Arrival in the Marquesas

Lillian B. at anchor in the Baie of Taahuku,
Village of Atuona, Island of Hiva Oa, Marquesas

Hello all.  Today is May 13th. Crew member Dick Hiatt should be in Tahiti by now on his way home after 3 months and 5000 miles of sailing.  It goes without saying, but we’re glad he came and we were sorry to see him go. Now it’s up to Peter and me to take care of Lillian until Kay and Matthew come on board in June.

Right now Lillian is parked at her third island in Les Isles Marquises in a peaceful little open harbor by the name of Nana Moa Noa on the island of Tahuata. South  09 o  54.5’ / West 139 o  6.3’. But to catch up, the following is from my May 11th journal entry.

Journal entry May 11th:

Tuesday May 11, 2004

Baie Vierge


Fatu Hiva, Iles Marquise

S    10o 27.9′   W 138o 40.0′

On Tuesday May 04, Peter was the first to sight the Marquesean island of Hiva Oa, nearly imperceptible through a hazy sunset. We continued west for several hours before nearing the coast, and then, with the wind over our shoulder, we sailed along the southern coast, arriving off the Baie of Taahuku near midnight. We approached the harbor by the light of the full moon, with the aid of GPS and navigational beacons on the shore. The smell of pungent earth was nearly overpowering after 23 days at sea.

Within 50 yards of the flashing green light marking the entrance to the harbor, I abruptly turned Lillian back out to sea. Rain had obscured the moon and the remaining light was too dim to comfortably judge either the geography of the harbor or the location of the boats anchored within. We circled outside the harbor for about twenty minutes and then decided to anchor for the night in the open bay of Atuona which neighbors Taahuku immediately to the west. Cautiously we circled into the bay, watching the depth finder to get a feel for the bottom. Even in the dark, the jagged hills surrounding the bay were surreal. The beach was barely discernible, accompanied by the sound of surf on what was a lee shore. We penetrated the bay until the meter indicated a depth of 20 feet and then looped back before it got any shallower. On the second loop we dropped anchor in 30 feet of water in the center of the bay. Lillian was touching ground for the first time in over three weeks. At approximately 2:00 am, May 5th, we had arrived in the Isles Marquise.

The next morning, after a night of rocking in the Baie of Atuona, we awoke to the beauty of the Marquises. After a leisurely breakfast, we motored Lillian over to the nearby harbor of Taahuku, which has facilities for arriving boats. In retrospect, our decision to wait until daylight was more prudent than we had realized. Based on the masthead lights, it had appeared that there were only a half dozen boats in the bay, but in reality there were over fifteen yachts crowding the harbor. To make matters worse, the harbor of Taahuku has large rolling waves and strong backwinds at night, necessitating a strong anchor at both ends of the boat. During the next few nights we were to spend there, several boats had anchors come loose, in some cases resulting in collisions with other boats. An attempt to anchor in Taahuku at night, even with a full moon, would have probably been a disaster.

Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva
Peter Fasoldt, above the Bay of Virgins,

After spending a few days on the island of Hiva Oa, we sailed south for 50 kilometers to the isolated island of Fatu Hiva. On both islands, our main pastime has been walking. In Hiva Oa we walked through the small town of Atuona, buying loaves of French bread and expensive beer (five dollars a can). We have walked to the grave of Paul Gauguin and up into the hills to see petroglyphs and archeological sites. We have hiked high into the mountains between natural rock formations that look like brooding tiki’s and along canopied tropic forest paths that tunnel through groves of fruit trees that include pineapples, bananas, limes, papayas, breadfruits, coconuts, mangos and numerous others of which I don’t know the names. On Hiva Oa, one of the natives gave me the most delicious grapefruit I’ve ever eaten. Today’s trip was up to a 150 foot water fall along a path where the mangos lay ripe on the ground. Yesterday, Peter and I hiked the 17 km road over to the only other village on Fatu Hiva. Midway we could look down the steep slopes to the boats clustered in the harbor. When in the harbor, the other sailboats seem significant, but with the endless Pacific as a backdrop, the 15 or so boats in the bay look like a tiny flock of birds seeking shelter in a tiny crack in the coastline.

Cross and Tiki on Hiva Oa