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Saturday evening in Anaho Bay

It’s a fine fine evening here in beautiful downtown Anaho Bay. Wind is down, squall activity has been sufficient to rinse the deck and our snorkeling gear, and the sun plentiful enough to dry out the morning laundry of pillow cases. It was a darn quiet day for us, I did not sleep all that well last night so I spent a fair bit of the morning sleeping, and Kristen has been working on her pictures with her laptop.

There is a building marked as a church, set back beneath the palm trees and sandy beach – and there has been singing coming from that building for most of the day. I am convinced that it must be a recording being played, unless the person singing can belt it out like nobody’s business! The building is quiet now. There are roughly a dozen structures in the bay, and we’ve worked out that the fellows go off with three horses in the morning, return with all three horses loaded with big white bags (coconuts, most likely), the horses are walked out into the water to the waiting runabout boat, bags loaded into boat, and off four fellows drove in the boat; they were gone for about an hour. Perhaps they are making copra?

Went for our best snorkel here so far, straight off the boat and swam a ways towards the fringing rock reef. Lots of corals, sandy patches in between, and loads of reef fish. We’ve been told by several people that we should NOT each the reef fish due to ciguaterra poisoning; my understanding is that ciguaterra is an algae that blooms on the corals, it’s poisonous, the fish ingest it when they eat algae on the corals, and the fish simply accumulate it over time. Doesn’t kill the fish, but it’s not good for people. Not a problem for us as we have no interest in killing and eating reef fish – we were here for looking at them!

And tonight on the radio net listened in to a hilarious conversation between a Scotsman on one boat and not sure of the other boat’s provenance, and the key take away is there are 9 boats hunkered down in Tahanea waiting for the strong winds to blow through, that many boats must be record setting, and the Scotsman would head over to Fakarava to re-provision when they ran out of whatever they ran out first – propane, food, dinghy fuel, they were bound to run out of something and then would have to shift atolls to hit the town. I like that attitude – we’re here until we need to shift over to somewhere else, with no set time at all.

Mayaluga is under way from Taiohae – their engine head has arrived, been installed, and they are on the road again. I heard they had been in Taiohae for 5 weeks waiting for their parts. And Coastal Drifter is in Taiohae, planning to sail south through more of the Marquesas next week.

I checked Tiger Beetle in to the net, and was reminded once again of the nice anchorage here when the Net Controller said, “Yes – you’re in the best bay in the Marquesas, you should enjoy it!”

Dinner here is finished, we have a crescent moon tonight (there’s been no moon until tonight), a bit of squally rain coming by and rinsing the boat again, we’ve been enjoying the evening and will figure out what we’d like to do tomorrow. Thoughts are to do a dinghy tour of the bay, and later put on the dinghy wheels run the dinghy in through the boat channel through the reef to the beach and go for a bit of a walk.

Enjoy the evening!

– rob

Breakfast with the Manta Rays

Woke up this morning, calmly at anchor in Anaho Bay. The SE trades have shifted south, leaving a day of cloud cover that was quite appreciated as we didn’t have the heat that would come from full-on direct sun. While standing out on the deck in the morning I noticed a series of manta rays slowly swimming about at the surface, mouths agape, and it’s easy to see when they turn as suddenly the brown back turns into a bright white flash as they turn and show their underside.

I put on my mask, snorkel, fins, and hopped in with the camera to see if I could get a picture. The mantas stayed put, and I slowly edged their way – the mantas in Taiohae didn’t seem at all to like something large suddenly appearing. These guys didn’t seem to mind me so much, and I was able to get a half-dozen photos of them – very fun to watch in the water. The water itself is thick with suspended stuff, not at all crystal clear, and that’s probably why the mantas are here – lots of good stuff to eat for breakfast, all they have to do is drive about with their mouths wide open.

Later on Sula called over on the VHF – they were on their way to Daniel’s Cove, and thence to Taiohae so the sister could catch a flight home. Sula mentioned a large set of mantas in their part of the cove, up against a rock wall.

Kristen decided we needed crepes, only we didn’t have most of the crepe fixings… so Kristen used pancake batter, honey for sugar, extra butter and milk as any good French chef would have done and voila! Crepes. With sauteed banana slices in Meyers Rum and honey, and Noikao chocolate (think Nutella). Quite tasty.

With the wind gone in the bay the swell became more noticeable, and low rolling swell is something we would prefer not to have, if we have the choice. Given there was no need to be where we had anchored (which was to minimize wind chop), we shifted anchor to the western edge of the bay and dropped in behind the hook of land that juts out. The game is to look out towards the outside eastern point, and when the interior west point blocks the view, that’s where you drop the anchor. Now you have two bits of land blocking the waves, with no direct wave access to the boat. Flat Beetle again.

Then Azure II, the big power cat, appeared, he radioed over to ask how we liked the bay, we said it was very nice, they popped in and dropped the hook a bit further out – the captain pointed out he didn’t want to drop his hook right next to us as they would be running a generator for the evening.

We launched our dinghy and grabbed our snorkel gear and went back across to look for more mantas – and found them! I hopped in and got some more pictures, then it was Kristen’s turn – she went swimming with them and she quite liked them, despite their large size. And then a bit more snorkeling at the point on the western side of the bay, and I discovered that all the little floppy hoppy wormy things hanging out on the rocks with the crabs – are fish! They look like 1-3″ long little eels or blennies, and were all over the rocks that were getting splashed with water. They didn’t like the dinghy approaching, and dozens of them would flip along the rock to move to a place further from the dinghy. Very interesting – a fish that likes being out of the water on the rocks! Still not sure what kind of fish these guys were. There were quite dark, had large eyes facing up and forward, and seems to like to sit on the rock face with their pectoral fin pressed down underneath acting like arms to hold them in place.

Now it’s evening, we’re listening to the PolyMag Net, heard Cinnabar on the net this morning – they are in Raiatea and preparing to move out to a nearby anchorage.

That’s the news from here; it’s been a peaceful anchorage for the day, hopefully that continues through the night.

– rob

A run around the island, and Anaho Bay is particularly nice

This evening finds Beetle happily anchored in Anaho Bay, in the SE corner, right where the low saddle lets wind in across the bay. The result is minimal fetch therefore minimal waves, and we have a very nice fan blowing courtesy of the SE Trade Winds. Getting here was not so easy or pleasant…

We departed Daniel’s Bay as soon as we were ready, put up the main to the second reef point, and motored out into the trades. As previously, the river outfall kicked up a fairly nasty chop where the outfall crashed into the prevailing tradewind swell plus reflecting wave energy from the rocky coastline – bang bang bang! Breeze was 18 gusting 22 from the SE, we bore off as soon as we felt clear of the island and headed off to the western side of Nuku Hiva. The plan was to run the 13 miles around to Haahopu cove and spend an evening or two there, a place that friends Sylvia and Tom on Cinnabar had visited last year and quite liked, reporting a very calm anchorage.

Rounding the various headlands took a bit, and we finally got clear of the swell and wind about half way to Haahopu, at which point we were joined by a cadre of dolphins. Despite our rather slow speed (3-5 knots) they stayed with us for half an hour or longer. Lots of fun to watch, especially when they would swim slowly directly under the bow then rise up to breath – you could look straight down the blowhole and see the musculature of how it worked. You also got sprayed with dolphin breath, which is certainly more pleasant than whale breath. Fun playful animals.

Haahopu, when we arrived, is a very narrow cleft into the cliffs, there’s a landing on the N side, a reef on the S side (three manta rays were hanging out there on the reef), a good 3′ surf was running, and I decided this did not look all that promising as a calm anchorage for the evening, particularly as the wind at 10 knots was pushing in directly towards the beach. However, it’s only an additional 14 miles to Anaho – and that’s supposed to be very nice. Off we went, powering along with a bit more alacrity than before, to be sure we would be at Anaho well before dark.

The tradewinds had other ideas about how quickly we would arrive. Coming around one point we could see the swell building, then the white caps, and then BAM 18-22 knot trades, gusting higher, right on the nose. We tucked in the third reef on the main and were quite happy that the boat was completely battened down – we were bashing along at 6 knots into an 8 foot swell with 3 foot chop on top of it. At least the water was warm, as was the wind. Kinda like a Farallones race, only a lot warmer!

It took several long tacks to get to the point at the W end of Anaho entry. Sail too far offshore and the swell built significantly, go in too close and you’re in the area of ‘Zone non-hydrographie’, so we kept our depth to a minimum of 150′ and would tack out when we got that close. When the wind and swell built too much, we’d flop and tack back in.

Several hours later we entered Anaho, swell died off to very little and then nothing, the wind was blowing nicely, and there’s one other boat here: 13m sailboat Sula (as per AIS). This place reminds me a lot of Drakes Bay – large, open, windy, only it’s super warm. The wind generator is kicking out power wonderfully so no need to further run the engine tonight to keep batteries up – they are doing nicely under wind generator. Given the anchorage with no fetch, there’s no chop, so the boat is riding quietly at anchor.

So that’s the scoop on the day. A delightful sail around Haahopu, a not particularly pleasant bang into the trades to Anaho, and a fine anchorage here. Plus lots of dolphins, caught one fish but sent it back as being too small and not necessarily the eating variety, a couple of manta rays, and a idiot Booby Bird that liked the look of the trolling lure (I pulled the line out of the water after the booby made several attempts to dive and get the lure).

Plan for tomorrow is dinghy launched, hopefully snorkeling on the reef, and most importantly – a good night’s sleep on board Beetle tonight!

– rob

A dasy Daniel’s Bay

Daniel’s Bay has been an interesting place, and definitely brings to the fore how rugged this island is. We did get to shore, no further than the beach, and back to the boat – that was sufficient for us.

The geology here is entirely lava, which I understand means basalt (sp?) rock, the stuff is literally everywhere. On top of this rock is a layer some feet thick of organic material, most likely from dead vegetation. The plant growth is prolific, the grass is hearty (and hard), the trees form a somewhat impenetrable thicket up from the beach. Given the geologic youth of the place, most things are fairly vertical – no landing in those places. At the head of Daniel’s Bay (the little cove to the right as you come in) is a 10 foot wide strip of sand onto which one can land the dinghy; overshoot the sand and you’re into the forest. Zillions of little sand crabs shoot about on the beach – they must really like the beach.

The cove is at the foot of a photogenic small valley that rises up to ridges that may top out at perhaps a 1000′ – so not little hills to go over. Traffic to town (Taihoe) is by boat, not by land. Daniel’s house (even though he has been deceased some two years, someone is living there) is there, but nobody was present when I walked up to announce our presence in their front yard. They (or he or she) has a well-arranged garden off the front porch, lots of flowers and different things growing, presumably most (if not all) of it edible. Coconuts rolling in the waves on the beach, several coconut trees right there on the waterfront (do not walk under them in case a coconut should decide to depart the tree), and a set of clothes drying under the porch roof. No people.

Earlier the little tourist boat had come into the bay, the skipper and two folks with cameras. The boat dropped folks off and then moved out to a small mooring – the driver swam back to beach and they headed off.

As we walked back to our dinghy the group came out from the hike around to the other bay, and we met Taki and Kua, they were helping to bring back back the two fellow’s gear. Taki came over and he was fun to talk with, he has English and German and likes American and Australian and New Zealand and several other languages and people. We learned a little about the bay, do not take your dinghy up the river on the other side to the other house, is dangerous. It’s a good walk around the shore to the other bay, you don’t seem to go over the hill but rather around on the shore rocks. And he and Kua are on their way to Taiohae for the night (they have a ride on the tour boat). And off they went!

We’re the only boat here tonight, which is kind of fun – we have the place to ourselves. It’s still bouncy, rainy with lots of squall activity, and the small (baby?) goats are calling for other goats on the nearby hillside. Pasta is getting ready for dinner, and we’re getting Beetle ready to roll out in the morning.

Enjoy the evening!

– rob

Daniel’s Cove for Beetle

It’s Tuesday evening and we decided go get out of Dodge (Taiohae Bay) and do a run around the island. Our planned stops are Anaho Bay on NE corner of the island, Haahopu Bay on the East coast, and Daniel’s Bay to the South (right around from Taiohae).

The morning started with the desire to obtain baguettes, which we were out of. Sometimes the blue awning store has baguettes on Tuesday, but not this Tuesday. As we were preparing to head to shore we noticed the incoming gigantic cruise ship appear on the horizon – egad! scurry to town before the place is overrun… and more than a few cruisers had the same idea as various dinghies zipped in to the shore. We tied up at the quay, walked to the store (no baguettes – come back tomorrow (Wednesday)), and on the way back noticed large numbers of 4WD pick up trucks lined up at the quay, all with different numbers on them in big black letters. Seems the locals are providing land excursions to cruise ship folk that wanted to see a bit of Nukuk Hiva, four to a car. There were LOTS of cars there. Impressive to see the locals turn out to help with the cruise ship arrival.

Given that we finished our food shop yesterday, we were baguette-less this morning, and we’d beaten the rush to shore, it seemed fitting that we should peruse the two artist collectives that maintain sets of rather well done wood carvings, all for sale, in the two shops at the foot of the quay. Kristen found a nice Manta Ray and a Tiki, all polished and made from the dark local wood. Then off to Beetle. It took another two hours to put the boat into ready-for-sea form, and off we headed to see the island.

Being an island we can travel in either direction and eventually we’ll see all of it. We figured if we can bonk East against the trades the six miles to turn the South Eastern corner at Cap Martin it might then be a nice sail around to Anaho. So off we set, and the trades became progressively stronger and swell higher the further east we got, until the boat speed was simply insufficient to make it around to Anaho before dark. Plan B! – off to Daniel’s, where I’ve been once so I have a clue what I am doing (and a navigational track to follow), and we got there quickly. Conditions are lumpy bumpy offshore, a six foot swell running, 16-22 knots wind, and big grey clouds. Looks like we’re having another trough going by today/tonight, it’s been raining off & on most of the day as the clouds trundle on by.

Going into Daniel’s was straight forward, and there were only two boats inside when we arrived: the 90′ power cat Azure II and a Swan sailboat. Azure II left shortly after we arrived, leaving just the two boats in Daniel’s. Kristen spotted a manta ray that swam by the boat, he or she did a couple of turns right next to us and it was fun to watch the ray. Conditions in the bay are lower than in Taiohae, but not what I could call ‘calm’ – lots of reflected wave energy bouncing around in here, so we still need to be careful when walking around the boat in order to make sure our feet get on the deck in the right place before shifting weight to that foot, otherwise it’s simply too easy to get thrown.

Plan for tomorrow is to launch the dinghy and go exploring. There’s a river mount in the adjacent bay, that’s the start of the hike up to the falls. My understanding is there has been a large rock fall part way up, and I haven’t heard of anyone going up to the falls yet. But people have said it was an interesting hike, best description was ‘something out of Jurassic Park’. And don’t forget to spray lots of DEET insect repellant, wear long pants and shirt, have a hat, water, and good shoes.

Dinner has concluded here, Kristen is reviewing the images she got today, we’ve got our clothes up drying on the indoor clothes line (which is kind of interesting, Beetle has dried lots of clothing on the lifelines, it’s a new thing to have the clothes line strung through the cabin!), and we’re considering watching a movie tonight.

Enjoy the evening!

– rob

Monday night dinner party on board Beetle

Well, it might not have been a proper ‘dinner party’, but we did invite over Mayaluga and Cape D to Beetle for drinks and Talk Story. That said, the big talk story was the Beneteau 46 Librerte coming in to the bay from Hiva Oa, they had no motor, and were running deeper and deeper in no wind into a place they had not been before, without a radar that worked and with charts (Navionics) they did not trust, heading towards a really big rock called Nuku Hiva. Yacht Services (Kevin) had sent out a 21 foot Boston Whaler with a 150HP outboard to bring them in, and Liberte started to think they were really close when in fact they were still 5 miles out. It took a bit of cajoling over the radio to convince them that coming in through the Sentinels was a good idea, and that’s when the whaler would side tie and drive them in. They are anchored now, all is well that ends well.

The big news of the day for Beetle was doing the food shop for a 10 day excursion around the island. We hired Wendy, Kevin’s house manager, to bring her truck and drive us to four different markets (‘magasins’) and we got all of our food done in one fell swoop, took 45 minutes, and suddenly we had our food stuffs in the dinghy and ran them boxes out to Beetle. Upshot is we’re ready to roll in the morning, should we wish to do so.

Our thinking is to hit some anchorages on the island in a counter clockwise manner, including Anaho and Daniel’s, and there’s a named cove on the west side that Cinnabar said was really good, and while Kristen and I know where it is, we can’t remember the name. So we’re hoping to go there as well.

A thing I learned today is that in the Polynesian culture it is helpful to have a girl to stay at home and take care of everything, and if your family only has boys then you’re likely to designate one boy to take on the girl role. That might explain the interesting men we met at the markets, the fruit stand, and Pearl Lodge – all dressed as women, super nice people, and taking on the female role in this society. A bit odd, but I must believe it works for them.

And now it’s black outside, dinghy is on the foredeck, Kristen is thinking that we need fresh baguettes and then we can roll. We shall find out if baguettes are on for tomorrow, as the cruise ship (and supply ship) also appears tomorrow.

Time for a bit of food, and then it’s lights out on board Beetle.

Good night!

– rob

A lazy Sunday on Beetle

Today was especially nice, we did some boat chores in the morning (launch dinghy, put up boat bimini/cover, turn laundry that is hanging on the laundry line below-decks, clean decks a bit more to make up for the lack of Jack being here), went to shore in the afternoon (store run, soda, beer, cous cous, a couple other things), and ran into Coastal Drifter on the way back out to Beetle. Deb & Phil were about to make lunch, so we were invited aboard for lunch and we hung out with them for several hours through the afternoon – lots of good Talk Story there.

And now it’s dark and Kristen & I are back on Beetle, she is contemplating the brown rice, I am looking at Turkey Franks we got at the store. It’s black outside, we have fabulous stars, Kristen spotted a satellite whizzing by on its way east.

One fun thing we saw today are the little black-tip reef sharks here in Taihohae Bay. Beetle now has a resident school of little fishes that think it is a great idea to hang out in the shade of the hull; the little reef sharks think this is good, too – as they can find the fishes now that they are all assembled in one place. It was fun to see the little sharks chasing along under the the little fishes; the black tips are maybe 18″ long? One thing I am told you have to learn about snorkeling out here is you have to learn to love your black tips.

Elsewise all is good. Kristen and I are making plans for the coming week; current thinking is to travel counter-clockwise ’round Nuku Hiva. Interesting places to go look to be: Anaho Bay (practice anchoring in coral, good snorkeling, lots of sand), Haahopu for some calm water (as reported by Cinnabar the previous year), and Daniel’s Bay. Kimi on Slow Flight reported that the snorkeling was spectacuylar with manta rays in Anaho, and I was in Daniel’s Bay last week (for a night) and it was certainly is a more pleasant anchorage than it is here in Taihohae.

Upshot is all is well in the world. And on the 23rd (Tuesday) a cruise ship is due in with Mayaluga’s boat parts (think ‘engine head’), and apparently 1000 people are going to descend upon the town from that ship. Kevin said it’s quite the thing go watch when it happens…

– rob