Nuku Hiva

Posted by John using SailMail

We are disappointed in the quality of internet access we have. Perhaps it’s because after two weeks in Nuku Hiva (where Wi-Fi was bestand freeat the outdoor snack cafe at the dock) we departed for a couple of smaller islands where Wi-Fi, English speakers and good cell phone connections are hard to come by. In order to not fall too far behind, we’ve decided to make posts by radio email (when we can connect to the SailMail stationnot always a given, especially within the islands). Posting by radio precludes pictures from being included, but when we do get internet with enough bandwidth, we’ll do some picture catch up.

My laptop display went out on Nuku Hiva so we’ve had to install all of the Airmail software on Julie’s and get everything working again. If these posts don’t come out right, have patience until we come back up to speed. Many of my notes were written on my laptop and I must now remove the hard drive, dig out a set of cables I have stowed somewhere, and set it up as a USB drive so that I can access my notes, photos and other stuff. At least I brought along those cables, I think.

The fuel dock (concrete wharf designed for ships) on Nuku Hiva did not work for us so we refueled the boat by renting nine jerry jugs from Kevin, who with his wife Annabella, run Yacht Services in Taiohae. With those nine and our two jugs loaded in the back of Annabella’s pickup, she drove us to the gas station where we filled them and then shuttled them out to the boat in the dinghy. It took most of the day, but we were almost completely topped off with diesel. Ocean swells had infiltrated the bay with no let up in sight and made everything difficult. Just adding the 221 liters of diesel to the tank was an exhausting process. Working too much on repairing our sails, etc. was pretty much impossible while the boat was continuously rolling 25 degrees side-to-side. It was also difficult to sleep at night.

One day on the way to the ATM we passed a street market where a woman was selling bananas. Sure, we’d take some bananas, but we couldn’t carry them with us to the bank. We paid her and she said she’d leave them with Kevin. When we came back later Kevin had two stalks of bananas for us, as well as a box of several pamplemousse (grapefruit). That’s somewhere around a hundred pounds of fruit, which would all be ripe in a couple of days! We ended up leaving half the bananas with the cafe next to Kevin’s office, but still, I couldn’t stop thinking of Banana Boat when we made the long dinghy run across the bay to our boat. We ate lots of bananas, but not even half of what we had on deck.

In the Marquesas you buy cell phones from the post office. At the post office you take a number and wait for service. It took an hour to get the SIM card in the phone and make sure it was all working correctly. The one and only clerk was very nice and wouldn’t give up until she was sure it was all working properly. I’m not so sure you could say the same about the amazing number of people who came into the post office, took numbers, and sat on the benches to wait during that hour. Hopefully, the next person in line just wanted to buy some stamps and not a phone. We got the heck out of there.

Our last night at Nuku Hiva I was feeling more as if we were camping than boating. Julie and I had started the trip sleeping in the aft cabin, but by the time we got to San Diego and bought the water maker, which came in large boxes, we had put so much stuff in the aft cabin that we started sleeping in the cockpit. It was warm and dry enough and we were more aware of what was going on around us. But heavy rain showers have made it seem like camping. The blue canvas cockpit cover could very well be a blue tarp. The dripping rain coming in around the edges, combined with the wood smoke from the many small fires that people have here, brought back a lot of camping memories. Our last night was like this until suddenly it sounded like our tarp was collapsing in the wind. I sat up and said, What was that? Not seeing anything out of place, I closed my eyes again and started to go back to sleep until Julie called out that she thought there was a fish flopping around in the cockpit. We both got flashlights. It was no fish, but a bird trying to stretch its wings out and fly. It was startling to have a seagull-sized bird on our bedroom floor, jumping around and trying to fly. We helped him on his way. And, in a way, he helped us to move on from Nuku Hiva.

On May 20th, after two weeks on Nuku Hiva, we made a 25 mile, very bumpy crossing to Ua Pou (pronounced Wapoo). Ua Pou has spectacular rock spires rising to 4,000 feet, extruded up out of the volcanic slopes like Play-Doh through a template of a Play-Doh Fun Factory. Ua Pou will be the subject of the next post.