Bay. It would be sent via plane the following day to Papeete, Tahiti for repair.
Wednesday we go ashore to do internet and pick up a portable generator to use to charge our batteries.
Friday, Steve had thought our refrigerator compressor was not running correctly. He ran several tests and then used one of Kevin's multi meters to confirm that it was not working. Our freezer had been running 24/7 keeping both cold. Another problem to fix. Rainy weekend. Monday Steve had removed our refrigerator compressor and brought it into Kevin. A new one was being ordered but the casing was still good so Kevin would remove that and re solder the new one in when it arrived.
Tuesday we refuel, not an easy thing to do here in the Marquesas. Here the fuel dock is at the cargo ship dock. A big concrete dock with swells coming in to smash you against the dock. We had been told and had seen boats backing up to the dock, med moored with a good 5 foot clearance to the dock. We did not pick the best time for this maneuver, as it was low tide with a good size swell, a calmer day at high tide would have been a much better option. A few days later we saw a boat under those conditions pull up alongside the dock to refuel. With the anchor down holding us away from the dock we get two stern lines to the dock to hold us in place. Then the fuel hose gets tied to a line to pass over to us. Once again glad for our extra fuel drums so we do not have to do this as often.
Saturday 7/2, the cruise ship Paul Gauguin is in port and friends Gary & Christina George & family are on board. Gary had sent me a message and there would be several stops where we could meet but at the time we were not sure where or when our schedules would cross. It was so great to be able to meet up with them after years of not seeing each other, we had shared many a ski trip with them. They were booked on an island tour and the van was full, so we rented a truck and followed behind stopping at the different places with the guide. Lunch at Chez Yvonnes over in Baie D' Hatiheu was as wonderful as we had heard from many of our cruising friends. Shortly after lunch they would return to the harbor and we continued to drive around more of the island. It was a great day seeing them and so much more of the interior of the island.
That night would also be a big Heiva celebration. This celebration takes place throughout all of French Polynesia for 4 weekends in July with each island doing its own thing. We had been hearing the drums at night in the anchorage for weeks as they had been practicing. Here on Nuku Hiva we had been seeing them build temporary buildings next to the main town building. These pop up buildings would serve as restaurants during the festival. We got back from touring the island just in time to do a little internet sitting in the truck until it was time to go to the festival. The Marquesan dancing and music was awesome. What a fantastic day !!
Sunday Steve picked up the fuel injector pump that had arrived on the Saturday flight, got it reinstalled and the generator up and running.
Monday 7/4 no fireworks here, we returned the generator and dropped off some laundry to be done. Not easy finding a place with a washer & DRYER, and no laundromats to do it yourself. We had received an email, in French, and with Google translate thought it said for us to come in and pay for our Carte De Sejour. The paperwork we had turned in was now “officially” ready to be sent to Papeete for final approval, so now we would need to pay. Kevin verified this for us and explained we could not pay cash at the Haut-Commissariat that we needed to go to the Post Office first to buy stamps in the amount indicated, $90, then those stamps get turned in as payment.
Wednesday afternoon we headed east 5 miles to Controleur Baie, It has 3 coves to anchor in, we motored around checking out all 3. All the bay's here are very deep until you get close to shore and the rocks, the west side was way too small for our comfort zone. So we anchored in the middle bay Hakahaa, a slight swell coming in but not too bad. It is a beautiful area surrounded by tall rugged terrain. Herman Melville's book Typee is based on this area and the village of Taipivai. Thursday we moved over to the east side bay of Hooumi where it was a calmer anchorage. Enjoying a couple of days of scenic views and swimming. We did not do a lot of inland exploring at this time thinking we would have plenty of time as we passed cyclone season here.
Saturday we were anchored back in Taiohae Bay, ready for another Heiva night festival. Dinner at one of the pop-up restaurants with 3 other boats before attending the festival. Each week has a performance by a different area from Taiohae. They are telling a story, like a play, with music & dance lasting over an hour. Another wonderful show.
Sunday we heard on the SSB radio net that a boat we knew who left Nuku Hiva the week before was in trouble. Monday it was confirmed that the boat S/V Entertainer had gone up on a reef in the Tuamotu’s and the owner/captain Lewis had died. We had had several dinners out with Lewis during the Friday night outings and as always it is very sad & tragic hearing of such a loss.
Steve had noticed the starter cord on the dinghy motor was almost shot so he replaced that before getting underway just after noon on Monday to head over to Baie D' Anahoe on the north side of the island. The Marquesas are NOT known for snorkeling but this bay is one of the better ones. We had partly cloudy skies so even with a reef near by the visibility was poor. Still another lovely bay with beautiful surroundings. This bay also has some good hikes over to the bay's on either side but with all the rainfall we had in the prior days they were too muddy for us to want to do them.
Wednesday 7/13 we had a nice sail west along the north coast of Nuku Hiva back around to the south side to re-anchor in Taiohae Bay. Thursday would be Bastille Day and they had parades & celebrations planned. These short trips to other bay's was a scouting of places we thought at the time we would be spending cyclone season at.
Thursday was a fun day with parades and activities throughout the day celebrating Bastille Day.
Friday night as we ran the generator Steve noticed it was not charging !!!! Saturday we went in to get the portable generator again until Steve could figure out what the new problem was. That night we went to another Heiva festival, this one being the best of the 3 we had seen to date. They had decorated the floor area, using a lot of plants, lighted candles and other props including a live pig during their performance. They would have my vote if it counted for best performance.
Sunday during heavy rains Steve did some diagnostic tests on the generator and it was NOT a good result. This time the armature, the core that spins to produce electricity, was shorted out. Monday we went to talk to Kevin to see about options of having it rewound or replaced. It turned out that to do either was nearly the cost of a new generator with no guarantees of how long the repair would last, so the decision to order a new generator was made. We did not want to have to rely on a portable generator for several months while we waited for the new generator. Since the batteries had to be shipped to Papeete first, it just made sense for us to go to Tahiti and plug in at a marina and wait for both to be delivered there.
Sadly after 6 weeks in Nuku Hiva we would be departing the Marquesas earlier then planned and we would need to go straight through to Tahiti by-passing the Tuamotu Atolls. Changing our short & long term plans for the time being, luckily this is something we are use to.
Tuesday a quick stop at the store for a few provisions then getting the boat ready for our passage. Wednesday afternoon we returned the portable generator and said good by to Kevin, thanking him and Annabelle for all their help.
Thursday 7/21 we pulled up anchor at 8:30 and were underway for our five day passage to Tahiti.
Link to pictures; https://goo.gl/photos/WnRyHngXDnDZt75DA