Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Update from Dave 5-6-06

This week we welcome Kitty Cupp aboard as our newest crew member. Kitty, who recently made the crossing from Mexico aboard the 45’ Sisiutl will be crewing aboard La Vie until we arrive in Tahiti. Kitty and my crew Karl dated while working at McMurdo Station, Antarctica and having rekindled their relationship in Mexico they’re excited to crew together aboard La Vie. I considered taking Kitty initially but, the limited amount of water we carry didn’t allow a big enough safety margin should the passage take longer than anticipated. The other big news is the confirmation of Jaime and Elena (aka “the Spaniards”) as crew aboard La Vie for the 4-plus month journey from Tahiti to NZ.

Taiohae bay, Nuku-Hiva has been a fun-filled adventure. We were sad to leave our newest friends Cameron (Australian) and Matt (French) who are crew aboard a 42-foot high performance catamaran that will complete a one-year circumnavigation back to Australia this fall and Marta (Polish) who is sailing a 28 Manta double handed around the world as a publicity stunt for the new Polish built Manta 28 sloop and Adam and Rafael (Marquesasan) who spent one day hanging out on La Vie while we paddled their amazingly fast outrigger canoes around the bay. Despite the outrigger, everyone managed to flip the canoes over at least twice, except Julie.

On Sunday, we had a dinner party on Eddie’s (German) boat - a Kelley Peterson 44 (New Horizons IV) - with our younger crowd totaling 11. Monday, an impromptu gathering on the quay garnered the new Marquesasan friends Adam and Rafael. Hearing traditional drums and song, we sought out their source and discovered a Marquesasan dance team practicing for an upcoming competition in Tahiti. The dancers were amazing with their precisely choreographed and powerful moves which included haka-like chants. The Marquesasans have a wonderful tradition of tattoos which were apparently inspired by their Tiki god. Often the tattoos cover significant portions of the body and sometimes include the left side of the face. The beautiful and unique art work had everyone a bit tempted to get a tattoo. I’m sure Captain Cook and other earlier explores were significantly intimidated by the Marquesasans with their tattoos and powerful ritualistic dances. After the practice the performers hung out and chatted for a bit and wove some palm frond ankle bracelets.

Tuesday, we were invited to a party on Irishman, a 92’ Ketch, after Julie discovered that the Skipper was an old friend from her days working in the US BVI on a charter boat. A cool boat and great get together with dancing on the after deck.

Each day we would also plan to do some errands then go on a hiking adventure to the surrounding peaks, gathering lots of fresh fruit on the way down.

Thursday, after a quick dash around town to get Kitty checked on the boat and to pick up some fresh baguettes, we made the 5-hour sail up to Anaho bay. The bay offers great protection from the swell and the inside is lined with a great diving reef. The next day was spent making space for Kitty’s gear and cleaning up and organizing the boat. In the afternoon we went ashore to meet the locals. The bay is only accessible via the water or a horse trail and the scenery is of course amazing as it is unscarred with roads or development. New Horizon IV’s Wolfgang and Eddie joined us for a shore adventure where we met the three of the nine local inhabitants, David, Takete and Leopold on the beach. They were hanging out drinking a beer listening to Tahiti radio while a pig roasted on their BBQ … what a life. They quickly invited us to sit and have a taste of the pig and some cold beers. After a good hour-long conversation with lots of sign language, laughs and thumbs up - mostly translated by Leopold (who speaks some English but mostly French and Marquesasan) everyone else went for a hike to explore a bit, I hung back and got to know the guys better and discovered that they harvest copra or coconut meat and dry it then sell the 50-kilo bushel size bags for the US equivalent of $50 ea. The guys work two weeks to collect 15 bags of copra and also have a small pension (two room hotel) and have guests once or twice a month. This particular week they had neither guests nor coconuts to harvest so were just enjoying their island paradise.

They invited us to dinner so we went back to the boat to prepare a salad and rice.
We had a great beach party with coconuts filled with rum and the BBQ pork was awesome. We discussed the possibility of a goat or pig hunt and Teiki and David agreed to take us at 8 a.m. the next morning.

Filling packs with water, we met David and Teiki and checked out their home. Goat skins were drying on racks, horses munching the grass, lots of dogs and chickens ran about and a huge covered platform protected the copra while it dried. With Teiki in the lead, we headed strait up hill at a formable pace until we nearly crested a 1000’ ridge where Teiki took a shot at a group of 5 goats we’d been stalking. A 200’ shot with a super old and rusty open-sighted 22 hit the goat right between the eyes. We then packed the goat along the ridgeline hoping to catch up with the remaining 4 but, after about ½ mile we stopped to skin and clean the goat. We then traversed around the crescent shaped peaks before heading back through the jungle to the beach where I ran Eddie back out to his boat as they were leaving that afternoon. Karl continued on with Teiki and bagged two more goats. Julie and Kitty spent the day hiking over a pass and down to a neighboring village. We all met on the beach in the afternoon to enjoy half a goat cooked in a coconut milk, garlic, curry sauce which was quite delicious

At the moment Karl is cutting one of the other goats in the cockpit and plans to eat goat meat for a few weeks. Posted by Picasa

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