Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia

We left Ua Huka in the morning and put up the spinnaker as soon as we were out of the harbor. The trip to Nuku Hiva is almost dead downwind, which is the most glorious and pleasant sailing angle, and we had approximately the ideal amount of wind to keep the spinnaker full and Villa surfing.

As we approached the island, we were approached by a pod of dolphins. We tried sticking the gopro-on-a-stick into the water, and it tuns out that it’s hard to manage when you’re doing six knots.

We dropped anchor in Taiohae Bay near our friends on Acushnet. There was so much space available that it was almost hard to pick a spot; a huge change from the small or tight anchorages that had begun feeling normal in the Marquesas. There were maybe thirty or forty boats in Taiohae Bay, and it still felt almost empty. We hear it can, and often does, fit over a hundred. Once there, did a little reorganization of our cat stores, and took another crack at getting our windlass apart. (It didn’t work.) It did, however, leave our tools exposed to a rogue wave that left Andrew repacking a bunch of miscellaneous hardware into one of our spare toolboxes. For its size and shape, Taiohae is surprisingly rolly and uncomfortable; a look at the map suggests flat water, but that’s not the case at all.

Our first outing on land was a show and dinner put on by some local dance troops. The youngest kids were adorable, everyone else’s dancing was fun, and the best part were all of the really excellent tattoos on display. The Marquesans take their tattoos seriously.

The next night we went out to dinner with Acushnet at the local Pearl Lodge, sibling restaurant/hotel to the one we’d visited together on Hiva Oa. We had a pleasant meal and enjoyed the view, but we were absolutely devoured by mosquitos and gouged on the taxi rides there and back.

And then we started to get sick. We thought at first that it was food poisoning, when Jazz got sick first. But then the cold caught up to Andrew and knocked him off his feet for a couple of days. That delayed us long enough for the supply ship to come in, and we were able to refill our cooking gas bottles. This took longer than it should have, and we ended up resupplying with eggs sold out of a German lady’s clothing shop, and with a big experimental batch of veggies from the farming collective by the dock.

Next to the produce market is an artisan’s market, where for the first time in her life Jazz was told by the vendor that she couldn’t buy an expensive piece of jewelry, because it didn’t match her skin tone properly. (It was a beautiful wood and bone necklace, and the artist was right.) Also nearby is a little cafe, that serves breakfast and aggressive dog love.

For more durable supplies, we walked down to the magasin. Along the way, we passed a pizza-focused hotel-restaurant, which turned out not to be open for late breakfast. We took a picture just because Jazz liked all the different fabrics and colors. The provisioning was fine, and especially notable: a huge number of people around town were wearing these shoes. They must be very practical?

Our last activity on Nuku Hiva was getting our cat paperwork in order. This involved spending a day on the phone with the lab in Kansas and the vet in Panama, who disagreed about whether the latter had paid the former. We eventually got Captain’s (passing!) rabies titer test results just in time, so the vet and biosecurity agent who came out to the boat didn’t have to take a blood sample. Captain was traumatized enough having to get poked and prodded and tested for whisker-sensitivity by a guy who smelled like the horses he’d just been working with before our visit. In the end, we got a certificate stating that Captain is confined to the boat until well after our visas expire, and were reminded yet again how much easier it is to just “not have a cat” like all the other cat owners we know.

We had planned to explore more of the island, but we had a bad taste in our mouths from being sick and waiting for propane, so we were ready to move on. Overall we’d expected to like Nuku Hiva a lot, and while we were glad to have propane and veggies we were pretty nonplussed by the mountains (after stunning Fatu Hiva) and the rolly anchorage. We’d planned on visiting Daniel’s Bay, but instead we set sail for Ua Pou, the last island before the Tuamotus.

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