Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hanavave (Bay of Virgins), Fatu Hiva

Log covers 5/28/2008 to 6/01/2008

Hanavave (Bay of Virgins), Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands
10.27.889S; 138.40.068W    Distance sailed 42.5NM

Early Wednesday morning we departed Hiva Oa for the 42 mile sail down to Fatu Hiva.  Guess we have forgotten the proper way to sail because we forgot to check the GRIB files for weather prediction.  It was a very rough little passage that took the entire day.  We had 20-25 knots wind right on the nose and seas were 6-ft wind waves on top of 8-ft swell.  It was just plain awful with all the pounding.  The other 2 boats making the same passage that day opted to sail way off course and then tack back to destination.  That would have involved an additional 21 miles of sailing so we opted to just motor directly on the rhumb line and arrived there first.  Glad we did because we had an easy time anchoring in the spot of our choice and spent a pleasant night.  The other 2 boats arrived after dark and had to “anchor” in depth of 125 feet at the outside section of the bay and they had to stay awake all night for anchor watch.

The Bay of Virgins at Fatu Hiva is unbelievably gorgeous.  I do not see how any place could top this anchorage for sheer beauty.   In archaic Marquesan, the bay name of Hanavave means “strong surf bay” and it is a most appropriate name.  They have recently constructed a breakwater and it was easy to land our dinghy at the protected concrete wharf.  Supposedly the original name given by early explorers was the Bay des Verges (Bay of Phalli or Bay of Penises).  The later Christian missionaries were appalled by this name and inserted an “i” making it Bay of Vierges which translates to Bay of Virgins.  Erosion has caused rock pillars that are very suggestive of male virility so it is easy to see why this was called the Bay of Penises

We stayed at this anchorage for 4 nights and the winds howled down between the high mountains and through the bay at 30-35 knots every day.  It also rained many times each day.  One day we hiked to the waterfall behind the village.  This was supposed to be an hour hike but it took us about 2 hours.  There were 12 of us for this hike, including one local Marquesan man.  It rained several times and the lichen-covered boulders and stones on the path and climbing up the mountain were very slippery.  This was not an easy hike as it was mostly uphill over mud and slippery rocks.   At the end there was a 200-ft waterfall with very little water falling into the pool beneath it.  All the other hikers went swimming in the pool but both Bill and I opted not to join in.  The area was swarming with mosquitoes and I felt that it would be wiser to stay covered in my long pants and long-sleeved shirt.  There were large fresh-water shrimp in the pool.   One of the other couples had brought freshly baked sourdough bread, smoked bananas and pampelmouse and several people shared a small picnic.  The walk back down to the village was hard on the knees and quads and people slipped and fell several times.  We are glad that we did this hike.  Definitely do not want to attempt any hikes that one bit more difficult than this one.   It was probably our physical limit these days.

Friday evening we joined a pot luck dinner on another sailboat.  It was an enjoyable evening visiting with new people.

Saturday evening we ate dinner at a local house in the village along with another cruising couple – Bill and Amy on S/V ESTRELLITA.  A couple of German men who had arrived from the Galapagos that afternoon also joined in this dinner.  The 2 German men had been learning French during their long passage and it really paid off for them as they were able to communicate with Terez, our hostess.  Terez is Tahitian and is married to a local Marquesan man; so she speaks 3 languages – Tahitian, Marquesan and French.  We don’t speak any of those languages and would not have been able to communicate with her without the assistance of the 2 German men.  Local people volunteer to cook meals for cruisers; the cost was 1100 French Polynesia francs (about $15 USD) each.  Our meal consisted of sliced French baguette, poison cru (raw fish in coconut milk—sort of like ceviche and very good), plain white rice, chicken cooked in coconut milk, baked breadfruit, boiled pink bananas and shredded manioc cooked in a citrus liquid.  This was definitely not the best meal we have ever eaten but we enjoyed the local flavor and appreciated being entertained in the home of a local person.  Best thing served was the raw fish in coconut milk.  Worst was the boiled pink bananas (which I thought when eating them were some kind of weird sausage and later learned were bananas).

On our first day in Fatu Hiva a small boat with 3 native men came out and asked to trade with us.  They wanted beer or rum or gun ammunition or ropes.  We did not have gun ammunition or extra ropes to trade and did not want to part with our few bottles of rum, but Bill did agree to trade a six-pack of beer for 7 enormous pamplemouse and some bananas.  They delivered the pamplemouse and promised to bring bananas the following day.  Of course, we never saw these 3 guys again and never got the bananas.  But at least they never came back to ask for more beer.   Several days later another boat refused to talk beer trade with these guys.  The next morning this cruiser found his dinghy turned upside down in the bay --- with his outboard engine still in place and now ruined by salt water.   Better to part with a six-pack of beer than to chance angering the natives and sustaining some sort of damage to your boat.  BTW, the pamplemouse were delicious.

We very much enjoyed the Bay of Virgins at Fatu Hiva.  Cannot describe how beautiful it is.

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