Moving On

3am Tuesday 3rd May 2016


Goodbye to Marquesas

It was with a twinge of sadness we said a final farewell to the Marquesas. Impressing us to the end, the dramatic scenery continued as we sailed past the final island, Oa Pou, with its 3000ft spires of rock thrusting up into the sky it made a magnificent sight on the horizon. The Marquesas has to be one of the most visually stunning places we have ever been to, add to that the friendly cheerful people, the cleanliness and order of the towns and villages and the incredible flora and fauna and the rest of the Pacific has a lot to live up to.

Friday we finally left Anaho bay and returned to the main town Taiohae to stock up the cupboards, top up the petrol in the dingy tank and connect to the Internet. The plan was to leave Nuku Hiva early Monday morning, hopefully catching the promise of wind to take us the 520nm to Tuamotu.There was quite a bit of swell in the bay making the anchorage rolly and uncomfortable so we set to getting everything done as quickly as possible so we could move one bay down to Anse Hakatea or Daniels bay which looked more protected for our final couple of days.

The town dingy dock was full, we pushed ourselves between the crowds of other boats to reach the vertical ladder that takes us up the 6ft of concrete above us and the only way ashore. The supply boat had not been for a couple of weeks so the shelves at the shops were quite bare but our expectations are lower now and we felt happy with our purchases. To escape the rolling in the evening we went back ashore to the only restaurant in town, a pizza place, so used am I to spending evenings on one boat or another, as we approached the dock Rick noticed I wasn’t wearing shoes, to return to Raya would be bouncy and difficult, so in true Polynesian style I went to dinner barefoot.

We were up at six the next morning to see what we could find at the market and then went over to the fuel dock. Flush with tomatoes, Marquesian grapefruits, bananas and baguettes we set off. It was yet another beautiful and dramatic location, on one side of the bay the wall of rock rose vertically thousand of feet straight up from the sea. There was another pretty beach and the guide book tells us a 2-3 hr walk up the valley would bring us to a waterfall – the third highest in the world. Hot and tired from our busy few days we decided trekking could wait until tomorrow, turned on the AC and relaxed below.

Sunday morning however, found us fighting off a swarm of tiny flies, they were everywhere, in our breakfast, up our noses, covering every surface. Time to leave we decided, so instead of going ashore we readied the boat for departure. A manta ray with a 6ft wing span cruised by a few feet away to wish us farewell and by 10.30 the anchor was up.

It is now 3am on our second night at sea, clouds are building low in the sky making it difficult to identify the horizon, I assume that if another boat appears it lights will be obvious in the blackness. We have seen nothing since leaving Nuku Hiva. We are trying out four hour watches tonight, more difficult for the person on watch but a larger lump of sleep in between might help keep us more rested.

We have had some great sailing with the wind just behind the beam in calm seas. At present we are doing between 7 and 8 kts in sixteen or so kts of wind but with the occasional gust in the middle twenties we have reefed the Genoa. Jupiter our constant bright companion since we entered the Pacific is setting to the west, the moon a wafer thin slither of light is about to rise in the east.

For the past week we have been gathering information and discussing with other cruisers the best time to enter the passes of the coral atolls. The atolls are rings of coral, on top of some areas are sandy islands but mostly the coral barely rises above sea level. Occasionally there is a break in the coral big enough for a boat to pass through. Most of the water that enters into the lagoon also comes in and out of these passes so it is important to go through them at slack tide. We are trying to time our arrival at Kaueli atoll, our first landfall, to between 9 and 11 am on Wednesday morning. With light winds forecast it is going to be touch and go.

Baie d’Anaho

Thursday 28th April

We are finding it hard to drag ourselves away from Anaho Bay, it is calm, peaceful and secure, we are tempted to stay forever.

It has good snorkelling, stunning scenery and a great beach, there has never been more than four boats anchored and most of them are our friends. What more could we want? Well, food, rubbish disposal, a telephone and Internet signal etc….. We can’t put off our departure much longer.

The beach is edged by a reef, so you have to take the dingy in via a pass marked by buoys. The reef is too shallow for swimming but the mile long arch of sand makes for a great walk. As you stroll along the views are fantastic in all directions, out to sea are the yachts gently swaying at anchor in the turquoise water, inland, towering above you, are the striking rugged mountains and through the trees the criss-cross of palm tree trunks and the bright colours of the hibiscus flowers. Coconuts, shells and bits of coral are strewn over the soft sand, large tree roots block your path and small crabs scatter in front of your footsteps.

The village is just a smattering of houses, the ubiquitous Catholic church and a building with some construction going on that was apparently once a restaurant. We can’t imagine there ever being enough people to make it worth while, there are only two ways into the bay, by sea via the pass to the beach and a rough track across the hills to the next bay about two miles away.

We have been taking advantage of the calm water to catch up on some jobs. We have scrubbed the waterline, the hull coolers for the refrigeration systems and all the water inlets, again, the green weed grows faster than we can scrape it off. All the raw water filters have been checked, they filter the sea water that is used to cool the fresh water that runs through the pumps, we have six, one for each air conditioning unit, one for the water maker and one each for the generator and engine. We have cleaned the lazerette and its contents and hoovered through below decks and Rick has fashioned a wind scoop for our cabin hatch from the clew of the ripped cruising shute. 


A second life for the clew of the ripped cruising shute

We have also found plenty of time to relax and read and have discovered a really good snorkelling spot. It takes a while to find a patch of sand amongst the coral to drop the dingy anchor, as you carefully weave between the coral heads that protrude almost to the surface, but once you do the dingy holds fast. The heads are covered in a white coral that make them look much like they have been topped with thick icing, in fact it is rather like swimming through Disney’s idea of a winter wonderland with mountains, spires and turrets covered in snow. There are plenty of fish too, unfortunately I have yet to get a Pacific Fish Field Guide so they are all very pretty but new to us and so as yet mostly unidentified.

There are, of course, a few draw backs to paradise, along with the fast growing hull weed, the Marquesas if full of biting insects. We are plagued by a large bright yellow wasp, everybody is getting stung. One got inside Rick’s T shirt yesterday giving him a particularly painful sting on his stomach and on the finger he used to swoosh it away. I am covered from head to toe in small itchy bites either from the billions of ants or the tiny No-No midges that fill the air and the sand on the beach.

Still, I think we can bear the pain and stay just one more day.

Wine, worms and waterfalls

Monday 25th April

Today we have woken to clear blue skies and a bit of a hangover. We are anchored in what is described in Charlie’s Charts – a guide to anchorages in the Pacific – as the calmest bay in the Marquesas. Baie D’Ahona is narrow and indented about a mile into the northern coast, we are tucked into a cove at its furthest end that is completely protected by a headland from the ocean outside. We are surrounded on all sides by jagged steep mountains, on the shore is a beach of yellow sand, topped by palms and hibiscus trees, a typical Marquesian landscape in fact. A ghost of a moon is setting in the west, the morning sun is already feeling hot.


Entering Anaho Bay

Last night, and the reason for the hangover,  Bob and Heather from Crazy Daisy who had sailed up to this bay with us and Scott and Tracy an Australian couple from their Catamaran Yolata who we have been bumping into ever since our arrival in Marquesas, came over  for a sundowner onboard Raya. Bob had spent most of yesterday with his head inside the seat where our freezer compressors are, trying to coax some life into them. He seems to be an expert on all the systems on the boat and we now have one compressor slowly cooling the freezer back down. We managed to repay him, in part, with an oval hinge that had cracked on his freezer that had made it rather dangerous to open. We are finding that cruisers are very generous with their time, expertise and spares.

We had the stern light shining on the swim deck to help people in and out of their dingies, with three dingies bobbing out the back Raya resembled mother duck with her brood of ducklings. When it was time for everyone to leave, gathered in the pool of light off the back of the boat was not just ducklings but a form of life that we had never seen before. Tens of wiggling, huge flattened worm like things, 6-8 inches long and about an inch across they had red and white stripes with sucker type legs. Everybody entered their dingies with extreme care and strangely nobody has gone in for a morning swim yet today.

Friday night, the night before we left Taiohae Bay we had monsoon levels of rain. The guys from Toothless were full of a plan to get up at 4am to track down the rumour of fresh vegetables, a rarity in Marquesas, at an early Saturday morning market stall. Chris persuaded me to join him – it’s all part of experience of being here, he encouraged – but we agreed if it was raining we would leave it. My alarm woke me to the sound of torrential rain crashing down on the deck above us, I got dressed but with no let up in the downpour I retreated back to bed. Chris did go ashore an hour or so later and kindly picked up some stuff for us as well, hooray we have tomatoes!

The rain had had a dramatic effect on the bay, muddy water flooded out from the rivers turning the water brown and carrying flotsam far out to sea . As we returned to the boat armed with fresh baguettes we had to weave the dingy around the coconuts and branches that threatened our outboard. The mountains above us were streaked with a dozen waterfalls, thousands of gallons of water cascading off the the peaks. 


Water cascading down the hillsides

To complete the scene, onshore, a crowd had gathered under marquees above the beach to watch the inter island school canoe regatta,  indifferent to the conditions the boys battled hard in a series of races encouraged by the loud cheers from the crowd. Music came from the community hall behind them and women were setting up stalls of food. 

We considered staying another day to join in the fun but our water tanks were nearly empty and we didn’t fancy making water from the now murky bay and we were keen to swim and explore somewhere new, so we set sail in search of cleaner, calmer waters. We sailed out of the bay straight into choppy seas, the wind was good but right on the nose, we motor sailed uncomfortably to the north of the island, wondering if we had made a mistake. 

We haven’t, in Anaho Bay we are still, the water is clean and the view spectacular. And hopefully the wormy creatures of the night before have returned to the depths from which they came.

The Sacred Banyan Tree


The Banyan tree was gigantic, a magnificent one hundred and fifty feet high and forty feet in diameter, the aerial prop roots are so numerous and thick that nobody can find the original trunk but it is estimated to be about six hundred years old. These trees were sacred to the Polynesian people and as with this one were frequently planted near the high priests platform at the highest point of the ritual gathering places. A couple of years ago, during the dry season, one of these huge trees burnt down revealing hundreds of skulls concealed within its tangle of prop roots. It is thought that the head of a person was considered the centre of the body and resting place of the soul, the heads of the enemy were prized bounty (and supper) and when a chief or priest died their head was placed in the sacred Banyan tree to help facilitate their souls reaching the spirit world.


As we walked, crunching below our feet were nuts that when boiled produce the blue black ink that was used for tattooing, rocks can frequently be found with hollows that have been created as ink wells and fragments of sharpened bone and shell have been discovered that acted as the needles. Everyone within the tribe was extensively tattooed it seems to have been a way of story telling and recording ones personal history and achievements.

Then above our heads, high in the canopy, we were treated to a view of the endangered Upe, a large type of dark pigeon that survives only on Nuku Hiva, there is thought to be only about two hundred individuals left on the island, so a rare sight indeed.

The architectural site near Hatiheu Bay is immense and has been partly restored  so local people can again gather for festivals of song and dance and to encourage the current Marquesians to rediscover their ancient culture which was almost completely crushed in the 19C by catholic missionaries. The Marquesians are still 80% Catholic but now in more enlightened times the language is taught in school and traditional crafts, dance and music are being revived.

We discussed with our guide Richard, the future of his country, he said there is a lot of strong feelings as to which direction the country should take – more or less autonomy from French Polynesia, modernisation and increased tourism or an inward looking return to parts of their old culture. At present they are economically dependent on France, the young are leaving through lack of employment opportunities and their subsistence life style is under threat from the desire for a more modern western existence. He would like his children to beable to have a future in their homeland, his hope is that the Marquesas can learn the lessons of other small communities in the world that have tried to balance the old with the new and that they can successfully modernise and attract the tourist industry without losing the uniqueness of this incredible place.

Nuku Hiva is slightly more tamed than Hiva Oa and Fatu Hiva, there are more paved roads and large coconut plantations but still the landscape is mountainous and dramatic and the views as we wound around the steep, tight hairpin bends were remarkable.  

View of Hatiheu bay

We had been invited on the tour by Bob and Heather. When we arrived in Taiohae Bay unusually there was another Oyster 56 anchored, Crazy Daisy, we popped over to say hello and they invited us aboard. This is their second time through the Pacific and they have had Crazy Daisy for ten years, Bob knows his boat inside out. We had a pleasant evening together talking Oysters and South Pacific islands and agreed to help each other refuel, at yet another Marquesian dodgy dock, the next day. It was good for us to do this tricky manoeuvre on somebody else’s boat first and after a hot, high stressed couple of hour all tanks were full. Well almost, the fuel gauge was across the dock so couldn’t be monitored, an airlock formed in the hose as we were filling and so we thought we were full when we in fact still had a few hundred litres to go. Still better an airlock than what happened to the unfortunate boat yesterday whose fuel pipe leaked and filled thier bilges with diesel as they innocently continued to top up from the deck.

We should have plenty of fuel to keep us going, we plan to spend another week or so exploring Marquesas then we will be swapping these dramatic volcanic islands for the low lying coral atolls of the Tuamoto Archipelago.

Bay of Virgins

Sunday 17th April

We have just finished the first one night sail we have done for a long time and we are both shattered. The problem with a single night sail is that it takes time to get into the rhythm of the watch system, we both had a sleepless night. We have arrived in Taiohae the main town on the island of Nuku Hiva and the administrative centre of Marquesas. There is promise of minimarts, restaurants and fuel. The anchorage seems calm so we plan to stay a few days, sleep and get a bit sorted out. 

We have spent the last five days anchored in the Baie Hanavave or Bay of Virgins as it is commonly known, on the most southerly island of the group, Fatu Hiva. The bay is surrounded by dramatic columns of rock, it is startlingly beautiful. The water is clean, clear and dark blue over the black volcanic sand and when you look below the surface it as if you are swimming in a huge pot of transparent royal blue ink.


There is again a small village that straggles up the hillside away from the dock. There is a church, a school and a small shop. However the shop has little to sell, the supply ship we are assured will be in on Friday, come back then we are told. It doesn’t really matter with just the two of us onboard we don’t eat much and we have plenty of staples tucked away all over the boat and tons of fruit that we bought from a local boat that came out to the anchorage.

On Wednesday we joined an Australian couple, Margaret and Chris  from their boat Storm Bay, for the one hour trek to a waterfall. It was raining again but the scenery was as always wonderful, as the tall vertical cliffs on the coast gave way to forested hills the track got muddier and muddier. We abandoned all pretence of keeping clean and just splashed on through using the frequent fords we crossed to help wash the worst off our footwear. We had a sketched map that had been passed and copied between cruisers probably for years and when we came across a large digger we realised something was wrong. In fact it was creating a space in the forest for improvements to a hydroelectric plant, our path had been bulldozed, the driver pointed us back down the hill, we tramped on through even more mud, wary of falling coconuts as he cleared a swathe of forest behind us.


Finally we found the final steep path and we clambered over fallen trees, boulders and massive roots, every turn bought another intriguing view through the undergrowth down to a fast flowing stream. Our surroundings could have come straight from the set of Indianna Jones. The smell was fabulous, a mix of, sweetness from the hundreds of hibiscus shrubs that are everywhere, earthy tones from the rich soil and that ‘just mown lawn’ smell that came from the damp undergrowth. We reached the waterfall hot and dripping with sweat and revelled in the cool fresh water of the pool at its base. The diversity of plants was vast and tangled, definitely not the spot to drop your favourite sun glasses, despite a extensive search Rick’s will I suspect be lost forever to the jungle.


The next day we explored the coast line, the only word I can think of to describe the steep mountainsides here is corrugated, sharp ridges alternating with deep valleys created by the seemingly constant rain, the water plummeting down from the peaks above us. As they run down to the sea the valleys often end in small coves and we spent a pleasant hour or so motoring in and out of them admiring the shear faces of the massive cliffs and the trees that cling precariously to them. The trip was made especially memorable however by the large pod of dolphins we came across. Two meter long males right down to tiny babies swam all around us, low in the dingy we could almost touch them. We considered getting in to swim with them but didn’t want to frighten them off, so just floated quietly while they investigated us.

We woke Friday to a hubbub of activity in the normally quiet bay. Preparations were in full swing to welcome the supply boat, the Aranui, which has a second function, doubling up as a cruise boat. At midday it anchored at the entrance to the bay and using what looked like WW2 landing craft disgorged a multitude of boxes and hundreds of visitors. The villagers put out stalls of crafts and performed a traditional dance. We took the dingy into the very busy dock and tired up to some rocks. Mingling with the tourists we joined them to watch the girls of the village do their bit on the playing fields of the school but it seemed incongruous having so many people in what had been such a quiet place, we escaped back to the peace of the boat. 


Saturday it was as if it had all been in our imagination, a couple of locals chatted on the dock, a few chickens pecked at the grassy verge and a lone dog walked up the street. We revisited the shop and here there were changes, we bought onions, eggs, cheese and biscuits just enough to get us to Nuku Hiva.

Trees, Tikis and Torrents of Rain

Saturday 9th April

Puopau is a ceremonial site on the far eastern tip of Hiva Oa, it was last used by the indigenous population in the sixteenth century and is regaled by tales of sacrifice, extreme tattooing, coming of age rituals and cannibalism. The area is terraced and sitting watching over everything is the chief, a large squat stone tiki whom at 8ft tall is apparently the largest in Polynesia. Our guide, Pifa, is of similar dimensions he tells us legends of the “real” men and strong warriors that were important to the people that gathered here. It does feel like a special place but unlike the violent stories that surround it, it feels peaceful and at one with nature. On one side is a huge vertical rock face, the other three sides are formed by large elegant trees with an unusual grey bark that mark the start of the rain forest. The lower terrace is full of  vivid red, yellow and lime coloured shrubs that are planted everywhere on the island. This is only part of the original site, more terracing and other tikis lie amongst the jungle beyond.


The two hour drive to reach Puopau was, however, the really amazing part of the trip. The interior of the island is a mix of high craggy mountains soaring thousands of feet high and deep steep valleys, every inch of ground covered in a miriad of trees. At the lower levels these are mostly fruit trees everything imaginable from guava to lime to avocado, at the highest levels there are huge tall pine trees and mixed between them all are fantastic large specimens of many different species. Anyone of which, would be magnificent standing alone but here they are just part of the forest. 

Wet steaming forest

To add to the atmosphere we drive through torrential rain showers, the water cascades down the hills creating landslides and uprooting trees which block the roads. Nearer the coast the concrete surface runs out and the road turns to a gravel track, the rain rushes down them creating gullies and large puddles as they twist and turn sharply and rise and descend precariously around the hills and pinicals that soar high above us. Luckily Pifa drives this route three or four times a week and knows every bump and precipice. He carries a shovel and machete in the back of the truck to clear the road when necessary.


In complete contrast nestled amongst his tools is his ukulele, when he picked us up we had recognised him as one of the players from the band at the pizza restaurant last week. It seems he plays music, sings and dances at every opportunity. At lunchtime we join a couple of other groups at a restaurant serving “typical” Marquesian food, goat cooked in coconut milk, roasted pork, raw fish in lime and coconut and bananas every way possible. It is all very tasty but I’m fussy about my meat and it s a bit fatty and gristly for me, we politely pick through it. The moment Pifa thinks we have finished eating he suggests a song, his brother and fellow band member is the guide of one of the other groups and they start to sing and play. Before we know it the boys are up doing a Hakka (as in NZ rugby team) and we are all joining in with the guttural sounds that are sung along with them.

We return to the boat via the Gendarmerie where we have to check Ian out for his flight on Monday. What an extrordinary day. 

The boat is anchored in Baie Hanaiapa and we are currently the only boat there, it’s a bit choppy but again we are surrounded by incredible green mountain slopes. The entrance to the bay is guarded by a rock that looks just like the head of an African Queen complete with a greenery crown. There is no where to attach the dingy but a old concrete warf and is a real challenge especially in the swell, I feel grateful Ian is still with us to make the dodgy leap ashore to tie us up. The village, a few hundred metres inland, basically just one road strangling up the hill, is a delight each house having a tidy garden containing beautiful flowering plants and again the brightly coloured shrubs. There is a church and phone signal but no shop. The cooking is going to have to get inventive!

Hanaiapa village

Baie Hanamoenoa

Friday 8th April

Baie Hanamoenoa, we seem to have found the South Pacific we have all this time imagined in our heads. We are anchored in a bay on the North East coast of the island of Tahuata, the only thing that is difficult here is the pronunciation of our location,  it is idyllic and the sea is calm. The sun is just rising above the steep hills, casting it’s magic across the bay, the land turns a lush green and the water a bright turquoise. The swell gently rocks the boat and the only noise are the waves breaking on the beach and crashing on the cliffs that form each side of the bay. A small turtle pops his head above the surface nearby, a pod of dolphins swim past out at sea and a pair of white tailed tropic birds guard their nest in the cliffs.


Dropping the anchor in Hanamoenoa

We sailed the short hop from Hiva Oa on Tuesday and after the soil rich water of the anchorage there, it is nice to beable to swim off the boat again. The water is clear and a warm 31 degrees, it envelopes you in a silky caress while being still cool enough to give you respite from the tropical heat. However this is “not a holiday” and before we can rest there are jobs to be done. On arriving in the Marquesas we were shocked to discover that during the crossing we had grown a positive zoo of algae and tiny creatures on our waterline. The three of us, armed with scrapers and brushes, spent a good couple of hours scrubbing the hull to remove, the best we could, of the surprisingly stubborn growth.

With the hull clean the next morning we headed into the beach. The surf pounding onto the sand looked a bit strong to land the dingy so we anchored 100 or so meters off and swam in. The steep beach of golden sand, black rocks and palm trees was picture perfect.

As we walked along the shoreline we discovered there were two shacks nestling in amongst the trees at the back of the beach. The first was a Copra drying shed, Copra is the name for the white meat inside older coconuts, it is laid out to dry in racks and then transported to Tahiti where it is pressed to produce coconut oil. Sale of Copra is the main source of income for the islands and groves of coconut trees can be seen lining the head of every available bay and up amongst the undergrowth covering the coastal hills.

The second was a ramshackle affair belonging to the only resident of the valley, Steven. Steven is a young guy and possibly the most laid back person we have ever met, no hard sell here, just a ka-o-ha (hello) and as you approach, the offer of one of the small sweet bananas they grow here. In a land so abundant he lives on the fruit from his trees and the fish he goes out each night to catch. We sit on the makeshift bench in the shade of the trees, drink the coconut water he offers us and chat. His English is excellent, learnt from cruisers that have gone before us, he must have heard our tale a hundred times before but happily listens anyway and then slowly, he produces items he has for sale. We refuse the offer of a spear fishing trip to catch our supper but buy a pretty string of beads made from coloured seeds and a large bag full of limes, he throws in some green beans and a dozen bananas.

Pleased with our purchases it dawns on us that we now have the problem of getting it all back to the dingy. Kicking on my back I manage to hold it above the water and reach the boat with the bag just a little damp, we set about making some lime lemonade.

Ian leaves us on Monday and the plan is, later today, to sail back to Hiva Oa and anchor in a northern cove so he can see a little more of the Marquesas before he goes. Rick and I however may well return to this lovely place as we explore more of the islands.


Tuesday 5th April

We stand in the Gendarmerie in Atuona, Hiva Oa, clinging to the desk looking blankly at the form in front of us, we must look like a group of drunks brought in to sober up. In fact we have all got a bad case of sea legs, the room sways in front of us and we are so dazed the filling in of the customs form is a real intellectual challenge. The Gendarme must be use to such scences, he smiles at us indulgently as he gently coaxes out of us the required information to check into French Polynesia.

How exciting is that, we have reached French Polynesia. Well deserved “got here beers” were enjoyed by all.


The final night had been stormy and the approach to the island quite rough. Our first glimpse of land for seventeen days, far off on the horizon, was of a huge slab of rock clocked in cloud. As we approached the anchorage our hearts dropped the sea didn’t appear to be much calmer and the anchorage was rumoured to be rolly. We craved calm.

Luckily rolly is relative and compared to our last few weeks the bay as we motored past the breakwater was positively tranquil. We looked around us, we were completely enclosed by steep green, green hills. The mountains behind us have dramatic sharp ridges that runs up into the mist. At the head of the bay is, what would be called in a school geography lesson a V shaped valley. Every patch of land is covered by exotic trees and luxurious vegetation. The beach is of black volcanic sand and the sea is brown from the rich soil that has been wash down during the heavy rains of the previous night.

View looking out from the bay

It is steamy hot and heavy downpours are frequent, the undulating road into town from the anchorage is about 2 miles long so we try to time it to pick up a lift with the yachting agent and sorter of all things in Hiva Oa, Sandra. Town is just a couple of roads but there is a bank, a post office and three small supermarkets. This is – French – Polynesia so at a price you can dine on fine wine, cheese and pate all served on crusty baguettes, there is however a distinct lack of fruit and veg. The locals apparently grow so much in their gardens that there is no demand for them in the shops. So for the yachties it is a case of dodgy deals from the backs of vans. 

The Marquesas are famed for thier pamplemousse, these large grapefruits are sweet and delicious and acted as a fitting welcome for our friends on Toothless as they arrived a couple of days after us. As did the squadron of small manta rays that filled the bay that day about eight of them swam around the boats for a couple of hours. It is nice to see familiar faces in far away places and we shared a nice lunch together comparing notes on the crossing.


The Marquesian people seem a contented bunch, smiling and helpful. On our first evening we went to one of the few restaurants in town, a pizza place that had a local band playing. The music was a mix of popular French and Polynesian songs, it was all very casual and unpracticed but they were obviously having such fun, it was infectious, the whole place was full of smiling faces, tapping and singing along to the tunes.

Besides being the welcoming first port of call for tired ocean crossing yachts, Atuona has one more claim to fame, it is the last residence and final resting place of Gaugin. There is a small museum and you can visit his house, unfortunately all his paintings were returned to France when he died, the display is full of copies only but the sumptuous gardens alone were worth the visit. Ian walked up the hill to picturesque grave yard where he is buried.


Today we plan to sail to a bay on an adjacent island about 10nm away, the bay is of rare white sand and the book says one of the prettiest in Polynesia. I think enjoy it here.