Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sharks, Sharks and more Sharks

We were interested in SCUBA diving in the pass and invited Paul, Sundra, and Paul’s mom, Sontine, to ride over to the dive shop in the pass to check out the situation. We had quite the adventure just trying to steer the dingy amongst all the coral heads to get to the pass. Luckily we had Paul on board who could speak French with the guys at the dock who told us were to tie up, quite a challenge given the almost five-knot current ripping along the face of the dock.
The Tetamanu Diving Center located right alongside the famous South Fakarava Pass, a diver's paradise.

 Ten's of thousands of dollars of professional underwater photo gear littered the tables at the dive center.
As we walked towards the Tetamanu Diving Center (www.tetamanuvillage.pf) we saw literally mountains of camera cases and photo gear strewn about. I went in and talked to the famous Annabelle, a French Polynesian with curly blonde hair, who explained to me that they this week had been solidly booked for over a year .  Turns out thousands of groupers from across French Polynesia all congregate in the pass on the first full moon of July to breed. This also attracts hundreds of sharks. For dive photographers this is the Holy Grail. Consequently there were over 60 divers from around the world here to photograph the event. It was possible I could go dive with them, but it sounded like a very complicated dive given the depth and current so I decided to see about doing it at a later date.

I talked with an air traffic controller from Papeete who explained the best underwater photographers were all here. He pointed out four guys getting out of the water with exotic rebreathing equipment and super expensive underwater cameras. “They are a team working with the famous French producer Laurent Ballesta filming for French TV.” He also said a team from BBC was here, along with still photographers from all the dive magazines. Since the average camera/housing rigs I saw were in the $10,000 to $20,000 range, I realized I was totally out of my league with my little GoPro underwater camera. 

The air traffic controller showed me some photos he’d shot the day before, amazing pictures with hundreds of black-tipped and grey sharks filling the frame. He said tomorrow was supposed to be the big day all the groupers spawned (you think they’d give them a little privacy). Paul and I considered drift snorkeling in front of the resort but with the current running that fast -- and out to sea -- we decided to wait for another day.
From L to R:  Paul, Sundra, Meryl, and Sontine.
We had a beer and just enjoyed the ambience of the incredible setting right at the edge of the pass with dive boats zooming in and out (usually sideways in the current). It was interesting listening to the conversations of the professional divers as they sat with their beers recounting the day’s activities. Must be a nice life style.

Imagine staying here and diving twice a day.
Anabelle’s husband was getting dinner prepared for the divers, fish, of course, and throwing the scraps out into the shallow water where six or seven small black tips fought for the morsels.
Here's where the divers eat dinner and discuss the day's dive.
As Annabelle's husband cleans the fish for dinner, these little black-tips quickly gobble up the morsels. Note to self: Don't fall in the water.
We took a walk through the resort with it’s simple thatched huts with beautiful views of the lagoon. What a glorious vacation it would be to stay at the resort and dive twice a day, I need to recommend it to my kids (both certified divers).

Going back to the boat I somehow got on the wrong side of the channel and I was hitting coral heads right and left. I’d just put a new prop on the outboard and I somehow knew this was going to happen. It was getting dark quick and it was very hard to read the water to see the obstructions. With Meryl’s help we got turned around and motored very slowly back to the boat. Not sure Paul and Sundra will ever go for a dingy ride with us again.

The next day Meryl and I went over to the pass at slack tide and snorkeled with Meryl towing the dingy and me watching for sharks and filming with the GoPro. On the bottom, about 75 to 90 ft. down, we could see the flashes of the photographers going off and the bubbles slowly rising to the surface. While it was a long ways down, the water was very clear with an incoming tide and suddenly I could make out movement along the bottom, quickly realizing all those grey shapes with flashes of white were sharks, hundreds of sharks. As long as they stayed down there we were OK, but every once and awhile one would cruise by at a shallower depth.  Really wished we would have SCUBA’d the dive, but we’ll be back at another time.

We tried several locations to extend our snorkeling time and found over by the western edge, where the depth was only about 10 to 20 ft., was the best place for fish watching. The coral reef there was home to an amazing number of tropical fish, the usual parrot fish, sergeant majors, Moorish Idols, and a bunch of fish we couldn’t identify. Again, every once in awhile a black-tip would come cruising and put the fear of God in us. I know they are somewhat harmless but it’s easier to rationalize that in the boat then when a black tips is five feet away in the water. 

Back at the boat we checked the anchor and found we’d wrapped around a little coral head. I had Meryl stay on the boat and pull up the chain while I snorkeled and rearranged the buoys that float the chain over the bommies. You have to do this almost daily so you don’t get caught with a short wrapped chain when a gust hits.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Dangerous Archipelago

After our epic 18-day crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas we both felt it would be awhile until we did night passages again, but here we are departing the security (and friends) in Hiva Oa for the 580-mile passage to Tahanea in the Tuamotus Archipelago. Our friends Roger and Sasha on Edenbal had motored over to say goodbye (do Aussies have an equivalent G'bye to G’day?) who dropped off a stalk of bananas for our voyage. As usual it was hard to say goodbye to so many good friends in Hiva Oa but we did need to travel onward.

Luckily Boxing Kangaroo was just ahead of us for the first two days and the sailing was great in 12 to 14 knot easterlies allowing us to broad reach most of the way. We lost touch with Boxing Kangaroo on day 3 and continued on in ideal sailing conditions.
Here is a view of Tahanea from about five miles out.
As usual we had a little trepidation about sailing to the Tuamotus. It’s and archipelago made up of 78 coral atolls, all just a few feet about sea level (with the exception of a few coconut palms). They are visible only within five to eight miles away and don’t even show up on radar that well. Add to this the treacherous currents between the islands and in the passes and the area has well earned its moniker The Dangerous Archipelago among sailors. Modern GPS helps, but even on our up-to-date charts most of the atoll’s lagoons are uncharted and filled chock-a-block with coral heads or “bommies” in Australian speak. These lurk just below the surface and are difficult to spot in cloudy conditions, late in the afternoon, or when you are traveling towards the sun. In the old days most sailors simply avoided the atolls and sailed the long way around the Tuamotus.

Another problem with the Tuamotus are the passes. Each atoll has from zero to four “passes,” essentially an opening in the encircling coral reef deep enough for a boat to pass through. To make things more interesting, the millions of gallons of water in the lagoon needs to exit and enter the pass three to four times a day with the tides. Most passes can only be entered only during a brief (up to 5 minutes) of slack water, and trying to determine when this slack water period is a task for an MIT mathematical who is married to  an oceanographer.

A German cruiser made a bold attempt to predict the tidal flows with a complicated Excel spreadsheet appropriately named “The Guesstimator.”  It was fields for the time offset of the atoll from Rangiroa (the nearest NOAA tidal station), the direction the pass faces, the number of days the wind has been blowing from a south or westerly direction (fills the lagoon with more water), and a factor for extra wide or deep passes. Now you know why it’s called the Guesstimator. To make things even more complicated the last time the Guesstimator was updated with the current year's tides was 2011, and since then NOAA changed the format it published it’s tide in, you can’t just plug the 2015 tides into the spreadsheet.
Imagine trying to negotiate a pass or navigate through the coral heads during a squall like this.
Just trying to choose which atolls to visit is a daunting task. After listening to a fellow Magellan Net boat on the morning net we decided to sail to Tahanea, which he described as having a pass you could drive an aircraft carrier through. An extra wide pass gives a lot more wiggle room with calculating the slack water time. I had just figured out how to input the 2015 NOAA tides into the spreadsheet when we approached Tahanea’s Middle Pass (and I’m no math whiz). My calculations showed 1:30 pm as the magic moment to run the pass, but when we got there we saw a heavy current line to the right of the pass. We waited outside and watched the current through powerful binoculars trying to make a decision to go for it (remember we’d just had four nights with little sleep). We finally decided the boat could handle the incoming tide (if it’s outgoing and there is an incoming wind you can get standing waves six- to eight-feet high. We girded for the worse and were surprised by a fairly easy, yet brisk, entrance to the lagoon. Once inside Meryl was up on the bow with a walkie talkie to relay steering directions back to me at the helm if she saw a coral head pop up. We followed some existing waypoints from the s/v Soggy Paws website that were spot on and directed us to a nice anchorage just northeast of the pass entrance.

Now, here is when it gets tricky. Just about everywhere there are coral heads lurking just below the surface. Just about anywhere you drop your anchor the chain will 1) rub up against a coral head, 2) get caught in a coral head, or 3) wrap around the base of a coral head.  The technique de jour is to let out about 1.5x of your anchoring depth in chain, then attach a fender or float to the chain with a short length of rope, then repeat at 1x that distance. For us we had floats at 60 and 90 ft. from our anchor. This allows about 50 feet of anchor to lay on the bottom (hopefully not wrapped around anything) with the rest of the chain suspended above the coral heads but with still enough of a catenary force to keep the boat anchored. The first time we did this the chain got hung up on a coral head. I had to snorkel over and try to reposition the line, which meant I tried to pull the 60 feet of chain up hand over hand, only to discover I was now 20 feet deep in the water and running our of breath. On to plan two. I had Meryl motor the boat up and use it’s brute force to move the chain a bit to the right. Once we got all set up right it worked pretty well. Oh, did I mention that sharks kept swimming by while we were doing all of this? I’m sure I looked like dinner to one or two of them.

To add to the ignominy of the situation, once we got anchored we noticed the two catamarans just to the north of us were non other than Twiga and Cinderella. If you’ve faithfully read the blog you’ll now Twiga is the boat we went through the Panama Canal with and Cinderella is their friends.  Long story short is they are both Austrian “naturalists” meaning we saw lots of naked bodies for the next several days. Luckily the next further boat was our friends Paul and Sundra on Arbutus who we had first meet in Cartagena and later at Hana Noe Moa in the Marquesas. Paul’s French mother was visiting for a month so we had a great opportunity to get to know them better during our stay on Tahanea.

Meryl had received a great recipe for Jamaican Rum Banana Bread from our friend Janet on Truant 3 and with the stalk of bananas Edenbal all ripening, it was time for some banana bread. The results were excellent and we shared part of the loaf with Arbutus during a nice lunch visit with them.

Since this was our first night in the Tuamotous we went to bed with images of huge sharks circling under the boat and our anchor chain wrapped in a macramé design amongst the coral heads. Sweet dreams!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Our Sunday Best

Early Sunday morning, dressed in our best clothes on board, we dingied into Hapatoni with Chuck and Linda to attend the morning church service. Since nothing every happens on time in the South Pacific, we sat around the front of the church and had a lovely talk with a local women who worked as a teacher in a neighboring village. She was so gentle and elegant you can understand the love the Marquesans share for each other.

A local Tahuatan lady tells Linda from Jacaranda about life on the island.

We entered the beautiful stone walled church a little early so we could get good seats near the back. Women dressed in beautiful Polynesian prints and flowered head crowns meandered into the church, which seemed almost too perfect for the setting. Since we got there a little early, we were treated to choir practice. Words can not describe the beauty of the women’s harmonious voices singing in two-part harmony with the men. It sounded as close to one voice as I've ever heard, with everyone in perfect pitch. Men in the front row strummed their guitars and on occasion drums from outside the church joined in.

The Catholic service was conducted in Marquesan, which shares the fluidity and beauty of French, the islander's second language. The setting, the melodious singing, the acoustics, and more than anything else, the smiling faces of the children, made for an almost perfect experience. Someone mentioned "if church was like this back home I'd go everyday."

This little girls was handed in through the window and passed from auntie to auntie up the pews.

While we couldn’t understand a word of the French/Marquesan Catholic service, we did focus on all the little things going on around us. The huge Marquesan father with his beautiful young daughter with a red hibiscus i her hair balancing on his lap. The little baby who was passed from pew to pew as various women consoled her and showered her with affection. The cute five-year-girl seated directly in front of us whose focus would wander, causing her to hang her head back over the chair and look at us upside down. The intricate tattoos on the backs and necks of the women, complimented by the beautiful flower crowns they wore. The whole experience was surreal for those of us from different cultures and more complicated lives.

We lingered for awhile after the church services, watching as the palenque games started up and the children chased each other on the lawn. We both had such a contented feeling on the ride back to the boat marveling that such a place and people existed in the world.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Magic of Hapatoni

An eclectic Marquesan named Steven lives in a grass hut on the beach. If he likes you, he will tell you a lot about the local flora and fauna. He described how the dolphins herd schools of fish into the bay and up against the cliffs for feeding frenzies.
We swam into the beach at Hana Moe Noa one afternoon and met Steven, a very handsome Marquesan who lives alone in a grass-walled hut along the beach. No one knows if he owns the land, but he seems to be the resident caretaker. We’d heard he could be a little standoffish, and we watched as he ignored a German woman who persisted in trying to buy bananas from him. She finally left and we sat down and had a long talk with him. He’s very traditional, back-to-the-earth type guy who eschews the commercialism that’s creeping into the villages. In the old days when some one returned from fishing they would share their catch with the rest of the villagers, today they just sell them and buy a newer pickup truck. Since the Marquesas are a “state” of France, the French government heavily subsidizes their infrastructure, food, and income. As a result, you don’t have to work that hard to have a good life in the Marquesas.

Steven told us of watching large numbers of dolphins “herd” schools of fish into the bay towards the northern wall where they would be trapped and easy pickings for the dolphins. He spoke of the animals and flora with a special reverence that heralded back to the days of his ancestors. As we were leaving he asked us -- with a small smile on his face -- if we wanted any bananas. We returned the next day with a special plastic canister for his sugar container, which had melted in the sun.
The anchorage at Hapatoni was very deep and you had to anchor quite close up to land.
Steven also told us of a special church festival up the coast in the small village of Hapatoni. We decided to head up there to check it out, apparently along with most of the other boats in the bay since once we arrived we had a difficult time finding a place to drop our anchor.

Hapatoni is a traditional Marquesan village with a small boat harbor, a cement ramp for the fishing boats, one road through town, a town hall, and a beautiful Catholic church. We walked down the road, built nearly 100 years ago called Queen’s Road in honor of the Queen. It’s been described as one of the most beautiful paths in all of Polynesia, lined with ancient stone walls and over arching palm trees.

When we had docked our dinghies several young Marquesan boys offered to help us tie up. We learned from our friends Chuck and Linda on Jacaranda (old Pacific hands) the local greeting of kaoha (ka oo ha) which we used to greet the boys. They walked with us for awhile and then said something to me in French with the word “bateau” to which I replied oui (learning later I had given them permission to go play on our dingy).
The Queen's Road.
As we walked down the Queen’s Road people were friendly and greeted us with bonjour or kaoha. Steven had told us that every four months the islanders on Tahuata gather at one of the village churches for a three-day festival. As we neared the church in the center of town (nestled at the base of very steep green mountainsides) we saw young children running around, adults in groups talking, and a number of adults playing a strange game on the church lawn.
The men play a very competitive game of petanque on the church lawn.
The object of petanque is to get the steel balls as close as possible to le petit chochon.
We learned from our French friends (the game was invented in her French village) that the game is called petanque, where heavy steel balls are lofted in the air to land closest to a golf-ball sized nut (called le petit chochon or "the little pig") on the ground. Both men and women played, and although we don’t speak the language, it seems there is a lot of gamesmanship and trash-talking going on. They played this game for two days straight. We quickly identified one woman in pink who was clearly the village “ringer.” She could loft the heavy balls high in the air and have them land with deadly accuracy.

On the perimeter children ran everywhere on the lush green grass and women sat making the beautiful flower head dresses for the next day's service. It was a picture postcard setting of tranquility at its best.
Some of the village boys were obsessed with my digital camera and wanted to have their pictures taken and then view the results.
My two little friends from the boat marina showed up and were fascinated with my digital camera and wanted me to take pictures of them, and them of me (except they couldn’t quite get the focus down right).
An island artisan displayed the carvings and jewelry produced by other island artists.
We mingled with the locals and a group of French cruisers and all went down to the community hut where a local artist showed us some of the bone and wood carvings for which the Marquesan’s are famous. We ended up getting Christa and Quinn some nice gifts.

We wandered back up to the church and found they were serving lunch and enjoyed a huge plate of wild pig, rice, and vegetables. We found the Marquesans love to eat well, and to eat a lot.

It was a great day just hanging out and felling totally accepted by the locals. While we loved the Caribbean, it’s a totally different vibe here where life is good and everyone seems happy all the time. I can understand why some cruisers come to the South Pacific and never leave.

Friday, June 5, 2015

In the Valley of the Gods

Much like Tahiti and Bora Bora, Fatu Hiva is the stuff of which legends are made. Sailors talk of Fatu Hiva in a reverent voice. They have difficulty adequately describing the fabled anchorage that is typically the first landfall for boats crossing from North and South America. Unfortunately Fatu Hiva isn’t an official port of entry for French Polynesia so you run the risk of a $200 fine from the gendarmes. In reality this seems to happen rarely and I wish we would have stopped there first to save us having to double back after clearing in at Hiva Oa.

We departed on Hana Moe Noa on Tahuata on Saturday morning, June 6th and were fortunate to have near perfect weather as we sailed in the lee of the mountainous island. The scenery along Tahuata is incredible, looking very much like a movie set that some Hollywood mogul constructed to film the movie South Pacific.

We had a pleasant crossing on a close reach with moderate waves, much different from that experienced by most boats heading up to Fatu Hiva. Many sailors, including Thor Heyerdahl of Kon Tiki fame, mentioned a feeling of unease when approaching the island. Heyerdahl spent a year exploring Fatu Hiva with his young wife and wrote a book about the experience. I think it’s mainly the dark, ominous clouds that cling to the mountain tops and give the island a surreal quality.

The Bay of Virgins.
As you approach you see a wall of extremely steep mountainsides painted in a cacophony of every shade of green imaginable. Waterfalls cascade off the vertical walls like in a fairly land. More dominant are the bulbous round rock towers that led early settlers to call it the Bay of Penis’.  The missionaries, in their zeal to cleanse all immoral thoughts, later renamed it to Baie des Verges (The Bay of Virgins). An interesting leap of logic, but non-the-less confusing to the local free-spirited islanders.

The next day we went ashore to the village of Hanavave (Han-nah-vah-vay) to explore. It’s not like a typical village with a commercial area near the water, but more a collection of private homes leading up the valley. We walked on the single paved road passing St. Michel’s Catholic Church on the right where locals practice for church services on their guitars and ukeles.

Further on we tried to find the trail to a famous waterfall, but without directions and anyone to ask (it was Sunday and no one seemed to be outside) we simply meandered up a muddy dirt road for about two miles, experiencing some incredible scenery but no waterfall. We backtracked to the road and met a German couple who said the trail was just around the bend up the the road. Naturally.

The spectacular Vai'e'enui Falls.
A series of small rock cairns mark the trail and once you are on it it’s fairly easy to follow. If you love the color green you will love Fatu Hiva. Along one stretch we walked along a virtual wall of red hibiscus lining the trail alongside a rock platform that must of been a pae'pae in ancient days. After about an hour, including a tricky bit over some slippery rocks, we could hear the roar of the waterfall. Called Vai’e’enui Falls, it drops several hundred feet into a small pool at the base. We stripped down and slowly entered the water (it’s cold) over the slippery rocks. Once in it was very refreshing, especially after all the hiking we’d just done. It was a little unnerving when a fellow cruiser asked us if we saw all the ells swimming at the base of the falls. We hadn't but maybe that was the tickling feeling around my feet.

The hike down was less enjoyable since we were fairly wiped out (we don’t get to do much hiking living on a boat) but once back at the harbor we were treated to breathtaking sunset with the surrounding mountain faces bathed in a deepening yellow to orange light. I’d have to say this is probably one the top three most beautiful places I’ve visited in my life.

Later that night we heard a very irritated young French woman anchored behind us who felt we were too close to her boat. We promised to move first thing in the morning to which she replied something nondescript (and probably obscene) in French. Another boat had come in late that night and tried to anchor for over an hour but had no luck and left.

We had the same experience the next morning as I felt the anchor rumble over a rocky bottom. Seemed like we caught on something and were well anchored, but later that night we heard an irritated German voice (at least I know the obscene words in German) who said we were anchored too close to him, and sure enough we had dragged a bit when a 20- to 30-knot gust roared down the from the mountain tops. Re-anchoring at night in a small harbor is not a pleasant experience and we began to feel some of the foreboding the other sailors had voiced about the bay.

On the next morning we took another trip into town. There was a cement boat ramp they use to launch their fishing boats and we dragged the dingy up and secured it to a post. We met a man named Joseph walking down the road and asked him were we could find a local carver, and by some miracle he stated he was a carver (as are many of the island men). We went to his house and looked at several carved pieces out of rosewood and ebony. We decided on a beautiful serving bowl as a birthday gift for our daughter. The prices seemed high, but we understand they transport their art work to Papeete where they sell for three to four times the price to the cruise ship passengers.
Sopi, the honey man, hanging up fish soaked in lime and coconut juice, a local staple.
We asked Joseph where to find the renowned local honey and he pointed us across the river to the home of Sopi, a local fisherman who also maintains several bee hives. He and his wife were in the process of soaking fish in a mixture of lime and coconut juice, which essentially pickles and preserves the fish. They then hang it up to dry along the south side of the house. After a while Sopi invited us into his house and talked a bit about island life. He did have some honey, but nothing to put it in, and unfortunately the price was $30 for a liter. That was a little more than we wanted to spend. He did give us a handful of prune de Cythere also know locally as golden apple. They had a somewhat nondescript taste, but could be diced up for a salad. As we were walking back down the road we saw a group of locals out jogging on the single paved road on the island. Given the elevation gains they were in for quite a work out.

On June 10th, tired of the continual rain and wind, we headed back to Hana Moe Noa for a taste of calm waters and sunshine. We had another idyllic sail down the leeward side to Tahuata and were happy to see Ednabal and several other friend’s boat at anchor in the the beautiful bay.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Pony Express to the Rescue

The spectacular coastline of Tahuata.
With our reprovisioning completed at Hiva Oa we looked forward to a short sail to nearby Tahuata Island and the famed Hana Moe Noa Bay. It was hard to leave Hiva Oa and our friends, but the rocking and rollin’ anchorage had us yearning for a sound night’s sleep. We headed out through the breakwater directly into a 15-knot wind right on the nose (how many times have I written that in a blog?) and large swells. We made it around Cape Teaehoa and eased the sails off for a broad reach down Bordelais Channel between Hiva Oa and Tahuata, a notorious wind funnel that was luckily behaving itself today.
Hana Moe Noa Bay on Tahuata is rated by many as the most beautiful beach in all of French Polynesia.
Rounding the corner to the left on Tahuata the wind calmed down and we prepared ourselves for another mind-blowing hit of scenery. Hana Moe Noa has been described as the “most beautiful beach in all of French Polynesia.” It certainly lived up to its billing as we ghosted into a panorama of verdant green hills falling down to a perfect white sand beach lined with regal palm trees. If this isn’t paradise then nothing is.
Escape Velocity, Full Circle, French Curve, Toucan, and Arbutus all received fresh baguettes that we brought over from Atuona.
We were bringing gifts for the sailboats anchored in the bay and a badly needed part for a friend’s water maker, but more importantly, we were coming to see our friends on Escape Velocity whom we’d said good bye to in Bequia over a year ago.
A warm welcome from Marce and Jack on Escape Velocity.
From L to R:  Marce, Cindy and David from Full Circle, and Meryl.
Marce's beautiful tattoo from the Tahuatu artist, Fati.
We quickly anchored and dingied over to Escape Velocity and there was Jack and Marce waiting with open arms. They hadn’t changed much, except both were sporting beautiful new tattoos by the famous Marquesan tattoo artist Fati. It didn’t take long to get caught up (our blogs fill us in all the daily happenings in our lives) when a dingy motored up with David and Cindy from Full Circle whom we’d last seen in San Cristobal in the Galapagos (Tryg had brought a temperature sensor for their water maker from the States.). A short time later Paul and Sundra from Arbutus arrived. We last saw them in Cartagena. Mark and Cheryl from French Curve also came over. It was like old home week. The timing was perfect because we’d brought fresh baguettes from Hiva Oa for everyone.

We returned later to get caught up with Jack and Marce and hear about all their adventures (and they have had some doozies). In describing the bay where they had spent most of the last month, Marce told us to watch for the giant manta rays that come in each morning to feed.

We got up early the next morning, picked up Jack and Marce and dingied a short ways out of the bay where right on schedule the manta rays appeared. You can see their wing tips just kissing the surface as the glide through the water. With snorkels and fins on we all jumped into the water and followed Jack on a manta ray search, with Meryl towing the dingy behind us (I had the video camera). Shortly one appeared out of the deep blue, looking much like a spaceship out of Star Wars on an attack run. Luckily they are plankton feeders so we just got to enjoy the beauty of these magnificent fish as they slowly glided overhead (we’ll post video as soon as we have some bandwidth). Much like seeing the turtles laying eggs on Grenada this was one of those life moments.
The beautiful beach at Han Moe Noa.
Unfortunately, all three of our friend’s boats left the next morning (EV had been waiting close to a week for us to arrive) and suddenly we were all alone in the bay. We spent the next few days just relaxing, snorkeling and checking off a few boat projects. Before Marce left she mentioned the GRIBS (the graphical data files we use to predict wind speeds and direction) were showing a rare northerly wind on Saturday. We wanted to visit the fabled Fatu Hiva, but it’s normally a long upwind slog that we weren’t looking forward to, but with a northerly wind it would be a close reach and a much more enjoyable sail. So as with many things in the cruising life, we changed plans once again  to set sail for Fatu Hiva on Saturday, June 6th.