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Crossing to the Marquesas June 5-25  2006   by Bart

At 3pm on Monday June 5th we leave Isla Isabela, Galapagos. What a place that was, nature was always everywhere. Sea lions around the boat at every place you went to. Sea turtles, Penguins, Rays, Sharks etc etc. Where ever you looked, there was always something moving in or out of the water. But it was time to leave. New adventures were drawing us towards the rest of the Pacific. Apart from some swell the sea was calm with winds from the SE.

We left late in the afternoon but since the crossing was going to take us between 20 and 30 days it didn’t matter, what time we left. The first 5 miles we were accompanied by many rays, sometimes even jumping out of the water and making back flips.

Day 1 

We picked up our new Trade winds (south east Trade winds of the south Pacific). What a joy with 15 knots of wind we were going 6 miles an hour with an extra knot of current. Marquesas here we come.  

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Day 2-5

The trades didn’t disappoint us in the next days. In the night they calmed down a bit and during the day they picked up again. We caught a fish the same day we put our line with lure in the water. The first day of a crossing we never fish since I get seasick mostly in the beginning and it’s not something you like to do cleaning fish, baking it and eating it. But I have to admit, that I get less and less seasick, the further we sail.

We quickly got back into our normal crossing rhythm. The 3 hours watches at night, the cooking, the fishing and the navigation.  Although it sounds strange the days fly by. Dagmar and Soleil do school in the morning, I work a little on the website or the LUNA movie. We read a lot, cook a lot and Soleil watches a movie after school. And lately I listen to the  Dutch world radio network for the news and some world cup soccer. Before you know the sun sets and its time to do the watches.

Day 6

The day is not much different than the others. Its amazing still, how many birds we see, they are all sea birds but still way more than in the Atlantic. In the afternoon we see a big fin sticking out of the water. Attached to the fin is a 5-6 meter shark quietly swimming along with the waves. I always thought that a fin stick out of the water, was something you can only see in the movies or in a Kuifje (Tintin/Tim und Struppie) comic book.  

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Day 7

It’s fishing day again. That I am not always lucky with fishing proofs this day. I put out 2 lines to makes sure we have a nice dinner that night. 3 times we had mahi mahi on the line. One time it was so big I couldn’t even pull it in but luckily it got away. The second time the fish was already on deck but fought so forcefully that he flipped overboard again.

The third was away even before I pulled it in.

So we didn’t have any fish for dinner. The wind got a little stronger. We made a 167mile day, which is not our record but got very close.

Day 8

This day I got lucky again. We caught a small Mahi Mahi. Dagmar turned it in to a nice fish curry for the next 2 days.

We found out, that we catch more tuna in the early morning hour just before sunset and the Mahi Mahi during the day.  

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Day 9-10

In the early morning we caught our tuna. Soleil’s wish for happy hour (borrelen) at 5pm, when we have a small drink and a little snack before dinner.

The wind started to change, became a little lighter and more from the east. Until now we had very good days of 135 miles or more a day.  But now we slowed down. It lasted for 2 days. Wind enough to steer, but on the log we weren’t going very fast. We had a lot of current though. Our slowest day was still 125 miles.  

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Day 11-12

Ernst, my father, was, also this trip, sending us short messages on our satellite phone with weather updates. Although the weather system was pretty much stabile and the wind was mostly from the SSE with 15 to 20 knots, it was good to know that if there would be a storm coming up, we would know ahead of time.

The wind picked up again, this time a little stronger and enough from the back to put out the 2 poles with 2 trade wind sails.

I listened to the radio world cup soccer Holland -Ivory coast. Exciting to be so far away and listen to the hype in Germany.

Day 13-16

Just before dawn the roll furling was not working, the winch was loose, so we couldn't roll the Genoa. Luckily it was very calm at that moment because it had just rained and we were able to fix it before the wind picked up again.

Still we were doing good mileage. When we continue like this it will be even faster than the Atlantic crossing.

Dagmar and Soleil were doing good too. They were almost finished with school for this year. On this crossing they were doing school every day no matter  what kind of wind or swell there was.

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The last days we started to have some light squalls with not much wind but mostly just a little rain.

And finally the temperature is back to normal again. Until now we still felt the affects from the cold Humboldt current.  

Day 17

I heard a strange peep in the boat but couldn't locate where it was. It sounded like it was everywhere. It sounded like a mouse, but than a little higher. When I came outside we saw giant dolphins or was it a small whale, a Orca maybe. They jumped, stayed under water longer than dolphins, looked dark and big. Only later we found out that they are called 'pigmy Orcas'. They look like an Orca but don't have the white spots. So the sound I heard in the boat were them talking. Today I finished Fatu Hiva by Thor Heyerdahl. He tried to live here with his wife Liv, in the 40's in and from nature without any tools or food from outside. Here he started his theory, that, a long time ago people from South America came to the Pacific island. He found tiki's (human statues) very similar to the ones in South America. My father gave it to me when we left Holland. Now we were so close to this island it had even more value.

Day 18-19 

The last 4 days we were slowing down, because we wanted to arrive at sunrise. The wind was light, so we couldn't go any faster. We made the sails small enough to arrive exactly in the early morning.

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Arrival at Fatu Hiva, Hanavave Bay, the Marquesas, June 25  2006   by Dagmar

 "Te Henua Enana" (The Land of Men) is the Marquesans name for their archipelago. The most northerly archipelago of French Polynesia stretch over 350km and are divided into northern and southern groups. Only 6 of the 15 islands are inhabited, total population approx. 8000.  

Finally….in the early morning hours we see the towering peaks of Fatu Hiva.  

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An impressive moment. Coming from the South, we see lush green valleys and mountains, high cliffs and needles. After 2900sm, almost 20 days on the water seeing the color blue the whole day in all its variation from light blue to gray and black, its so amazing to see this range of the greenish color.

Fatu Hiva is the island of superlatives: the most remote, the farthest south, the wettest, the lushest and the most traditional. It was also the first island in the archipelago to be seen by the Spanish navigator Mendana in 1595. About 75km south of Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva consists of two crater forming arcs open to the west. Between the flanks of the calderas are two valleys in which nestle the islands only villages: Hanavave in the north and Omoa in the south.

Fatu Hivas prides itself on its top-quality art and crafts. It’s the only island in French Polynesia where tapa, made from beaten bark and traditionally decorated with black ink, is still made using ancestral methods.  

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Passing the bay of Omoa, we are entering the bay of Hanavave. Only one boat is anchoring there. The ground is very rocky, just some small sandy patches, what makes it hard to anchor, but after the third attempt we finally can drop it. We have pancakes, our traditional-arrival-breakfast, we clean the boat, do some laundry. We are really tired after our crossing. We had everything from light winds on some days, to strong winds on the most of the crossing days, that’s why we did it so fast. We had some rain, but a lot of swell, sometimes two swells working against each other. That made it hard to sleep in the night in between the watches.

A small boat with a marquesan family is passing by, Francis, his wife Angel and their 3 children, asking if we have some things to trade for fruits. They are getting fishhooks, a pair of shoes and perfume samples, (I still had from Las Palmas), a T-Shirt, some sweets, a watch…and they are trading for bananas, oranges, lemons, a self-made wooden bowl, and 3 tikis (human sculptures he is doing himself, …wonderful art-work). The Marquesans are famous for their excellent handicrafts, human sculptures (tikis), spears, fishhooks… 

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We spent 4 days on Fatu Hiva, doing a trip to the high waterfall (approx. 120m) in the valley, passing by the plantations. On the way back we visit Francis and his family, to have a look how a marquesan family lives, not as simple in wooden huts as we thought.…. The most families have houses made of bricks with metal roofing, but are very simple furnished. Some are owning a truck, some have a TV already. At the harbor you find one telephone boot for the whole village. With the crew of the "Verena", who came in on Sunday evening, we have a hike in the afternoon into the valley to see the 120m high waterfall and to have a refreshing bath under it

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The next day while Bart is biking the 17 km dirt road thru the valleys and over the mountains to Omoa, the capital and the only other village on the island, Soleil and I are hiking up the mountains with Steffi, Judith, Kilian and Isabell from the “Verena”. From up there we had an extraordinary view over the bay and into the valleys. On the way back we watch a marquesan woman drying tuna on the roof of her house.   

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We had the possibility to watch a traditional dance in the evening…the preparation for a performance for July 14, the French national holiday (“Bastille-Day", the start of the French revolution).

 

Tahuata, Hanamoenoa Bay, the Marquesas,  June 29  2006   by Dagmar

On Thursday in the early morning we leave the Hanavave Bay on our way to Tahuata, an island 42sm north and close to Hiva Oa. The island is separated from Hiva Oa to the north by a 2.5-mile wide and windy channel. We want to anchor for two days in the Hanamoenoa Bay, a white uninhabited sandy beach lined with palm trees, before we go to Hiva Oa. “Verena” is joining us. On the way in the channel we caught 3 fishes in 10 minutes, 2 yellow fin tunas and at the end a 1.50m long Wahoo, Soleils size. Bart was a proud fisherman!!! Some other sailing boats are in the bay too. The kids are swimming and boogie boarding on the beach, I go running and snorkeling. We have a Fish-BBQ!!! and a campfire in the evening on the beach. After another beach day we leave the bay on the morning of Sunday, July 2nd.  

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Hiva Oa, Atuona Bay, the Marquesas, July 2  2006    by Dagmar  

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Hiva Oa is the most important island in the southern group with the most important archaeological remains in the Marquesas, on the northeast coast of the island, featuring 5 monumental tikis, human sculptures out of a basalt block. This gathering place was only for the high priests, where they would engage in high religious acts involving sacrifice and cannibalism. 

With the boat-crews from “de Pelikaan”, “Helene” and “Tradewind”, 8 adults and 5 kids, we were renting 3 fourwheeldrive Jeeps driving 3 hours to this northeast coast village of Puamau to see those tikis. Afterwards we had a nice swim on the black sand beach of the village. During the trip alongside the road we found wild papayas and bananas for a nice snack.  

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We visited another important archaeological side near the village of Taaoa, an important religious gathering place, Tohua Upeke, featuring an altar with petroglyphs, pictures carved into stone, and a fishlike tiki.  

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In Atuona, the islands capital, you will find the Paul Gauguin Museum, who lived here on the island from 1901-1903 and on the Calvaire Cemetery his grave next to the grave of Jacques Brel, the famous Belgian Poet and Singer, who died here in 1978.  

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Next to town we had a pleasant walk into the Faakua Valley to see the Tehueto petroglyphs, where stylized human figures have been carved into an enormous basalt block.

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Hiva Oa, Hanamenu Bay, the Marquesas, July 8  2006   by Dagmar

On July 8th, we sail out of the bay of Atuona, 15sm to the bay of Hanamenu on the northwest coast of the island of Hiva Oa, a deserted black sand beach lined with palm trees, wild citrons and guava trees. Wild horses are living in the bay; there are some deserted shacks and remains of housing. We stay overnight  and the next morning a school of dolphins are visiting the bay. We are jumping in the dinghy to get a closer look. Very gracefully they are swimming and jumping towards the open ocean. Then suddenly there are 10 manta rays around the boat. We are snorkeling with them. What an extraordinary experience. They are coming sooo close, really curious to look at us. The biggest has a size of 3 meters. Soleil is all smiling and can’t believe it..  

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Ua Pou,  Hakahetau Bay, the Marquesas, July 11  2006    by Dagmar

On the way to Nuku Hiva, the administrative capital of the Marquesas, we pass 25 sm south of it the little island of Ua Pou and anchor in the bay of Hakahetau. We visit the small village nestled in the lush green valley on the bottom of " the pillars", high rising and sharply shaped mountainous peaks.

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Nuku Hiva, Hakatea Bay (Daniels Bay), the Marquesas, July 12  2006   by Dagmar

In the early morning we leave Ua Pou to reach Nuku Hiva around midday. We anchor in Daniels Bay, named by a marquesan, who is always very welcoming to boat people from around the world. Unfortunately he died 3 weeks ago and the bay is deserted, except for his house and some wild horses. We put the dinghy in the water and go to the neighboring bay of Hakaui, a wonderful bay with a lot of fruit trees and small houses and farms. We follow the ancient kings path deep into the valley to see the 350m high waterfall "Vaipo", one of the worlds highest. The river has cut vertical walls of nearly 800m into the basalt walls of the valley. We pass different old ancient sites covered with vines and hidden under lush greenery, cross a river in knee deep water, climb over boulders and finally see the waterfall falling down one of the high cliffs in the mountains

 

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The next day we surf the wave in front of the bay. Afterwards we go to one of the farms in the valley and exchange strawberry marmalade and sausages for 6 soccer ball looking grapefruits and one banana bunch with over 60 bananas, ...our fruit supply for the next weeks in the Tuamotus.

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Nuku Hiva, Taiohae Bay, the Marquesas, July 14  2006    by Dagmar

July 14, the French national holiday (1789, the French Revolution starts when a mob seizes the Bastille) and all over in French Polynesia they are having parades and festivities. In Nuku Hiva the parade started at 8:30am with different dancing groups and a horse parade. They were having local food and an art and crafts fair. The costumes were really colorful and young and old were celebrating and dancing.

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Next morning we have to get up at 5am for the local market to stock up with veggies and lettuce for our trip to the Tuamotus. After breakfast we go into town again for fresh French baguettes and have a look at Taiohaes restored archaeological side, "Piki vehine pae pae", which reminds us of an open air museum with wonderful tikis. 

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July 16th we left Nuku Hiva and the Marquesas on our way to the Tuamotus, 76 atolls with sheltered lagoons.   

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