Position at time of writing:
Speed avg 6.0 knots
Wind 12-18 knots from ESE
Squalls everywhere (gusts to 30)
Nuku Hiva’s Taiohae Bay was our home for one week. The setting is beautiful with jungle-filled hillsides, craggy peaks, and palm, pamplemoose, and breadfruit trees lining the bay. The water is murky and, supposedly, full of various types of unfriendly sharks, although never saw any. Ben and Will jumped in and survived.
One highlight of our stay was renting a car to tour the island, visit some of the other villages and archaeological sites, and go hiking. The landscape is incredible – think Jurassic Park/Avatar scenery. We took some great photos that I will post at the next wifi spot. We also had the chance to hang out and drink rum with some locals, all of whom are partially to fully covered in amazing tattoo art. Mine and Katy’s French has been very handy. The best was providing the boys with a translation for a carved wooden bat that we were shown: the “Casse-Tête”… “Head Breaker”. It wasn’t so long ago that these were used.
On Tuesday afternoon we sailed the 26.3 nm to Hakahau Bay on the island of Ou Pou (pronounced Wa Pou). This breathtaking bay is featured on the French Polynesian Franc 500 bill with its twelve towering pinnacles that rise out of the basaltic shield and are almost constantly surrounded by swirling mist. The anchorage is quite small and just barely protected by a man-made breakwater that was built to provide calm water for the supply ship that arrives once every three weeks.
The village at Hakahau has seven magasins with, much to our surprise, a variety of interesting French products: imported cheese, wine, saucisson, canned ratatouille, a wide variety of frozen meats, and some pastry products. Veggies are hard to come by; we bought the only two cucumbers for over $5 CDN. If you want to buy fresh baguettes you have to get the store between opening at 5am and the sell-out time of 6am. We didn’t get any.
Although we didn’t have time to explore the whole island, we wanted to find a short hike to stretch our legs. The walk over to Anahoa beach in the next bay seemed perfect.
Before leaving we received a cautionary speech about itchy nono bites from a local French pension owner. He sold us on some grain oil, made by his Marquesan mother-in-law, to lather on our skin just in case we encountered them.
The hike was short and easy – luckily, since it was probably 35 degrees in the sun. The beach turned out to be beautifully wild and rugged with huge turquoise waves crashing on the sand and sharp black rocks. We didn’t see or feel any nonos so we had a swim and a look around.
After twenty minutes Will and I decided to explore the other end of the beach. As soon as we reached it, Will started noticing little black specs on his arm, and his shoulder, and his back. There wasn’t enough time to check my skin because I was already running back along the beach towards our flip flops with a giant swarm of the little buggers following me.
Ben and Katy were taking photos on the rocks. We tried yelling at them, but they couldn’t hear us above the surf. “Screw this, we can’t wait,” said Will, whacking the nonos on his legs. We both grabbed our stuff and took off running back up the hill.
The swarm left us about five minutes up the path so we were able to slow down to a less heatstroke-inducing pace. We stopped on top of a ridge to watch the pantomime unfold down below:
Ben and Katy return from the rocks to find we’ve left. Hmmm, wonder why? Oh well. They decided to walk along the beach further as we had done. Ahh, how beautiful it is here. Look at those tiny jelly fish in the surf line. How interesting. They keep walking. Suddenly Ben swats at something on his arm. “Nonos!” They both start flailing their arms and running back to their shoes. Ben waves Katy on: “Go, Go!” as he stops to pick up his bag. They both sprint up the path.
Will and I were in hysterics, watching from above.
The good news is that the oil seems to have worked; none of us have any itchy red welts forming… yet.
We left Ou Pou yesterday afternoon and are now dodging squalls again in the Pacific. Oh, how quickly we forgot what this feels like.
Next stop: Tuamotus! We’ll either enter Kauehi or Fakarava, depending on pass conditions when we arrive.