Friday, April 20, 2012


Vicki arrived in Taiohae, as scheduled, on Tuesday. What a thrill to see her after 3 weeks apart. The boat is ready for several days with 4 aboard, as Justin and Joseph don't fly out until Saturday. Wednesday morning we sailed out of the bay, headed for Taipivai, the bay 4 miles east where Herman Melville lived with the natives for a month or more back in the 1830s. He wrote about his experiences in Typee. If you haven't read this book, you should - its a wonderful description of Marquesan life before there had been much contact with Euro-American "civilization."

We had a nice sail, tacking upwind into a 10 knot easterly wind, passing several large British cutters outbound for the Tuamotus. When we got to Taipivai, we were surprised to find 10 boats at anchor, nearly as many as at Taiohae.

We soon learned why this is a popular anchorage. Besides calm conditions and beautiful scenery, there is a fresh water shower on the beach, a navigable river leading to the small town, where there are several stores and other services. There is also unlimited walking along good roads, and very few cars to share them with. In other words, everything a cruiser would want for a comfortable extended stay, and none of the noise or bustle of the "city" - ha!

After getting the hook down, the 4 of us, using both the dinghy and the two kayaks, went upriver to the wharf, and hiked up the valley. Along the way we passed stores, a church, a post office, and the cultural center where the Marquesan Inter-Island festival took place last December. We were looking for a historic sacred site listed in our guidebook, supposedly a short hike uphill to one side of the road. Despite asking numerous villagers for directions, we managed to walk right past the turnoff. We doubled back in a heavy downpour, and finally found a slim, grassy, rock-lined path leading right through someone's yard! It turned out to be a steep 1/3 of a mile uphill, so we were glad for the cooling effects of the rain! A pack of black and white spotted dogs joyfully accompanied us, scaring feral chickens out of the bushes along the way.

The sacred site was typical of the ones Vicki and I saw last year - stone walls and platforms, anchored by weathered tikis, and dotted here and there with a rectangular well. Without someone to interpret the scene for us, we were left to our own musings about the grim days when merely to gaze on these rocks was taboo, unless you were either a chief, a priest, or part of the menu!

After a relatively calm night, we decided to move to a different cove, near the smaller village of Hooumi. Unlike Taipivai, we had this spot to ourselves. We enjoyed a hike through the verdant valley and up to an overlook where we could see back to Taipivai. We topped along the way to admire a small church with a stone grotto alongside, and visited an "artisanat" (craft shop) where we purchased some of Madame Teata's beaded necklaces. Afterwards, we cooled off with some snorkeling, although the water here, as elsewhere in the Marquesas, has limited visibility, usually only about 15 feet.

Our second night at anchor was rather dramatic, punctuated by numerous squalls. I cursed myself for not raising the engine and dinghy so that we could quickly get out to sea if need be. Luckily, we awoke still solidly anchored in the center of the cove. Out to sea, we could see whitecaps, so we knew it would be a rough ride back to Taiohae. We had to get an early start in order to check Joseph and Justin out with the gendarmerie.

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