Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tour of Nuku Hiva

April 22, 2008--We are still here in Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva. As we suspected, they couldn't rebuild our fuel pump in Tahiti; however, the new one is suppose to ship from San Diego by FedEx, and we are supposed to have it within 6 days. We certainly hope so! We are getting along fine, but we really would like to be out and about in some of the more remote anchorages.

Yesterday, we came ashore around 7 o'clock to have some breakfast and very good coffee. We met some local men, one of whom was Henry, and we had a wonderful time talking with them and learning all about them. Henry is one of five mayors from this bay, but there are a total of 25 for the whole island. He was really quite interesting,entertaining, and informative. Yesterday a cruiser informed us that he had seen a ten-foot shark by his boat; however, Henry assured us that one one has had problems with sharks in this bay. I'm not sure that I believe him.

We then picked up our rented a Ford Ranger 4WD and toured (circumnavigated)the whole island. Surprisingly, it was a really fun trip. A third of the roads were paved and the rest were not. A quarter of the unpaved roads were along the north shore of the island and were very marginal, steep, and precariously excavated from the shear edges of cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Upon leaving Taiohae Bay, we climbed to 864 meters at Muake Pass and out of the caldera for a breathtaking view of the bay. The road then dropped down to Taipivai, a small and very clean town at the head of Comptroller Bay. It was obvious that the work in that town is coconut farming as thousands of acres of palm trees covered the substantial valley, and workers were out and about tending to the "crop." The road then turned to dirt and climbed up close to 3,000 feet on an extremely steep volcanic flow ridge and then back down valleys to sea level on the northwest corner of the island. Just before arriving in the small town of Hatiheu, we stopped at a significant archaeological site called Paeke where many islanders had once lived. The whole site reminded me of an ancient American Indian ruin except that everything was made of large black volcanic rocks. There were tikis, ceremonial areas with steps to a rock platform, rock wells, grain grinding areas, and numerous flat stone "pads" called Paepaes where individual families built their homes. I couldn't help wondering if this is what Captain Cook saw when he arrived but suspect that this site was much older than that. When we arrived in Hatiheu, we ate lunch at at Chez Yvonne. Our lunch consisted of 1 1/2 three to four pound rock lobsters each. Mine was fixed "Whisky Flambe" while Steve's was grilled. The meal came complete with deep fried bread fruit, a fruit that tastes and cooks very much like potato, salad, and, of course, a Hinano Biere. Afterwards we followed a very poor dirt road along the sea, but it had significant elevation changes along the route. There were times when it looked like the road would drop right off the edge of a cliff and fall 1000 feet to the sea. We saw things driving that we would never have seen from the boat. After 2 1/2 hours, we arrived at the northwest corner where the airport is located. It then started to rain, and the clay roads that climbed to the Takao Pass led back to Taiohae Bay. The pass reached 1,224 meters, and we were in thick fog, heavy rain, and wind with temperatures in the 60's as compared to the upper 80's at sea level. Most surprisingly on our trip were the large mature pine forests in the higher elevations--just like home--and in the center of the island was a volcanic caldera very similar to Valle Grande but so much more green and lush and complete with grazing horses and cattle. As things go here, the trip was not too expensive. The car was $160 for the day and the fuel cost $75 for the refill. Now, if we are delayed for too long, we can just move on to another island because we have seen all of this one.

We returned in time to come back to the boat and rest up before heading out at 7 p.m. to have dinner with four other cruising boats (a total of 20 people) at the Pearl Resort Hotel. We had to take the dinghy ashore and tie her up to a tree on the beach since it was high tide. The meal was wonderful, and we all got to catch up on what each boat had done and was planning to do. When we left at 11 p.m., the tide had gone out, but there were waves coming in, and I got soaked getting into the dinghy. It had been a long day so we immediately crashed. The winds really kicked up last night to around 25 knots, but the anchor is well set so we were just fine.

Today we are taking care of the boat. I am doing laundry, and we have the generator running so that we can charge the batteries and make water. It is overcast and dreary so we thought that it was a good day to just hang out here and relax.

Anyway, hopefully we will get out of here in a week and will tour Ua Poa to the south and then head on to the Tuamotus Islands that are 550 miles to the southwest. Currently we plan to visit Fakarava, Rangoria, and possibly Toau. The Tuamotus are part of French Polynesia but are completely different from the Marquesas and the Society islands (Tahiti, Bora Bora, etc.) as they are low lying atolls that are not much more than 10 feet in elevation and the only thing that grows there is palm trees. They are supposed to have very clear water, lagoons filled with sharks, barracuda, rays, dolphins, and a lot of fish! We are, needless-to-say, very anxious to get moving again.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:


No comments: