Friday, May 18, 2012

Marquesas - May 12 to May 18

May 12, 2012

Baie de Vaipaee, Ua Huka

After our anchoring adventures at Fata Huka, we sailed for Baie de Vaipaee which translates to Invisible Bay on the Island of Ua Huka. The bay is aptly named as the entrance only reveals itself at the last moment and the crashing confused seas are quite foreboding. Once inside Baie de Vaipaee the muddy waters quickly shoal to 6 meters then gradually down to 3 meters near the local fishing boats on moorings. Bow and stern anchors are obligatory to hold the bows into the surge and swell that sneaks into the bay. LightSpeed was trying to surf the swell so we laid out a second bow anchor on stretchy nylon rode to ease the surging motion. We shared the bay with s/v Samba and even with two boats it felt cramped. Holding was superb in thick sticky muddy sand at anchorage position 08°56.4096 S 139°34.3941 W. Landing at the concrete wharf was slightly complicated by the swell, but not much more difficult than others similar wharfs and likely safer than the slick concrete boat ramp where the waves were breaking heavily. A stern anchor for the dinghy at the wharf is recommended as the rough concrete face of the wharf would quickly do some damage.

A walk up the paved road toward the settlement of Vaipaee is a welcome opportunity to meet islanders in this out of the way bay. An interesting museum is located directly under the post office and well worth the visit.

Batten down the hatches when sailing from Baie de Vaipaee as confused seas crashing and booming into the sheer cliffs make for an exciting departure. Heading west round the craggy cliffs off Cape Tekeho, we can imagine the mysterious ancient burial caves up in the sea cliffs. For a birds eye view, cut inside of the two small islands with radically differing geology. One appears to be an uplifted sea bed with sheer sides and a flat top and the other a more typical craggy barren mound of basalt. The flat toped island of Teuana is thickly covered with grass and cacophony of bird calls from the thousands of nesting Terns. The locals raid the nests for the red yoked and fishy flavored eggs. The other a craggy mass of Ile Hemeni was entirely barren.

May 13 to May 17
Baie de Taiohae, Nuka Hiva

Sailing into Baie de Taiohae on Nuka Hiva we counted at least forty five boats at anchor and the bay could easily hold a hundred or more. Heading ashore for a fresh baguette and ice cream I noticed the selection at grocery stories had improved considerably since 2006. Prices ranged from moderately reasonable to outrageous. A single can of Hinano beer (33ml or 11.25oz) is 265FPX or $3USD, a tasty fresh baguette 66FPX or $0.75 and a rare 32 oz can of sauerkraut $960FPX or nearly $11USD. Fresh vegetables are non-existent in the shops and must be obtained by asking around for a local gardener or attending the frantic early morning veggie market on Saturdays. Arrive early as it kicks off at 5AM and some items sell out immediately.

Pay for service internet is available in the anchorage for about 500FPX or $5.50 USD/hr and it's something between unusable to just plain slow. To get any useable speed for a Skype call you need to get online about 4AM local and by 7AM things are back to a crawl. I spent two frustrating days trying to resolve a problem with PayPal whom locked my account, a common complaint for those whom use PayPal from a variety of locations. Apparently, their 'System' which can NOT be overridden by mere humans, flags any login that uses a new IP address and locks the account. After nearly 20 calls to customer service and moving my problem up through several supervisors, they finally told me that I can't use Paypal in French Polynesia. Period. Their best solution was to just use PayPal when I return home from my vacation... My best solution is to close my PayPal account and move my money to a bank that values it's customers needs. I have a small business dealing in the USA and had intended to transfer money via PayPal to my business partner. Now that's all messed up and we'll use Bill Pay to send a check instead. If you travel, PayPal WILL lock your account on a regular basis and then they'll hold you hostage until you can 1). Call them from your home land line... yeah right! or 2) Send them a photo ID that is less than 6 months old and proof of your home residence... you've got to be kidding. PayPal used to be good for sailors, but alas no more. Adam if you're reading this, don't worry we'll get you the hull extension parts on-time. Rich if you're reading this, please send my your mailing address ASAP.

On May 17 we sailed to Daniels Bay or Baie de Taioa or Hakatea. The highlight of the day was a beach bonfire where we cooked some fresh tuna and egglant on hot coals. The crews from at least 7 boats socialized on the beach well into the night. On my last visit here in 2006 I had the good fortune to enjoy a warm welcome from the bays namesake Daniel. Daniel has sadly since passed but otherwise not much has changed even since filming 'Survivor Marquesas' on this same beach. This bay is the jumping off point for a 5 hour round trip hike to Vaipo, a waterfall cascading in a freefall over 900 feet! Today we'll make the hike in the company of Bob and Ann of s/v Charisma San Francisco .

That's it for now.

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