Thursday, April 17, 2008

Land Ho!

Tuesday, April 15, about 8PM Victoria time! We are hove-to behind Fatu Hiva and waiting for daylight to anchor in the bay!
Our first sighting was in the dark at about 2AM. We had good wind all night and were barrelling along at better than 6 knots so we put a reef in and then a second one and eventually furled half the jib as well. Still, Toketie continued at a good 4 knots, as if the momentum of the last 28 days could carry her to the anchorage! The moon had set and slowly the dark mass of the island took shape. The air carried a faintly citrus smell and the feeling was euphoric.
When daylight arrived, we motored the last five miles into Hanavave Bay with towering volcanic hills on both sides and ancient rock formations at the head of the bay. It was everything one could imagine of a landfall in paradise and we were in awe.
About a dozen boats were anchored and several left as we approached. We managed to get the hook down in about 60 feet and by the time we let all 300 feet of chain out we were sitting in 90 feet of water. The breeze funnelled down the valley and blew out to sea. We had read about strong offshore winds in this little shelter so were careful to set the anchor well. The holding was good.
After the usual rounds of boat chores, cleaning and stowing, we had a pot of coffee and launched the dinghy. Later, we shared the celebratory glass of champagne with Brian and Cathy on Tarun, and landed behind a small breakwater on a concrete launching ramp. Someone had organized a dinner at one of the homes. At $25US per person, it was not cheap, but we could not miss the experience. About two dozen cruisers attended and after a short walk through a very clean and orderly village, we all sat
around a makeshift banquet table set out under an open roofed area. Steaming pots of a local chicken dish, poisson cru...a marinated fish dish, breadfruit, cooked bananas, rice, papaya salad and afterwards, huge chunks of the local pamplemousse, like no grapefruit we've ever tasted before! Sweet and juicy! It was a wonderful evening and we talked and laughed and ate. They had said we could bring alcohol if we liked, as it was a dry island and none would be available but other than one lady with
a can of Mexican beer, I did not see anyone drinking. It was a heady enough experience on its own!
Now we have had our first sleep, sort of...the winds really do blow down the valley and out the bay...I woke up at one point to hear them and registered it was blowing 20 knots. But there was no sea running and Toketie bobbed peacefully at the end of her tether!
We are told we can spend 3 days here before having to move on to one of the official islands to report in. The people here are proud and self sufficient and very friendly. They speak French so my language skills are getting a long overdue workout.
Today we plan to hike up the valley to the waterfall and rumour has it someone is baking a cake for tomorrow!! What a wonderful place to spend this milestone.

1 comment:

...................................... said...

Hi Captain, its Friday, April 18, 2008. Glad to hear you have made it safe and sound accross the seas.
David and I want to WISH YOU A GREAT BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAPTAIN. Enjoy your day. We think of you both often (and fondly of course) and are happy for you exploring the seas.

Love David and Deb