Tuesday, May 22, 2012


> With so much to see in the Marquesas and time limited by our 90 day visa
> for all of French Polynesia, we reluctantly left beautiful Fatu Hiva and
> sailed north to the island of Tahuata where we joined friends Bob and Ann
> of the vessel "Charisma" who were already anchored at Hapatoni Bay.  The
> small bay is surrounded by steep hillsides covered with the densest
> carpeting of coconut palm trees imaginable.  The late afternoon sunlight
> bathed the greenery making the colors explode with surreal intensity.
> After searching the coral and rock-covered bottom of the anchorage for a
> patch of sand, we dropped and set "Blue Rodeo's" anchor.  Soon after, we
> were socializing with the "Charisma" crew and planning a trip ashore to
> explore a tiny village.
> The next morning, the four of us took our dinghy to the village's concrete
> quay where we tied up near where several mothers watched their young
> children splashing and playing in the water.  We all exchanged warm smiles
> and, once again, felt welcome by the local residents.  After walking just
> a short distance toward the village's ancient stone promenade that follows
> the shoreline for a considerable distance, we were greeted by a friendly
> gentleman who escorted us to his simple home where he produced a selection
> of fine wood and bone carvings.  Bob purchased an exquisite ceremonial
> dagger made from bone and a Marlin bill.  Our walk continued along the bay
> past a beautiful church and cemetery.  When the stone promenade ended, we
> followed a trail up a steep hillside toward a narrow road leading to the
> next village.  Our efforts were rewarded with splendid views of our two
> boats in the beautiful anchorage far below.  As we walked, we marveled at
> the amount and variety of fruit that hung from the trees in the dense
> jungle.  We couldn't help but "harvest" a big bunch of bananas from a
> roadside tree.  We were careful to be sure though that the banana tree was
> far from anyone's personal property.  Without any cutting tools, it took
> considerable effort on the part of all four of us to wrestle the stalk to
> the ground and tear it free from the tree.  Our reward was about two dozen
> green bananas that would provide a sweet treat when they ripened.
> Back aboard our boats, we did a few chores and went snorkeling along the
> bay's rocky shore.  The visibility in the water was good and, along with
> lots of colorful fish, Anne and I saw our first Black Tip reef shark.  It
> was just 4 feet in length but certainly got our attention.
> The next day, we continued further up the island's west shore to Vaitahu
> or Resolution Bay where another small community sits at the water's edge.
> Our intention was to anchor there for a night but, as we approached, we
> could clearly see that strong wind gusts were funneling down a canyon to
> the bay leaving the water's surface rough and streaked with spume.  We
> opted instead to continue another mile to a bay called Hana Moa Noe where
> we found much better conditions.  This beautiful spot, with its crystal
> clear water and white sand beach will remain one of our favorites in the
> Marquesas.  Our two days there were especially pleasant enjoying the
> scenery, socializing with cruising friends and snorkeling.  We even had
> the opportunity to swim again with large Manta rays, though not as big as
> those in Mexico.  One afternoon, while friends Bob and Ann were swimming
> with the Mantas, they noticed that one was trailing a long length of
> fishing line from a lure stuck in its mouth.  When they informed us, we
> quickly donned our snorkeling gear, grabbed a knife and swam toward them
> hoping to offer assistance.  After an attempt by Mark, Anne was able to
> take the knife and gently approach the swimming Manta getting close enough
> to caress it and cut off most of the line.  When the ray swam out of
> sight, we were satisfied that we had done our best to help it and that the
> remaining lure would probably rust away in a few weeks.  In addition to
> the encounters with the marine wild life, we were treated one evening
> there to the sight of two wild horses on a ridge above the anchorage.
> What a beautiful sight!
> While most days in the Marquesas, to this point, had featured lots of
> sunshine and warm temperatures, the skies were never cloud-free.  For that
> reason, we always kept a watchful eye out for showers that can begin
> suddenly and often dump a considerable amount of rain.  We would
> frequently do the "hatch dance" where we'd jump up and scurry about
> closing all of "Blue Rodeo's" hatches.  As soon as the showers passed, the
> dance would begin again re-opening them to allow the cooling breezes to
> flow through the boat.
> Our last evening in Hana Moa Noe was spent sharing a pot luck dinner
> aboard the spacious catamaran "Gato Go" with friends Craig and Bruce whom
> we have known since our first season in Mexico.  The crews from "Island
> Bound" and "Charisma" also joined in the fun.  A high point of the evening
> was comparing photos of our group's Equator crossing costumes.  We all
> howled with laughter at the creative and silly costumes.
> We returned to "Blue Rodeo" that night and began making preparations for a
> predawn departure for our next stop, the island of Ua Poa, about 65 miles
> to the north.  Leaving a beautiful spot and wonderful friends is always
> somewhat bitter but sweetened by the knowledge that more exciting
> discoveries and warm reunions are just another island away.  This is all
> part of the magic of the cruising life

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