Leaving the Marquesas in Our Wake … Setting Sail from Anaho Bay, Bound for Hawaii

Today we are sailing out of Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva bound for Hawaii.  We have overstayed our visa by three months so it’s time to leave before the French Man finds us.  We have 2,100 nm to cover before making landfall in Hilo.  We are hoping for a pleasant passage with 10-15 knots on the beam, gentle seas and puffy trade wind clouds.  The reality will likely be a mixed bag so everyone put in some well wishes and a good word to the weather Gods and we’ll just have to see what Neptune brings.

A few days ago we sailed into Hatiheu Bay, a gorgeous bay with a quiet little village that Robert Louis Stevenson used to frequent.  We landed the dink on a concrete wharf with lots of surge and went into town in search of provisions.  We were ecstatic to see a visa/mastercard logo on the window and quickly scoured the shelves for fresh provisions.  We loaded up with flour, rice, canned veggies, fruit juices, cheese and of course an ample stock of Hinanos.  The kind Marquesan woman who ran the store gave us a ride back to the wharf, we loaded up the dink without dropping anything and headed back to Ellie.  Once everything was stowed we sailed out of Hatiheu Bay and tacked upwind a few miles to Anaho Bay.

Anaho Bay is a magical place.  I cannot improve upon the description by Robert Louis Stevenson so I will quote from his book, IN THE SOUTH SEAS.  Here is the excerpt from his landing on the schooner, CASCO in the late 1800’s.
“The CASCO skimmed under cliffs, opened out a cove, showed us a beach and some green trees, and flitted by again, bowing to the swell. The trees, from our distance, might have been hazel; the beach might have been in Europe; the mountain form behind modelled in little from the alps, and the forest which clustered on their ramparts a growth no more considerable than our Scottish heath. Again the cliff yawned, but now with a deeper entry; and the CASCO, hauling her wind, began to slide into the bay of Anaho. The cocoa-palm, that giraffe of vegetables, so graceful, so ungainly, to the European eye so foreign, was to be seen crowding on the beach, and climbing and fringing the steep sides of mountains. Rude and bare hills embraced the inlet upon either hand; it was enclosed to the landward by a bulk of shattered mountains. In every crevice of that barrier the forest harboured, roosting and nestling there like birds about a ruin; and far above, it greened and roughened the razor edges of a summit.  Under the eastern shore, our schooner, now bereft of any breeze, continued to creep in; the smart creature, when once under way, appearing motive in herself. From close aboard arose the bleating of young lambs, a bird sang in the hillside; the scent of the land and of a hundred fruits or flowers flowed forth to meet us; and, presently, a house or two appeared, standing high upon the ankles of the hills, and one of these surrounded with what seemed like a garden…It was longer ere we spied the native village, standing (in the universal fashion) close upon a curve of beach, close under a grove of palms; the sea in front growling and whitening on a concave arc of reef.  For the cocoa-nut tree and the island man are both lovers of the surf.”

Anaho Bay is perhaps the first place we have sailed that has matched the description verbatim as it was written by the writers and explorers 150 years ago.  How RLS describes this beautiful bay is exactly how we found it.  There are still only a few homes on the hills and there are still a few natives living behind the white sand beach beyond the concave curve of reef.  There are no stores or commercial buildings.  No doubt this lack of development is due to the absence of a road into the bay.  There is only a trail and most of the locals still use the horse as the means of transportation.  The first night here we were intrigued by what sounded like a small child crying only to discover a few goats on the hillside.  If this beautiful bay were anywhere other than the remote Marquesas it would be inundated with tourist development.  What a wonderful experience to be able to anchor in the same place as RLS and see it as he saw it.

Perhaps more interesting is the wild history of this place before RLS and other white men set foot on the beach.  Just imagine the scene when this bay was inhabited by many hundreds of cannibals.  Drums beating a deafening roar as the warriors carry stained baskets full of long-pig up to the ma’ea.  Before any white man set foot on this island there were thousands of warring cannibals.  The whites introduced disease, the Asians an opium vice and between the two wiped out 90% of the population in less than a century.  All that remain are the overgrown ruins of volcanic stone paepaes (living platforms) and ma’ea (temples).  I think hollywood should make a movie about this island and reenact all the scenes that would have taken place.  I’d certainly go watch it.

Yesterday we walked along the beach and hiked over the isthmus to the windward side of the island.  There we found a small organic farm run by a few friendly locals.  We had a nice chat with them in our limited French and their limited English.  We were able to buy a stalk of bananas, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, green onions, lettuce, green beans, basil, cilantro, parsley, hot chili peppers, pamplemouse, melon and the worlds smallest watermelon.  Then we had the privilege of breaking our backs hauling all our fresh provisions up that hill and around the bay in the blazing heat.  I think we’ll both be sore for a week but it was worth it to have amazing fresh produce for our long passage to Hawaii.

On a more tragic note, I spent the next day huddled over in a cold sweat with terrible food poisoning.  I didn’t think twice about the delicious melon the friendly farmers were serving us.  Alyssa only had a few bites while I had three slices!  I didn’t see that he was carving them with a filthy machete that was probably laced with all sorts of unsanitary flavoring.  Once I was sick Alyssa said to me, “ya, I was really surprised you kept eating them. Didn’t you see all the flies in that shack?”  Thanks babe.

We’re almost finished getting Ellie ready to go to sea again.  Alyssa is baking up a storm and I’m procrastinating my job of stowing everything.  To be quite honest I am not ready to leave the Marquesas.  I wish we could stay here longer to get to know the locals and spend more time exploring.  We could hide out for another three months and then clear in again.  But the Marquesas only have a couple anchorages that are completely protected from the swell and Alyssa will probably kill me if I don’t get her to civilization soon, so sail north we must.  I have a feeling we’ll be back again someday.

We will send updates under way.

Ka Oha Nui Anaho!

Lewis & Alyssa

October 10, 2014

Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia

Thank You

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