Back in the Marquesas

The month in Cape Town went by in a flash. We arrived back after the long multi-stop flight, having seen some more of Liz’s fmily in NZ, to be greeted by local music at the micro-scale Hiva Oa airport.


Work on the boat followed – engine service, bottom paint, new davits for the dingy, replace annodes and various bits and pieces.

Then some gentle cruising around the island until a weather window opened that has us leaving Nuku Hiva for the Atoll of Raroia in the Tuomotus tomorrow afternoon. Should be about a 3-4 day trip. We look forward to totally different scenery – atolls as opposed to volcanic mountain islands.

Ua Pou Revisited

We had a varied sail across fro Tuahatu to Ua Pou – no wind to start and then some spanking beam reach sailing in blustery conditions on the last third. (Ignore the date on the photo, its fixed on the camera now).

Once around the headland, the approach and anchoarge at Hakahau was as good as ever. We had fun watching the kids enjoying their kayak practice after school.


This bit of the mountainside reminded us of a Lion’s Head view of Table Mountain:


We had another very pleasant walk over to the next bay.

Anyone spot Liz in the wave?

Liz bodysurfing (1)

We visited the Pukuee Bar for a well deserved cold one on the way back (and some internet access). Great views over the anchorage.

The Watermaker gave us a Low Pressure warning and stopped working. After much digging and consultation, we dismantled the Booster Pump Switch (having changed filters and done endless other checks) and found that when they assembled the switch, they had put a very poor spot solder on one of the terminals (instead of a male/female connection) and this had just fallen off. Once identified, easy to replace with a good connection and all was well again.

Next we wandered down the coast to Hakaheteu.

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The anchorage was a bit rolly but had spectacular views.

We had another great walk up to one of the Pinnacles. The Lady with the Goat was born in Hakaheteu, is working in Strasbourg and was visiting family on holiday. She gave us our walking directions and also helpful instructions on how to do a full day walk around all the Pinacles (saving that for our trip back down south later).

Bye Bye Ua Pou for now. We will return later. The poor place is going to be inundated by (according to some) about 3000 people in December for a Music Festival. It doesn’t bear thinking about in this pristine location. We are thankfully away for Caryn’s wedding and will return well afterwards. We are benefitting from enjoying all the music preparations by experiencing all the arts, crafts, music and dancing around the islands (see next post) in a more relaxed manner.

Meanwhile, great memories in our wake …….


Cruising the Marquesas

Been a bit tardy on the blog updates of late but what with lack of internet access and complete adaptation to island time, it just didn’t seem a priority.

We have been slowly cruising around the islands and enjoying the wondeful Marquesan people and their amazing “Hiva” homeland.

Here’s a picture of the layout and location of the Marquesas for orientation ( Emily C. Donaldson (2017): Troubled lands: sovereignty and livelihoods in the Marquesas Islands, International Journal of Environmental Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00207233.2017.1364893)


As you can see, we have just started scratching the potential of French Polynesia, let alone the rest of the Pacific Islands!

Here’s another whistlestop through some of the places we have been chilling in.

ANAHO Bay on Nuku Hiva

There will be more on this special place later as we are going back again but it is such a special anchorage (see pic, tucked around behind a headland with 360 degree protection) and such a pleasurable environment (sandy beaches, walking, forest etc etc).



and of course the snorkelling …..


Anse Avaiva Iti

Again special for us as it was our first landfall after the crossing from Panama, so we could not resist another stay.


Fatu Hiva

We had a spanking beam reach sail across from Tuahatu to Fatu Hiva (south western most of the islands).


There is only really one viable anchorage called Baie Des Vierges (Bay of Virgins) off the village of Hanavave. It used to be called Baie Des Virges (Bay of Penises) before the Missionaries interfered and had it changed. If you really, really squint and stare hard at the picture, you can just sort of imagine a virgin in the rocks.


Hanavave and its anchorage are really picturesque. If you want to stay incommunicado, anchor on the left of the bay (more sheltered) where the jutting rocks interfere with the Vinispot signal.


The other settlement on the island is Omoa. It is an hour and a half kayak down the coast which is a splendid trip, full of hidden inlets, caves and mini-waterfalls. Sorry, no pics as Liz’s waterproof camera proved not eventually …

The other way to get there (yourself) is to hike the only island road. This takes just over four hours at a goodly pace. We thought about hiking back again to save the expense (for a nanosecond) and then settled in for a bayside lunch, cold Hinano beers and a bumpy water taxi (small aluminium boat) ride back.


The bay was so rough when we left that they could not use the slipway to launch the boat but dropped it in with a forklift truck instead!!


There is also a pleasant forest walk to the Cascades at the head of the valley above Hanavave.


The people on Fatu Hiva were just so nice and helpful. We got invited to the Sunday service in the Roman Catholic church. This turned out to be a uniquely Marquesan “sung mass”. There was a great turnout. The service itself was highly participative as regards members of the community leading various parts and readings. There was a small choir together with soprano and tenor ukuleles, a rhythm guitar and a large and emphatic lady on a traditional drum. The voices were great, not only in the choir but in the audience as well, with lots of harmonising. Even the children participated instead of the normal fidgeting or sleeping.

We had several pleasant strolls around the village and visited with a local artisan who carves in shell, stone and wood. Very good carving work (we have seen enough now to have some degree of appreciation of quality). We bought some items but the smaller stuff as it is all so very expensive here (prices are 3X Panama as a rule of thumb).

The lead artisan is supported by his son, who runs the business now. I have got wood carving tools coming to me from Australia. When they get here, we will return to Fatu Hiva as they have agreed to teach me the Marquesan methods of carving.


This is regarded as one of the best anchorages in the Marquesas (good snorkelling, lots of Manta Rays, beautiful beach, no development). We bypassed earlier in our wanderings as there were still quite a few boats in. This time we have had it almost entirely to ourselves with an occasional second boat dropping in.


Hiva Oa

Although not our favourite anchorage, we had a very pleasant stay when we went back to visit John and Bev on Dandelion (who have finally resolved their engine problems).

The anchorage was very flat and quiet (by comparison with our previous stay). We had some great walks and met up again with Seth and Ellen on Celeste and John and Becca on Halcyon.

Good kayaking out to the island and swimming with the Manta Rays.


Good provisioning done, we were off again …


Ua Pou

Very pleasant sail across and spectacular views on approach.


Nice time in town with friendly locals and a dance and haka celebration. Pleasant walking around.


One of my favourite spots. We are the only yacht in the bay again.


The views are great. On our last visit we got a great rainbow shot of Dandelion. There is good snokelling on both sides of the bay, great walks for hours to north and south and a great kayak down to Baie Hanatefau for more good snorkelling.

The church is a work of art, dominated by a beautiful stained glass window that filters in the morning light most beautifully.

There is a micro-archaeology-dig site (covered in) in the south of the bay at what seems to have been a seaside settlement that provided a dune dig. The researchers drew conclusions about the seafaring capabilities of the early Marquesans through the discovery of various artifacts and their distribution elsewhere in Polynesia; in particular, the source (quarry on another island) and distribution (very distant islands) of a precisely identified stone used to make adzes.

Some of the finds from the dig have been preserved and displayed in the local museum.

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Whilst not detracting at all from the value of the local museums (the Musee Boutique on Nuku Hiva is another worth visiting), it is sad that so much of the Marquesan artifact heritage has been taken away from the Hiva homeland and now resides in foreign, “first world” museums and collections. This systematic deprivation is well documented in “Les Marquisiens: Les Marquisiens et leur art. Ornamentation primitive des mers du sud III. Collections”, by Karl von den Steinen, first published in 1928. A large book (13″X19″), this thoroughly documents a wide range of Marquesan art and artifacts with a commendable but depressing thoroughness in the identification of where these objects now reside. Now there’s a project ……..

Vaitahu was also the adoptive home of Emily Donaldson, from where she was based in conduction ethographic research which you can access here:

This article provides a good insight into her work:,%20Troubled%20Lands,%20Sovereignty%20and%20Livelihoods%20in%20the%20Marquesas%20Islands.pdf

She also published a Marquesan-French-English Dictionary and Phrase Book, a physical copy of which we have been unable to find – we even boarded the Aranui in foul weather in Vaitahu Bay to source a copy but they did not have any. You can request a digital copy from Emily via her website.



Nuku Hiva

We arrived at Nuku Hiva after a pleasant overnight sail from Tuahatu.

The main settlement at Taiohae is a rolly but pleasant anchorage and there is lots to do in the way of walking, snorkelling (some), good provisioning and good medical/dental care.


There was a great veggie market on Saturday mornings at 05h00.

We treated ourselves to a lunch at the upmarket Pearl Lodge with its great views out over the bay.

Freinds Alex and Carla shared a car with us for a tour around the island. The interior is surprisingly Alpine until you get to the other side of the island where it seems that some French bureaucrat has drawn a line and decreed “No greenery here, just desert!”.

The northern bays are very picturesque and of course a pleasant lunch was called for.


We explored one of the archaeological sites until the miggies got the better of us. The sites are mainly former settlements that have become overgrown in the forests – the arrival of the Europeans having devasted the population (by about 90%) through disease, religion, drink and random slaughter. Its amazing that the locals are today amongst the friendliest people that we have encountered anywhere.

With Carla along, some good foraging was obligatory.

There is a modern sculpture up on the hill overlooking Taiohae Bay which has great views and the opportunit to post a written wish into the belly of the “Earth Mother”/Warrior composite figure.

The Cathedral is worth a visit. Like many of the churches, it combines traditional Tiki and similar imges alongside Christian ones and there is a Tiki site alongside. We were anchored right outside the entrance.


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We anchored in the protected Daniel’s Bay anchorage which has spectacular rocky mountain surroundings. The walk up to the waterfall in a canyon was great but they had forgotten to turn the tap on so we did notb see the waterfall.


Our favourite anchorage so far, in the entire Marquesas, is Anaho Bay. We have spent some time there chilling, snorkelling and enjoying the walks.