Where are they now?

Kauehi Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago
Thursday, May 26

While still on passage, five days out of Nuku Hiva, Tuesday brought easy trade wind sailing towards Fakarava. The motion was steady enough that Randy was able to work on the water maker again. He diagnosed the problem(s) and was able to get it running again. There was some comment about “Operator Error” as one of the problems. Maybe we’ll learn more later?

At that point, we knew that we could replenish our water supply ourselves and the possibility of visiting other atolls opened up: We didn’t have to go directly to Fakarava for potable water. So plans changed yet again and we are now anchored in the lagoon of Kauehi Atoll. Kauehi is a medium-sized atoll along our course towards Fakarava, being 12 miles long and 8 miles wide with a clear and wide pass into the lagoon. This last factor was attractive to us, as this would be our first entrance through a coral reef pass in Velic.

We chose to anchor in the leeward, southeastern section of the lagoon, near the motu of Mahuehue (a motu is a small island around or inside the coral atoll.) The lagoon is a beautiful clear blue in the deep center, changing to light turquoise in the shallows. The coral heads, or “bommies” as the Australians say, are easy to spot against the white sand bottom. The anchor went down in a sandy patch off the beach at around 15:00 (3:00 pm). The view from the cockpit is the idyllic south-seas prospect: white sand beach, abundant palm trees, and an undergrowth of mid- to low growing shrubs. We are surprised at how green it is, but then again, we’ve also had a few rain showers to wash off the boat and cool the air. Lovely. And the anchorage is calm, the boat motion quiet. No rolling at anchorage here (we’re happy to leave behind the “Marquesan roll”). We can set something down on a flat surface and it will stay there until we pick it up again. Ruth can cook a meal without having to hang on with one hand or grab a handrail. Even Randy has commented on how quiet the boat sits at anchor, and how pleasant it is here. We weren’t aware of how tiring the constant rolling motion has been over the past months; it’s been since Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that we have had a moorage this quiet.

Isles du Desappointments, change of plans, disappointment

The very small island group named Isles du Desappointement lies nearly on the rumb line about one third of the way between Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas and Raroia atoll in the Tuamotus. They are low-lying and hard to see. We had plotted a course to leave these island to leeward, sailing to the east of them in order to preserve as much of our east longitude as possible. Thus, should the SE Trade winds turn more southerly we could turn and reach towards Raroia. The first two days brought idyllic south Pacific sailing in steady trade winds, flat seas, and blue skies dotted with little puffy clouds. But as the second day drew long in the afternoon clouds filled in and then the squalls began.

We had left Nuku Hiva with water tanks about half full. And soon after leaving Randy began the process of “de-pickling” the water maker [when not used for more than three days it needs to be “pickled” to prevent biological growth inside]. This did not go so well. One small set back lead to another in a series of otherwise incidental failures. After two days of fussing with the water maker, a moratorium was called on further diagnosis. The boat was bouncing and working in the forepeak on an unknown set of problems did not promise great success.

At 1800 (6:00 pm) a decision was taken. We were still well north of the islands on course to pass east of them, but the wind continued to build and veer to the south. This resulted in a course that lead into the Isles du Despointement, not safely past them to the east. The main sail reefed and the jib set, we changed course to sail west across the top of the islands by 10 miles. That would put us safely on their western lee side by morning. But by midnight the wind had increased and boat speed was over 7 knots – too fast for Velic. We hove-to, that is setting shortened sail in such a way that we drifted safely away from the islands.

By this morning the wind had calmed some, but was still from the south; which was generally the direction to Raroia. Combined with a SE swell of 4-6 feet, the course to Raroia was problematic. And, without a functioning water maker, we had only the water already in our tanks. Not knowing if potable water is available in Raroia or any of the other atolls, and knowing that potable water is available in Fakarava, we made a decision: We are now headed for Fakarava, the second largest atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago. We should arrive sometime Wednesday. Disappointing because Raroia is one of the navigable but less visited atolls, far from airlines and resort hotels. Also, it was the landing spot of Kon Tiki. Randy really wanted make the pilgrimage and visit the monument.

On Our Way to Raroia

We’re on passage to the Tuamotus, specifically to an atoll named Raroia. So far, the sailing’s been great: fast and comfortable beam reach on the port tack with no sail changes in 30 hours. The SE Trade winds really do exist! We expect it to be a four day passage. We’ll post a short update once we arrive.

Around Taiohae, Part III – The Road Tour

We wanted to see some of the island of Nuku Hiva; we’d heard there were interesting archeological sites, and we’d been told of a really good restaurant – Chez Yvonne’s – on the other side of the island. Friends John and Diane on Konami were interested in joining us, so the two couples arranged to rent a vehicle for a day through Nuku Hiva Yacht Services and we set off on a Saturday morning adventure. Kevin, owner of Nuku Hiva Yacht Services, had given us a map and information about what we might want to see. The rental agreement was basic: If we had an accident, we were liable for Kevin’s deductible; don’t park under any coconut trees; and try not to hit any cows, horses, or donkeys; chickens were fair game.

Beachcombing

Beachcombing at Comptroller Bay, our first stop.

A small river drains into Controller Bay

A small river drains into Comptroller Bay

The 'necessary facilities' in this little park.

The ‘necessary facilities’ in this little park.

Church in Taipivai

Church in Taipivai, near the head of Comptroller Bay.

A gotto was built, presumabely for baptisms. The tradition of stone ceremonial sites continues.

A gotto was built, presumably for baptisms. The tradition of stone ceremonial sites continues. As always, we could see evidence in several stones of having been re-purposed from ancient native Marquesan sites.

Road sign to the tiki site that Herman Melville wrote about.

Road sign to the tiki site that Herman Melville wrote about.

Pathfinding on the way to the tiki site that Melville wrote about in Typee.

Pathfinding on the way to the tiki site that Melville wrote about in Typee.

Typical view from the trail

Typical view from the trail

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Cleared site with several platforms that are typical of Marquesan archeological sites. Probably function was to serve as location for different types of ceremonies or rituals.

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Platform typical of ancient sites in these islands. It’s difficult to imagine the amount of labor it took to construct these stone structures – all with very straight walls and square corners.

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The central platform

The central platform, surrounded by tikis.

Baie Anaho

Baie Anaho, our next destination.  We planned to have lunch at Chez Yvonne’s in the village of Hateheu.

The church in Hateheu. Some of the stones in the building front wall are clearly from the ancient sites, showing striations and holes from working the stone.

The church in Hateheu. Some of the stones in the building front wall are clearly from the ancient sites, showing striations and holes from working the stone.

Tiki at a major site near Hatiheu

Tiki at a major site near Hateheu. This grim tiki has a skull head and is holding a dead child and weapon.

Another tiki at the same site.

Another tiki at the same site.

 

I could see that this is a turtle

Sea turtle. All of these tikis had meaning to those who created them and used the site, but we were left to simply speculate as to what was being represented and its meaning.

The landscape reminded me of scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy

The third site had a landscape that reminded us of scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy

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This was the third site we visited and by far the largest, covering acres. And that was only the parts that had been cleared. Large platforms surrounded a clearing in the center. Perhaps a communal gathering area? What appeared to be stone-lined drainage courses were laid across the site. Several platforms had deep “wells” that, we were told, were used for storage and also for hiding things.

Petroglypshs. We wondered if these predate the tiki carvings or were just grafitti at the time.

Petroglypshs. We wondered if these predate the tiki carvings or were just grafitti at the time.

A sacred Banyan tree with Taro plants in the foreground.

A sacred Banyan tree with Taro plants in the foreground.

Around Taiohe, Part II – The Church

We’d been told that it was worthwhile to go and see the Catholic Church in Taiohe; that it was really quite unusual and lovely. So one afternoon we walked the short distance to see it. And the information we were given was correct: It was really quite unusual and lovely. Randy was quite impressed with the church building and especially the details of interior decor and furnishings.

The Catholic Church in Taiohae, as you approach it.

The Catholic Church in Taiohae, as you approach it.

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