Fatu Hiva Is Lovely

As we raced the sun to get our anchor down we kept a steady pass of seven knots. We were surprised the wind did not disappear as we pulled in the lee of the island. We were attempting the south Fatu Hiva anchorage in front of the village Omoa. In Charles Charts and other cruising guides this anchorage is not recommended because anchors drag and sometimes people do not know until they are either against the rocks, caught in a bad swell, or out to sea. All could be sea stories, so we decided to nose in and see how comfortable we felt. The sun was going down, but at least it was behind us so we could see the shallows. Sara was on the helm and Wade was on the bow. We slowed the engines and sat in the place where we’d anchor to get a feel for the anchorage. There were three small motor boats tied to mooring balls, but ample room for a larger boat to anchor. As we looked around and felt the motion, suddenly the whole boat lifted as a large swell passed underneath us. Wade called over the radio requesting to abort the anchorage and go further north to the Bay of Virgins.

The Bay of Hanavave (Bay of Virgins) is about three miles north of the village Omoa. Each of our guide books has a story about this bay, but Lonely Planet has the best description.

When the setting sun bounces purple halos off the towering basaltic cones of Bay of Virgins, at the mouth of a steep-sided valley, with a cluster of yachts at anchor, it’s a hallucinatory wonderland. We say ‘cones’ because we’re prudish. Truth is, they resemble giant phalluses protruding out of the ocean. This risque natural tableau was originally (and aptly) named Baie des Verges in French (Bay of Penises). Outraged, the missionaries promptly added a redeeming “i” to make the name Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins). ~ Lonely Planet

We were lucky to have met a boat in Apataki that downloaded the Soggy Paws Compendium’s Pacifique and gave us a copy. We were a little nervous anchoring in the bay so close to shore, but Soggy Paws gave us comfort and indicated they anchored in 34 feet of sand and mud. As we approached the depth read over 80 feet until it abruptly read 40 feet. At the Soggy Paws anchorage the water got shallow (mid 20’s) fairly quickly, so we circled a second time to anchor further out to sea in 38 feet. During the busy cruising seasons (April to October) if you’re not in the shallows you’re anchoring in the deep because we’ve heard this becomes a busy anchorage. The bottom is dark so it’s near impossible to tell the depth by water color. Two boats were anchored in the bay as we approached, but lucky for us the Soggy Paws anchorage coordinates were to the right of the bay and the boats were anchored to the left of the bay. The wind funnels cool gust through the mountains, which turn the boats in all different directions. At a point one boat was pointed east, the other boat was pointed south, and we were pointed north, which is so abnormal because most boats all swing together. On land it looks like we are the only boat in the anchorage because there are giant pillars that block the other two boats from eye sight.

We were so happy to drop the hook and relax. We took our lounge chair to the foredeck facing the “purple halos off the towering basaltic cones” and were in awe. Fatu Hiva is beautiful. We were entertained counting the wild pigs and goats that climbed the mountain side. Very strangely there were a large amount of wasp that came to check out our boat, but have disappeared assuming because of the rain.

Yesterday we finally stretched our legs took the dinghy off the deck and went to shore. The warf is filled with small boats tied to shore and aft mooring balls. Which require us to have an aft anchor on our dinghy. The surge of swell in the warf is very strong and without an aft anchor the dingy could be flipped or smashed on the rocks.

We were greeted by the friendliest man, Chris, who is a wood and stone carver. He asked if we’d like to see his carvings displayed at his home (10° 27’49″S, 138° 39’49″W). The Marqueses is known for hand made crafts of all sorts. We explained to him that we came from the Tuamotu Islands, which do not have banks, meaning we do not have a lot of cash, but we are willing to trade. He was very open to the idea of trading. We told him that we weren’t really prepared, but after seeing his work offered him to join us on our boat. He was such lovely company. His wife was in Tahiti selling their crafts and helping their children. His son is a football (soccer) player for the island of Fatu Hiva. He was in administration in the Polynesian Army but left Tahiti to retire in Fatu Hiva. He has such a happy personality. We’ve invited him back to the boat on Sunday after church. He’s bringing a friend and we’re going to play Ukele and guitar.

Trading was fascinating and fun because it was a game of what do we have that he wants and more importantly what did he value for what we paid in the US. All in all coming from the United States we have the upper hand because you wouldn’t believe it living in Hawaii, but everything in Polynesia is three to four times the price of Hawaii minus a few grocery items. Below is a short list of items he asked for some we didn’t have and some we traded for the most lovely wood and stone carving. He also introduced us to his friends Philip and Florida who made lovely tapa clothes.

  • Waterproof head lamps and flashlights higher than 200 lumens (They sell 200 lumen head lamps for $20 US in the local store)
  • Rum
  • Red Wine
  • Rope or line
  • Heavy weight fishing line
  • New fishing lures (old fishing lures are for gifts only)
  • Perfume
  • Hair ties
  • Slippers (Flip Flops)
  • Spear Gun

There is so much to see on this lovely island we are looking forward to exploring more in the next couple of days.

Wade and Sara

Math Be Hard For Sailors – Fatu Hiva UPDATE

Thanks to those that played the game. Sorry it has taken us so long to give our destination arrival time, but we arrived at 3:23:46 PM 2/27/17. Thanks for playing!

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