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

Tahuata, we reach the Marquesas

We have an almost full moon and every now and then it peeks out above the dense towers of cloud that rise behind the high mountains. After six days, hard on the wind, we reach the Marquesas. We don't make it to the island of Fatu-Hiva, in the far south-east of the archipelago, due to the wind conditions. Tahuata has several beautiful anchorages on the west side, and we head for Vaitahu Bay.

Tahuata, Marquesas

The island could be seen very early in the day through its high mountains. Nevertheless, we still need the whole day to reach it. Our favorite discipline is once again on the agenda. Entering an unknown bay at night. Why do people always switch off their AIS when they are anchored in a bay? According to the plotter, the bay is empty. Another mile to the bay. I recognize at least one anchor berth. Gaby is already standing on the starboard bow and keeping an eye out. In 15 knots of wind, she is barely audible. I interpret her rowing arm movements as meaning there's a boat. I reduce speed and we slowly feel our way forward. The moon has once again hidden behind a thick cloud. Another boat appears on the port side, and a small motorboat is moored on the moor ring up ahead. The water depth has now risen to ten meters and I give the command to drop anchor. We let out 50 meters of chain, you never know. The gusts are fierce and reach up to 35 knots. The anchor goes in all by itself. It holds for the first time. Relief spreads and we are glad to have finally arrived. We are five boats in total. I sit in the cockpit with my anchor beer and am impressed by the high mountains. The moon emerges from behind a cloud and illuminates the silhouette. Tahuata was discovered by the Spanish in 1595. Tourism is rare, and the few tourists who do find their way here are mostly sailors. In 1842, the French conquered the islands, which was not without bloodshed. A stone commemorates Admiral Dupetit Thouras, who fell victim to the fighting against the Marquesas. 

A stone commemorates Admiral Dupetit Thouras

The next morning we are woken by a school of dolphins playing around our boat. There are around twenty of them and some are so exuberant that they jump out of the water meters high. A turtle looks on uncomprehendingly. Even though strong gusts of wind fall from the mountains into the anchor field from time to time, we feel quite comfortable here. We decide to carry out the necessary repairs before going ashore. The lazy bag in particular has taken another heavy beating. We unpack the sewing machine and spend a whole day mending it. Where the fabric or reinforcement is too thick, I use the "stitcher", a small hand sewing machine that has already served us well in the past. In the end, the lazy bag is back in place the next day. We get the dinghy ready and go ashore. But it's not so easy to get ashore here in Vaitahu Bay. A high swell sets in at the landing dock. We join forces to heave Gaby ashore. I push and a couple of local children pull her up the dock from land. A French couple have just come back from shopping and have lots of fruit in their luggage. Gaby is immediately enthusiastic and engages them all in conversation while I try to save our dinghy from destruction. I deploy a stern anchor to keep the boat away from the jetty. By the time I've finished, Gaby is sitting in a pickup truck and just says that she's going to get some fruit and will be right back. The French woman has spontaneously offered to translate and so the three women sit in the pickup and speed off. Meanwhile, I take a look around the village. I discover Jimmy, who has wifi and a nice little restaurant. I also find the supermarket straight away.

Vaitahu Tahuata, Marquesas

At some point, Gaby comes back around the corner with the pickup and we load the fruit we've bought into the dinghy. We take a short walk to get our first impression of the Marquesas. Mangoes, grapefruits, oranges and lemons hang from the trees. The banana trees are huge. Everything is blooming and thriving. A small stream comes down from the mountains and flows into the sea in the middle of the village. The slopes are densely wooded and everything is green. We end up at Jimmy's and are lucky. A large party has made a reservation and so we also get lunch. Jimmy gives me his WhatsApp number, which I can also use to make a reservation. We do the same for tomorrow so that we can publish this blog and the one from last week. I'm curious to see what the internet connection is like here. You'll find out how things are going in the Marquesas next week. Until then, we wish you always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.