Tag Archives: french polynesia

Matt & Christine

Tu Hiva Tiki in Nuku Hiva

Legend has it that god made a “big house” represented by the Marquesan islands.  The largest of them is Nuku Hiva which is the top of the framework.  The tallest peak on the island is well over 4,000’.  Nuku Hiva is the 2nd largest island in French Polynesia and the main island in the Marquesas with a total population of 3k people.

Originally, we were planning on making our way straight to Ua Poa after leaving the Tuamotus.  However, we were in desperate need of provisions and fuel and needed to arrive in a more populated island.  Thus, our arrival to Nuku Hiva.  After all, we had a wonderful, but long stay away from civilization.  For the past 6 weeks we have been off the grid so to speak.  The Fakarava south pass and Tahanea had zero supplies.  Makemo had several magasins but they were mostly empty waiting for the supply ship (which only arrives every 3 weeks). 

Needing a replenishment of fruits, veggies, bread, eggs, and meats, we arrived at the main island of Nuku Hiva.  Sugar Shack was hungry and in need of diesel and gasoline as we had not refueled since Tahiti in early July (4 months prior).  

There are 5 magasins here, some better stocked than others.  Lots of fresh produce including at the veggie market and magasins.  There is also a fish market and fisherman who sell their daily catch each morning (at 0530).  Lots of options!

We know several cruisers here!  Our friends on Maple showed up 24 hours after we did (remember we left Makemo at the same time, but they have a smaller boat that does not point as well as Sugar Shack).  Our friends on Heart and Soul (Dave and Margaret) welcomed us to the baie.  We had not seen them since Valdivia, Chile.  And our friends on Bella (Matias and Ulreka) whom we have not seen since Curacao over 2 years ago are here.  It is amazing to me how small the cruising community is while sailing the vast open waters.

Hike to Baie Colette

We gathered a group of cruisers for a hike to another baie.  There were 12 of us, but we only knew 7 of them (Maple, Heart and Soul, and Bella).  A gent name Williem from Rambler, a couple from Lila (Graham and Janet) were also with us.

Hiking Crew in Nuku Hiva

Hiking Crew in Nuku Hiva

It was a fairly easy hike up a few hills, but it was hot.  We passed a lovely cemetery that was well manicured.

Cemetery in Nuku Hiva

Cemetery in Nuku Hiva

Breathtaking views along the way of the Taiohae Baie where we are anchored.  We are the boat by itself on the far right.

Baie Colette Hike

Baie Colette Hike

We arrived to a beautiful black sand beach and cool waters.  It was great to cool off in the water.  There was a small tiki under a bougainvillea bush too.

Baie Colette Success

Baie Colette Success

Tu Hiva Tiki

Fort Madison was established in 1813.  In 1842 it received military headquarters, barracks, a warehouse, a powder magazine to add to the seven cannon guns.  The French take over the fort in 1842 but then abandon it in 1859.  The Catholic Missionaries take over and turn it into a school and then a hospital.

Fort Madison in Nuku Hiva

Fort Madison in Nuku Hiva

At the fort, overlooking the baie is the Tiki Tuhiva.  It is known to be the highest contemporary sculpture in the Pacific.  It has an iron structure which is completely covered with shotcrete coated with “keetu” (a reddish volcanic tuff used by Marquesan stone carvers.

The woman tiki is 12 meters high and the warrior is 8 meters tall.  It took six months and six people to erect both statues.  The warrior Tuhiva steps forward to master his future with the ancestral strength inherited from “Woman Tiki” the warden of tradition and knowledge.

Tu Hiva Tiki

Tu Hiva Tiki

Another smaller version of the tiki was found on the Fort grounds as well.

Tu Hiva Tiki

Tu Hiva Tiki

Celebrating Year Wedding Anniversary – 14 years

Matt and I enjoyed a day at the Keikahanui Pearl Resort to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.  It was a bit of a splurge for us, but we enjoyed every minute.  We enjoyed a very tasty lunch and several bottles of rose while lounging at their pool and using their wifi.  What a great day!

Lunch on our Anniersary

Lunch on our Anniversary

 

We had so much fun hanging out at the pool, drinking rose and enjoying the beautiful day.

Celebrating 14 years together

Celebrating 14 years together

A funny picture of a young boy carrying his chickens around town.

A boy and his chickens

A boy and his chickens

We have been busy here.  

  • Refueled boat (both diesel and gasoline)
  • Filled both dive tanks
  • Topped up propane tanks
  • Did several loads of laundry
  • Water tanks topped off
  • Provisioned the boat
  • Fixed our jib sail
Sail repair

Sail repair

Drone Shots:

Matt took some great shots of the Tu Hiva Tiki with the drone

Tu Hiva Tiki

Tu Hiva Tiki

Aerial photo of the anchorage and the tiki.

Nuku Hiva Anchorage

Nuku Hiva Anchorage

Sugar Shack siting by herself being unsociable.

Sugar Shack in Nuku Hiva

Sugar Shack in Nuku Hiva

 

Nuku Hiva

The Mountainous Islands of Marquesas

What a change of scenery!  It was so nice to wake up to tall, sweeping mountains against a brilliant blue sky.  Of course, I was still partially asleep being we just set the hook 4 hours earlier.  The mountain sides are not particularly green and lush in Baie Taiohae, but they are pretty.  Welcome to the Marquesas.

Most cruising boats plan to arrive to this archipelago when traveling from Panama and Galapagos.  It is a direct route with typically good winds allowing for an 18-30 day passage.  Number of days depends on the boats, sail trim, and wind obviously.  The cruisers we know that have made this passage tended to complete it in 25-28 days.  The exception was Barry with Adventures of an Old Sea Dog who took over 70 days as a single handler. 

Most of our cruisers friends stopped at the Marquesas first.  We, however, have never been here before.  As you might recall, we arrived in the Gambiers when entering French Polynesia.  So, these beautiful and majestic islands are all new to us!

The Marquesas Archipelago

There are five major islands, but a total of 15 that make up the Marquesas archipelago. The major islands include Nuka Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Pu, Fatu Hiva, and Ua Huka.  The first settlement was in AD 900-1,000 by Polynesians.  It wasn’t until 1526 that it was later “discovered by the Spanish.  Today, over 9,400 inhabitants populate the Marquesas islands.

Marquesas Archipelago

Marquesas Archipelago

The Marquesas suffered a great population decline from endemic diseases carried by Western explorers.  The indigenous people suffered high rates of mortality as they had no immunity to the new diseases.  The population was reduced from 78k inhabitants to about 20k by the middle of the nineteenth century.  By the turn of the 20th century, the population was further reduced to just over 4k.  By 1926, it was a measly 2300 inhabitants. Shortly thereafter, the population took a turn and slowly increased to 8,500 in 2002 and finally to 9,400 in 2017.

In contrast to the other Polynesian islands, the Marquesas are all volcanic and high islands (except Motu One).  With steep volcanic mountains that plunge straight into the ocean.  They are also very dry islands, unlike its sister Polynesian islands that are lush and flowing with tropical vegetation.  View of Baie Taiohae the morning after we arrived.

Mountains of Nuku Hiva

Mountains of Nuku Hiva

The Marquesas’ islands are not surrounded by a protective fringing reef which is another difference between the archipelagos.  Coral is only found in one place in the Marquesas.  Coral is at the top of the island Fatu Huku, a rather strange location. 

Different from the Tuamotus

These islands suffer from frequent drought conditions because of their prevailing easterly winds that spawn from the Humbolt Current.  This has led to historical fluctuations in water supply, which have played a crucial role in the sustainability of human populations in certain sections of the various islands throughout the archipelago.

The islands range in age.  Fatu Hiva is the youngest island at 1.3 million years old and Eiao is the oldest island at 6 million years old. 

The Marquesas islands also known as Henua Enana, land of men has created a race of strong people of immense pride and fascinating culture.  The islands are full of natural wonders including 305 meter (1000’) waterfalls that cascade down volcanic cliffs and towering mountains.

Josh and Sara Teitelman

Fakarava Welcomes the Teitelman’s

Josh and Sara (The Teitelman’s) came to visit us again!  This will be their third visit to Sugar Shack and we are excited to explore Fakarava with them.  They arrived to the little airport after a stop in Los Angeles, a stop in Tahiti, 3 planes and over 24 hours of travel.  We met them in the little airport, gave Sara a beautiful, floral lei, and rushed them back to Sugar Shack before the rain.  Below are some cool shots of the north pass anchorage.

Anchorage in Fakarava

Anchorage in Fakarava

It was late afternoon by the time we got back to Sugar Shack.  We unpacked, had a beer and made a plan for dinner.  Matt and I had not explored Rotoava (the main village) a whole lot but we did have a general idea of where two eateries were located.  We briefly saw a sign for Rotoava Grill and headed that way around 1800. 

There was a light drizzle but not enough to stop us from enjoying a night out.  We took Sweetie into the quay, climbed up the ladder, walked ¼ of a mile to the restaurant.  Only to realize that it was closed.  It does open at 1800. However, it is only open for dinner Thurs-Sat.  Shoot.  Plan B is to head to Le Paillotte off the water.  Back in Sweetie, upwind (against the wind and waves), in the dark, we search for a small dinghy dock.  We had a flashlight and our maps.me app but we could not find it (we found out later it closed a few weeks ago).  Plan C, back to the boat for a tasty chicken and pasta late dinner.

Cooking on Sugar Shack

Cooking on Sugar Shack

Catholic Church at Rotoava

It was raining the next day.  Originally, the forecast showed rain for 3 days in the morning, but it did not look like this would burn off.  We spent the day running in and out of the rain while on shore.  We walked the small village of Rotoava, showed them a local magasin (market), and picked up some fresh pastries and buns for dinner. 

Sara and I visited the local Catholic Church which was made of coral and had a spectacular interior.  What a surprise when you walk through the doors.

Catholic Church

Catholic Church

The inside had a beautiful display of Polynesian culture.  Sea shell strands draped across the ceiling, shell chandeliers, carved dark wood statues, pulpit and stands.  Absolutely stunning.

Wood carvings in Catholic Church

Wood carvings in Catholic Church

It is just a peaceful, bright, cheery place to worship.  It made me comfortable and totally at home.

Catholic Church Interior

Catholic Church Interior

We hung out on the boat, played a few games and put a dent in our beer supply.  The Teitelmana’s brought us Shut the Box and Racko, super fun games.

Hanging on Sugar Shack

Hanging on Sugar Shack

Fakarava South Pass Adventures:

With a weather system coming, we knew we had to head south soon.  However, we were completely out of fresh veggies and fruits.  The supply ship was scheduled to come in a few days, but we had hoped to be out of this anchorage before then.  Slowly, our fellow cruisers around us left and headed south.  About 24 boats were anchored here when we arrived.  By the time we left only 7 remained.

The supply ship finally came.  We watched the unloaded process which was efficient and amusing.  This is the only way the 850 locals get supplies. You see everything including food, drinks, chairs, wheelbarrows, bikes, boats, outboards, building supplies, and more.

Supply Ship day in Fakarava

Hanging on Sugar Shack

Lucky for us, we scored on the fresh goods.  We found lettuce which we had not seen in months.  Red and green cabbage, carrots, apples, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, pears, and celery.  It was a huge score!  We literally were waiting with bags as they put the fresh goods out on the shelves.  We also found this really funny cheese.  Everyone knows “Laughing Cow” but did you know “The Hahaha Cow?”

The ha ha ha Cow

The ha ha ha Cow

Heading to the South Pass

After stowing our goods, we pulled up anchor and were on our way.  It would be a slow motor south as we were in a narrow channel heading into the wind and waves.  We stopped at Pakokota about 10nm down as we could not make the Hirifa anchorage by nightfall.  The Pakokota Yacht Services is located here so we grabbed a mooring and went ashore for a beer.  Truth be told, we also wanted their wifi password. 😉  Some how the Teitelman’s have switched me to beer.  It’s a temporary thing.

Teitelman's enjoying a beer at Pakaokota Yacht Services

Teitelman’s enjoying a beer at Pakaokota Yacht Services

Santa Suzanna Island

The next day we continued to the south pass.  Strong winds were expected to come from the S-SE so we wanted to be behind the reef at the south pass for protection.  Many of the boats who left from Rotoava were down here or at Hirifa.  After dropping the hook, we jetted off to explore a little motu called Santa Suzanna Island.

Santa Suzanna Island

Santa Suzanna Island

It consisted mostly of broken shells and lava rock.  But it had many beautiful, turquoise, pools of water to enjoy. 

Santa Suzanna Island

Santa Suzanna Island

We crossed over to the ocean side and were in awe of the magnitude of the waves.  Of course, the boys went out to the edge of the reef.  The photos below are from the lagoon side of Santa Suzanna Island.

Santa Suzanna Island

Santa Suzanna Island

Back at the boat, we had our friends Steve and Johanna from “Chasing Waterfalls” over for rum tasting.  It was a spirited evening enjoyed by all.  It’s always fun to introduce our friends to the cruising community.  They loved the Teitelman’s – of course!

Josh and Sara Teitelman at Sunset

Josh and Sara Teitelman at Sunset

Coming up next we dive the south pass with the Teitelman’s.