Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Island of Pinnacles

Ua Pou is a very dramatic island. Along its upper ridges are pinnacles of varying sizes. We've yet to see the most dramatic ridge line as it is under a cover of clouds. We arrived in Haka Hetau on the island of Ua Pou after an all night sail.

We started thinking it would be one of those magical night sails – a full moon, clear skies and a nice breeze – at least a good breeze as we pulled up anchor around 1630 (4:30 pm) and left Tahuata. We did miss a good swim with the manta rays – who were just arriving as we were preparing to leave. We set up the whisker pole before we left the anchorage but didn't use the pole for the first hour or so We were going between two islands and figured the winds would change after clearing Hiva Oa. So we sailed with just the main on a nice reach. We were making a steady 4.5 knots and it was very comfortable. As we cleared the point of Hiva Oa, we then put up the headsail on the pole and were sailing along at 5 to 6 knots. The seas weren't great – but it was a nice sail. Unfortunately going that fast meant we'd arrive at the harbor way too early. It was about a 70 mile trip. The moon was up and there were several sailboats out – we saw three– two we knew were headed to Nuku Hiva and we weren't sure about the 3rd. He wasn't running lights – so it was a bit challenging keeping track of him even with the full moon. .

The winds started to really pick up so we reefed in more main and headsail and were still flying along at well over 5 knots. Then we dropped the pole and sailed on the other tack reaching. If the seas didn't have swell from two directions and very close together – it would have been a great night. But the seas meant there was no place below to get a few hours sleep without getting tossed from the bunk.

We arrived at 0830 and there were two other boats in the anchorage – both with bow and stern anchors. So we settled between the two and deployed the same anchor set-up.

Soon after we were anchored, another sailboat arrived and then the BIG ship. A cargo boat, the Taporo IX arrived and it was exciting to watch him maneuver in the tight quarters and tie to the dock. This boat we found out arrives once every three weeks to supply the town. The town is the third largest in the Marquesas.

After making sure we were anchored safely with the gusty wind off the magnificent hills, we headed into town. Its a small place with a few groceries – but we couldn't find a restaurant open for a bite. So we ended up sitting in the front yard of one of the groceries and chatting with Keith. Keith is an 80 year old Australian who has lived here for a bit more than three years. He's married to a local woman who seems to be related to everyone. He filled us in on the town and the local relatives. It was a hoot listening to his stories. Boy could he talk! But we did learn a lot.

Back to Astarte, we watched the big ship untie and take off – he seemed mighty close to us. The captain was a pro. We'll hope to see the rest of the pinnacles tomorrow or even tonight under moonlight. It is a very dramatic ridge line. We can also see goats up in the rocks – how they get there is anyone's guess.

It'll be an early night after our all-night sail.

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