Sunday, May 6, 2012

Anchored in Hapatoni, Tahuata

We enjoyed a festive Wednesday evening aboard the British flagged sailboat Daramy with Sue and Brian and the gang from Namani. Daramy just arrived after a nice quick Pacific passage – and they had scored a giant wahoo. They had no room in their freezer, so we all benefited. Not only did we have a wonderful meal aboard, we went home with wahoo gift packs – yum! We provided the much desired green salad with locally grown fresh veggies. That's always a treat after weeks afloat.

On Thursday, we departed from Atuona, Hiva Oa for the nearby island of Tahuata. It's a short distance and we tried to sail – but there was no wind (that seems to be our fate in the Pacific). So we sailed about an hour and motored about an hour. We did manage to pull up our stern then bow anchor with aplomb. Too bad not many boats were around to see our stylish retrieval – but they are always there when you screw up!

We anchored in Hapatoni Bay – a really pretty spot with a long white sand beach with coconut palms. The bay is surrounded by high hills that are very green and a rocky shoreline where there is no beach. When we arrived there were four other boats in the tiny bay and we snuck in – probably closer than we prefer to other boats. In the evening one boat left so we thought we'd snag the closer, more roomy spot in the morning. We got up bright and early to move only to find our anchor chain wrapped around a rocky ledge. Michael had to dive down to try to untangle it while Barbara stood ready to haul up chain when it was freed. We got out – but had to get another boat to move so we could retrieve the anchor. Bummer. But we found our nice sandy spot away from everyone.

As we entered the bay, we were greeted by about ten giant manta rays swimming near the boat. It was quite a sight. And since we've been at anchor, they come quite close to the boat. When we snorkeled today over a reef, we saw one on the water as well. Now the challenge is to grab a good photo of one when we're in the water.

The chore here is to get the bottom and sides of the boat cleaned. It is clear water here so there is less danger of sharks – or at least you can see them coming. Michael did much of the sides while in Hiva Oa using the dinghy – but it was quite difficult with the roll. So we can get the water line cleaned and beneath the hull. The first day we did the cleaning, there were lots of stinging siphonophores – these are long translucent jelly fish that have a toxic sting. They were everywhere – and even with dive suits on, we each took a few stings. Some of the floating critters looked pretty scary – one had two lime green filled bubbles trailing a deep red tentacle. We expect our marine scientists to tell us what these were. We tried to avoid them as somehow they looked painful. Today when we went to continue our boat hull cleaning project, there were no stinging jellies at all and the water was crystal clear. It's amazing the difference a day or tide cycle makes.

We snorkeled around a nearby reef – but it is quite deep and the visibility wasn't great the first day (today it was much better). Some interesting looking fish and the manta ray were sighted.

We also rowed our dinghy to shore to walk the sandy beach. There is a big surf break as you get to the beach, so it was tricky landing the dinghy cleanly. We didn't. We caught a wave after Michael jumped off the dinghy sending it rolling into shore. Oh, Barbara was still aboard. She got tumbled pretty well and was now soaking wet and covered in sand. Luckily the underwater camera was still aboard. We explored the beach which has nice soft sand and saw several different types of hermit crabs in fabulous shells, some leaping crabs and some lung fish(we think) which seem to be able to walk on water as they travel from rock to rock – very cool to watch. They stay out of the water on top of the rocks and seem to be eating algae.

It was rainy yesterday and this morning, so we did manage to collect some good rainwater for laundry and drinking. It has cleared off and is quite hot in the sun.

We bought a large stalk of green bananas from our agent Sandra while in Hiva Oa on Wednesday (plus she gifted us with a giant bag of ripe bananas). Somehow in two days the green stalk bananas have all managed to ripen at once. We are baking everything we can that uses bananas in the recipe...and giving bunches away. So far we've baked banana bread and black bottom banana bars. Tonight it'll be banana bread pudding. Plus, you're required to eat at least three bananas a day! We'll enjoy them while we've got them.

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