Jun 16

Fatu Hiva, Stormy

Tag: routemattholmes @ 10:58 am


(written 6/4)

Our passage from our tranquil little secluded bay on Tahuata was eventful: we were smashed by a sudden squall in the middle of the night with no warning.  In under a minute the wind went from 15 to somewhere between 30 and 40, with driving rain.  I was asleep when it hit (I’m learning how to wake up very rapidly).  We already had two reefs in the main, but the full jib was out.  The wind was so strong I was unable to furl the jib–first time that’s ever happened.  The jib was flogging hard and I still couldn’t furl it in, and I was scared that it was going to tear itself to pieces.  It was dark, things were crazy, my adrenaline was definitely up.  I turned the boat downwind to fill the jib–immediately we were plowing through the ocean at 10 knots.  With the jib blanketed behind the main going downwind I was finally able to furl it up.  Somehow during the commotion I had managed to tear a big flapper of skin off my middle finger too.  We spent the next few hours under double-reefed main, waiting out the squall.

We arrived at the Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva, at first light, to discover that it was a small anchorage, heavily crowded with boats.    Moreover, the wind was blowing a steady 20knots, with gusts over 30, and raining hard.  It was a challenging anchoring situation.  There was very little room to maneuver, and sudden gusts made it difficult to go in the desired direction.  It took a few tries: first time I misjudged the placement and we ended up coming to rest too close to another boat for comfort; the second time it seemed that we were dragging though it was hard to tell; the third time it held well and we came to rest exactly in the middle of the biggest remaining space available.  (insert expression of fatigue and sigh of relief)

The Bay of Virgins is lauded as one of the most beautiful anchorages in all the south pacific–I thought it was quite nice.  It is set apart from other spots in the Marquesas by having the most impressive relief: both the anchorage and the small town are surrounded by vertical and overhanging rock formations.  The entire western side of the island has vertical cliffs rising out of the ocean, and crescent shaped knife-blade ridge of mountains through the center of the island is as steep as any I’ve seen.

It was windy as hell and rained hard, on and off, for most of the four days we were there.  We dinghied in to check out the town, also looking for a phone.  We needed to get a message to jon somehow, telling him where and when to meet us in the Tuamotus.  We ended up hiking 10 miles up and over the mountains to the only other town on the island, to purchase a phone card.  We left a message on jon’s voicemail “meet us on Fakarava, we’ll be there June 14 plus or minus 5 days”.  Mission accomplished.  At the end of the day we managed to catch a ride back to our anchorage in a little aluminum boat with a local (we were not excited to walk another 10 miles back).

It continues to be windy rainy and gusty; we hole up down below and enjoy it.

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