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10 May 2015 Nuku-Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia

This blog is about the island of Nuku-Hiva in the Marquesas, although we’ve just made “landfall” on the atoll of Rangiroa in the Tuamotos.

We stayed in Nuku-Hiva for 8 days. In those 8 days, we worked our way through my repair list, fixing all 18 items, including the SSB. We had a lot of failures during the 3,000nm South Pacific Ocean crossing, many of which could have failed anytime. Total cost for these repairs was trivial, since they only needed the use of onboard spares or materials, except for the fridge. With the fridge, we solicited the help of Kevin and Yacht Services Nuku-Hiva. Kevin has some basic refrigeration skills, a set of gauges and a large pressurized bottle of R134a, just what was needed for the job. At the time of drafting this blog, the fridge is still working….

There is a supply ship that comes into Nuku-Hiva every few weeks, and we were not disappointed with what we found on the shelves. Of course, the prices are quite high for alcohol, junk food, and soda pop, but certainly any fruit or vegetables grown on the island are excellent quality and price (tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, pumpkin, grapefruit, bananas, pineapple, onions, peppers, egg plant, cabbage, yuka, green beans and maybe more). Fishermen at the dock were happy to sell their fresh caught catch and lemon sharks fought for the scraps.

We took a full day island tour with Jocelyne’s Tours to see the island, and hear about its history.  It cost us about $ 55 per person and the price is scaled depending on the number of tourists. There were cannibals here when the Europeans first arrived. Villages on the same island fought and ate each other. Within villages, they practiced human and animal sacrifice, on a regular basis. It seems strange now to see that nearly all of the inhabitants are practicing Catholics and some ancient Tika’s are positioned outside the church. This Catholic church had open-air construction so the breeze cooled the interior.

There seemed to be “un-owned” chickens and roosters everywhere. After asking about it, they say that all the chickens, pigs, cows, goats etc are in fact owned by people, but sometimes they’re penned or tied up, and sometimes “free-ranging”. There are no snakes or poisonous animals on the island, except for one very poisonous centipede. Apparently, the chickens like to chase after and eat these centipedes, so that would explain why the locals sweep their lawns every morning and like having chickens in the yard.

The government of France keeps the standard of living up in the islands comprising French Polynesia. As a territory, they get subsidies that help to provide paved roads, water and electrical services, policing and municipal support. The locals don’t get welfare though, and they don’t use the Euro here, but rather the Polynesian Franc.

During our tour, we were given a bit of an explanation of the cultural significance of the banyan tree. I don’t currently have access to Wikipedia or Google, but what I recall is that they buried their dead essentially in the roots of these banyan trees, providing spiritual and organic fodder. This banyan tree behind Brian is over 600 years old, very old for French Polynesia but apparently not old compared to some in Cambodia or Thailand.

These are a few of the tikis that we saw.

Most of the landscape was lush and tropical, like this view of Controller’s Bay.

However, on the paved road heading out to the airport at the NW corner of the island, the landscape was more arid, like steppe and there were even coniferous trees. We were told that before the Polynesian people migrated here, the only vegetation was ferns. There were no trees, just ferns. Everything has been brought in, over time - and everything grows!

I left our 33 lb Bruce anchor in Taiohae Bay. We were using it as a stern anchor (to keep our bow pointed into the swell), with 40 feet of chain and about 150 feet of 2” nylon webbing. When it came time to leave, it was a real bugger to get the anchor up. Brian and I tried with the dinghy and then I snorkelled on the anchor in 27 feet of water. I was able to wiggle the shank up and down but it wasn’t good enough for retrieval. Then I put a tank and SCUBA gear on, and worked on the set anchor for about 20 minutes. The anchor was set very well, in very highly compacted sand. We needed to leave the bay and set sail for the Tuamotos before nightfall, and I figured I didn’t want this anchor anymore……so, I undid the shackle, retrieved the chain and left the anchor stuck on the bottom. This just adds to the cost of cruising……



To see previous log entries, just use the tabs at the top of this page.

SV Joana is listed for sale at this site (in case you're wondering why, we're not planning to give up the cruising lifestyle or our home, but most things are for sale and since we've met many cruisers who have listed their boat, we figured we'd do it too).

Countries Visited:         (Departed Canada: May 2009)

Antigua: May 2011
Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014
Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011
Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Colombia: Oct 2014 - 
Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014
Dominica: May 2011, April 2013
Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
French Polynesia (Marquesas): April 2015
Galapagos: March 2015
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
Panama: December 2014 (San Blas Islands), January 2015
Puerto Rico: April 2011
St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013
St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011
St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013
Tobago: March-May 2012
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014


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