Big News from us... We have made landfall!!! We are now safely anchored in Taahuku Bay on the South side of Hiva Oa (lat 09 degrees 48 min S Lon 139 degrees 02 min W) and have contacted our Pacific Yacht Service person (Sandra)on VHF who is so helpful (she even is getting our laundry done for us!). Monday morning we meet her at the dinghy dock at 7:30 am and she will take us to the Gendarmerie in Atuona for our official entry paperwork and money paying. In most countries one must not leave one's boat if one has not done the official customs etc. paperwork... not here... even though we are flying the yellow quarantine burgee (which we must do until all paper work is done) we are allowed to go ashore...
Let me back up a bit though, before I talk about our first step on solid land. The whole night sailing on our approach to Hiva Oa was the wildest night with rain storm after rain storm (not just little squalls) and winds of 20-25 knots and seas of 2-3 metres... both of us had to be on close watch 3hours at a time. When daylight finally came Bill was on watch and we should have been able to see it but all there was were clouds... and then he saw a bit of land and he won the prize... first one to see land gets an extra beer when we get to the village. After the initial excitement of seeing land and watching in awe as the clouds lifted we could see more and more of the tall sentinels of peaks of the tropical island that we were approaching. We still had a few hours of difficult sailing beating against the wind with huge waves and big winds... and we did it! We sailed along the coast of the island with Stan Rogers playing full blast and Bill dancing in the cockpit (it's tricky avoiding those stamping feet in such close quarters!). At the entrance of the outer bay we had to drop the sails and turn on the motor... not a small task with the huge waves breaking across our bow... so with Bill out on the bow taking down the storm staysail I was on the tiller manouvering through those waves and then Bill yells back to me to fall off (that doesn't mean to fall of the boat!! It means to head downwind) and then turn on the motor and head into the bay. Yeah right!! Not in those waves!! I was scared stiff so I pretended I didn't hear him and waited until he got back to the safety of the cockpit and then we both worked the tiller and the turning on the motor... and that wasn't the end of it! As we came into the little bay and motored around the boats already anchored there one of the guys on a big catamaran yelled over to us that he had lost two anchors on a wreck that was nearby. We then carefully dropped our anchor in the fairly rolly water and then set a stern anchor wo we wouldn't swing into anyone else in such close quarters. Despite all of our care we have had to move a couple of times and reset the anchors and the result of that is that our stern anchor is now a permanent mooring buoy in this little bay - a gift from us to the island!
OK enough of sailing stuff... I know you are dying to know what our first step on land was like... well, first Bill took the dinghy over to the dinghy dock so that Sandra's husband could pick up our laundry and Bill checked out what was there... we could see a few buildings near the dock. He came back saying that there were showers and we should go and have a shower and then head off for the village of Atuona a couple of kilometres away. I was very reluctant to leave the boat saying oh why the rush - why don't we wait and go tomorrow - very weird... for some strange reason I did not want to leave the boat!! After some sweet talk Bill persuaded me to get in the dinghy and at least come and have a shower so off we headed for my first step on land. As I jumped out of the dinghy to help drag it up the dock I felt the land moving! Yes, the land was rolling and I was having to hang onto Bill to keep myself steady. Unbelievable! Anyway I got a bit steadier on my feet and we headed for the showers... they turned out to be a line of holes along a rusty horizontal pipe about 10 feet high and one turns all of them on and stands on a very nice concrete floor and lets the water stream down. All of this was just on the side of the mud and gravel dock where we dragged our dinghy out of the water. It was very primitive but felt like heaven with the endless supply of cool fresh water flowing over me as I soaped and shampooed my body and hair (wearing a bathing suit). Once I finished showering Bill was turning off the tap as I stepped down off the platform (about a six inch step)... and the world tipped just at that moment and I fell right over, full freshly showered body, right into the muddy road... Bill watched the whole thing in speechless shock as I lay there in the mud. His first thought was thank goodness it was not his fault and secondly that it looked like I was OK just really muddy and helpless so he raced over and helped me up for my second shower of the day (during which I hung onto Bill as the world finished rocking and rolling). We both still laugh about that and I know we will always have a giggle about that scene of me wallowing in the mud as helpless as a tipped over turtle!
On Tues, July 12 we left Hiva Oa and had one of the most beautiful day of sailing of our lives! Despite us having to beat windward it was fabulous and we spent the day luxuriating in a brisk breeze clear blue skies, warm sun on our bare backs and our destination of Fatu Hiva (the most southerly of the Marquesas Islands on the horizon). We arrived at the island of Fatu Hiva in the Bay of Havivave (Ha-vi-va-vay) or the Bay of Virgins (named by the Catholic Priests of long ago) or more correctly The Bay of Penises - because of the uniquely shaped spires surrounding the bay (Yes!!) purported to be the most beautiful bay in the world... and we heartlily agree!! We are in the most beautiful place and in the world!! Today is Bastille Day (July 14th) and hence huge celebrations all over French Polynesian, and one of the best with traditional dancing and food will be here - and even better is that we will be the only white faces at the party!! Yes, both boats that are here with us have to leave to check in with the Gendarmes at Hiva Oa today and will miss the celebrations here with us... what an experience for us.
I will stop now as I know you have all been wondering what we have been doing!! It is hard to find time to send off these notes but I will try to do it as often as possible (still haven't been able to get internet to send photos... will still try).
from Cath and Bill in Tropical Paradise of Fatu Hiva