Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 30, 2018

Sailing Hiva Oa and Tahuata

24.3.18 – Saturday – During my Thursday and Friday stay in Atuona, enjoying the pleasures of the available internet and shops for provisioning, I made up my mind to go and explore bays in the north of the island. A bay called Hanamenu, on the northwest of the island, I visited in 2009 and did not like; so my target were two bays further to the east – Hanaiapa, 25 miles away and Hanatekuua two miles more. The forecast was for easterlies 15 – 17 knots. I sailed fast through the pass between Hiva Oa and Tahuata, turned with the island to the west-northwest and then northwest, where the wind veered to the west at 10 knots. Having seen some fish jump high in the distance, I let the bird, with a lure attached, into the water. The bird splashed and splashed – but no fish took the lure.

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                   Intended area of operation: Hiva Oa and Tahuata

The west wind persisted up to the northwest point of the island and then went back to the east and blew anything between 8 and 25 knots; I tried using sails only but with the changes in velocity and direction I had to resort to motoring. Approaching the Hanaiapa bay I was greeted with the sight of a beautiful waterfall with an adjacent cave.

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Further on, a rock stood as a sentinel in the entrance.

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I continued going in, using the fish-finder feature on the plotter to try and avoid anchoring on coral or rocks. This is something that I started doing recently and it seems to give good results. I ended up dropping anchor at 11.5 meters opposite the dock on the east of the bay, a place recommended by other cruisers. The bay is very pretty, all around it is covered with trees. I was the only yacht in the bay. To go ashore I would have to use the dock because the swell entering the bay makes breaking waves on shore; kids were surfing there all the time.

At one point I saw a red kayak approaching and stood ready to welcome the man but he was not interested in Two Oceans or in me and continued paddling out to sea. Taking his picture I verified that it was a European,bespectacled man, who had two fishing rods on his small craft plus two igloo boxes in front. I never saw him coming back, so he is perhaps some sort of adventurer, paddling around the island.

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Oh, I forgot to report that during the approach to Hanaiapa I noticed that the bird was no longer splashing; the line broke and my bird and lure are sailing the Pacific without their master.

25.3.18 – Sunday – It was a grey morning with some rain. A pod of dolphins came to say hello. I waited until the rain passed and readied the SUP in order to go exploring; I also put my Gopro on the head-band wishing to take some videos – especially of the blow-hole on the west side of the bay. I fell twice before I managed to start paddling, obviously I did not appreciate the sea condition. Nearing the blow-hole, where the surge became stronger, I had to get down to my knees to prevent another fall. The wind, which at the planning stage was light, came up and blowing from land against the incoming swell made it too difficult for me. I looked enviously at the youngsters surfing and paddling between the breakers close to shore. I decided to stay on board and enjoy the scenery from the distance.

In the afternoon, while reading in my cabin, something drew me out to the cockpit. Another yacht, carrying a Norwegian flag, came in.  

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                                                    MERA

Their skipper, Espen, came for a visit and an exchange of information. After he left I realized that there were a few documents regarding French Polynesia that I could give him; I made up my mind to do that tomorrow. Frankly – It was nice to communicate with somebody after being by myself for quite a while.

26.3.18 – Monday – I slept badly at night; rain woke me up just past three a.m and then a swarm of small insects attacked and kept me battling them for a long time. I had to spray my cabin with insecticide and then wait for it to clear.  Later, as I was doing my morning meditation, I felt something crawling up my arm; I hate insects on the boat and immediately squished it. I was surprised to see it was a tiny crab. Those crabs enter the boat through the inlets and outlets of drain pipes and it is not uncommon to find them in the shower sink or even the toilet bowl. When they wander too far from their watery hideout they dry out and expire. The one which climbed all the way up my bed was definitely a strong specimen.

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                                       crab in sink

This morning the sea was calmer than the day before. I lowered the dinghy and first looked at the dock on the east side of the bay. It seemed too difficult to do single—handedly so I motored to a corner I saw locals beaching a boat yesterday and timing the waves gunned the motor and reached the shore with no mishap. I walked the village main road, along which few houses stood; I only saw three people, all cutting grass with a dedicated motorized machine. Near one of the houses there was a pamplemousse tree full of fruit just begging to lighten its load. I approached the house, calling out but no one appeared. Going on I finally found a man (cutting grass too) and asked whether I could take one. He took me to a tree near his home and gave me two lovely pamplemousse.

Back to the boat I passed by the Norwegian yacht, took a memory stick and returned it to them with all the necessary documents. My plan was to motor two miles to the east to the bay called Hanatekuua, which, on the chart seemed to be a smaller version of Hanaiapa. Mera guys had the same idea and led the way there. Since it was only 2 miles away I decided to tow the dinghy, which is something I normally do not do and I regretted it; nothing bad happened but I was tense all the way, fearing a gust or wave would turn it over or the painter would break. Entering I could see that the water in the bay were clear. I easily found a patch of sand and dropped anchor at a depth of 8 meters. The coordinates were 09 42.111 S 138 59.646 W.

In the afternoon I swam ashore and walked around; part of the beach is white sand. The place is obviously a coconut plantation with huts and drying platforms for copra. A stream meanders through the vegetation and I spotted some sweet water fish in it.

27.3.18 – Tuesday – Mera left early, before I woke up. I went out and had beautiful sailing back around the island. On its west side the wind all but disappeared and I was motoring along on a single engine when the reel finally sang. It was a big one, very difficult to reel in. Once it came into view I saw it was a yellow fin tuna, over a meter long. When it was less than two meters from the stern, with me fumbling for the gaff to lift it on board – the lure parted company with the fish. Both of us were in shock… the fish did not move a fin for a few seconds, but then slapped his tail and dove into the deep.

I now have a confession to make. During all my sailing years I have never employed, neither for necessity nor just for training, the “heave to” maneuver. For the non sailors – this trick is used in severe weather; the mainsail is set tight in the middle and the boat is turned positioning the jib on the windward side while the wheel is turned and locked towards the wind direction. This way the boat is drifting slowly forward and the motion for the crew is much easier. After the fish disappointment, as we sailed out of the blanketing effect of the island, the wind became much stronger; when it showed 27 knots apparent I reefed the jib, the main was in first reef from the start and suddenly it occurred to me that it was the perfect time to try and heave to. I did it twice and found it was easy and effective. I can use it when a fish is caught to slow the boat when I am single-handing.

I continued towards Tahuata, this time not to the favorite Hanamoenoa but to two bays, adjacent to its south, Ivaiva nui and the smaller Ivaiva iti (nui is big, iti – small). The small one looked nicer, more enclosed and I entered it and found clear water and sandy bottom with excellent holding. It seemed to be calmer than the bigger Hanamoenoa and I had it all for myself.

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They all do look quite the same but still – beautiful scenery.

28.3.18 – Wednesday – Fishing day! Back to the place where I lost the tuna yesterday hoping for better luck. Even with the sails at first reef the boat was doing seven knots, sometimes more. I did get a strike but reeling the fish in the line broke… It seems Poseidon gives only one chance a day… I returned to Iva Iti for the night.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to Atuona in Hiva Oa and on Friday my friend, Michael Ben Eli will come.

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