18 May 2010 | Nuku Hiva
On the sail from Ua Pou to Nuku Hiva, we were able to successfully use the windvane which is the mechanical autopilot that steers the boat without any electrical power. This means that we can turn off the hydraulic autopilot to save as a backup and also to save a ton of energy. The main reason that we had to run the engine on the crossings was because we were using the autopilot, but not with the windvane, we’ll be able to save all of that fuel and money. We’ve still got a lot to learn about it, but it’s great to at least know how to use it at one point of sail. The anchorage at Nuku Hiva is one of the nicer anchorages in the Marqueses and the city surrounds the anchorage, so it makes running errands convenient. A season of the Survivor show was shot at Nuku Hiva (another was shot at the Las Perlas which was a group of islands that we skipped on our way to Galapagos). A guy in town claimed that he was a cook during the series for the actors (they were supposed to be scavenging for food) and said everything was staged and that they were flown around in helicopters when in the show they were supposedly hiking. Anyway, it’s a full service town and right at the dinghy dock was a van serving soft serve ice cream which was amazing. We arrived on another French holiday, so everything was closed. We found out there was a hamburger stand on the island that supposedly served great burgers which we’ll surely hit up. Friday, we ran some errands and talked to some of our friends in the bay. They have wifi in the anchorage, but it’s $5 per hour and terribly slow it’s ridiculous to complain about internet in such a remote place, but at the price that’s charged you’d think you’d at least be able to send and receive an email. But to be honest, it’s kind of nice to not have the luxury of internet and at least feel like you’re roughing it. 20 years ago, a phone call would probably have been impossible and probably in a year or two, you’ll be able to easily video chat. Technology is great, but does really change these places, so we should probably be thankful that we’re still seeing the islands before they are completely connected. Friday night, there was a big happy hour at the little hotel in town that all the cruisers go to. Drinks are half price, but that only brings the price down to $13 a piece. We each got one and made it last. The hotel was up on a hillside overlooking the anchorage and the mountains on the other side, so the view was amazing and they had one of those endless pools right next to the tables. The next morning we got up and headed to the next bay over, Daniels Bay. We sailed right into probably the most scenic anchorage that we’ve been in. Huge peaks that hug green valleys, full of fruit trees that end at the water in white sand beaches. We decided to go on a quick hike and made it to the top of an overlook where we could see into bays on both sides of the ridge. Just beyond where the waves were crashing into the rocks, you could see huge manta rays feeds in the surge. We then hiked further up the ridge to get a better view. There was a bluff that we wanted to get on top of and after noticing that the rock was a bit too crumbly to try to climb up, we circled the bluff and made it to the top. We got some great pics of the entire bay. While we were taking the pictures, we noticed a little goat sleeping just beneath us and jumped down to get closer. Alex had big ideas of bringing it on the boat as a pet, but we were able to talk him out of it. That night we had a young couple from Perth, Australia over on the boat and got some good information about the Pacific and also Australia. Sunday, we set off to hike to the third highest waterfall in the world. Jacques Cousteau allegedly measured the height of the waterfall using the altimeter in a helicopter on one of his trips. There is a river that flows into Daniels Bay and we were able to bring the dinghy up the river to a little village where we tied up to a coconut tree in a little lagoon. It was a nice cool hike up to the waterfall. The little village was full of fruit and we had to dodge rotting mangos and bananas on the way. The path was lined with huge flowering bushes and eventually brought us to the ruins of an old village. At one point, thousands of people lived in the village and you could see the remains of the walls of their huts. There was some type of disease that wiped out the entire village (not sure if it was brought in from the European explorers or not). We had to wade through a pretty strong river a few times, but soon we were out of the forest and surrounded on both sides by massive black cliffs on both sides. There was a warning sign for falling rocks after rain, but we hadn’t seen rain in weeks and confirmed that fact when we made it to the waterfall which was more of a trickle. Although it would have been great to see a surging waterfall, the freshwater pools that the water fell into were still cool to see and we found a few places where we could jump in and swim around. Diego was able to find one of the freshwater eels and got some good shots of it. They are extremely shy animals and just the vibrations of a person in the water keep them hidden away underneath the rocks. The one that he took the picture of was around 3 feet long with green and yellow spots probably would have made us think twice about swimming if we’d have known they were there. That night, we decided to have a fire on the beach and cook up some breadfruit with the Australian couple. We talked to the local Marquesan, Tangay, with the only shack in the bay and he was happy to let us have it there. We left to get our ax to get some wood from where he had told us and while getting it noticed a ton of land crabs. I was able to pin one down with a stick and after getting pinched a few times and screaming like a little girl, was able to get it into a bucket. We asked Tangay if they were possible to eat and he said they were and that he had a pot we could use to boil them in. The next thing I knew he was leading us through the mangroves on the shore to a little pool that was filled with these crabs. They had one big claw and had heads the size of a guys fist, so pretty decent size. He walked right up to them, grabbed the big claw and then the other claw which pretty much disabled the crab. He then walked us over to the shore and ripped it apart in less than a minute until it was just the legs and the claws (the heads in the wild crabs don’t have much meat). Alex and Diego went back after the logs and as the sun set, I went to harvest some crabs. After around 10 minutes, I had around 20 crabs. We told a few other boats to swing in and ended up having a huge crab feed. They turned out great and you really didn’t need to put anything on them at all. After everyone had left, Tangay started doing some type of traditional dance/chant in which he’d hoo and hah as the waves came in and out and as the fire stoked up. Like a really loud and deep breathing that is exactly the type of tribal chant you think you’d see in Indian Jones or something. It was a cool ending to the great day. On Monday, we sailed back to the main city to finish provisioning up prior to heading for the Tuamotos. The city was out of diesel, so we were waiting for the barge to come on Tuesday. We also brought in our propane tank to get filled which pushed back our departure another day because that wouldn’t be done until Wednesday. We ran some errands and did some work on the boat prior to getting together to discuss our plan for the Tuamotos with some of our new friends from Seattle on a boat called Delas. On Tuesday, we were able to get some diesel and get our laundry done. We cleaned up the boat and did a few little projects on board and then sat down with an experienced skipper from Wales to get some insight on the Tuamotos. We got some invaluable information from him and we’re hoping for a departure on Wednesday afternoon. It’s a 440 mile sail, so we should make it there by Sunday.
f Nuku Hiva.