The Marquesas 2022, part 2

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Ua Pou

Smaller island in the North Marquesas, just under Nuku Hiva, a day sail to reach. It has a small ‘harbor’ where you have to anchor with bow and stern anchors, since there is not enough room for yachts to turn around one anchor. Ua Pou is well known for their craftsmen ship in sculpture.

Arriving at these great shorelines of Ua Pou. We thought to do some fishing and just before we entered the bay we caught a monster yellow fin tuna of around a meter. It took us over 40 minutes to get it in and two hours to clean the boat of all the blood. Shared half of the fisch with others. The next four days we had a carousel of tuna dishes.

40 minutes and it took two people to hoist it in

Slide show

Below is a gallery the first day after our arrival. Click on the first picture and see them in full screen.

Fatu Hiva to the Marquesas art festival 2022

We waited in Ua Pou for the weather to calm down to have less waves and wind for the sail to Fatu Hiva for the festival. It would be a two-day sail upwind, quite a rough sail with 2.5-to-3.5-meter waves and 15 to 24 knots wind (force 5 to 6 bf). We waited and waited and had to leave three days before the start of the festival. We decided to take our friends with us as they had no good option to do this trip with their catamaran, it is difficult to sail that high in the wind with a catamaran. So we transformed Snow into a hotel, with two two person beds and and two extra one person beds, if needed. Unfortunately, they decided on the day of departure it was too risky to leave their catamaran alone at anchor in Ua Pou.

Hotel Snow. The extra beds in the salon. We sleep in the aft cabin ourselves. If needed, the Swan 431 can have 6 or 7 single beds and 1 or 2 double beds (10 in total). Here she is ready for battle, we always use one bunk for our sailing gear.
Detail; the blue canvas is still original from 1976

We departed in the morning and it was indeed a bit challenging. Snow sailed great into the wind with her bow getting lots of water over deck. We tried different sail settings to keep the speed up but also to reef when the wind was increasing. In the end we sailed too slow. We reefed too early and sailing with two fore sails was no succes. We could not make good speed to get there a day before but also had some challenge with going into the waves. If we had gone faster, with more sail up/more power, we would have punched better through the waves. Now we were slowed down by going in each wave of about 2.5 to 3 meter.

We were still figuring out what would be the best sail setting as we noticed there was a lot of seawater in the boat. Our new electric bilge pump was going on every 2 minutes. After investigating why, we noticed this was coming from the anchor locker. The opening that should let the water out was now working as a method to push water into the locker. As our bow lay so much on one site all the time and always under water. The anchor locker had two openings on top and on the inside of the boat. From those openings we saw seawater sprayed in, every 10 seconds. Like emptying two milk cartons in one push. That water sprayed on the electronics of our anchor winch.

We still had another 24 hours to go and were just behind the next island group and a bit protected from the waves. We had a decision to make. Do we continue and have the electronics exposed to so much spray water? We wanted to continue and go into even higher waves, our guess was 3 to 3.5 meters waves for the next 20 hours. And last but not least do we want to enter the festival the day it starts and leave Snow at anchor in a very crowded bay while we are not sure yet if our anchor would hold enough?

Unfortunately, we abandoned our goal to reach the festival. It was a painful decision, as this is the great festival where all the Islands of the Marquesas come together to express their culture to each other. We had to make a call before we left the protection of the Islands we were passing now. With pain in our hearts, we decided it would be wiser not to continue as we were not sure if our anchor winch would work and to save this winch instead of letting it suffer more. It was also unsure if we would stay anyway if we could not find a good place to anchor. The small bay there would be very crowded, wind forces were still increasing and no repair facilities for yachts available at all. So, we decided to stop and go to anchor in Tahuata, a small Island we were just passing on our way.

The sail trip to Fatu Hiva that we never reached. Finding the right sail setting, now a reef full genua fore sail and the small stay sail is ready, sometimes we tried three sails with a reefed genua, that seem to work quite good, but not fast enough in the end.

So, we read about the festival in the local newspaper of Tahiti and are happy that we had already seen the performance of Ua Pou and other performances in Nuku Hiva. Still, it hurts. A couple months later we found video recording of all the islands on YouTube posted by a Marquesas YouTuber; example, the group of Nuku Hiva (the capital Island of the Marquesas) here. A documentary here. Documentary is in France language but it has subtitles you can choose the language of the subtitle.

Tahuata and Hanamoena bay

We anchored in the main capital of Tahuata . The anchor winch was still working, there was no damage to Snow but we suffered from bruised egos. We thought it was the right decision but it is always challenging to give up.

The anchor bay was nice but because of the high mountain peaks you experience fall winds. Those winds accelerate falling from the mountain down. That means a lot of hard wind gusts in the anchorage, to the point we could also not go ashore with the dinghy. It did not matter as we were pretty well stocked, so we stayed some days in that bay, maybe a week. At a certain point we saw the people of Tahuata coming back with the big cruise ship The Aranui 5 from the festival. They received a very warm welcome in the village.

After days we had enough of the wind and went to the next bay. It was a world of difference and paradise surroundings. Not much wind, nice and sunny, white beach, good swimming and anchoring, just perfect. Even internet acces, we later learned; anchor more outsite the bay to have a faster connection. We stayed a long time here and waited for friends to arrive here too.

Below is a gallery the first day after our arrival. Click on the first picture and see them in full screen.

Hiva Oa

At a certain point, after some weeks in Hanamoena bay we needed to re stock food fruits and aperitives. As there is no shop in Hanamoena bay, only a small shop on this Island we decided to sail to Hiva Oa, the second biggest Island, next to Nuka Hiva. This is a small sail of two hours when the Bordelais Channel between the Islands is calm, we waited for calm winds and departed.

We caught a second large tuna, black fin of about 80 cm, and anchored in the protected harbor space of Hiva Oa. Here there are bigger shops, a yacht store and even a boatyard for hall out if needed. Also, a place to refill gas bottles, get rid of garbage, have laundry done and even a hardware store. Basically, a lot for an Marquesas Island. They have an airport, the Gauguin Museum, where he lived and died, and more we did not see (yet). Once it was the main capital of the Marquesas, now that is Nuka Hiva.

Below is a gallery the first day after our arrival. Click on the first picture and see them in full screen.

Back to Paradise, Hanamoena bay

Last video before leaving the Marquesas in 2022
detail; I am making this page in February 2023, in the same bay. We sailed back from Tahiti at the end of 2022

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