In Hanamenu bay, we spent time with one of the two families living there. We helped lift a roof back above a platform used for drying copra (Copra is a coconut product which is the largest agricultural commodity from the region). We were given fresh pork from a pig hunted the night before and we gave some old rope we had aboard which they could use for their horses. Side note: the people here capture their horses from the wild here and tame the horses themselves. It’s pretty impressive.
We sailed out of Hanamenu and arrived in Hanaiapa Bay 4 hours later. Here I finally dusted off my longboard and had a small surf break all to myself for several days. This harbor is arguably the most beautiful in Hiva-Oa and the village may be my favorite as well. In the morning I would have a coffee, catch a few waves and paddle back for breakfast. The snorkeling exposed a healthy and vibrant coral habitat. All of it was a short swim away and we were only in the company of one or two other boats at a time. The clear water finally allowed us go clean the bottom without fear of sharks or waste. This harbor is where I finally felt free from the Corona Pandemic. Hanaiapa will always occupy a sweet space in my memories on this journey. The only reason we left was to return to Atuona for Internet access and telephone service. It’s nearly impossible to escape from the net of modern communication.
Atuona is the largest town in the southern Marquesas and a great place (perhaps the only place) to provision. We came back for a few days and then were informed we were free to sail in the Marquesas. It didn’t take us long to prepare J. Henry and sail to the neighboring island of Tahuata. We were ready for a good day sail, but with ideal winds and a beautiful following sea, it took us two hours to make it to our first harbor. The sailing here is idyllic!
For the first time, we sailed to our anchor. No engine needed. Beautiful! We anchored for a few days in crystal clear waters and a massive white sand beach. The bay, called Hanamoenoa, was a perfect place to clean our bottom, swim and ease into a new environment. We spent some time with the only resident on the beach. A quiet introspective man who clearly appreciated his life in solitude with the occasional sailboat that came to visit.
Next we sailed to Vaitahu, the main village on Tahuata. We were hoping to get a hot meal ashore when we arrived. It was a Saturday night but most places were closed by the time we made it to shore. We walked into Jimmy’s, a bar and “snack” (restaurant). Jimmy confirmed that they were closed for the evening to celebrate his daughter and son’s birthdays. He quickly invited us to join! There was a massive spread of delicious food, plenty of live music and Polynesian song. I expected we would be ashore for an hour or so. We made it back to J. Henry far later in the evening.
The next morning we were off again for my favorite harbor on Tahuata, Hapatoni Bay. I feel we finally were able to slow down here. Many places have particular affects on people, some places stronger than others. Hapatoni forced me to slow down a bit. I had been endlessly consumed with work aboard J. Henry and worrying about our plans moving forward. I finally broke that spell.
The people of Hapatoni are exceptionally welcoming. The lifestyle of the residents is simply sweet. They are clearly happy and very healthy. For such a small village, there are a good number of kids running around all over the place. Kids were always at the wharf, playing in the water and with the dinghies at the dock. Whenever we walked up, we were met with several big smiles. This village is home to some of the best wood and bone carvers in archipelago. We captured the account of the island’s struggle and efforts to preserve cultural heritage through an interview with one of these craftspeople. At anchor, our spear gun and sling were finally put to good use. Lunch and dinner were a short swim away.
When we are not ashore or sailing, we are often working aboard J. Henry. There is always work to be done maintaining the vessel and there is plenty of work sorting video footage and writing. The days fly by faster than I have ever known them to. I have to admit, I am anxious to sail to the next archipelago. I miss sailing. This journey has had such a fast pace up until now, that I have grown accustomed to pulling up anchor and heading to sea. I miss the thrill of leaving the harbor for entirely new and unknown places. I have been spoiled by the immense freedom to weigh anchor and set sail when it simply feels like the right time. As I write this, I am at anchor in Hanavae Bay. I am surrounded by the most stunning landscape I have seen so far, yet since our arrival, I have been daydreaming of pulling up anchor and sailing South West. We will leave soon.