Monday, June 19, 2006

Update from Dave 5-1-06


Getting ashore in Taiohe bay is made easy by tying up to the concrete quay where the local fishing boat moor and offload their daily catch. The ladders on the face of the quay can be a bit tricky at low tide but, it’s so much easier and drier than landing on the beach we have no complaints. Getting low on water we shuttled 50 gallons of water to the boat 10 gallons at a time for laundry and showers. The water is pretty turbid with lots of suspended particulates and definitely needs to be treated with chlorine to be safe but it great to splurge on your showers. It’s amazing how little water one needs for a “good” shower and we only use a gallon and now that we have access to water we are splurging with two gallon showers.

We’ve been hanging out with an international group of new friends. One is 24 year old Eddy a German taking a year off to crew from Mexico to NZ and a Jamie and Elana a Spanish couple (26 & 24) who are doing the same. Eddy had a demanding passage when his captain was debilitated with a back injury and Eddy single handed the boat for the last eleven days to the Marquesas. The Spainards are insatiable adventures and fruit gathers. Today they showed up with a dingy full of bananas and we now have around at least 75 bananas on board in all stages of ripeness.

Two days ago, we made a 5AM visit to the weekly farmers market where we stocked up on fresh vegetables and some great bread and pastries. On the way back to the boat we stopped by and woke up the Spaniards at 6AM as they were joining us for the day’s adventure. We sailed over to Taioa (Danniel’s) bay to go for a day hike to the third biggest water fall in the world. The Spainairds were interested in banana recipes so Julie gave banana bread lessons enroute.

We had a nice sail with a huge breakfast of banana bread pamplemouse, mangos and some mystery fruit we have yet to identify. Once in the bay we tried to anchor twice before switching to our Fortress anchor to get a grip on the soft muddy bottom. We then dingy’d up the small river to the home of Daniel (79) and Antoinette (74) whom are a friendly Marquesasan couple whom have been greeting visiting cruisers for over 20 years. Daniel has a fresh water spring with very high quality water and graciously offers water to cruisers once you have made your requisite visit to chat first. Daniel is jovial character and gracious host that had us enthralled with a tour of his property, local history, and learning new Marquesasan words. We were introduced to fresh green Papaya slices with “Shin Shin” which is some type of bright orange Chineese spice and very tasty and feasted on delicious bananas.

Fueled up on an inhuman amount of fresh fruit we headed up the river for the two hour hike to the falls. At one time the island had a thriving culture with 60,000 inhabitants as evidenced by a 300+ year old 6’ wide raised stone road that had been constructed up the river valley which was a civil engineering feat by any measure. Much evidence of the road still exists and made it easy to stay on the correct path. Along this ancient road many large rectangular stone platforms (paepae) are still viable and were apparently the foundations of ceremonial sites and home foundations. The stone work was impressive for the size of the stones and precise placement. The hike is primarily on a muddy jungle path and provided welcome shade from the blazing mid day sun. We encountered wild pigs and also stopped to hack open a few coconuts for a refreshing drink and snack of coconut meat. Where breaks in the jungle allowed we had incredible views of the towering cliffs and our objective, the breath taking 900’ waterfall.

The final approach to the water fall leads up the 100’ wide slot canyon with spectacular 1000’ plus vertical cliffs on either side. A pool at the base of the falls beckoned for a refreshing swim. I was about to dive in when I spotted 6’ long bold and mean looking eel just 10’ from shore. I quickly retreated from the knee deep water and everyone got a good look at the eel and a few pictures. With a bit of trepidation we continued with our swim hoping the eel was of the friendly variety. Unfortunately, we could not see the 900’ water fall from the base pool as there was another pool about 100’ that was impossible to reach. However, the last 100’ cascading to our pool was quite spectacular in it self.

Water driven wind and spray was pelting out of the base pool with incredible force and swimming toward a rock out crop at the base of the fall felt like you were swimming into a blinding gale. Once on the rock outcrop you were within 10’ of cascading water and the sound and spray made communication nearly impossible. Karl after a few tries was insane enough to swim through the fall. Jamie and me were perched on the rock outcrop 10’ away but could only intermittently see glimpses of Karl and communication was impossible. Thinking he had found nirvana behind the falls we felt it necessary to get a glimpse ourselves. Swimming with all our might upstream into the blinding spray you then got pounded underwater and by some stroke of luck popped up behind the curtain of water. Nirvana it was not! More like a entering a cross between a blender, breaking wave and a super power car wash. The currents, chop intense blinding spray and wind made it nearly impossible to breath and the smooth undercut rock walls offered little to hold onto to keep ones head above water. Despite the fact we almost drowning we were quite frankly scared to swim back through the falls. On my first attempt I got two unwanted drinks of water and had to turn back to catch my breath. Fortunately, going with the current and wind was slightly easier although, you couldn’t see or hear a thing and just held your breath and swam for your life until you were slammed into a rock wall on the other side. I would easily rank the adrenaline factor higher than the first time I jumped out of an airplane. In the future I will be more considerate of the fact that I am not invincible a bit of wisdom I’m beginning to garner.

Having survived the water fall we hiked back down to Daniel’s for some more fruit and another hour plus of conversation. We had a bumpy and wet ride back to Taihaoe bay as Elana and Julie tried to start a Spaghetti diner before giving up as everything was flying off the counters. Once safely anchored in calmer waters we enjoyed our tasty spaghetti dinner and a spectacular review of the days photographs.

Other recent activities include attending the local festivities that have been running all weekend. We enjoyed some good local foods and lots of entertainment with traditional dancing performances.

They say you should really take care of any cuts you get in the tropics as they will easily become infected by the micro organisms in the water aided by the warm temperatures and high humidity. I now believe in this advice. I had a small blister on my foot get infected and I now have what I think is Cellulitis where the infections spreads into the adjacent tissue. It’s nothing serious yet but, I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow to confirm my self-diagnosis. Note: I was wrong and it was no big deal and treated with Iodine and healed pretty quick.

Tomorrow we plan to head to Anaho (ah-nah-ho) a new bay on Nuku-Hiva that has great snorkeling and great archeological sites and hiking possibilities. Posted by Picasa

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