Lunch at Hakahetau Village

Monday, May 12, 2003, 4:00 p.m.

Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands


Click here for Part II (the actual lunch!)


We've just arrived in Taiohae, the administrative center of the Marquesas Islands, on the northern island of Nuku Hiva.  It's 93 degrees here, the water is 92 degrees, and we're all feeling somewhat wilted.  We had a nice sail over from Ua Pou this morning.  The Hakuhetau Bay anchorage was quite rolly last night, which did not promote a good rest.  So we were up at 6 a.m. and sailing by 7:30 a.m.  We had 20 - 25 knots of wind, and made a fast beam reach over the 30 mile distance.  For a good part of the way we were accompanied by a school of dolphins -- perhaps 30 of them.  Jim and Craig and Brian all saw two larger dolphins jump 10 feet out of the water, in one case doing a corkscrew in the air ("straight out of Sea World," according to Brian).  Unfortunately, I was watching the smaller dolphins on the other side of the boat, so I missed the show.

Our last anchorage, Hakehetau Bay, was really quite an interesting experience.  At the north end of the village there is a concrete quay, or wharf, and the rest of the beachfront is made of large rocks, and quite steep.  We saw several local fishermen landing in their pirogues (outrigger canoes) at one end of the beach, so we decided to try it there.  The quay had two or three feet of surge, and lots of evil looking adjacent rocks, so we decided that was not for us, and particularly not for our rubber dinghy.


Above:  This fisherman is approaching the quay at Hakahetau; the beach where we landed is to the right, out of this picture.

Right:  A map of the island of Ua Pou

As we neared the beach, we realized it was made out of rocks the size of small bowling balls.  You could hear them clanking against each other as the surf rolled in.  The last wave, shoved us in at terrific speed, turned the dinghy sideways, and threw Craig into the water.  I got out only wet up to the ankles -- I was lucky THIS TIME!  An eight year old boy came over and helped us drag the dinghy up the steep slope of bowling balls.  Footing was VERY problematic.  We made it to the top, dried off, and tried not to think about what relaunching might be like.



We walked up into the village, and made the acquaintance of several very friendly groups of people.  Two young women, one with a baby, offered us bananas, plantains and limes, all of which we were glad to take. 


Then we went to the very sparsely supplied store, and spent an hour conversing with a group of twenty-something men drinking beer at the side of the store.  One of them was working on a stone artwork with Marquesan warrior themes.  Craig talked to "Michel" about the diving fin Craig had lost that morning, and Michel offered to come around the next morning with his uncles, and look for it.  He said he'd be there at 7:00 a.m. (!!!).  Michel had Nike (ACG) sandals, so the conversation came around to Craig's work for Nike, and we ended up giving Michel a Nike shirt. 



The last person we talked to in the village was Etienne.  He was coming out of the Catholic church, and invited us to come up to his house for lunch on Sunday.  We should come first to the 8 am mass, and then he would drive us up to his house.  Apparently he does this every Sunday, for whatever yachties are in the bay.  We should bring something, he said, and we offered several pieces of the skipjack tuna, still in the freezer from our equator catch.  "Excellent, we'll make poisson cru!"  (A typical Marquesan fish dish, literally "raw fish.")  Etienne thought we were nuts to be landing on the beach of bowling balls, when there was a perfectly good quay available.  He strongly recommended that we try it when we came in on Sunday.


Relaunching the dinghy was, of course, worse than the landing.  We and all of our belongings got thoroughly drenched by breaking waves.  Fortunately, we had brought the camera in a Ziploc bag, so it survived the trip OK.

They say that most of the cliffs in the Marquesas have faces.  We decided that this one, on the cliff above the Hakahetau quay, looked like a pig with the face of Charles DeGaulle.  We dubbed him "Pigaulle"

We prepared for our 7 a.m. visitors, but they never came (Etienne later told us that Michel and his friends drink into the evening, and forget any promises they have made).  We offered our fresh cornbread instead to the folks from the other boat in the bay, and had a delightful conversation with them.  Jane and Allan are circumnavigating the world in their ferro-cement boat, Jaldanemar.  Originally from Yorkshire, England, they are now in their twentieth year of the circumnavigation.  Later in the afternoon, Allan found Craig's diving fin, much to Craig's relief.  We had been snorkeling ourselves in the same area, about an hour earlier, and must have swum right over it.  We were mesmerized instead by the multicolored fish - fluorescent blue, brilliant yellow, and ghostly white across the white sand bottom.


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