Inland Travel, Passages, Places

Hiva Oa and Tahuata

The trip to Hiva Oa was a nice upwind sail for about five hours. Johno hand steered as we made our way south. Once we were at the latitude of Hiva Oa, we turned left and motored into the wind for another twelve hours. We anchored in Baie Hanaiapa on the north side of Hiva Oa. There we were befriended by Noah and Ky from the sailboat Genesis. They stopped by our boat for a visit and then Dana, Johno and Marshall went over to their boat for sundowners.

The next day we joined them on a little expedition to the coast west of the bay. We anchored our dinghies and swam to the rocky, surgy shore to walk toward a waterfall. We couldn’t get all the way there without risking lives, so we went back to where we started on shore and got ourselves back to the dinghies. Later we all went to shore to walk around the quiet, picturesque village. At one house, a group of people were sitting in a circle, playing ukuleles and guitars. We walked a distance up the main road that leads to the other side of the island, enjoying all the rich vegetation and scenery. On our way back to the dinghy dock, we noticed that Migration was coming into the bay with Bruce and Alene onboard. Both dinghies motored out to greet them and invite everyone over to Aldabra for cocktails. It was a fun evening getting to know both couples better.

Because Migration and Genesis had already visited places we wanted to go to, we heeded their experience. A south swell was expected, and they warned us that the Tahuata anchorages would b e miserable. We had intended to go to the west side of Tahuata and then up to the south side of Hiva Oa, to provision in the town of Atuona. Instead, we rented a truck and started checking off what we wanted to do on Hiva Oa. We went into Atuona and bought provisions, we dropped off some laundry, got fuel, visited the Gauguin museum, got on the Internet and drove to Puamau to see the ruins there, having lunch at a nice place called Resto Puamau. The drive to Puamau was breathtaking as we wound down from the ridge to the coves on the northeast side of the island.

The beautiful north side of Hiva Oa
Exploring the Ruins of Hiva Oa

While the days were busy with errands and boat projects, we got together in the evenings a couple more times with Migration and Genesis. One night was game night and dessert on Migration and another was back on Aldabra for after-dinner drinks. Bruce also helped trouble-shoot issues I was having with Sailmail.

The next morning, those two boats left the anchorage. They were delightful company and we hoped to see them somewhere else along the way. We then did our final errands in town. We bought beignets from a little bakery, bought a few more provisions, filled the truck and some jerry cans with diesel, got a tiny amount of gas before the pump ran out, and hunted everywhere for Internet. Finding none, we went to a hotel on a hill above the harbor, the Hanakee Lodge, where they offered a package of lunch, wifi and use of the pool for the afternoon. The lunch of poisson cru was delicious, the wifi worked and the pool time was nice.

Internet and a swim

Afterward, we picked up our laundry and returned the rental truck to the owners, a very lovely, warm family that we would have liked to spend more time with. They were very touched that Johno had washed the truck and that we returned their one-month-old vehicle in the same condition as when they gave it to us. If we weren’t planning to leave in the morning, they would have had us come to their house for hospitality. We promised to contact them if we return to Hiva Oa.

On Friday, June 24, from our anchorage in Hiva Oa, we went west around the corner and south across the Bordelais Channel, which had lots of wind for our little crossing. We anchored in a small bay on the other side of the channel, on Tahuata, Anse Ivaiva Iti, just south of Hanamoenoa, which had too many boats in it. The bay was idyllic, with a nice, soft-sand beach. We swam to the beach and hung out for the afternoon.

The next day we motored four miles south to Hanatefau, an anchorage just to the north of Hapatoni. The anchorage is surrounded by a vertical wall of palm trees and other lush greenery. The anchorage was a bit crowded but we found a spot in about 50 feet of water with a sand bottom. It was quite windy during our stay, so I stayed on the boat the next day and Marshall, Johno and Dana went to shore for a walk. The following day, we hung out on the boat and swam at times with some pods of spinner dolphins that seemed to have made this bay their home. There were dozens of them and they hung out all day. We also swam with mantas that slowly moved around as we gawked with admiration.

Swimming with the spinner dolphins

At 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 28, we left Tahuata, motor sailing down to the southern tip of the island in brisk winds. Once we rounded the tip, we pointed as high into the wind as we could, heading for Fatu Hiva. After about five hours of upwind sailing, we pointed dead into the wind, took the sails down and motored the rest of the way, another six hours in 16 knot winds and big swells.

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