Friday, May 16, 2008

A hop to Anaho

We had an upwind, somewhat squally five and a half hour sail from Hakatea to Anaho Bay, along the uncharted west and north coasts of Nuku Hiva. Will it get old if I continue to repeat that the scenery is dramatic? Black rock, lush greenery, sharp ridges, steep cliffs, sand beaches (white or black) rimmed by coconut palms. And, outside of Taiohae Bay, NO grand hotels or condominium complexes, few man-made anythings and even fewer roads.

So, we found "remote."

Anaho Bay is tucked in a bit, and so is the calmest of the anchorages in the Marquesas. No swell to rock us about. We anchored in the northeast corner of the bay, tucked behind Pointe Mataohotu, near a pass through the coral that allows the only passable dinghy landing. The entire shoreline is otherwise protected from surf by a swath of coral shallows. The water is warm and relatively clear, and the boats are visited by schools of small gray/blue fish looking for handouts. We were one of a few boats in the bay, but our numbers gradually increased over a few days time.

Our first day we walked along the beach, waving "bonjour" past the four habitations in the bay, and followed a trail over a ridge to the neighboring bay, Haatuatua. En route we walked by a field of watermelon, and stopped to ask a little boy playing in the shade of a leaning lean-to, if we could buy some fruit. He found his parents (one Marquisan, one French) and we chatted for awhile, examined his skinny cat, and took a tour through his fields. He grows watermelon (3 types), taro, manioc (tapioca), pamplemousse, bananas, and more. There are no roads here so he loads up his fruit on horseback and hikes over a ridge each day to sell his produce through a little grocer in Hatiheu Bay. There he can also take his load by car to Taiohae for the weekly market. We ended up with one watermelon and more pamplemousse, and continued our walk to the beach just beyond. Now this bay is pretty much devoid of anything but this one farm. The farmer's emaciated horses roam the dunes (despite all this greenery, evidently not enough of the right stuff to sustain horses very well). As you approach the water, you get the sensation the beach is moving. That's because of all the crabs. Since their eyes are on stalks, as you know, it's hard to sneak up on a crab. They could see us coming and always maintained a wide perimeter of avoidance. Their tracks and holes decorate the beach. After sitting awhile, in hopes they would cozy up to us a little, Ben finally took matter into his own hands and set out to catch a crab. One was caught, harrassed just long enough for a photo op, and then released. (But I bet he would have tasted good...)
The next day we hiked a taller ridge to Hatiheu Bay. This is the same village we had visited by car the week before. We stopped at a nice little restaurant, hoping for lunch, but it was Sunday and they were officially closed. On the other hand, Yvonne, the restaurant owner, cook and mayor of Hatiheu, was happy to give us a seat and sell us something to drink. Yvonne ended up sitting with us and told us all about the village, its history and its future concerns. She had fought a Club Med proposal for Anaho Bay, and continues to rally the villages of Hatiheu and Anaho against building a road between the two valleys.

We hiked back to Anaho and, later that night, we made the social rounds. We ended up eating a potluck dinner with some Seattleites (Brad and Sally) on Pax Vobiscum, and with a French couple (Didier and Chantal) from Sea Lance. The French had been cruising for 3 years so we heard many stories of their adventures, evading pirates in the Red Sea, staying with natives along the Amazon, diving with hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos. We have met several people in the process of circumnavigation. Maybe one day...but not today.

Here and there we get some things done. The autopilot is in good working order. Ben installed an outlet in the main cabin so we can bring our fan in there. I cleaned out the fridge (the eggs had cracked and leaked...). Our cushion blew out of the cockpit and had to be rescued from the beach. You know, the little things that keep it all civilized.

We could have stayed in Anaho Bay much longer. But, time presses on and we thought it would be prudent to visit another island (or two, or three) before we leave the Marquesas. So, we're on our way again. Next stop: Fatu Hiva, the southernmost island of the group.

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