Magsin Celine

Provisioning: Our version of Ralph’s Supermarket

Provisioning, what is it?  You have heard me say a number of times, that we had to provision the boat.  What exactly does that mean?  You, as a landlubber (yes, that is what we call you), can easily walk or hop in your car and go to the nearest Costco, Super Target, Ralph’s or Randalls to pick up your groceries.  You can even pop in a convenience store (7-11) or mini market (gas station) to get basic supplies.  Not to mention the farmer’s market to get fresh goods from growers.  You are after all in the land of plenty.

Here in the islands, we don’t have those luxuries.  I am not complaining, just stating the facts.  Almost every island has a “magasin” which is a type of market or grocery store.  It is similar to a minimarket or 7-11 and about the same size with twice as much stuff packed into the same amount of space.  With the exception of Tahiti, most islands and atolls are limited to what they can store and sell in between deliveries from the supply ships.

Supply Ships

The number and size of these magasins are dependent on the size of the island, the population, and the number of tourists.  Most of the Tuamotu atolls have very small and limited provisions. However, the larger islands like Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa (Marquesas), Mangareva (Gambiers), and Tahiti, Bora Bora (Society) will have more variety.

The supply ship comes from Tahiti and brings provisions to the outer islands.  For example, in Nuku Hiva, the supply ship comes every 2 weeks.  However, we visited during the holidays and we ship was here once in 2.5 months!

Nuku Hiva Magasins

Nuku Hiva is the largest and most populated island in the Marquesas. It has several decent magasins, a produce market, and plenty of fruit bearing trees.  We shop for provisions (food, produce, fruit, veg, beverages) at the local magasins, produce market, and buy direct from locals.  On very rare occasions, we will pick directly from the trees when they appear to be on public property (not on private land).

So, what does a local magasin look like?  Let me tell you, the Nuku Hiva magasins are above average in size and stock. Good for us, for now!  Most have between 3-4 isles, with end caps, frozen area, liquor area, and produce area.

Magasin Celine

This magasin offers hydroponic lettuce which is a rare treat.  It has a super small produce area (see bottom photo in back on red baskets), 2 freezers and plenty of dry goods.

Magasin Celine

Magasin Celine

You might see an entre isle or two of cereal, but here we have a ¼ of an area for cereal.  But, you an see we have Special K.  They do have an entire isle filled with liquor though. 

Typical isle

Typical isle

One thing we leaned very quickly is that liquor is extremely expensive here.  Thank goodness we did not need to purchase any during our year stay.  I took some photos of liquor bottles…an easy conversion is to drop the last two digits.  So, for example the bottle of Baileys is $49, he Jack Daniels is $86, and the Bombay is $79.

Expensive liquor

Expensive liquor

Magasin Kamake

This magasin has its own bakery and supplies other magasins with fresh baguettes.  It is a little more stocked with a different variety of food.  They do have an “organic” or “natural” isle which is intriguing.

Kamake with a natural selection of food

Kamake with a natural selection of food

Their produce area is actually refrigerated (to make them last longer) and they have a few more freezers of meats.

Produce Market

Provisioning runs always include a search for fresh produce.  Nuku Hiva has its own produce market, which is a rare treat!  They are open in the mornings from 0530-1130.  Each day it differs depending on the local deliveries.  The lower left photo is a tasty fruit called pumplemouse which is similar to a grapdefruit.

Produce market

Produce market

Artisan Market

Another wonderful treat is the artisan market. We have only seen an artisan market in a few islands and we have visited well over a hundred throughout French Polynesia!  This is where the local artists showcase and sell their crafts.  It can include hand-carved marlin bone, necklaces, tapa cloth, hand-carved wood statues and oh so much more.

Wood and bone carvings

Wood and bone carvings

Jewelry, honey, carvings

Artisan goods

Artisan goods

In short, provisioning in the islands is a smaller version of shopping in the States.  Less variety and quantity, but what do you expect living in a third world country in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?  I’m thinking we are pretty darn blessed.

The economy in the Marquesas is very fragile, but from what we have seen it is still thriving.  Provisioning for locals usually consists of their own fresh produce and fish that they catch.

Other Services

Nuku Hiva is way advanced compared to most places.  They have a very robust recycling program. With all of the provisioning we cruisers do it is nice to know we can recycle our glass, plastic and aluminium.

Recycling Center

Recycling Center

All of the post offices are yellow and look the same.  Most post offices have an ATM (because there are no banks on smaller islands or atolls) and sell the local cell/data sim cards.

Typical post office

Typical post office

There is one jail on the island, which was generally used for ‘short stay’ internments such as the last 3 months of sentences and was also often altogether empty. Lately, however, prisoners can opt to do their full sentence here if they have no family on Tahiti, so the Nuku Hiva jail now has inmates all the time.

Jail in Nuku Hiva

Jail in Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva’s Marae

Most of the islands in French Polynesia have marae created and left behind by the local’s ancestors.  These marae are ancient open air sacred temples where many tikis are located which are personifications of divinities and heroes.  However, some islands have a great number of marae and tikis than others.  Some islands were cultural centers where elders and leaders gathered to hold ceremonies.

The Marquesas reveal their beauty and transport their visitors in a voyage out of time. Discover these treasures at the end of the world !

Nuku Hiva has a several ceremonial areas with many marae located around the grounds.  One of the biggest areas is in the main bay of Taiohae which is where we anchored while we waited for our parts to arrive.  The overall grounds are about the size of a football field.  To the far right is a covered area with a thatched roof being held up by hand-carved tikis.

Marae Grounds

Marae Grounds

In the back and behind the covered area are several large stones waiting to be carved.  I wonder if they are waiting for the next cultural festival?  You can imagine what shapes they may become, for instance the one on the lower right could be a great turtle and the one on the upper left would make a great tiki family.  The center photo probably was a light warning of hazardous waters (shallow and rocky).

Carvings Tell a Story

I wish the marae site had signs explaining their significance.  Unfortunately, there is no literature or information on them.  I do know that each carving tells a story and shares the history and culture of the local population.  The top photo depicts a family, the lower left looks like a warrior and the bottom right their food source, fish.

Marae house, fish, tiki

Marae house, fish, tiki

This little guy is well balanced and has two designs.  One on each side.  I think he is my favorite because he is so unusual.

Love this marae

Love this marae

The warrior tikis protect the bay around this marae. Then I found two bowl type carvings with lots of little tikis around the center bowl.  Super cool, maybe a baptism area?  Ha, no!

More beautiful marae

More beautiful marae

In the corner of the site is a large tiki with a book in its mouth. The book had carvings in Marquesan.

Large marea with bible in mouth

Large marea with bible in mouth

Another large marae was located in the center, on a platform.  It looked like a chief or leader flanked by guards.

Marea of leader

Marea of leader

Despite the amazing beauty of the tikis and marae, many people just walk right on by.  However, many cruisers have stopped to relish in the history.

Local performer

Waiting in Nuku Hiva

We had some time to kill while we waited on our martingale. If we had our druthers, we would have left for the southern Marquesas islands to wait for a weather window toward the Gambiers.  However, life had other plans.  We needed to follow up on our long-stay visa renewals and wait for our part.  But we are not good at waiting, so we filled our days.  So, what did we do?

Exercise

A few of my friends (Janet, Nicci, and Isabelle) and I walked almost every day.  I say, walk, but truly we did the hikes around Taihoe Bay at a moderate pace early in the morning.  There are three hikes that we rotated between:  Collette’s Bay, Gazebo Hike, and the Mare Hike.  They are each about 4-6 miles long and can take anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how much we are talking or how fast we are walking.  This photo is from the Gazebo hike at the top overlooking the bay with Janet, Isabelle and I.

Hiking Partners

Hiking Partners

We also did a little yoga.  Isabelle recently got her yoga certification and graciously taught yoga several times a week.  Sometimes we had 20 people while other times we had 5.  Always a mixed bag, but lots of fun.  

Yoga Practice with Cruisers

Yoga Practice with Cruisers

Errands

Of course, we ran some errands.  We motored a lot with Wayne and the Melnar’s so we had to replenish our fuel.  Technically, we were not “low” but with 1000 miles to the Gambiers and another 1000 miles to Tahiti it was best to top up the tanks.  We borrowed 6 jerry cans (20 liters each) from Nuku Hiva Yacht Services.  This is in addition to our four 20-liter cans.  We made two trips to replenish our diesel and gasoline.

We also tried our best to provision.  Unfortunately, the supply ship has not visited Nuku Hiva since the middle of December (we are at the end of January).  Of course, it is scheduled to come a week after we leave.  We do not plan to be waiting on the supply ship.  So, the magasins were painfully empty.  We purchased what we could.

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  The waterline and bottom of the boat needed some lovin!  The waters here foster some interesting growth and we had a virtual science experiment growing on our boat!

Computer Work

I volunteered to re-organize the Tuamotus, Society, and Marquesas Compendiums into an easier format.  There is lots of great information in each compendium, but it is difficult to find it.  Most people submit information in paragraph form and you have to read through a bunch of junk to get an anchorage location or find the post office.  So, I am working on re-organizing each compendium (which are over 200 pages each).  The creators have been waiting patiently for me to finish these so I’ve been working hard.

Spinnaker & Para-Sailor

As you might recall, we blew out the clew (corner) of our small spinnaker on a passage.  We have tried to get it repaired and it was too much money.  We are in the process of trying to repair it ourselves but are not convinced it will hold.

Another boat was selling a spinnaker about the same size as our small spinnaker.  They were also selling a small parasailor which we have never sailed with before.  It would be a fun sail to try out as you can use it in stronger winds and with a wider variety of wind direction. Basically, it gives you a lot more opportunity to use it than a regular spinnaker. The problem is that it is smaller than we would have liked but it could work.

We went over to Azyu to check out both sails and were really happy with their condition.  The spinnaker is a 2014 and has some use on it, but it is in really good condition.  The parasailor has only been used two times and in even better condition.  

Spinnaker Evaluation

Spinnaker Evaluation

Azyu wanted to leave and could not stand by waiting for us to make a decision.  So, we decided to purchase both sails, try them out and keep the one we like best.  We will sell the other sail when we get back to Tahiti.  We low-balled them and they accepted.  Sweet!  Basically we got both sails for about $4500.  To give you an idea of what a screaming deal we got: a spinnaker new would be $6,500 and a parasailor new is $10,000.  Maybe waiting to repair our damaged spinnaker was a good idea?

Daniel’s Bay

We decided to get away for the weekend.  We left the “main bay” of Taihoe and went to Daniel’s bay because it is so much prettier and quieter.  Our friends on Maple are here with us and we had a blast hanging out with them before they leave for the Society Islands and then Malaysia.    We hiked to the “nada-falls”, had ice-cream at Teiki’s place and dinner on each other’s boats.

Daniel's Bay HIke

Daniel’s Bay HIke

We cross the river three times before we get to the “trickle fall”  The first time you cross can be nerve racking as you try to get solid footing.  The top photo is us goofing around while crossing.  The bottom photo is us enjoying a cool down after the 7 mile walk.

Crossing the river 3x

Crossing the river 3x

Still dry and no waterfall, but a truly beautiful setting.  Daryl (top photo) reflecting on the pool), and Janet, Ella and Iris at the bottom.

At the Nada Falls

At the Nada Falls

The local fisherman go out early in the morning and come back to the dock around 0700 to clean their catch.  It is always amazing to me how big their tuna catches are!

Tuna Catch

Tuna Catch

The fisherman toss the parts into the water for the awaiting sharks.  Always fun watching the fisherman feeding the sharks at the dock.  Yep, this is where we dock our dinghy to get to shore.  Fun times waiting for the sharks to lose interest in us.

Large sharks at the dock

Large sharks at the dock

We enjoyed lots of good dinners and happy hours on our friend’s boas.  This is Nicci from Flip Flops and Janet from Maple.

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends

Super Bowl Sunday

Our friend Kevin from Nuku Hiva Yacht Services hosted a super bowl party on his deck.  He was able to live stream it on the internet so we could watch just off the beach.  Unfortunately, we lost the signal on the last 20 minutes of the game which is when KC came from behind to win 31 to 20!  How the heck did that happen in 20 minutes. No matter, it was a great game in good company in a lovely setting.  And the half time was spectacular with J Lo and Shakira!

Super Bowl Party

Super Bowl Party

Ladies Luncheon

One of the other cruisers organized a ladies luncheon which was fabulous.  There were 9 of us from 8 countires including a woman who fenced, a skydiver, a motor cross racer, swimmer, pilot/plane builder, and one that has raised two kids and lived on a boat for the past 25 years.  An incredibly eclectic and exciting group of women.

Ladies Luncheon

Ladies Luncheon

Hike to the Saddle

Not sure why I agreed to do this, but Sophie and I hiked to the saddle which was over 152 stories (the empire state building is 100), and almost hit 10 miles!  It was a brute of a climb, but we did it!

Sophie and I hike to the saddle

Sophie and I hike to the saddle

Lots of cruise ships came into port at the end of January and into February.  The locals would gather near the dock and give them a nice welcome with drums, singing and warm greetings.  Of course, I had to take advantage of the situation and get a photo op.

Local performer

Local performer

 

Our good friend Mike on “Easy” decided to fly back to the States for a month.  unfortunately, we will be gone when he returns and are not sure when we will see him again.  He may be sailing to Hawaii then Oregon while we are going to New Zealand.  So, it seemed like a great time to have a party.  Over 20 people came to Sugar Shack to honor Mike!

Mike's Going Away Party

Mike’s Going Away Party

Matt decided to a monstrous hike to the antennae which is almost the tallest peak of the island.  I opted to skip out as it was way too high.  It was well over 6.5 miles to the top and another to return and I think it concluded at a 14 mile hike and well over 3,000 elevation.

Above, I mentioned that I hiked to the saddle (red arrow), but Matt took it further and hiked to the blue arrow.  A huge 5-hour hike.

Matt's hike to the antennae

Matt’s hike to the antennae

View from the top of the mountain, taken by Matt

View from the top

View from the top