Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Travel daze

On May 14th, a pre-arranged taxi picked us up at the dock at 08:30 to take us to the Nuku Hiva airport on the far side of the Marquesan island to start us on our trip home to Canada. The road to the airport is approximately 18 km in a straight line, but this road is so curvy and winding that the ride took about 1.5 hours.

Our lovely taxi driver stopped at a few prime locations along the way to allow us to take a few quick photos and view the panorama. If you ever anchor at Nuku Hiva with your sailboat, we highly recommend renting a car and checking out this road with its amazing top-of-the-world sights.

Looking back to where SV Tango is still anchored

Unbelievably curving, snaking, twisting road to Nuku Hiva airport

Looks like we are about to drive off the end of the earth

Upon arrival at the airport, we were surprised to see several horses kept so nearby. They were friendly and didn't seem to mind being there. We flew from Nuku Hiva to Hiva Oa for a brief stop and then on to Pape'ete Tahiti where we had to wait several hours for our next red-eye flight to Honolulu. During our wait, a friendly couple gave us a free bottle of delicious champagne! After this late-night flight of almost 6 hours, we then had a shorter wait until our last flight to Los Angeles USA.

So after going through a few time zone changes, about 16 hours of travelling, 13 hours of waiting, and 2 bad movies, we were very tired upon arrival in LA - it had been a long 2 days of travelling from 08:30 May 14th until 16:45 May 15th.

From LA, we went to Palm Springs where we relaxed, visited with special friends, and rode on the Aerial Tramway. This tram has a rotating floor so you can see all around you, making the experience more enriching (and at the top of the tramway are great areas to hike and camp).

Aerial Tramway heading back down to the station

Next, we picked up our old KLR motorcycle at Yuma, where temperatures were reaching 38°C (100°F), and brought it to Palm Springs for storage. On our way back to Victoria BC Canada, we stopped in Old Town Sacramento where the 18th annual Pacific Rim Street Festival was on-going with many people in attendance.

The Hornblower going under the raised bridge

We will now be in Victoria until mid-September. Our current plans are to then drive to Palm Springs and go down to Copper Canyon in Mexico on the motorcycle before returning to Sea Turtle in San Carlos (not far from Copper Canyon).

We are both missing being on the boat very much and look forward to continuing our adventures aboard!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


After Jordan and I visited Rose Corser's museum/boutique and the nearby Hotel Keikahanui of the Marquesas, we took Holly and Denis back to see these sites the next day. This museum has many one-of-a-kind items that have been donated by locals and the hotel is very beautiful. Don't forget to check out the Photo Gallery for Crewing to Marquesas pictures, including a couple of the museum and hotel.

Then Holly, Jordan, and I went for a longer hike to find the location where the Tribal Council of the 1990s Marquesan Survivor TV show was filmed (we saw the canoe that was used on the show at the museum). We came upon this gentleman of the Tribal Council:

Actually, the picture was taken of a picture inside the hotel! So we hiked up a mountain and back down over the ridge looking for the location of the Survivor Tribal Council; we don't think we followed the directions given to us correctly. The beach we found was a bit rocky and not very deserted. But we saw this old outrigger...

and this hanging skull...

Who knows...maybe we did find it. But, a little disappointed, we trekked back up and over the ridge and back to Tango where we were greeted with glasses of Sherry to enjoy on deck. Another great day after all!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Snorkelling and sightseeing

On Monday, checking Tango into the Marquesas with the Gendarmerie (French Police), who only spoke a bit of English, was not too difficult as Denis is fairly fluent in French.

A tip for sailors - we discovered that you need to have your MMSI* number with you when you check in so when Jordan and I sail here in a couple of years on our own we will remember to bring ours with us to the Gendarmerie's office.

Internet is VERY slow here so trying to book our flight home was extremely frustrating, but we managed to book a flight from Pape'ete Tahiti to Honolulu and then from Honolulu to Los Angeles USA yesterday. Could not get an "E" ticket from Nuku Hiva to Pape'ete so we went to the local Air Tahiti and booked a ticket today. The agent also reserved a taxi for us for the trip to the airport which is supposed to be a visually spectacular ride.

Jordan inquired about scuba diving but the diving boat was on the hard so Holly, Jordan, and I decided to go snorkelling. We took the dinghy out to the point and saw parrot fish, schools of teeny bright blue fish, small orange and/or yellow fish...and...a big manta ray and a long brown shark swimming right beneath us! How exciting! Later, Jordan and I went for a walk and a beer ashore for a nice break.

A common sight

Back on Tango, we discovered that a pastry man comes to your boat each weekday morning, delivering goods that you have ordered the previous morning. What a delicious treat.

Another great day in paradise!

* MMSI - Maritime Mobile Service Identity (a number assigned to maritime radios in order to make calls)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Exploring Nuku Hiva artifacts

French Polynesia is made up of many island and chains of islands. The most easterly chain is called the Marquesas. A few facts I read about the Marquesas and Nuku Hiva Island where we are anchored:
  • The town that we are near has a population of around 3,000 and lies in an open volcanic crater.
  • This town, called Taiohae, is the largest town of the Marquesan Islands.
  • We noticed that tattoos are very popular amongst the local men and women.
  • Nuku Hiva is 339 sq. km.
  • The largest island in all of French Polynesia is Tahiti (Nuku Hiva being the 2nd largest, depending on your source of info).
  • Famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson spent time on northern Nuku Hiva.
  • Painter Paul Gauguin spent his last years in French Polynesia.
  • And Moby Dick author, Herman Melville, jumped a whaling ship in 1842 at age 23 to land at the Marquesas.
After Holly and Jordan cleaned Tango's bottom of parasites, the 3 of us hiked up the side of a mountain to discover the artifacts that we had been told about. We hiked about 1.5 km along a roadway and then at least another 1.5 km up and through bush, etc. along a semi-trail.

We took a break as Jordan tried to crack open and peel off the husk of a coconut that we found. Success! The juice managed to escape but the fleshy coconut fruit was delicious. We soon ran into a local, very muscular, older man with a large knife that helped to remove more of the shell, making it easier for us to consume.

This is how you do it

As we hiked, we noticed all the pigs with piglets, roosters and chickens with chicks, horses with young colts, goats, and all the differing plant life along the way. We finally reached the site which was well worth the lengthy hike. Here, Jordan retrieved several fresh, juicy, mangoes using a long stick found propped against a tree. They were delicious and we all thoroughly enjoyed the treat as the juice ran down our chins!

Nuku Hiva site

We then took in the all the different tikis, huts, vegetation, and rocks around this magnificent sacred site. Tikis are stone and/or wooden figures in a human form. The earliest did not have eyes carved.

Jordan beside a stone tiki, and...

...a wooden tiki (photo courtesy of SV Tango)

When the sun was starting to go down, we discovered an easier route to return and started on our way back. Growing in trees along the roadside, we found several star fruit which we tasted. They were sooo delicious - tasted just like orange pop.

Then near the bottom of our trail, a local woman pleaded with us to take several of her pamplemousse (very thick skinned grapefruit). So by the time we returned to Tango, we had fresh hand-picked mangoes, starfruit, and pamplemousse for a delicious breakfast the next morning. Store-bought produce has never tasted this good. What a great day!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Crewing to Marquesas

On our way...left La Paz as crew aboard SV Tango with Holly and Denis on April 14th to head for San Jose del Cabo (N23°03.37' W109°40.21'). After all final details and last minute provisioning were completed, we headed for the Marquesas (Isles Marquises) on April 18th at 08:00. A couple of dolphins appeared to wish us good luck on our journey. A waypoint of N05° W130° was set. Land disappeared totally at 14:30! A summary of the voyage:
  • Spotted a total of 6 boats throughout the trip (3 freighters, 2 fishing boats, and 1 oceanography vessel).
  • Whales, dolphins, flying fish, and blue-footed booby birds visited us. Air horn was used to dissuade landing of these messy and destructive, but cute, birds.
  • Tiny Clarion Island was spotted off in the distance on April 21st - last chance to jump ship!
  • Lots of cloud cover, we were expecting more sun.
  • Lots of confused seas, we were expecting calmer seas.
  • One mechanical failure - generator would not keep running - but was an easy fix.
  • Pretty sunsets and sunrises out in the middle of the ocean, but not as spectacular as seen on land. Well, this sunrise was pretty awesome...
  • Changed course on April 27th to head south towards the equator - in the doldrums the next day.
  • Holly, Jordan, and I got in the ocean to check out prop zincs and have a warm swim at N03°25.860' W125°43.345' as Denis kept his eye on us. I was very surprised to feel so nervous and worried about letting go of the boat!! Temperature of the water was 28°C (82°F). Water below us was well over a kilometre deep and was a beautiful vivid purple blue. We all re-boarded safely.
  • Crossed equator early in the morning at 01:14 on May 3rd!! The southern trade winds were kicking in and cloud cover was finally disappearing.
  • Gazed at the countless stars, distinct Milky Way, the Southern Cross, and bright falling stars from our stateroom hatch on many evenings.
  • 3 large fish got away - but finally this 34 kg (75 lb) Marlin (Shortbill Spearfish) was landed by ecstatic Jordan on May 4th!
  • Change of plans - going to the Marquesan Island called Nuku Hiva instead of the Marquesan Island called Hiva Oa as Nuku Hiva has more anchorages available and calmer anchorages.
  • Constant kathunks, crashes, and loud banging noises, rigging humming, winds whooshing - catamarans are MUCH louder than we expected. Restless nights.
  • Land ho at 08:00 on Saturday, May 8th, after 20 days at sea! Jordan spotted a dolphin off our port side.
  • Total distance travelled was 2,797 nautical miles from San Jose del Cabo to Nuku Hiva.
  • Greatest distance in 1 day was 172 nautical miles.
  • Average speed was 5.8 knots, motored for 4 days.
  • Length of voyage was from April 18/10 at 08:00 till May 8/10 at 12:00 noon Pacific Daylight Saving Time for a total of 20 days + 4 hours.
Anchored at Baie de Taiohae (Hakapehi) (S08°54.969' W140°06.038') on Nuka Hiva at 09:30 local time, which is 2.5 hours earlier than Pacific Daylight Saving Time. This is a large, busy anchorage with lots of boats coming and going (counted 50 cruising boats at anchor one day).

Yellow points in the following picture are Tango's positions every 12 hours (at 12 noon and at 12 midnight approximately). Jordan's son Aaron plotted the position reports on Google Earth and emailed this to us at the completion of our crewing adventure. (Click on it to blow up)

One of two official entry ports (Hiva Oa being the other), Nuka Hiva is a very laid back place. Almost everything is closed on Saturdays and Sundays and most places close for a 2 to 2.5 hour lunch break. Many businesses also close early in the day. Lots of exploring to do before our flight home...