Category Archives: Marquesas Islands

Including: Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka, Ua Pou, Fatu Hiva

Bay of Virgins

Fatu Hiva: Bay of Virgins & Penises

What?  How can a bay be both full of virgins and penises?  Well, let me tell you.  The original name for this bay is Baie de Penis because there are several towering rock formations that, well frankly, look like penises.  But when the missionaries came, they did not like the name and renamed it to “Baie des Vierges” which is translated to “Bay of Virgins.”  The Marquesan name for this bay is “Hanavave.”

Bay of Virgins

Bay of Virgins

So, how did we get here?  Let me start with the bad news — we lost the drone.  Yep, it is only 6-months old with less than 8 flights recorded and it was lost.  Matt was flying it while Wayne and I were on the boat.  He said it hit a tree, or limb, or wire and then went down in the tall, brown, grass.  Keep in mind that it is fancy and has sensors all around it that are supposed to beep and notify you when you are close to an obstacle.  He got no warnings.

Disaster Strikes

He searched for it on his own for an hour before coming to get Wayne and I.  The mountainside is dirt, rock, and tons of bushes with 1-2” stickers that stab you and stick to your skin and clothing.  Matt and I climbed up the mountain, hands and knees in some places, through the grass, over the rocks, hanging on trees and rummaging through the brush.  We had a general GPS location from the app, but it has a 15-20’ radius. 

After searching and searching and searching — nothing.  We finally gave up because it was getting dark and we were bloody, scratched, and worn out.  The last photo taken from drone shows the camera upside down, by a rock and in some grass.  The problem is that the entire mountain looks just like this shot.  The middle shot is the culprit that caused the fall and the top pic is the map we downloaded with wifi.

Lost Drone

Lost Drone

We found some internet and were able to download the map vs the generic terrain.  Using the LAT/LONG with the handheld Garmin GPS we were able to pin point a better location.

We had hoped to leave at 0500 the next morning for Fatu Hiva, but plans changed.  After much discussion, we decided to get up early and go look for it again.  Matt and I dressed in long pants (yes, we have some on the boat), and regular shoes.  We were armed with a machete and the handheld GPS with the LAT/LONG of the last known location.  This time we decided to go up a different section of the mountain.  BIG MISTAKE this was much harder.  The rocks we grabbed to pull ourselves up the mountain were falling away and would not hold our weight.  At one point, I was dangling from a tree root with no foot hold.  Ugh

Success – We Found It!

Our 6 hours of searching, paid off.  We got lucky and found our drone!  She was upside down and scratched up, but she is home.  I did not bring my phone as I needed my hands to climb up the mountain – so no photos.  Exhausted, hurt, and yet elated, we headed back to the boat, pulled up anchor and headed to Fatu Hiva. 

We think this twig was the culprit of taking down the drone.

We left Baie de Vaitahu around 0845 and arrived super-fast at around 1430.  Our friends on Maple left the same bay at 0600 and had arrived about 20 minutes before us.  It took us awhile to find a good anchor spot, but we finally stuck it good on the 5th try.

Passage Details:

  • Total miles: 4nm
  • Moving Time: 6:01
  • Max Speed: 6kt
  • Average Speed: 7.1kt

Fatu Hiva is famous for the Bay of Virgins simply because it is truly a stunning bay.  Bright, green valley’s lay between the huge penis pillars (that is so strange to write).  It has quickly become one of my favorite bays in French Polynesia.  Very peaceful, strong breezes, blue water, friendly people, and breathtaking views.

Bay of Virgins

Bay of Virgins

And it’s fun to say I stayed in the Bay of Penises even though Matt and Wayne say they stayed in the Bay of Virgins.

Bay of Virgins

Bay of Virgins

The village is called Hanavave and is the main village of Fatu Hiva.  It consists of a church, magasin, primary school, post office, Le Mairie (mayor’s office), and a gorgeous waterfall that flows into the river feeding the bay.

Several local women make tapa cloth which is a cultural tradition. They take bark from banian trees and beat and knead it for days until it becomes soft and supple like cotton.  It is used to make clothing, costumes and artwork.  They paint historical stories and Marquesan designs on the tapa.

INSERT PHOTO OF TAPA MAKING

Stay tuned for more adventures in Bay of Virgins…

Sunset on Sugar Shack

Tahuata’s Main Village of Vaitahu

We decided to head to Vaitahu, the “main village” of Tahuata which is about 2nm south of Hanamoenoa Baie.  A quick motor and we dropped the hook near our friends on Maple.  This is a super small village with 2 snacks, 1 magasin, 2 churches and a post office.  That’s it.  Small and simple and full of lovely people!

Vaitahu in Tahuata

Vaitahu in Tahuata

A Wedding

The day we arrived there was a local wedding.  Of course, we had to go check it out (from the outside).  It was held in the beautiful Catholic church with an enormous stain glass window.  It is tradition to invite everyone in Vaitahu to the ceremony and then feed everyone in the town.  Even crazy tourists and cruisers like us.  We declined, but it was a super nice gesture.

Wedding island style

Wedding island style

We found a short hike to another cross at the entrance of Vaitahu.  It was only 20 minutes to the cross, but it was straight up hill about 2.7 miles.  It had beautiful views of the bay.

Hike Photos

Hike Photos

A New Tattoo

No, not for me (yet).  Our friend Daryl on Maple got a new tattoo.  It was done the modern way, but still pretty painful.  The tattoo artist works in his carpark with a nice breeze.  It took several hours to draw out the design including strength, family, Marquesan cross, tiki, and more.

Drawing the Tattoo

Drawing the Tattoo

Then the fun began with the outline, then the filling and the beautiful finished product.

Daryl's Tattoo is all done

Daryl’s Tattoo is all done

I went to church on Sunday and was a little frustrated because it was super-hot and I could not understand anything.  For some reason, I just did not have my heart in it, but I did enjoy the beautiful singing, church, and lovely people.

Church with stained glass

Church with stained glass

Vaitahu has two snacks, but the popular one is called Chez Jimmy whichhas the most interesting herb garden made out of used, plastic, wine bottles.  So clever!

Wine bottle garden at Jimmy's

Wine bottle garden at Jimmy’s

A couple of beautiful sunsets to wrap up our evenings and we’ve fallen in love with Vaitahu.

Sunset on Sugar Shack

Vaitahu Sunset on Sugar Shack

Tahuata: Harmony Bay

After almost a month of living in a $hitty anchorage we were ready for a quiet bay.  We left Ua Pou for a serene bay on Tahuata (prounced “ta-who-a-ta).  It was a 60nm sail heading south.  We enjoyed a lovely day with full sails and light winds.  With an average of 6-7 kts in boat speed we had hoped to catch a fish on our passage.  Matt had 3 lines out. 

Fishing, not catching

The first zing ended abruptly with a lost lure and no fish.  The second zing was even shorter with no actual hook on the fish.  The third was a doozy.  We caught a large 100lb+ yellow fin tuna.  Matt fought bravely with this fish for 3 hours.  Reeling him, then the fish dove deep and/or swam away from the boat.  Then we reel him and rinse and repeat for 3 hours.  Matt was exhausted and had blisters on his hand from reeling it in for so long. Just when we thought the fish was either tired or dead, the reel went zing again – smoking fast almost to the braid.  Then nothing.  A damn shark took our prize and left us with nothing, not even the lure.  That was 3 bites, 2 lost lures, and 1 three-hour fight.

Its called "fishing" not "catching"

Its called “fishing” not “catching”

When we pulled into Hanamoenoa bay it made up for the disaster fishing day.  The beauty was astounding.  Manta rays, dolphins and a few sharks call this oasis home.  A sweet sandy beach lined with palm trees lays serenely at the base of the green mountains.  Only one person, Stephen, lives in this picturesque bay.

Drone shot from shore toward the anchorage at sunrise.

Tahuata at Harmony Bay

Tahuata at Hanamoenoa Bay

Another drone shot from the sea facing the shore.

Hanamoenoa Bay

Hanamoenoa Bay

We were invited onto Flip Flops for Christmas lunch along with our friends on Maple.  A few other boats stopped by as well for the pot luck.  It was a lovely day meeting new friends and enjoying tasty food.

QUICK TRIP TO HIVA OA

Wayne flew in to Hiva Oa the day after Christmas.  Matt and I left Hanamoenoa bay at 0515 and motored over to Baie Tahauku in Hiva Oa.  It was only 10nm away, but it was directly into the wind, waves, and current.  We managed to arrive 2.5 hours later which was great as we had a lot to do before Wayne arrived at noon.  We filled up on gasoline, made a quick provision run at the local market and returned everything to the boat.  Then we grabbed the empty beer bottles and cart and walked 2.8 miles to the village.  We return the empty bottles and buy new full ones at a cheaper price.  We loaded up on beer and more provisions and nabbed a ride back to the dock.  Just as we finished unloading, Wayne arrived.

Hiva Oa Main Anchorage

Hiva Oa Main Anchorage

We unpacked all of our treasures that Wayne so graciously brought to us.  A trip into town to explore in greater detail was in order.  We hoofed it back into town in search of food, but ended up finding beer.  We were all tired so we did not make it a late night.  Some fun photos in Hiva Oa’s main village of Atuona

Hiva Oa Explorations

Hiva Oa Explorations

Tahuata

We left early the next morning for Hanamoenoa bay. Back in our new favorite anchorage!  The water is a turquoise blue and you can see all the way to the white sandy bottom sea floor.  We tried to snorkel with the mantas but they swam away from us.  So, instead we enjoyed the pretty fish and cool waters.

Stephen came by the boat around dinner time and showed us how to make a traditional Marquesan meal.  He brought some octopus and coconuts along with a coconut carving tool.  He showed Matt how to cut the octopus and showed Wayne how to carve the coconut.  Once the coconuts were carved, we squeezed the milk out of the shavings.  The sauce turned out good, but the boys said the octopus was a bit “chewy” and needed another 20-30 minutes of boiling, but the sauce was tasty.

Dinner local style

Dinner local style