Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Friday, 28 April 2017

Robert Louis Stevenson's favourite bay

We had rain, rain, rain all night, but thankfully it cleared by breakfast and we had a great bash to windward up the most spectacular coast. Great spires of rock framed by impossibly high cliffs disappearing into cloud, dark rock spines jutting out to sea, sometimes lightly coated with green icing sugar vegetation, and sometimes bare, dark chocolate.

As we left the drama of Taipivai Bay, a huge tuna jumped clear out of the water ahead, and shortly afterwards a school of dolphins curved past, without bothering to investigate us.

The wind was blowing 28-33knots from the ENE so we were close hauled with double reefed Genoa, tacking out south east before we could talk to clear the northern headland. Once past the point we eased sail, and picked up speed. A pod of very large dolphins joined us, enthusiastically leaping clear of the waves to view us.

We finally turned into Hahahei bay, guarded on the left by what seems to be a giant trolls head with helmet spikes of black rock. At the far end of the bay a Giants castle of spikes loomed high above a little waterfront village. The sun came out and the sky was blue and the boatt was draped in washing, most of which has had innumerable rinse cycles in rain storms. We went ashore in the dinghy to a little pier where we manage to lap ashore between the surge of the swells. Everyone except me wore long trousers and long-sleeved shirts because the sailing directions say that it is teeming with mosquitos and NoNos. Last week Emily's Nono bites were a shocking revelation of what invisible insects can do!

The village was very charming set along the waterfront, with a little shop, a yellow post office and Yvonne's Restaurant. The latter is reputed to be the best in the island, so we booked a table. Determined to find the local archaeological site, Justin and Anne set off up the road out of the village and we eventually found what we wanted. It was a very large Marie, or sacred ceremonial site, with a large flat area of grass bounded on the long sides by terraces of stone for spectators. At the far end a stone plinth was where human sacrifices were displayed, and beyond that a higher platform was where the chief and dignitaries would be housed. It was very extensive, having been built in 1250 AD, remaining in use till the 1800s. It was rediscovered in 1957 and rehabilitated in 1987.

Back in the village as the sun set, we enjoyed supper with Yvonne, an elegant elder lady who had set up her restaurant in 1978. She had us four and two others tonight and served very good fish dishes with breadfruit and other vegetables

Our return to TinTin was along the track to the port, which was lit periodically with street lamps. Nonetheless the walk involves wading across a river and sloshing through thick mud. At the dock a man was fishing and his wife was gutting the substantial catch.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The famous valley of Typee

Herman Melville, of Moby Dick fame, spent time in Nuku Hiva having jumped ship and been kept prisoner by a tribe. His book, Typee, is an exciting novel based on his adventures here, and as is set in the next valley along from Taiohae in in Taipivai Bay. We've all read his story and as soon as our anchor problem was solved we set sail in that direction. The bay is divided into three inlets by high rocky ridges. As we doused sail, a black cloud rolled down and the sea hissed white with torrential rain. We dropped anchor in 5 metres in the muddy flood of coconuts and tree debris washing down fro the valley. In a strange way it could have been a Scottish loch, with the high ridges swirling with mist, and dropping steeply to the water. So chilled did we feel that we used Rosalind's pressure cooker to brew up a nice hot "Lake Soup" for lunch.
We clambered ashore on a rocky breakwater and waded through muddy tracks to the road, seeing lots of land crabs along the way. A "drift", still above water, crossed the raging brown river to the village where we inspected the church and chatted to various passers-by. The church was a huge open space under a high roof with no pillars. The side walls are waist high giving ventilation and some light. The pulpit was a large tree bole nicely carved.

Up the street we found a little shop and bought tubs of local ice-cream including a dark purple one called Taro, which is a yam-like tuber. Very nice. On our way we met Royand daughter Lisa from yacht Mabroukha exploring in a hire car. The rain set in hard again and the road became a river, everyone getting drenched except for me with my handy brolly. We waded across a field to inspect a large ceremoni Marae, nicely recreated with thatched ceremonial houses in stone platforms, surrounded by carved Tikis.

Land Crabs & Tikis

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Anchor's aweigh!

A day of unceasing torrential rain! Lots of hanging around - all getting rather tedious........BUT when Thierry the diver turned up he did a great job and unwound the chain from the old ship's anchor and we were able to move the boat to a safer spot. It was amazing to see him disappear into the thick brown murky river flow, full of floating debris, and then to see a circle of clear water where his bubbles brought the underlying seawater to the surface. Of course the freshwater is less dense and formed a 1 meter thick layer on top of the bay.

Then Kevin from Yacht Services kindly cane out to look over the freezer, stuck a bit of gas in it and concluded that the wiring installed was insufficient for the length of run involved leading to a voltage drop. Something for later. We started on an oil change for the generator, but then found bilges full of seawater so had to pump that out and worry about where it came from.

Anne and Emily did a great job ashore taking all our Jerry cans to refill. We had emptied all 200 litres into the tanks and calculated that we'd need to put another 200 in as we should have been nearly empty. Astonishingly there was only room for another 20 litres so our fuel consumption seems much lower than I'd thought.

Finally we are able to set off again tomorrow to explore a bit more of these islands before heading off to the atolls.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Imprisoned in Nuku Hiva!

I'm sad to say that we cannot leave this lovely island Was it anything to do with the picture that I put up showing Nuku Hiva as one of the 50 worst places to visit?!

This morning, once the torrential rain had cleared, and we'd emptied the dinghy, we went ashore for fresh vegetables before heading off to another bay. I headed to the post office for stamps and to post my Custom declaration and to Papeete. One has to take a number and wait on benches, which I did serenely for the best part of an hour. It being French, people kiss each other on both cheeks as a greeting. I got included at the end of the line, when Sabine, the equestrian lady came in, as she had given me a lift to the plateau yesterday when Anne and Emily went riding. That was a good expedition because Justin and I were almost 3000' above sea level and had a delightful walk back down the road amongst ancient acacia forest wreathed in mists. At the lip of the cliff we had extraordinary views of the bay far below and then set off down the hairpin bends to the port. On the way I sat to sketch, sheltering under my new Chinese rainbow umbrella from roasting sun and then the rain.

So beck to our unfortunate detention on the island. As we raised anchor to leave there was an awful clunk as the chain locked solid around something. We tried circling it, pulling pushing - everything! But we are stuck fast with 45 of our 65 metres of chain out in 11-12 metres of frothy cappuccino river spate.

Luckily Nuku Hiva has a yacht services company and by the end of the day it looked as though they had found at least one diver who could try to get us free tomorrow morning! Whilst I spent the day on that and other issues the rest of the crew went off to explore.

I was pleased to find that Kevin of Nuku Hiva Yacht Srvicezisvslao able to deal with freezes, so tomorrow we will tackle that issue as well

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.