The Marquesas – Nuku Hiva

Dramatic entrance!

The next day we sailed to the north side of Nuku Hiva where we anchored in Atiheu Bay.  Not much is written in the pilot books about this bay, but we did know that there was an excellent restaurant called Chez Yvonne.  We found a small village, and towering pinnacles on the western side of the bay rising to over 1000 ft.  Yvonne’s restaurant was excellent, and we enjoyed flambéed lobster – delicious.

Delicious!

We were then delighted to see another Jerome and his newly wedded wife Erna arrive, who we had met in Jerome’s restaurant on Ua-Pou.  On learning there was an impressive tiki site close by, we cheekily borrowed their driver for 30 minutes to be driven there, and have a conducted tour.  We saw a banyan tree that was 500 years old, its height and girth of amazing proportions.  This site also boasts two petroglyphs – one depicting humans and the other which has been recently cleaned, distinctly shows turtles and fish.

Turtle depicted on petroglyph

Gigantic Banyan

Our next stop was Anaho Bay, just a short distance east of Atiheu.  We tucked ourselves in to the most sheltered corner of this picturesque, sheltered spot in the shadow of towering craggy outcrops, with lush vegetation in the valley.  Lutz and Gabi joined us on board for sundowners and supper and we hatched a plan to walk up the hill to ‘the aerial’ after breakfast next day.  Having walked some distance along the palm fringed sandy beach we eventually found the narrow track and many, many mangoes just ripe for picking.  The view from ‘the aerial’ was stunning.  Here we snacked on gathered fruit, listened to birdsong and watched blue marine parakeets wheeling nearby.  The afternoon was spent snorkelling, admiring interesting coral heads and fish (including a black tipped shark!) on the reef and removing yet more algae growth from Pipistrelle’s waterline.

Anaho Bay (Pipistrelle in centre)

Taiohae, the main town on Nuka Hiva awaited us next and we had a great sail taking about 6 hours. This is a functional stop to complete various chores before heading off to the Tuamotus.  Coming round on Sunday meant we were ready for business on Monday.  We were able to catch up with Heidi and Stephen on Narama too – they were as surprised as we were to find each other here.  Our first stop was Yacht Services to get the genoa and staysail repaired – the stitching on the sacrificial strip had rotted away within 18 months.  Then came the inevitable organization of laundry plus a visit to the hole in the wall for more colourful currency, a quick stop at the supermarket and the obligatory check in with the Gendarmerie.  However, the biggest hurdle was refuelling.  It appeared that jugging was the only option.  We needed 300 ltr…. So we moved Pipistrelle to anchor nearer the big supply ship dock, proceeded with the dinghy, scaled steps and walked with empty cans (enough for 80 ltr) to the fuel station.  After two runs the fuel station closed at 1700 for the night and today an early attempt to finish off was thwarted because the supply ship Aranui 3 had docked, blocking access to the steps.  But it left at 1000 and after one more run Pipistrelle’s tanks were full.

Once the headsails were hoisted and furled we were all set for our passage to the Tuamotos, some 550 nm to the SW,and then Tahiti by the beginning of June.

Or so we had planned!  But we decided to stop once more at Ua Pou some 20nm away – this time in a pretty bay slightly west of the main port.  Here we intended to stay overnight but stayed for four or five while waiting for winds to decrease.  But in the meantime we socialised with Monica and Jan from Blue Dame, the Swedish yacht we met in northern Spain three years ago.  Wasabi and Sailaway were also at anchor there and on our last day, Elbe with Bernd and Elli on board sailed in, so we were able to catch up with them briefly.

Fragrant gardenia

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