Alone Like a Rolling Stone

We explore the Marquesas

The lee behind the large mountains of Tahuata is effective. We don't get any of the northeast wind at first. We weigh anchor at 5.00 a.m. and bob along for the time being. We want to go to Fatu-Hiva. The island is the southernmost of the Marquesas and lies south-east of Tahuata. Only when we reach the southern tip of Tahuata do we get out of the lee of the mountains, just over 1000m, and pick up speed. The western side of Tahuata reminds us of our old homeland, the Glarus region. Tahuata also has its Martinsloch and the mountain range looks almost like the Tschingelh√∂rner, which separates the canton of Glarus from Graub√ľnden. The difference is that everything here is forested. And the hole is on the wrong side, so we are on the Grisons side.

West Coast Tahuata, Marquesas

The wind suddenly picks up strongly from the north-east and the waves increase accordingly. We can hold our course to Fatu-Hiva quite well and make good progress. As we dawdled a bit at the beginning, we arrive on Fatu-Hiva with the last remaining light. The island is very pristine and Hanavave Bay is very impressive. Narrow, between black rocks, it forms a small inlet that leads into a narrow valley. The bay is full with eight boats and unfortunately we can only find a place at the very front. The water here is seven meters deep, but the bottom is rocky and the holding is poor. The alternative would be to anchor at 23 meters, but we don't find that very appealing. So we try it here first.

Fatu-Hiva, Marquesas

The bay has various names, including Penis Bay. The missionaries probably didn't like that so much, which is why they renamed it the Bay of Virgins. The swell is really getting into the bay and after two days, the wind picks up. Our anchor no longer holds and we have to look for another spot. Unfortunately, there is only room in deep water, which we don't like because the swell is also too big. So we spontaneously abandon the Faku-Hiva adventure and sail to Hiva-Oa. Once again we have a strong north-easterly trade wind, which helps us make rapid progress. However, as we set off too late from Fatu-Hiva, we once again arrive at night. We slowly feel our way into the bay. We almost crash into an unlit mooring. I have no idea what some people think when they leave their boat unlit in the entrance to a bay. We manage to get out of the way at the last moment. After this shock, we decide to drop anchor as soon as we can and wait for nightfall.

Anchorage on Hiva-Oa, Marquesas

The next morning we realize that we are not that far away from the rest of the anchormen. A boat in the anchorage is getting ready to leave and we decide to take its place. We set off and are hailed by a German catamaran on channel 16. "Are you looking for a place?" He shows us a wonderful spot that we would never have found because the charts here already show less than one meter. But we actually still have 2.5 meters under the keel at low tide. This is perfect, especially as we are outside the mooring area of the supply ships and can remain undisturbed. Reinhold from the Mare is also here, so we can talk about the supply options right away. There is a small marina here on Hiva-Oa, which is equipped with some boat accessories. We haven't had that for a long time now. There is also a supermarket in Atuona, the town where most of the people on Hiva-Oa live. Even though this supermarket is still no comparison to conventional supermarkets, it is quite large and well stocked. As everywhere in French Polynesia, the prices are, of course, exorbitant. Gaby has long since got used to this, but I never will. As it's around three kilometers from our mooring to the town, we try to hitchhike. This works quite well here. The first car doesn't drive into town, the second doesn't stop, but by the third we're sitting next to a smiling Polynesian. We get out in front of the supermarket and get our bearings. ATM, post office, hardware store, these are the important things. The salt air causes the glue on my shoes to come apart and I need a new pair of sneakers. Unfortunately, we haven't found anything suitable yet. Finally, we enter the supermarket and Gaby is back in her element.

Hiva-Oa, Marquesas

Heavily laden, we make our way home. But it doesn't take long and we get a lift with a pick-up that takes us right up to our dinghy. I love French Polynesia. In addition to the good supply options, the island has also played host to some famous people. Among others, Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel have lived here. A museum has been set up for the former, which we don't want to miss. But we'll tell you about that next time. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.