The bay of Hiva-Oa or, getting away with a black eye

Storm and calm

Crystal clear water and bright blue parrot fish below. The coral reefs almost reach the surface, but only almost. At high tide they remain a good half meter under water. Enough to make a tour with the dinghy around the island of Taravai. I have the Long John on and want to go snorkeling on the north side at the reef. The water is just 22°C, so normally much too cold for me. But there are supposed to be sharks there and maybe we will get to see one. So you have to make sacrifices.

Pitcon Castle

We dared to sail to Taravai, although the weather forecast for Sunday predicted strong winds. It should come from the northwest. The anchorage is in the south of the island, so should protect against the worst. Sunday is still beautiful. The sun is shining and the north wind makes it pleasantly warm. It is Valerie's birthday today and in advance she said that we only have to bring the drinks. Everything else they take care of. Besides the self-slaughtered sow, there is chicken and fish. As a side dish coconut, potato, rice and manioc. The latter is a root that tastes similar to a potato. Gaby has made pudding and baked a cake, and there is a kind of cream puff with cream filling. All very tasty. We have a lot of fun playing boules and celebrate our birthdays until late in the evening. The wind has increased in the meantime and comes, still from the northeast. Half the night I wait that he finally turns to northwest. But unfortunately he does not do me that favor and reaches a maximum of north. Too little to get into the island cover. The anchorage in front of Taravai, with the impressive church and the large harbor portal, is surrounded by a fringing reef and has a narrow pass in the southwest, which is marked with buoys. The anchorage is between 15 meters and 18 meters deep. A large coral stick forms it into a kidney. So you are very protected from the sea. In strong winds, however, the place is a mousetrap. Either the anchor holds or you land on the reef. The next morning we already have 30 knots of wind and again and again gusts over 40 knots. The anchor chain and the cock pot are once again standing at attention. The wind has still not turned to the northwest. In the west pass of the Gambiers whitecaps are forming, and the wave stands there well with 1.5 meters height. We don't want to be there now, so we stay where we are. Gaby can not stand such a weather at all and also I have imagined my birthday differently. Again and again we see the gusts rushing towards us. In the meantime spray announces the upcoming squall. 50 knots are reached. The anchor slips twice by five meters as such a violent gust hits us. But we still stay far enough away from the reef. In the evening, around six o'clock, it is suddenly, from one blow to the next, windless. We listen and after about five minutes, joy arises. We have survived the worst. But we don't! After another five minutes, a gust from the southwest suddenly shoots into the anchor field. Our Katinka accelerates from zero to three knots, drifts over the chain length to the other side and jerks brutally into the Hahnepot. Within seconds, we have our 30 knots of wind again. This time, however, from the west-southwest. After the gusts were so fierce that it almost ripped the wind generator off our gear carrier, I turned it off. I was just about to turn it back on when this wind shift came. I think I'll wait a bit longer. To calm Gaby down, I put on the audiobook by Ken Follett, The Gates of the World, and turn up the volume. It works and she calms down. The wind calms slowly and by midnight it's all over. I spend my anchor watch signing Valerie and Hervé's guest book. Dead tired I fall into the bunk. 

Dinghy Tour Taravai

The next morning, peace, silence, only the rooster crows, as if nothing had ever happened. Only the one or other palm frond or a coconut, swims past the boat. The water is flat as on a lake. Ideal weather for a dinghy tour. I fill the tank and take a spare tank with me. Past Point Matariki we head north. Further over Teoapu Kotuku and Koutu Rarotemangaroa, we reach at Point Mataiki, the Bay Gahutu Taravai. At the east reef I drop into the water and find a dream world. Blue and red corals, fan and table shaped, and very many fish are to be seen. A grouper looks at me with open mouth, while the parrot fish slowly approach again. Still, with due respect, they keep their distance. Triggerfish and surgeonfish can be seen as well as the many small reef fish, with their intense colors of yellow and blue. The neoprene keeps off the roughest cold, nevertheless, after half an hour, it becomes too cold for me ,and I try to get back into the dinghy. I didn't see a shark again, but that's the minor problem for now. It is much more difficult to get back into the dinghy, Gaby, who was waiting in the boat, can't resist the remark: "a walrus is boarding the boat". And indeed I crawl on my belly, standing with one foot in a rope loop, onto the one dinghy sausage. With animal noises, "Ohhhnnnk, ohhnnk, onk," I shout into the silence of the bay and pull myself out of the water. In the process, my damaged arm is still hindering me. "Nice one!" I finally say, a little out of breath. 

Herve on his boat

On the way back, we stop at many a coral stick and let ourselves drift a bit to look at the wonderful colorful underwater world. Hervé, who also took advantage of this beautiful weather, comes towards us and shows us his latest catch. He has caught a goat which, still quite distraught, sits quietly in the boat. In the afternoon we bring back the guest book and find out that the goat is quite lean. No problem says Hervé, she gets a few bananas, then it will be fine. Eventually it will end up in the cooking pot just like the sow we ate the day before yesterday. We say goodbye to Taravai the next day and sail, in beautiful weather, back to Mangareva. After a heavy storm we lie again, in calm, on our usual anchorage and let the sun shine on our belly. With the end of August, the weather should now slowly get better, so that we can do a bit more again. Until then, we wish fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.