Yesterday we awoke from a restless night at anchor on rocks and kayaked across the bay to the quaint village of Hapatoni. We strolled along the waterfront on the same road that the Marquesan Queen had built and is referred to as the “Royal Road.” It was built with crushed coral and stone and is quite unique. Along the way we visited an old church and then met three Marquesan men sitting on the waterfront carving various wood pieces. One was carving a horn and even demonstrated for us that it worked and another was carving a paddle. They were using traditional hand tools (no electric dremel tool in sight). In the little French we know (and a healthy dose of hand gesturing) we asked where we could buy some bone carvings. They were all smiles and pointed down the road and on the right. We thanked them and ventured further down the main road. We then came across two women and asked again. They gestured to follow them and we did so until we all reached a covered patio. Once at the patio they brought out a few bags and laid out the carvings on the table. We carefully went through all the intricate carvings and chose two necklaces, one was carved into a traditional fish hook and another carved like a small horn with very intricate Marquesan designs engraved into it. We negotiated a price, paid, thanked the women and walked back to the kayak.
After a nice paddle across the bay we tied up at Ellie, had lunch, made fresh water and then pulled anchor and headed up the coast to Vaitahu. Once at the head of Vaitahu Bay we were welcomed with 28 knots of headwind and the only promise in the anchorage was for a very steep sloping shelf with poor holding so we decided to push on to Hanamoenoa Bay. It was a great decision. Upon approach to the bay we saw four boats leaving so we knew there would be a good spot. We dropped the hook at the head of the bay in the turquoise water and set it hard in a big patch of sand. We enjoyed an amazing sunset and retired for the night.
We awoke this morning feeling energized and excited for the day. The plan was to inflate the dinghy, put the 10hp motor on and zip down the coast back to Vaitahu to explore the town and hopefully score some baguettes and/or eggs. That plan was shot down for two reasons: first I noticed the dinghy had a leak near the floor and was taking on water; and second, once outside the bay it was very clear that the wind chop was too severe and the dinghy was getting thrown violently up and down on the swell. So as much as it annoyed me we decided not to go in the dinghy and proceeded to put everything away and dry out the dinghy on deck so I can patch the holes.
Once we were finished putting everything away we noticed some black spots in the water behind Ellie. We watched closely and realized it was a bunch of huge manta rays! We jumped in the kayak and peddled over to them. Luckily we had grabbed the underwater camera and for the next 45 minutes we shot pictures and video of these amazing creatures flying through the water and surfacing right next to us! It was an awesome moment and one we will never forget.
Unfortunately on the way back to the boat one of the rudder control lines on the kayak parted and we lost steerage. I got us back to Ellie by using the paddle but wasn’t too excited about having to fix something else. After lunch we both tackled the kayak repair and replaced the broken control line with 125 lb test fishing line and it worked like a charm. I even broke out the dremel tool and shaved a chunk out of the rudder so it turned through its full arc more smoothly.
Now that we had the kayak up and running we decided to take a trip to the beach. We landed on the beach and ventured into the jungle in search of fruit or bananas. We did manage to find lime trees and brought back about 50 limes. Unfortunately no Pamplemousse or bananas.
We ended our great day in the cockpit sharing great conversation, appetizers and wine. We are beginning to contemplate our route through the Tuamotu Archipelago and are getting very excited. At this point it looks like we will leave Tahuata in a day or two bound for Ua Huka (in search of a Marquesan war club), Nuku Hiva (to fix our Jib), Ua Pou (for a hike to the third largest waterfall in the world) and then on to the Tuamotus (in search of black pearls and incredible diving!)….do we pinch ourselves now?1?!
Still haven’t found internet but I went through and compressed a bunch of amazing pictures so we can upload them as soon as we find a connection, most likely in Nuku Hiva. Stay tuned!
Lewis and Alyssa
April 25, 2014
Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuata Island, Marquesas, French Polynesia
09 54.449 S
139 06.256 W