Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Last days in Hakahau : Ua Pou 

14th–16th October

Snap, Crackle & Pop

PA082487You may remember from early post  that I mentioned we had a rather sporty crossing from Nuku Hiva to here on Ua Pou. Quite a few big waves slammed  beam on to our port side which resulted in way too many nerve shattering moments for our liking.

As these waves passed under the belly of GWTW she came back down to the water’s surface with considerable force.  OK, so now fast forward to a couple of days ago. While swimming around the boat I noticed what I thought was mud splashed up on the forward underside of the bridgedeck just  back from where the trampolines join the deck. The mud I naturally assumed had flicked up off the anchor while we were pulling it up  when leaving Nuku Hiva. I reached up to try and wipe it off and that’s when I saw it. It wasn’t mud at all, it was a jagged crack through the fiberglass which was exposing the inner brown core of foam. Well you can imagine what went through my mind.

          IMG_1672  IMG_1680

When Liam came back from an errand to a neighbouring yacht I said that he better get up there quick smart and check it out. He came back with a look that I’ve seen too many times when something goes really bad. He confirmed it was a crack and it was not good. First thing to do was look on the other side of the crack which meant the anchor well where 275 ft of chain bunks down when not in use. Yep, the crack was visible there too.


Many expensive phone calls via Optus roaming were made to the builder back in Australia as to ascertain the best way to repair it in such a remote location. Pulling  GWTW out of the water would be the best solution but at this point was not an option.

We had a limited supply of biaxial fiberglass matting onboard but we’d need a heck of a lot more. The only place we would be able to source it would be in Tahiti. We enlisted Andy from “Eye Candy” to  do some ground work for us as he was currently in that neck of the woods. He come up with a plethora of ideas, one of which we ran with.

DSCN2047We contacted a chandlery in Tahiti who told us he had exactly  what we needed, so we then set about getting it delivered asap. Next up we got on the phone with our yacht agents from Tahiti Crew Agency and the following morning one of the girls had hightailed it out there, picked up our package and delivered it to Air Tahiti’s freight department to be airlifted out on the next flight to Ua Pou. Those girls at the agency are really switched on I tell you.

IMG_6464The package arrived midday Saturday and Jerome from Pension Pukuee, (our guide from our day trip) organised for an airport worker to bring it to town after his shift finished. Since then Liam has been grinding, fiberglassing and reinforcing the anchor well. His next chore will be to attack the underside of the crack and do the same, but that requires a very calm anchorage as it all has to be done while in the dinghy. In the meanwhile he’ll waterproof the exposed crack using Loctite Marine Adhesive Sealant.

We don’t know for sure whether the crack was the result of the recent passage or if had just  been slowly weakening at that point over the last thirteen years and 10 days. Yes, all that many years ago on October 6th 2004 GWTW rolled out of the factory where she was built  in Murwillumbah on the north coast of NSW Australia, and got her feet wet. Since that day our anchor has been raised and lowered thousands of times. The chain has thumped in and out of that anchor well  and like a well trodden step the surface eventually gets worn down which is the likely cause of our problem.

We have our fingers and toes crossed these repairs will safely get us 500 miles across to our haulout yard on the atoll of Apataki in the Tuomotus. If it does and there a no further issues a more effective repair will be undertaken once we reach New Zealand  sometime in the future.

Moving right along

DSCN2092In the light of our recent incident and with it being Sunday and all, we took the opportunity to attend eight o’clock Sunday Mass. The church was packed to the rafters with adults of all ages, teenagers, toddlers and those too small to walk. The master carvers have done themselves proud in this church. The pulpit was made from solid timber carved in the shape of a ship’s bow which sat on a foundation of intricately woven  wooden netting filled with all manner of  fish.


It was an impressive piece of carpentry  as were all the other carvings in the church including the hands that hold the holy water bowls, the huge church doors, the alter and the cross above it. You couldn’t possibly not be impressed.The flowers around the alter were beautiful native blooms which are seen everywhere on these islands, and the singing was even better than the service we went to over in Nuku Hiva.



DSCN2067 - CopyDSCN2070 - Copy

Once mass was finished all the faithful made a bee line to the doors. We soon realised why. Set up on the front lawn were trestle tables selling food. On offer was pizza, chocolate cake, fruit and cream flans, spring rolls, and filled baguettes but the  most popular  queue was for ice cream. Caught up in the hunger rush, we too lined up for an ice-cream, guess it’s never too early for a little indulgence.


On the walk back to the dock we bumped into a local guy who works on the maintained crew for  the town’s generator. He had been kind enough to help Liam cut up some plywood which was being discarded  which we he needed for the repair to the anchor well.


When we arrived back at the dinghy he gave us bags overflowing with fruit. He refused to take any money at all saying with a smile that it was a gift from his family. A few days earlier as we were chatting to a man whose house was across from the church, he out of the blue reached up and with a purpose built pole brought down five mangos, again a gift for no reason at all.


All the people throughout the Marquesas seem to share the same outlook on life. They are not caught up in the rat race that seems to rule the outside world, live happy, comfortable lives and are always polite and gracious.  They are well dressed, take pride in their homes, gardens and cars and are a family oriented culture. So far we’ve not seen a homeless person or any sign of poverty or drunkenness as we have in other island societies.  Everyone is friendly and smiling and always says bonjour to each other and to us, even the school children make the effort. If there was a world model for a perfect society the Marquesans, in our opinion, would win hands down.



Monday, October 16, 2017

 Hakahau, Ua Pou : A Snapshot of Life

13th October

We’ve been anchored here in the bay for just over a week now and have grown to love this little village.


The working day here begins as soon as it starts to get light. That’s around 0430. The hum of the massive generator which powers the island fades into  the background noise as the the sounds of everyday life take over.

DSCN1846Utes and 4x4’s start rolling on the streets, some belong to the fisherman heading for the town dock to ready their boats for a  hard days work at sea, while others drive to the breakwall, set up their rods and cast out over the rocks in search of a dinner-plate sized meal. Children of all ages start arriving at school when the clock hits 0600, most walk but those who live further out arrive by car. With the ringing of the bell at 0630 the playground is deserted and classes commence.

DSCN2038Airport workers  begin their traverse of the switchback road to the west for the nine click drive to where the Twin Otter from Tahiti will touchdown in a few hours time. By 0700 the garbage truck with day-glow vested men hanging off the back rumbles along the tidy streets noisily picking up wheelie bins. The men know that they won’t disturb anyone from their sleep as the village is well and truly up and at e’m .

By 8am the bakery has opened it’s doors. Fresh baguettes and pastries piled high, rest on display tables awaiting their relocation to someone’s else’s kitchen. By nine the baguettes will be gone.

The over 60’s set hit the surf about then. They swim laps of the bay in slow motion creating a trickle of wake as they go.


A bright yellow tractor skirts the waterfront road to the dock warehouse ready to lift heavy bags of cement into the waiting tip trucks for the journey out of town where construction of a paved road is in its infancy.

    DSCN2118  DSCN2113

The  village business centre is now pumping as well. The post office, bank and the Air Tahiti office are open and the “off the back of a ute”  Friday veggie market across the road under the shade of the trees has a steady stream of patrons.

In the cool of the afternoon the horsemen and their trusty steads will once again turn the beach into a mini training track as colourful outrigger canoes grace the bay parting the waters as a knife does through butter.

    DSCN1855   PA082492

And the backdrop of volcanic spires will slowly turn to pale hues of pink as the sun begins it’s transit to a new day over the horizon. The valley of Hakahau will once again be blanketed in hushed darkness until the crowing of roosters heralds the dawn of a new day.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Time for a change of scenery :  Moving on to Ua Pou

2nd – 12th October 2017

DSCN1778We  stayed in Nuku Hiva for just a couple more days as it was time for Liam’s final visit with his eye specialist. Dr Ojeda had flown down to Nuku Hiva hospital to conduct an eye clinic for a few days and she had booked Liam an appointment. The hospital was a five minute walk from the anchorage so there was no excuse but to be on time. Liam was first cab off the rank and within minutes  of testing his vision was given the all clear.

DSCN1781He still requires a maintenance program  to continue for the next six months, but other than that his eye has come a long way since his injury happened.

Sunday morning saw us up early and decked out in our Sunday best. We were off to attend 8am Mass at the Cathedral Notre Dame just a stones throw from the anchorage. It was a packed house and even though the service was in Marquesan, it followed the usual lines of the catholic mass, so it wasn’t hard to get the gist of it.


The singing of the choir and the congregation was incredible. The harmonies were something else and we’d been wanting to hear  them since arriving in the Marquesas way back in August. Guitars, ukuleles and drums provided  the backing music. Both women and children wore crowns of flowers in their hair as is the Marquesan way, while the men wore colourful shirts and sarongs or shorts. The footwear of choice was the every versatile pair of thongs (flip flops). Everyone in French Polynesia wears them.

DSCN1765After church finishes families share the rest of the day together.The shops are all closed and the place winds down to a snail’s pace. Down at the town dock adults chatted and ate lunch at Henry's cafĂ© and the kids and dogs played at the beach or whiled away the hours jumping off the dock, riding pushbikes or just hanging out as kids seem to do. It was a refreshing change to see families really enjoying the great outdoors.

       DSCN1769   DSCN1777

           DSCN1785   DSCN1792

After topping up the larder once more we spent our last couple of days back around at Daniel’s Bay. Nuku Hiva had been a great spending time here and we know we will miss the place, but it was time to move on.

Hanging in Hakaha

Our sail across to the island of Ua Pou was a boisterous 25 mile run . The wind was up around 20kts from the east and the seas threw up plenty of 8-10ft waves. Still, all was forgotten once we tucked in  behind the harbor wall in the main town of Hakahau and settled in for a few days.The backdrop of spires reaching skyward is one of the most photographed places in French Polynesia. We had briefly visited the port in August and now will have the chance to see what the interior has to offer.



           IMG_1717 IMG_1717

We booked an east coast day tour through Jerome at Pension Pukuee and he collected us from the dock in his 4x4 just after 8am. As is the culture of both  men and women throughout the Marquesas, Tattoo’s are very much part of life and tell a story of the persons heritage. Jerome has studied the art of Tattoo and has inked the artwork on  his leg himself. 

With only the two of us it was a little expensive but still worth it. Leaving the  village and the valley behind we climbed up towards the cloud covered pinnacles, the road alternating between paved and dirt.

IMG_1694Jerome knows his stuff when it comes to the history of the island and of the Maquesan tribes who lived in the past. With the island being only 10 miles long and seven wide he seemed to know just about everyone we saw.

He took us to scenic lookouts, ancient Mar’ae sites in the middle of nowhere or so it seemed, and a husband and wife team in the village of Hohoi who have chosen the rather unhealthy career path of turning  hunks of “flower stone” into beautiful carvings,  for which tourists pay a lot of money. They work so hard to create these works of art that we couldn’t possibly leave without making a small purchase.



Next on the agenda was a stop at the beach where if you are lucky you’ll stumble across the flowery patterned stones themselves. Apparently this type of rock is extremely rare and only found here on Ua Pou. We did find a couple of pebbles and hopefully Liam will be able to polish them up to a brighter shine. Our own little piece of Ua Pou to take home.

From here it was off to have lunch in a private home in the seaside village of Hakatao.  The front room of the house doubled as the only general store around.  Out on the breezy front porch the table was set and the food  laid out just needed eating.


We indulged in a typical Marquesan lunch of Poisson Cru with rice, pan fried steak, probably the most delicious we’ve ever eaten, fried banana and breadfruit chips. After lunch a walk around the village was in order before the drive back home. Along the waterfront road, drying copra baked in the hot sun and colourful fishing boats and outrigger canoes sat idle in the shade of the trees.

DSCN1948 DSCN1961 DSCN1968

During our stay in the harbor the cruise ship Aranui visited for a few hours  followed a couple of days later by the cargo ship Taporo. We had front row seats to watch them birth at the dock and leave. The captains of these ships are defiantly up there with the best of them . This harbour is tiny and the weather is not always in their favour when docking but they make it look so easy. Just watching them unload the cargo is a whole afternoon’s entertainment in itself.


Outriggers of all sizes  glide past us several times a day as both school children and adults practice for the weekend events, and  come late afternoon horse and riders gallop along the foreshore parkland finishing off the workout with a roll in the sand and a cool off in the water. The horses that is, not the riders.



So far we are really enjoying this island and with a bit of luck we’ll be here for a little longer.