Category Archives: Marquesas

Long Awaited Pictures!!

We know these pics are way overdue but we haven’t had internet for over two months!  Here are pics from Toau and Raroia in the Tuamotus, Anaho Bay on Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas and a couple pics from the passage to Hawaii. Sorry for not having more to post from the passage but we were naked the entire time and can’t post the pics for obvious reasons….


Hilo Bay!  Dry Land!


Message in a bottle at 8N dedicated to the passing of Riley, Alyssa’s loving family dog


Fresh produce from the farm in Anaho Bay

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Anaho Bay.  Ellie anchored in background

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Alyssa carving up our fresh-caught Tuna in Nuku Hiva


Approaching Hatiheu Bay, Nuku HivaIMG_0288 DSCF9176 - Copy

All that is left of the mahi Lewis caught after processing all the meat

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Mahi Lewis caught to windward of Nuku Hiv on 50lb test and ocean rod with tiny 4″ jet-head squid lure

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Alyssa made a perfect gaff shot near the spine behind the eyes.  She was hungry and made the first shot stick!


Sunset at Castaway Island in Raroia

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Sewing projects in Raroia


Shots from the masthead in Raroia Atoll

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Hottie in Raroia

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Date night on the boat


Lewis made a custom coconut shaver for making coconut milk (Poisson cru anyone?)


Lobster trap we set out on the reef.  Instead of lobster we caught a small shark and a few snapper.  Fail.

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This is what happens when you don’t reel in faster than the sharks can swim in Raroia


Raft #2 (with attached solar panel) found on the windward side of Raroia

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Raft #1 found on windward side of Raroia

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Lewis helping process fish for shipment to Papeete on Toau Atoll. This was only the first batch of fish from 3 fish traps.

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We constantly had around 10 of these pilot fish cleaning our bottom in Toau and Raroia. They don’t ask for money, so we’re all about it. Check out the visibility; we’re anchored in 40′.DSCF9051

Valentine and Gaston’s kitchen/dining area over the waterIMG_0136 DSCF9010 IMG_0133 IMG_0125 IMG_0091

Makin’ coconut bread with ValantineIMG_0086

Major meat processing from Alyssa’s mahiIMG_0083Alyssa’s Mahi caught on the way from Moorea to Toau (using hand line and a medium sized jet-head squid lure)


We’re Back in the Marquesas!! We Caught Monster Mahi and Tuna!!

After 5 days and 500 upwind miles we find ourselves anchored beneath towering rugged spires with the pungent aroma of the tiare flower filling the cabin.  What a surreal feeling to be back here.  We are exhausted yet brimming with an overwhelming excitement, such a strange mix of wonderful emotions.

The highlight of our passage was definitely today’s leg.  As we were approaching the island from windward I said to Alyssa that if we are going to catch fish on this passage it would be here that we would get the hookups.  We were trailing a hand line with teaser and cedar plug and our ocean pole streaming a small squid lure.  As we approached the island we started to gain speed and Ellie hurtled along above 6 knots.  No less than an hour later we heard the reel screaming off line.  We had a big one on!  I grabbed the pole and tightened the drag.  We had some difficulty heaving-to but ultimately stabilized the boat and the fight was on!  There was a 4.5 foot yellow mahi jumping wildly out of the water and tearing off the last few yards of mono.  The mono got tangled up and no more line would pay out so I thought he was going to snap the line and get away.  I tightened the drag and started reeling him in.  After what felt like an hour but was probably more like 30 minutes I had him within range of Alyssa and her gaff.  She sighted up the monster and on the first shot she nailed him through the backbone just behind his head.  Our adrenaline was pumping and we both lifted him on to the side deck.  We were both elated and I told Alyssa to hold him down and not let go of the gaff.  He was bleeding profusely as I found a line to tail wrap him.  We made some more cuts and dropped him over the side to bleed out.  We did it!  We fought him in and won!  Good thing too because we were on our last package of mahi from the beast the Alyssa caught on the way to the Tuamotus.  I spent the next hour carefully processing all the meat.  Let’s just say that we should have enough to last us to Hawaii!

We were only 8 miles out when we finished processing the mahi and both had showers in the cockpit to get off all the scales and blood so Alyssa didn’t want to throw the lure back out.  I said “but what if we get a yellow fin tuna?  I would gladly get all bloodied up again for that!”  So we threw the lure back out.  No less than 30 minutes later we hooked up with another huge 4-5 foot mahi!  We decided to pull him along side and let him go.  A few miles later, as we were closing with land and now only 2 miles out we decided to pull in the hand line and guess what … we had an f’n yellow fin tuna on the end!  We got him in, I made some gill cuts, tail wrapped him and sent him over the side to bleed out.  We had a more pressing issue at hand, namely the towering cliffs now only 1 mile to our lee.  We paid due attention to Ellie and made final preparations to enter the bay.  We dragged that poor tuna all the way into the anchorage all the while keeping a sharp eye for sharks.  When we approached the anchorage Alyssa yelled from the bow “can you smell the tiare flowers?!?!”

We are both on a high from arriving here safely after a great 500 nm passage, with a fridge full of fresh mahi and tuna and plans to roll some sushi.  It’s a rolly anchorage but we have the rocker-stopper out on the pole and this is nothing compared to how rough the last 48 hours have been.  We’ll surely sleep like babies tonight.

We’ll inflate the dinghy tomorrow and go in to town for some provisions.  We only have 7,000 francs (around $80 US) so it will not be a major shopping spree.  But we are hoping to find veggies, eggs and flour.  Once we spend the last of our francs it’s just a matter of watching weather for a window to depart for Hawaii, 2,000 nm north west of here.

Talk to everyone soon.

Lewis & Alyssa

October 5, 2014

Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

On Passage – Raroia to the Marquesas

This evening I am proud of Ellie and her crew.  Any damn fool with a pile of flotsam can put up a swath of canvas and drift downwind.  It is a beautiful achievement to raise purpose-cut cloth, sheet it in at the perfect angle and gracefully drive a yacht upwind over swells and against the current.  That is exactly what Ellie is doing tonight.  After 800 upwind miles while burning less than 6 gallons of diesel we can confidently say that Ellie has drawn her masterpiece on the canvas of the majestic South Pacific.  The gap between her main- and fore-sail is perfect and allowing the sails to fully draw and effortlessly pull her upwind.  The Monitor is keeping her course and silently guiding her sails at the optimum angle through the trades.  You can feel Ellie surging forward as she falls off each swell with a splash of phosphorescence.  The sea has graced us with another spectacular show of lights in the form of a magnificent sunset.  The moment we are enjoying is a thing of grace and beauty unmatched by any other form of art I have even seen.

We are on passage, two days out of Raroia and bound for the Marquesas.  We should see the impressive volcanic spires within three days if this pleasant breeze holds.  We raced ahead of a convergence zone and it seems we made it to the other side as we are enjoying the spoils, 10 knots of warm easterly trades.  We plan to load up with fresh fruit and vegetables in the Marquesas before sailing for Hawaii.

Lewis & Alyssa

October 2, 2014

On Passage – South Pacific Ocean

12  51.2 S
139 51.2 W

Is a week too long? Maybe, but it’s still Paradise!

Ka Oha from Alyssa!

Nuku Hiva is a major port of entry, so there is everything you need. There are groceries, restaurants, wifi cafes with free high speed internet, bakeries, a hardware store, vehicle traffic, and, more recently, it sounds like a techno club stays open overlooking the bay which is full of about 55 other boats. The first few days were exciting for me. I tend to gravitate towards anchorages like this because I love meeting new people, enjoying cockpit time with fellow cruisers, perusing the overpriced grocery stores to see what the locals buy, waking up at 3:30am to get first pickings at the farmers market, and enjoying a cup of hot tea (yes, even in the tropics) overlooking the dingy pier where the fish market is feeding the sharks. Lewis tends to gravitate towards anchorages off the beaten path where little to no boats are ever seen, the beaches empty of people, the water clear of pollution or city runoff, and our little home perfectly anchored in serenity. The great thing about visiting islands is that it is easy to alternate anchorages of these types so we get the best of both worlds. Moving the boat from place to place is a little (usually a LOT) of work, so we like spending at least 2 or 3 nights in each anchorage so we can actually settle in and enjoy the surroundings without always feeling like you’re on the move. We do wish we had applied for a long-stay visa, increasing from a 3-month allowance to 6, however the perks come with downfalls, such as the cost of provisioning here, and more time spent in French Polynesia means less time spent in the islands after here, such as Tonga, because of hurricane season (and possibly an upcoming El Niño?). So with limited time, we say “if we don’t like it, we up anchor and move!” Which takes us to the current blog post. Is a week too long? I think so. Lewis REALLY thinks so! It would be different if we could vary the days in town on the internet with swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, etc, but the water is dirty (and full of aforementioned sharks!), and the fish have ciguatera. There has been very little wind so sailing the boat around the island would be quite frustrating without an engine. Our engine has been having trouble with the raw water pump which cools the engine. It started leaking, which means that the seals are starting to go bad and the seat inside is corroding. With a gear driven pump, that means that saltwater has actually started going into the engine, into the oil, and even coming out of the crank case. The engine could be run if we needed it, but it’s extremely bad for it. I say we hold tight until the part comes (possibly Tuesday). Besides, it is still paradise!!! Last night was a little annoying with the club music echoing across the anchorage that LITERALLY is still playing (it is 7am)!!!!! But let’s hope it was a one-time, Saturday night kind of thing. In the meantime, I’ll eat every last fresh vegetable in this joint, because there are none in the Tuomotos!
The farmers market is right next to the pier and there are two women who grow organic vegetables on the north side of the island. Twice a week they arrive with their finest lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, green beans, bok choy, cucumber, eggplant, and a variety of fruits. When I arrived on Wednesday at 6:45am to see what they had, everything was gone. I guess I was 45 min late since she opens at 6am Wednesdays. Thankfully she took a preorder for her Saturday delivery, but she said she opens a little earlier. 4AM?! Yes, I woke up at 3:30, smothered myself in bugspray, donned a headlamp and made my way over to the docks. Luckily she was just unloading and I got first pickings of everything, even a bunch of cilantro (or to the French, coriander). She only had one! After that I was wide awake so decided to join a couple cruising friends on a walk to the bakery. The bakery also sells out in the first hour, so I gladly picked up a couple French croissants for Lewis’ breakfast. I sat at the wifi café near the docks for a good hour skyping family after that. Just when I was about to head back to the boat, I jumped down to the dingy with my bags full of produce and felt a tickle on my shoulder. I thought it was just my hair but when I turned to look it had to very large antenna and crawled up my arm! I screamed and quickly swatted whatever it was off my arm. I kept looking around trying to find where it went or what it was, but everyone around me (now a very busy fish market) just looked at me like I was crazy! I cowered back into the dingy and started the motor. Thankfully our friends on Pamela were rowing back to their boat at the same time and I stopped to see if they could help check my back and hair to be sure there was nothing still crawling on me. Nope, still nothing. I thanked them and kept on my way to the boat. As I start to plane halfway through the anchorage, I see something very large and dark come out from under the dingy chaps. MONSTER COCKROACH!!!! I whip the dingy around and head back to Pamela, who’s almost back to their boat. “I found it! I found it!” Dennis was happy to help me hit the 3.5” cockroach into a stun and throw him overboard. You don’t want that on your boat! I still shiver thinking about it crawling on my shoulder, and so close to my face! What was that movie where Ashton Kutcher had a cockroach crawl up his neck?
So with a few more days of waiting, I’ll still be walking the markets, hopefully sans cockroach from now on, and we started doing a few boat projects that we never got around to. Lewis installed a digital engine temperature gauge at the nav station so we don’t have to go into the cockpit to monitor it all the time and it is much more accurate. I waxed our fiberglass dodger which looked so shiny compared to the rest of the boat; I kept on waxing and finished the deck topsides (she looks like a dock queen again!). Today I’m helping our friend Bruce on Skabenga by sewing and reinforcing is torn dingy chaps. I love my new sewing machine (it’s a Singer Traditional for those who have been asking). Well, it’s time for breakfast!
May 4, 2014
Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva

Anchored in Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva

Just a quick note to let you know we are anchored safely in Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva.  Anchorage in Hane on Ua huka was ridiculous and down right dangerous – huge swell and messy seas rolling right in to the anchorage and there were three boats in there precariously anchored bow and stern on a lee shore.  We called an audible, turned into the wind, raised the main and got the hell out of there.

After another 6 hour downwind leg we arrived in Nuku Hiva.  This anchorage is packed and reminds me of La Cruz.  I counted 55 boats in here!  At least there is plenty of room as it’s a big bay.

Tomorrow we will seek out Kevin from the local yacht services and hopefully he is able to help with sewing our jib and helping to procure a new raw water pump for our engine.  We have a raw water leak into the engine.  There is water dripping from the crankcase breather and the oil level is rising…

We’ll also try and find a good internet connection and upload some of our great pics!

– Lewis & the (very tired) Princess Turtle Pea

Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia

08 55.13 S
140 05.81 W

Rough Ride to Ua Huka

It’s 5:00 am local time and we are 5 miles south of Ua Huka.  The seas are 8-10 ft, the wind currently at 18 knots on the beam.  We dropped the main and are slowly making way towards the island under yankee alone.  Motion is pretty violent with seas on the beam and such little canvas flying.  Every once in a while a huge breaking wave overtakes us and tosses Ellie down the wave face and on to her side.  There is a strong current and we are steering a course 30 degrees east of our true heading.  Too rough to drop the centerboard, it just bangs around so had to raise it.  SOG is 3 knots.  Waiting for sun to rise to illuminate island before proceeding to the anchorage at Hane.

We pulled anchor yesterday just before sunset and set a course 64 miles north to Ua Huka.  The channel between Tahuata and Hiva Oa was predictably howling and good sailing just as the sun set.  The lee of Hiva Oa sucked.  It was my shift and I spent hours fighting light inconsistent winds and ultimately had to drop the main and turn on the engine to get out of the wind shadow.  Once 7 miles past Hiva Oa the trades filled back in and we flew along under double-reefed main and yankee doing 7 knots in 20 knots of wind on the beam.  We made it close to the island with time to spare before sunrise so we are painfully creeping towards the island.

I wanted to sail to Ua Huka for a few reasons but one main reason was to get away from other cruising boats.  Unfortunately there is a tri-color masthead light on the horizon on the same course.  Oh well, I’ll just have to wait until we can find an atoll in the Tuamotus that no one has heard of.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

April 27, 2014

Off the coast of Ua Huka, Marquesas, French Polynesia

09 00.3 S
139 30.7 W

Another Day in Paradise….back in Hanamoenoa Bay

Ka Oha!

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

Breakdown on Fatu Hiva and the Wild Ride to Tahuata

We were planning on sailing out of Fatu Hiva yesterday but Murphy’s Law reared it’s ugly head and we were temporarily stranded in the Bay of Virgins!  ….what a terrible place for engine trouble ;-)

As Allan (Alyssa’s dad) likes to say about one of the truths of boating: “Sh!t breaks”

Yesterday morning we woke up early to set sail for Tahuata.  We deflated and strapped the kayak down, removed all the canvas covers on the eisenglass, stowed everything and proceeded to start the engine…..and nothing happened.  We tried to start it again and not a sound.  We needed to leave by 8:00 am to make sure we reach the anchorage on Tahuata before sunset and it was 7:45.  There was no wind so we couldn’t even sail out.  So out came the voltmeter, off came the engine covers and I began my ritual of probing leads to trace the issue.  There was good voltage at the starter solenoid and the batteries were fully charged so I knew we had power.  I suspected the starter switch or the wire from the starter switch to the solenoid so I checked that.  The fuse was good so I had Lyss go up to the control panel and push the starter button while I held the voltmeter to the leads.  I got a reading of negative 9 volts with no difference when she hit the start switch.  Ok found my culprit.  Thankfully we have a spare starter switch onboard (thanks to John the previous owner) so we tore apart the v-berth and dug out the spare switch.  I wired it up with alligator clips and that sweet sound of the engine firing up lit up our faces.  then the real fun began; we had the opportunity to clear out the jam-packed aft lazarette to get to the back of the engine panel!  After much contorting and sweating I emerged from the lazarette triumphant in having replaced the faulty switch.  We crossed our fingers that the switch was the culprit and successfully fired up the engine!

We had already strapped the kayak down and made the boat passage-ready so we spent the afternoon relaxing, reading and enjoying our amazing surroundings for an extra day.

This morning we woke at 6:30, fired up the engine, pulled anchor and headed out to sea.  We pulled out the spare 140% genoa that we bent on in the anchorage and set a course for the lee of Tahuata.  We enjoyed a great 35 mile beam reach to the south side of Tahuata.  As we approached the point I asked Lyss to help me furl in half of the genoa in anticipation of gusty winds around the point.  I really wanted to have the main up and double-reefed but laziness prevailed and we closed with the island under a half furled genoa.  This old genoa is a real pain to handle when furled because it’s old, a bit worn out and has a huge belly.  Having a huge belly makes it a total pig when half-furled and it’s impossible to sheet it flat.  I thought we would see winds pipe up from 13-15 to maybe 20 or a max of 24.  I was wrong and the winds piped up to almost 30 knots and the seas became really confused and steep.  I told Alyssa to ease the sheet so I can furl it in more or just furl it all the way in.  As soon as she eased the sheet the genoa went nuts flapping in the wind and was putting immense strain on the rig as it yanked the hell out of the rig to the point I thought it was going to come down.  As soon as she eased the sheet I pulled on the furler line with all my strength but I couldn’t get it in.  WTF?!?!  I was fighting with the line while the sail tried to take the rig down flailing and flogging in the 30 knot winds.  I couldn’t get it in so I yelled to Alyssa to sheet it back in.  I had never had a problem furling in a headsail even in very strong winds.  The line must have been wrapped over on itself on the furling drum…great!  I was pissed but needed to sail the boat close to the wind so it wouldn’t rip the genoa to shreds or pull the rig down.  It was very tense and high adrenaline sailing to say the least.  Alyssa was at the helm steering to the ever-changing wind direction and I was manning the port winch so I could blow out the sail when the wind went from 10 to 28 in less than two seconds.  We were sailing in the lee of Tahuata and the huge soaring peaks and valleys were funneling the trades resulting in patches of dead calm and then huge winds!  I would never fly that much sail in this situation but I couldn’t get the damn genoa to furl away and dropping the sail entirely was completely out of the question in these conditions.  So we did our best for the next 45 minutes until we reached a spot behind a mountain peak where the wind dropped to an inconsistent 15-18 knots.  We then orchestrated a way to furl the reluctant sail away.  I had Lyss ease the sheet completely and I quickly uncleated the furling line and threw a few wraps around the winch drum and cranked like hell to get the sail furled away.  It worked and we proceeded to motor the last mile into the anchorage.

We are now anchored in the beautiful Hanatefau Bay, just north of Bay Hapatoni.  As we came into the bay we were welcomed by a pod of baby dolphins jumping and twirling just off the starboard bow!  It was an awesome moment and Alyssa was thrilled to be out of that wind and watching the dolphins.  We are anchored on rocks and coral patches and the water is crystal clear.  We can see the bottom 40 feet below us!  The wind is pushing us around and we are dancing a bit and dragging our 200 feet of chain along some rocks which echo’s throughout the boat but this is a gorgeous bay and we are very glad to have survived the previous ordeal!

We’ll launch the kayak later and go explore the bay.  Tomorrow we will go explore the town of Hapatoni, the largest on Tahuata, and seek out some bone carvings.

Hope all is well back home.  We love hearing from you all so drop us a line when you have a moment.

Lewis and Alyssa

April 23, 2014

Hanatefau Bay, Tahuata Island, Marquesas, French Polynesia

09 57.795 S
139 07.111 W