June 1 – 6, 2013
Taiohae Bay in Nuku Hiva is a major economic and administrative port of the Marquesas Islands. Even though the Marquesas are quite remote, we almost felt like we were back in civilization again.
It’s easy for boats to get parts shipped into Taiohae, so many boats who suffered damages during the Pacific crossing headed straight for Nuku Hiva. Yacht Services is located near the dinghy dock, and they are available to help cruisers with just about anything they may need (i.e. fuel, laundry, propane, internet, receiving packages and parts, getting around town, etc.) There are small restaurants and street-side vendors, 3 grocery stores, a vegetable market, an artisans’ building, a hospital, a pharmacy, and a hardware store. After a month and a half without major provisioning, we were quite excited to be there. We were even more excited over the tomatoes, cucumbers, and aubergine (eggplant) that was available.
At the center of town, and on the waterfront, is the Piki Vehine Pae Pae, a tiki site recreated with modern sculptures by local artists. Many locals spend their leisurely weekends hanging out at this site. There are plenty of places to sit and look out over the bay while the breeze keeps one cool. We enjoyed watching the local boogie boarders and surfers ride the extra large surf while we were there. Which also meant there was extra large swell in the anchorage!
Due to the large swell rolling into Taiohae Bay (directly open to the southerly swell), many boats needed to put out stern anchors. Instead of using a stern anchor, we found a spot dead center of the bay in about 30 feet of water. This allowed for us to receive the swell head on (without wrap-around or bounce-back swell), and we had enough length of chain out to allow the boat to comfortably ride the waves.
We visited the Notre-Dame Cathedral of the Marquesas Islands. A stone cross stands at the bottom of the road marking the entrance to this Catholic mission. As we approached the cathedral, large mango trees stood at the street’s edge. We drooled at the sight of the most appetizing mangos, and the cathedral shined with its own simple beauty.
Most afternoons, when the fishermen came into the wharf to clean their fish, people would gather around to watch the shark feeding frenzy. Wil and the kids watched their first show from up on the wharf, while I was down in the dinghy closer to shark level. As the fishermen threw fish heads and scraps into the water, several sharks would swarm over the food. The sharks were in such a frenzy that I received a good tail splashing just sitting in the dinghy. I made sure not to put my fingers and toes over the side!
Eventually, s/v Sueño and s/v Flour Girl arrived in Nuku Hiva, and we all completed the rest of our long awaited provisioning. We got dozens of eggs and kilos of flour. We made daily trips to the grocery stores, walking back with as much as we could carry each time. We filled up on diesel and gas, as well as propane. After spending little to no money over the past month and a half, we more than made up for the lack of spending in just a few days.
Now, we were ready to further explore the island of Nuku Hiva. Hakatea Bay with a hike to Vaipo Waterfall would be our next stop.