Octopus Hunting Tahuata Marquesas

When first arriving in Hapatoni Bay we saw a man beating something with all of his might against the reef, as it turned out he had found an octopus and chose to tenderize it by beating it vigorously against the reef. Josh, a cruising friend we met in Fatu Hiva, spoke with the man and asked about how he procured this octopus and then went on a hunt for himself. On his first hunt he learned the octopus like to hide under a rock and that he would need something to pull the octopus out from under because muscling the octopus felt like an eternity when free diving. He too beat his first octopus on the reef to tenderize it and cooked it with butter, garlic, and rice. In an effort to devise a tool that could serve multiple purposes on his boat he fastened a hook Wade provided to a wooden spoon. He then went on a hunt again using the spoon to snag the octopus and yank from it’s hole after spearing it, except this octopus wasn’t that nice and left suction marks on his arm as well as biting him enough to break the skin. He took the octopus into town to give to a nice local woman, Tehina, that had been providing local spear fishing information. When he had cut up his first octopus he found the meat was slippery and challenging to cut. Tehina steamed the octopus shortly making the meat firm and easier to cut. After the octopus was cut up she put the meat in bowling water. Josh reported that the meat was still a bit chewy.

We were both grossed out by the idea of tentacles and suction cups crawling across on our skin, but with all of the stories of octopus hunting and cooking we decided to give it a try in Hanamoenoa Bay. Josh spotted the first octopus and asked if Wade wanted to give it a try, but Wade decided to watch the first one before he made an attempt. Josh used his spear fishing sling to hit the octopus then used his hook on a wooden spoon to pull out the octopus. At first he only got off a couple of tentacles and made us squirm a bit as he attached it to Sara’s arm. She gave it to Wade who through the freshly cut tentacles in the dinghy. This poor octopus was having a bad day because as Josh was trying to work the rest out of its hole a small eel decided to see what was going on and took a couple of bites at the octopus then left when the octopus defended itself. After 20 minutes Josh finally had the octopus out and as the tentacles climbed his arm trying to get away Josh got his finger under its skin and flipped his head inside out to instantly kill the octopus. All while he floated to the surface to get a breath of air, it was a site to be seen.

Josh spotted the second octopus and the largest for the day. We couldn’t figure out how he was so quick to see the octopus because they were mostly hidden. He then pointed out a fish that seemed to hang around wherever there was an octopus. We’ve looked in our books, but can’t find the name. Wade built up the courage and went in for the attack. He shoved his spear under the rock, but the octopus had a back door and pulled off the spear to hide under a different rock. Wade got his breath and tried to calm his nerves in the excitement then swam down again to pull his spear out from the rock then swam to the other rock and pierced the octopus so hard that when the octopus fled back under the first rock he carried Wade’s spear with him. As Wade caught his breath Josh helped him out by swimming down and shooting his spear under the rock as well, double piercing the octopus. Wade didn’t bother with the hook on the spoon he just swam down reached in the rock, grabbed it by its neck, and pulled the octopus out, haha. As Wade swam to the surface he had a good grip on the octopus neck all while the tentacles where trying to get around Wade’s neck. He was so creeped out by the tentacles climbing up his arm he whipped the octopus in the dingy. Josh quickly jumped in to prevent the octopus from climbing out and performed his Mortal Combat TKO and flipped the head inside out. Ink from the octopus went all over the dinghy champs, haha.

At the end of the day we had three octopus onboard we cooked up the biggest one, the second goes to Tehina, and the smallest we are freezing to hopefully share at a Monday night BBQ in Hawaii. We first used a meat tenderizer, then thought it was best to pressure cook it 15 minutes. Once out of the pressure cooker we let it cool then Josh showed us how Tehina had cut up the octopus and get rid of some of the chewy bits. Sara decided to cook the octopus in the pressure cooker once again using craw boil Cajun spices with chicken and sausage. The more and more we pressured the octopus the better the texture became, but sadly the Cajun spices were too much and we lost a bit of the Octopus flavor. Next time we plan to pressure cook it for 15 minutes, cut it up, then pressure cook it for another 20 minutes and server with a butter garlic cream sauce with either pasta or rice. All and all super yummy!

Yesterday we motored back to Hapatoni Bay to pick up a marlin spike we commissioned from Kalino a local carver and give Tehina the octopus Josh caught. Next we’ll be off to Hiva Oa to fuel up and provision for the last couple islands before returning to Hawaii.

Autopilot Update: We discovered the autopilot mounting pin had fallen out, so luckily we had an easy fix.

Cheers,
Wade and Sara

Boat Position At Noon: 09 degrees 57.588 minutes south and 139 degrees 07.148 minutes west

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